sifow – CLARITY

by Rinoa on September 22, 2006 · 8 comments · AddThis

CLAЯITY photoshoot
Promotional photoshoot for CLAЯITY album
Artist: sifow
Product Code: AVCD-23025/6
Release date: 2006.09.13
Debut Ranking: #299
First Press: Fragrance
Label: avex trax

Since her debut with avex trax, sifow has definitely been working hard to promote herself and release quality music for her fans. After less than a year after her debut mini album, “& YOU REVOLUTION”, sifow released her first studio album titled “CLAЯITY” in September.

Unfortunately this young artist didn’t get much promotion for her album and thus it came as no surprise that her debut album ranked so poorly on the Oricon charts. Sifow didn’t appear on a lot of magazines or variety shows to promote her album. Despite the abysmal sales in Japan, this album seems to be quite popular overseas, especially with the Western audience. In the Yesasia Topseller Charts, it’s been ranking at #7, which is pretty good for a debut album.

This album had two versions, which were a CD-only and a CD+DVD version. The cover for both versions was quite similar, except for the difference in colour of the cover art. The CD+DVD version also contained a first press edition, which was a fragrance self produced by sifow herself. This really gave this album a unique touch and complimented extremely well with it’s theme. In her Oricon interview, sifow mentioned how the theme of the music “CLAЯITY”, which also became the title of the album is “the scent of recollections.” Since the mind has the ability to use scent to remember memories vividly, sifow created these beads of fragrance and called them CLAЯITY.

“If the people remember my songs from my album in their memory when they smell this scent, I’m glad”, she smiled.

Filled with techo-pop infused with fantasy themes, this album is guaranteed to charm you and transport you to a glittery fantasy world.

 

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1. CLAЯITY

This song is a definite favourite of mine. It has a very distinct style and a lot of character. It starts off quite slowly with an ethnic hint. Bagpipes are used but certain instrumentals are blended along with the bagpipes. These slowly build up, heightening the anticipation until the song transforms completely into an upbeat techno song with the use of an electric guitar.

This song’s tempo alternates a lot between the verses and chorus at a rapid rate. Somehow this song miraculously manages to balance the chaotic instrumentals in the chorus with the mellow and delicate ones in the verses to the point that in the end they merge together. Sifow’s vocals are quite at their best within this song. They manage to create a melancholic and moody atmosphere, which really fits well within the mood of this song. It’s simply amazing how it fell together in such a perfect manner and how intriguing this song can be. Despite of being an upbeat song, this song has a rather sad feel to it. I really loved the hybrid of ethnic and techno style. It’s really one of the most beautiful and unique tracks I’ve ever heard.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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2. LOVE & PEACE

If you’re feeling melancholic after “CLAЯITY”, your mood will soon liven up after listening to “LOVE & PEACE”. It starts off with slow electronical instrumentals, which rapidly blend within a mid-tempo funky melody which fade in with sifow’s vocals. These gradually build up to the energetic chorus, which is extremely similar to a lively chant. Sifow’s vocals are quite enjoyable within this song. They seem to contain a hint of amusement and mischief, which is quite different from her more soothing vocals. Nonetheless she still seems to need other backing vocalists to aid her create a more dramatic chorus since her voice is not so powerful.

This song has a lot of charisma within it, making it a firm favourite amongst many of her fans. It makes use of a lot of modern and electronic instrumentals which are inserted within the song to create more spice and energy. It’s also interesting to note that there’s a prevailing use of the electrical guitar in between the chorus. “LOVE & PEACE” also happens to be the ending theme song for a show called ‘スポんちゅ’.

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

3. with you

This song has a really interesting arrangement and melody. The melody is an intriguing blend of ethereal, magical and Arabic beats. It starts off in a fast techno-arabic instrumental which gradually slows down to a mid-tempo melody as the song progresses until the chorus breaks in. When the chorus breaks in, the melody transforms itself into a europop one. The tempo of this song is quite similar to “CLAЯITY”, in the sense that it’s quite unpredictable and it alternates a lot. It’s interesting how it alternates between europop and dramatic Arabic beats and how they seem to blend together and separate throughout the song.

