Hysteric Glamour feat. OLIVIA
Product Code: CTCR-14510/1
Release Date: 2007.01.07
First Press: Poster/Illustration Booklet
Debut Ranking: #9
Label: cutting edge
After Olivia Lufkin’s hiatus, many fans were eagerly awaiting a release which was credited to OLIVIA only. The NANA releases were satisfactory enough, but everyone knew that Olivia’s style moved towards a different and more unique direction. Also Olivia’s fans wanted music which reflected Olivia’s personality rather than Reira’s. In January 2007 Olivia finally released her highly anticipated 5th mini album titled “The Cloudy Dreamer“. However Olivia had another surprise up her sleeve, since “The Cloudy Dreamer” moved towards a different direction from her previous mini albums.
Olivia had mentioned how she had plans to release a mini album and it was first set to be released in November, only a month after the release of “Wish/Starless Night” but it was postponed to be released in the following year. Most probably avex wanted Olivia to ride on her newfound popularity due to her inspi’ Reira releases. For this reason, January was a rather busy month for Livi. She appeared on various music television programs to talk about her new mini album, most notably on MTV. She was also featured in various radio programs, music websites and magazines. Finally Olivia had a concert titled after the mini album to promote “The Cloudy Dreamer“. Apart from containing two songs with a tie-in with NANA, three other songs had a tie-in too. Finally the DVD version contained the promotional video of “Stars Shining Out” and a few performances from her concert “Tears & Rainbows” on the 25th July. Overall avex made sure to have a pretty stable promotional campaign for this release. It is interesting to note that this release was produced by Tetsuya Miyake and Olivia herself.
The artwork features two versions of Olivia. The use of contrast is clearly visible since one of them is wearing a white dress, while the other is wearing a dark blue dress. Probably this suggests the dark and negative past and the more positive present versions of Olivia. The setting for this photoshoot suggests an abstract and undefined world, where desolate beaches and fields are portrayed. This idyllic setting fits perfectly to the style of music found in “The Cloudy Dreamer” and also reflects Livi’s love for nature.
The new direction of “The Cloudy Dreamer” was a rather fairly interesting one. Various fans have speculated that this new direction was due to herself overcoming the troublesome experiences in her life which were hinted in the song “Let Go” from her first post-hiatus single “a little pain“. Her depression in 2003 and 2004 was hinted to be linked to her declining popularity and a rather intense and destructive relationship. Probably this relationship was with Ken Lloyd. In various lyrics from this mini album, Olivia hints that this relationship was unhealthy for her.
Another interesting aspect to note is that in her online diary titled “Olivia’s Voice”, Olivia wrote how she focused the theme upon her struggle between her mind and her heart. Her mind reflects her doubts and brings up her past memories which she feels leads her to stop living the moment. She has titled this state “The Cloudy Dreamer” which is also the title of this mini album. Olivia claims that her heart has been the inspiration for her artwork which were included in the poster and mini book as a first press extra.
Finally Olivia also mentions that her music is a balance of western influenced rock and typical Japanese rock and is slightly influenced by Trapnest. For this reason her music took another direction in order to appeal to a wider audience. Other influences from artists like Björk are also evident, especially from the visual aspects of this mini album. In the hotexpress interview Olivia was confident to claim that her music is now more mature. It received a fairly good response from her Japanese audience and hotexpress chose Olivia as an MVP for 2006. However this mini album was met with mixed feelings from the western audience, especially her fans from her darker 2003 and 2004 releases.
Overall this mini album was fairly successful for an artist like Olivia. It ranked at #15 on the weekly charts making it her highest ranking album, staying on the charts for four weeks. It also sold 17,676 copies to date. This led to “The Cloudy Dreamer” becoming her most successful album to date although her first studio album “synchronicity” had higher sales. Her full album credited to OLIVIA inspi’ REIRA would be released a month later but would end up selling less. This was rather surprising since it is assumed that NANA tie-ins are powerful sellers. However it’s disappointing though that her past inspi’ Reira singles sold more than a mini album.
1. If you only knew
The mini album starts off with an ethereal and mellow introduction. This song makes heavy use of electronica instruments and also features a piano playing in the background. Olivia’s vocals are sung at a low volume in order to avoid drowning the background instrumentals. However the song slowly builds up, adding minimal elements and Olivia manages to hit the high notes with ease, displaying her impressive range. The composition and lyrics of this song are deceptively simple and I feel that the beauty of this song lies there. Despite the fact that this song sounds like a typical mellow ballad, there’s more than it meets the eye – or the ear in our case.
