Release Date: 2002.11.20
Peak Position: #5
Label: SPROUSE/Dream Machine
Product Code: HDCA-10121
First Press: digipack and picture labeled disc
TETSU69’s Official Web Site
After L’Arc~en~Ciel’s announced hiatus in 2000, the members started solo projects in 2001. tetsu’s solo project is TETSU69, and according to him, the “69″ stands for his birthyear and the all caps is for aesthetic reasons. His CDs were to be released under “SPROUSE”, which became his new (but now seemingly defunct) record label. His first single was the double a-side “wonderful world/TIGHTROPE” which peaked at spot #5 on the Oricon charts. After the release of this single, he left SONY’s Ki/oon division and was signed under Warner Music Japan’s Dream Machine label. His following singles “shinkirô” (mirage) and “15 1/2″ were a year in waiting, came in special packaging, were limited to 10,000 copies, and both peaked at #3. In November 2002 his first, and to this date only, album was released entitled “Suite November”. Let’s see how L’Arc~en~Ciel’s bassist and leader fares on his own.
1) WHITE OUT
The beginning of this song sounds very L’Arc-y, and is similar to “Still I’m With You” off the band’s “heavenly” album. TETSU69 starts singing almost abruptly in a semi-bouncy quick way before we’re hit with the forceful “aaa-nata” of the chorus. The song is pretty catchy and is a nice listen, but it doesn’t quite get you excited about the album.
2) wonderful world
“wonderful world” is a very light and sweet pop tune about being in love. During the chorus he sings “wonderful world” in the background, making it fuller, catchier, and just sounding better. At about 2:15 the song starts to slow down a bit until TETSU69 sings out “Can you feel it in your heart?” followed by a guitar solo. Again, it’s sweet and nice, but doesn’t really get you into the album so much.
We start getting somewhere with “Pretender”. This song is darker than the previous two songs and has a much needed rockier feel. The verses are slow and TETSU69 sings in a soft quiet tone. In the chorus it speeds up a bit although the singing is still done softly. During the ending of the second chorus, the vocals become more desperate and stronger, and afterwards the background music seems to do the same. This is an excellent track from TETSU69 and easily one of the album’s best.
This single song was paired along with “wonderful world” on the release but is the complete opposite of “wonderful world” in almost every way imaginable. The vocals are more forceful and the music is a bit gritty and louder, relying mainly on guitar and drum, especially during the chorus which starts off pretty chaotic and loud. It fits extremely well following “Pretender” and really gets the album pumping.
5) shinkirô [mirage]
“Pretender” let out a stream of good rock songs after it, each progressing in speed, and the last of them is “shinkirô”, TETSU69’s second single song and the fastest rock song on the album. The intro to the song is very gradual until eventually all the instruments come together to form the melody. Even though the music here is pretty hard, it can be very catchy, especially with TETSU69’s singing of “too late too late too late”. Sometimes it can get a bit too electronic, but it doesn’t take away the enjoyability of the song as a whole.
This song starts out very slow and simple with keyboard and guitar. Eventually some percussion is added, but the melody is still simple. The chorus picks up, adding some electric guitar to the mix to spice it up, and TETSU69’s singing picks up and he starts to sound more distressed as well. The song is pretty soothing and slows things down a bit after “shinkirô”. It’s sweet and TETSU69’s singing during the last verses, which are overlaid with much emotion, deserve to be fully recognized.
7) empty tears
I can imagine this song being in the “love-or-hate” category. The melody here is extremely simple, and the background music sounds from a carousel ride or children’s lullaby. TETSU69’s singing perfectly dances with the music, and his singing seems almost perfect for it.
8) 15 1/2 FIFTEEN HALF
This was TETSU69’s ballad single, and it combines a pleasant pop tune with lighter rock. At times it sounds like something that Laruku would release, but it ends up being too sweet for the band. I like how the verses are very sweet and slower but then it transitions flawlessly to the rockier chorus. Another great single choice by TETSU69.
69) TEZMAN no TE–MA [TEZMAN's THEME]
Now, this little bonus is hidden under blank tracks to make the album a whopping 69 tracks containing only 9 songs. TEZMAN (tetsu-man) is TETSU69’s mascot, and a little figurine of him was part of the “15 1/2″ single. A shorter version of this song was the first track to the single, as well. It sounds almost like music for the Mario Bros., like for when they go into the green pipes. There isn’t much going on in the beginning but a background vocal repeating one (incomprehensible) word. Finally, at around 2:25, TETSU69 starts to sing all about TEZMAN for a good 15 seconds until the cycle is repeated. I’m not going to rate it since it’s obviously just here for fun and to talk about his little mascot TEZMAN. :)
Conclusion: tetsu certainly doesn’t have the smooth, versatile, and charismatic voice of hyde, yet he still manages to create an extremely strong album with only 8 songs and a hidden track. Those used to vocal stylings such as hyde’s will most likely have difficulty getting used to TETSU69. However, this album was extremely well done and fans of L’Arc and good pop-rock music will be able to completely enjoy this album. I also thought it quite clever to hide TEZMAN’s THEME under so many blank tracks to have it on track 69. Overall, great album and definitely worth a buy.