The whole song has a very dreamy feel to it and the instrumentals are kept at a low volume which gives the listener a chance to listen to her vocals more. Her vocals shine within the chorus. They seem to flow quite naturally and have a lot of clarity within them, which is a nice change to her usual songs which rarely showcase her vocal abilities. She also experiments a lot with her vocals instead of keeping them in one tone. I find this track a very beautiful and expressive one.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

4. image

This song starts off quite slowly with fragile tinkling sounds, like a music box. The tempo rapidly builds up with underlying girlish techno-pop melodies which take over. However this song remains a mid-tempo track. Basically this song is a blend of techno-pop and soft and soothing instrumentals.

The song not exactly what you’d call interesting as the melody is quite repetitive and bland. I felt the arrangement was more of a haphazard one. It takes quite a while to break in the chorus and then the melody is somehow too ‘cute’ for words. I suppose it’s not so bad, but it’s not exactly my cup of tea. The chorus somehow manages to save this song though it also tends to get repetitive. Also sifow’s vocals sound strained within the chorus. It’s an okay song, but after three excellent songs “image” sounds bland. Personally I felt that this song was more of a filler.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

5. Chain

“Chain” has a more aggressive mood to it. It starts off with futuristic-techno instrumentals which blend with an electric guitar to give it a slightly rockish edge. Throughout the song the tone rarely changes and remains mid-tempo and mellow.

I find this song extremely bland. The melody seems to lead to no direction, till a reluctant chorus breaks in. Sifow’s vocals are kind of flat within this track, even though there’s a clear attempt of her giving it a more emotional twist. However I fail to enjoy this track and feel it’s another filler.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

 

6. Don’t Stop

“Don’t Stop” seems to continue off from where “Chain” begins. It has an even more aggressive and raw mood to it. This time the rockish genre is even more prevalent within the techno instrumentals and they seem to clash together. It’s slightly better than “Chain”, because it manages to keep the listener interested, however I found the clashing instrumentals quite distasteful and not pleasing at all to listen to. Also I really hated how abruptly it ended, it sounded as if the song was cut in the middle of the recording.

The best part of this track is the chorus which gives it a certain amount of appeal but I personally didn’t like all those loud instrumentals while she was singing. It really made me feel likes she was straining to outsing the background instrumentals.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

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7. CLOVER

“CLOVER” was sifow’s debut single. Despite being the first single, I felt it had a lot of charm and a fresh aura. Sifow’s vocals contain a hint of positive emotion and blend in seamlessly with the background music. It’s also interesting to note that “CLOVER” is the theme song to the racing film “Drift”. The simplistic tone seems to work perfectly within this song. With a europop hint and an energetic tone, this song is definitely a relaxing and enjoyable track.

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

 

8. Shinkokyuu

“Shinkokyuu” is a fast europop track with a mellow tone which slows down the tone of the album. It has a relatively plain melody which somehow feels it’s too long. It makes use of an electric guitar and europop beats. It’s one of those less impressive tracks, with a relaxing melody. Basically this song is another filler.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

9. tell me love!!

This song has a similar feel to “image”, with girlish instrumentals mixed with eurobeat. However it’s got a more interesting arrangement which makes it much more enjoyable. It starts off very slowly, like those 90’s arcade games, in a very electronic manner. Amusingly enough sifow’s vocals also sound ‘electronic’ and with a higher pitch.

When the chorus will break in, I assure you that you’ll fall hopelessly in love with this song. The chorus is quite hyper and cute and you’ll soon find yourself singing along with sifow, despite her engrish. It’s definitely one of her most original and amusing songs.

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

10. Rainbow’s

“Rainbow’s” is a slow and mellow song. It starts off very slowly and the tempo only increases slightly within this song. The arrangement is quite simple but it works perfectly with this song.