“If you only knew” is yet another Olivia and Jeffrey collaboration. Together they composed this song and Jeffrey worked on the arrangement and programming of this song. The lyrics were also a creation of Olivia and are completely in English. The most appealing aspect of these lyrics are the references to lost innocence and a complex past relationship.
Interestingly enough this song has this minimalistic style which is reminiscent of Caroline Lufkin’s “Murmurs” album. Olivia also released similar songs as b-sides in her inspi’ Reira singles. The mood is passively melancholic and it gives the listener the mental image of a desolate and abandoned church. This song was used as an insert song for the South-Korean drama “Snow Queen”.
2. Stars shining out
“Stars shining out” moves towards a more powerful direction, with the addition of rock elements. The theme is darker and more negative than her recent releases. This song has an interesting characteristic of blending her ethereal elements of her ballads with the powerful rock elements to create a very vivid hybrid of rock and synthesized music. It’s got a rather catchy beat but it never managed to grow onto me to grow addicted to it.
The lyrics follow Olivia’s tendency of including both Japanese and English. Karen Aoki collaborated with Olivia for the creation of these lyrics by rewriting some of her lyrics in Japanese. Olivia also collaborated with rui for the composition and the arrangement was in the hands of rui and kansei. This song was used for POWER PLAY at the popular variety show, Music Fighter in January. It’s also one of her songs aimed towards a more mainstream direction and was first exposed to the public by in her “Chocolate & Confusion” concert in October 2006.
A promotional video was directed to promote the mini album and was aired in December. It’s doubtlessly one of the most bizarre and mysterious clip Olivia has released in her career. Animation and the realistic figure of Olivia are merged together to create a dark world stuck between fantasy and reality. The outfit choice also led many fans of Olivia to speculate where she got the inspiration to choose such unconventional outfits. It links directly to “The Lost Lolli” album in an interesting manner. The bird which was included in the artwork of this album was inserted in the promotional video. This reference is probably done on purpose to link her troubled past with her present.
3. Dream Catcher
“Dream Catcher” takes a similar direction as “a little pain” by being a power ballad with acoustic rock elements. The result is simply spectacular. She takes the soaring vocal approach and the results are that her vocals are extremely raw, emotional and passionate. The chorus is especially powerful and explodes with emotion and intensity. Personally I find this song is the personification of perfection. Livi’s vocals and the acoustic guitar are synchronized flawlessly.
Similarly to the previous song the lyrics are a collaboration between Olivia and Chazne, since Olivia is not exactly fluent in Japanese. Olivia again collaborated with rui for the composition and the arrangement was in the hands of rui and kansei. In an interview Olivia mentioned how she really enjoys working with rui because she’s always satisfied with their collaborations. This song was used as the theme song of the horror dorama “Jigoku Shoujo” which is frequently translated as “Underworld Girl” in English.
Interestingly enough a “dream catcher” is typically associated with the Native American culture. It is hung above the bed and used as a charm to “catch” the nightmares of the sleeping person and allow the person to have good dreams. Olivia has used the theme from the dorama tie-in to relate with the main character. She jokingly mentions how penned her name as “OLIVIA inspi’ Underworld Girl” for herself. Oddly enough she uses uses this positive and a hopeful theme for a horror dorama.
4. Who’s gonna stop it
“Who’s gonna stop it” is one of the songs which resembles her angrier and darker music from her mini albums, but with a more mainstream direction. It has a definite western nu-metal influence. The instrumentals chosen are typical to those used in American bands, especially the heavy use of electrical guitars and drums. The song is extremely energetic and upbeat with the climax at the chorus, where Olivia’s delicate voice soars over the aggressive instrumentals. This use of contrast is quite interesting since Olivia’s voice is the highlight with these heavy instruments in the background. Personally I find this song slightly weaker than the other tracks, but it does have its’ own appeal and it stands out because it’s so different from anything released in this mini album.
The lyrics follow the popular theme “make love and not war” and have a political propaganda included. Olivia criticizes the corrupt societies and raises the ethical issue of war. However the theme is rather too simplistic and cliche. I imagine Olivia just wanted to send out this powerful message in a clear and understandable manner. It’s also another song written completely in English by Olivia. Interestingly enough this song’s composition and arrangement was a collaboration between Olivia, Jeffrey, Azuma Sakamoto, Murochin and Yoshiyuki Watabe. Apart from Oliva and her brother, the musicians mentioned also played the instruments for this song. It was mentioned that it took two days of recording to perform this song perfectly.
5. Cloudy World
At this point, the mini album takes another direction, connecting abstract elements with the rock genre. “Cloudy World” is the song which represents this album. It’s also clearly another western influenced track, aimed to appeal for the masses. Despite of being one of my favourite tracks from this mini album, I have to admit it takes time to grow onto the listener. The reason is simply because it’s quite different from anything Livi has ever released and so a fan of her might find this song not a trademark style by Olivia.