This soothing ballad, with techno elements inserted is quite enjoyable to listen to. I really loved how her vocals are so clear and positive within this song and I enjoyed the soft backing vocals. The instrumentals are quite relaxing and they seem personify this feeling of transparency and clarity; like flowing water. It’s a very beautiful song with a magical melody.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

11. Kimi to sora

“Kimi to sora” has a more dramatic and emotional tone, when compared to her other songs. It starts off like a song of Ayumi Hamasaki which I cannot put my finger on. It definitely has a similar feel to Ayumi Hamasaki’s older releases. The slow and melancholic melody slowly builds up into a europop song with a powerful chorus.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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12. My Dear

“My Dear” is a ballad which closes off this album perfectly. It starts off slowly with a piano and a few orchestral instruments. Her vocals are soft until the chorus suddenly breaks in and they become more passionate and raw. Sifow’s vocals work really well with this song.

Something very beautiful within this song is that it sounds a lot like a musical box at certain parts, with the tinkling and delicate instrumentals and at other moments it sounds extremely dramatic and passionate with the orchestral and electronic elements. I really loved this ballad because I felt she really did manage to reach her full potentials with this ballad, while maintaining her style.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

13. Jewel (Cyber NATION remix Album ver.)

This is a remix of the song “Jewel”, which was released in her debut mini album, “& YOU REVOLUTION”. It was included as a bonus track to this album. The original song was quite excellent, nonetheless this remix managed to be excellent in its’ own way too. It’s quite enjoyable to listen to, especially if you enjoy trance. This song was also featured in the remix album “Erokawa Trance”, which contains a compilation of trance remixes from various female artists.

Rating: ★★★★½

 


iPod iPod version (32.6 MB)

 

Conclusion

To conclude I will mention various factors I have carefully evaluated from this album. First of all the presentation and package of this album wasn’t entirely satisfactory. I felt this is the most visible flaw. The CD plastic case was thin and compact, yet it was also quite fragile to handle. Also the manner the fragrance was included made it extremely difficult to open the CD case and get it out. I had to remove the fragrance from the jewel case, because I had a problem with opening the case. It took me quite a while to struggle with the case and try not to damage it. I admit I was fairly disappointed with this factor. I feel this is quite cheap of avex to release an album with this kind of packaging. The fragrance was packaged in a small perfume tube. Despite the fact that it was closed, you could still smell it. I really enjoyed it’s scent, because it’s so aromatic. Personally I feel it’s one of the most tasteful and unique extras I ever got with an album.

The artwork was quite nice. I really enjoyed the smart use of colour co-ordination within this booklet. The whole booklet had a really ethereal and magical theme with a lot of crystals involved. In fact avex used crystals from Swarovski Japan LTD. There was a recurring ‘rainbow’ theme inserted quite discreetly which gave the dreamy and fantasy themed background some spice. It goes without saying that sifow looked absolutely stunning in the photoshoot. My only gripe was that the booklet didn’t have a lot of photos of sifow, which disappointed me.

The genre of music was predominantly techo-pop mixed with fantasy themed instrumentals. Most of the songs were upbeat and energetic. I really enjoyed the ‘magical’ feel to this album, because it’s quite rare to hear something like this. I feel some of her tracks fit perfectly as theme songs for fantasy video games since they have such a fantastic feel to them. Sometimes I felt some her songs sounded like something you’d expect from Spyro the Dragon.

At first, the album might feel too much at one go, since it has only one genre and style. Most songs have a very similar feel to them, which sometimes isn’t quite a good thing. Although the album does manage to flow quite well and the tracks blend well with each other, few tracks seem to stand out as a result. Thus one would get the feeling that most tracks are simply fillers at the first listen. However, after a couple of listens, one will get to appreciate and notice the interesting melodies and unusual instrumentals which give this album such an exotic mood. Another flaw I noticed is that sifow’s vocals also tend to sound too flat and homogeneous. They seem to flow well with the background instrumentals yet, I would have enjoyed some creativity within the vocals.

Overall I have to say “CLAЯITY” is a pretty good album. Despite its’ minor flaws, this album still pulls it off as being interesting, fresh and exciting. I think one can easily close an eye to these flaws and still enjoy this album. For a debut album it’s certainly excellent and quite original. The unusual themes and exotic melodies are more than enough to raise your curiosity. I personally do not regret buying “CLAЯITY” and I highly recommend it to any techno-pop fan. In the end, this album certainly had a lot of potential to sell well if avex has spent more budgets on this album. I wholeheartedly do hope that sifow shall keep her unique style, because it’s definitely one of a kind.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

 

CD Edition
CD Only version
CD+DVD version
CD & DVD version

CD Tracklist

  1. CLAЯITY
  2. LOVE & PEACE
  3. with you
  4. image
  5. Chain
  6. Don’t stop
  7. CLOVER
  8. Shinkokyuu
  9. tell me love!!
  10. Rainbow’s
  11. Kimi to Sora
  12. My Dear
  13. Jewel (Cyber NATION remix Album ver.)

DVD Tracklist

  1. Jewel music clip
  2. CLOVER music clip
  3. LOVE & PEACE music clip
  4. Jewel TV SPOT
  5. CLOVER TV SPOT
  6. LOVE & PEACE TV SPOT

Purchase this item: YesAsia US | YesAsia Global

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About the author

Rinoa enjoys spending her free time writing articles, most particularly reviews, biographies and news articles. Her favourite artist is Ayumi Hamasaki but she enjoys listening to a wide range of musical talents from all over the world.

{ 1 trackback }

The Great Swifty Speaketh!
October 1, 2006 at 3:39 am

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lara March 26, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Kimi to Sora = Surreal by Ayumi not HEAVEN

Reply

Krispy UNITED STATES December 11, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Wooow, I’m glad I’m not the only one who ALWAYS thought kimi to sora sounded like SURREAL. :o

Reply

spirus GREECE February 3, 2007 at 7:53 pm

Well, I finally got my hands on this. I simply love this album. Basically it’s what I needed right now: cool uplifting music. Wonders of Eurodance XD

As for KIMI to Sora, it’s actually like SURREAL at some parts, which I don’t see as something bad, since it’s rather good :P

I’d give this album the highest score apart from perfect. But not matter the rating, someone with music taste can’t fail to see the such effort put in this debut album.

Reply

turtlequeen2 UNITED STATES January 28, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Oh! I think I know what Ayumi Hamasaki song you’re thinking of! It’s HEAVEN!

I just reread this and listened to “Kimi to Sora” again. Yep, it sounds a lot like “HEAVEN” in the beginning. lol.

Reply

Naru UNITED STATES October 5, 2006 at 7:50 pm

I think the reason she has not done so well is because she has such a similar style to Koda Kumi. Who is HUGE. Who is also competing with the aging Ayumi Hamasaki now who helped created her style. So another GAL-Ero-cool singer(that doesn’t have a unique voice) isn’t going to sell well if there is already one in place. Even though I think sifow is pretty and Koda Kumi is not attractive AT ALL.(not like in PVs and stuff but in lives…not cute) I think that she should try and stick to modeling and promoting a positive GAL image.

Reply

Kahla September 24, 2006 at 10:25 am

I love Sifow and I have the first french fan-site, Sifow Online ^^ I’m going to buy the album (cd dvd) ! She seems sooooo cooool ^^

Reply

turtlequeen2 UNITED STATES September 22, 2006 at 6:39 pm

This is my first review on here! I love sifow! This CD is no exception of her great catchy songs! I think this is an awesome, through review of this CD. Not to mention the songs are great. I still think that LOVE&PEACE was one of the best PVs of the summer. I’ll be sure to come back and check on this site!

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