However it’s another polished and memorable track with a very catchy melody, without sounding like just another mainstream song. What gives this song a lot of appeal is the fact that it moves away from her melancholic and angry releases and focuses on creating a carefree and positive aura. Olivia would mention in the hot express interview that she wrote this song to materialize the image of having the heart in control even if she lives in “The Cloudy World” where her mind reminds her of the negative aspects of her life. In this song she clearly displays she desires to move on and live the future with hope. She is especially fond of the arrangement, because it feels pleasant to the ear.
Karen Aoki collaborated with Olivia again to write these lyrics. The composition was another work of Olivia and her brother, while the arrangement and programming were in the hands of Jeffrey only. He also played the guitar with Azuma Sakamoto.
6. Cut me free
“Cut me free” is probably the darkest song from this mini album. It also sounds a continuity of “If you only knew” since it follows the same ethereal and desolate mood but with a darker atmosphere. An eerie and gothic atmosphere is created, with a haunting piano playing in the background. A definite change of style is also portrayed via the vocals which sound desperate, exhausted and drained of hope. All the instruments, arrangement and programming work were done by Jeffrey. The composition was another collaboration of the two siblings.
The lyrics, written completely in English portray her emotionally draining relationship with her mind. It’s an interesting reflection of her mental state, and strangely enough sounds as if her heart and mind are having a conversation. Olivia describes how she has tried to banish these bad memories and negative aspects and calls her mind a “memorizing monster”. This explains why her voice sounds so desperate and the minimal instrumentals are so hypnotic and haunting. When her mind “shuts down” she is able to feel truly free and and she yearns to remain in that state forever. When Olivia sings this part, the atmosphere transforms itself to a more ethereal one and her vocals become hopeful. The stunning way which this song evolves to reflect her mental state is pure genius.
7. Wish ‘English ver.’
Since avex probably was keen to include her NANA hits, Olivia decided to transform this song by singing it completely in English. I suppose it was appropriate since this is one of the songs which became the representation of Olivia’s career in 2006. In any way this song is almost identical to the original version, except for the fact that the lyrics sound slightly too long. For this reason Olivia sometimes sounds as if she’s trying to squeeze the lyrics by singing faster. Despite of this slight gripe about this song, “Wish” still remains a rather powerful song.
Olivia wrote the lyrics herself and they’re a rather complex play with words. However not unlike the Japanese versions they display the desire to connect with her lover. The upbeat, aggressive rock elements blended with the fantasy elements are a rather interesting combination. Olivia’s emotional and raw edge in her vocals are extremely vivid. This manages to depict the theme of weakness and strength which Olivia desired to be depicted for Reira’s character.
8. a little pain
“a little pain” was a definite turning point for Olivia’s career and I feel this is her best song from her 2006 releases. It manages to represent Reira’s emotions perfectly. I still remember how hyped I was when I heard the song for the very first time because it was so enchanting and memorable. For these reasons, “a little pain” is her best selling single and also her best selling release for quite a few years.
Despite the fact that this song was clearly aimed to be accepted by a mainstream audience, this song is still a very unique and enchanting creation. The combination of ethereal elements and the rock genre were perfectly balanced to create something absolutely unworldly. Olivia’s polished and emotional vocals were perfectly blended with this song. Another brilliant aspect of this song was the layering done with Olivia’s vocals. Put simply it rendered this song perfect and gave it another dimension.
To be entirely honest, I wasn’t exactly keen about this album when I first listened to it. I’m one of those fans who have followed her career for quite a few years and I was surprised to see the direction of her music. However it slowly grew into me to the point that I grew rather fond of it and I have started to appreciate her new style. As for the first release being credited to OLIVIA only, I must say it’s a rather unexpected twist. Many had imagined that after her inspi’ Reira project was over, Olivia would return to the style she had left back in 2004. However it is clear that Olivia does not wish to return to that stage in her life since she has moved on and wants to release music which is positive and inspiring. In the interview conducted on Purple Sky magazine, Olivia would clearly claim that she wants to do what Björk did to her, help people when they are down.
For this reason Lufkin is more willing to meet the music industry halfway to produce something original and yet accessible to the people. For this reason Olivia tried to make this mini album more understandable to the people and create a compromise between her style and the popular music. I felt that this decision must have been quite difficult for Olivia to take, but I admire her for taking it. It is also interesting to note that avex decided to use western mixers to record the new tracks in this mini album, which displays their willingness to give Olivia her creative freedom in this album. These factors combined have led this album to have an interesting western flavour with an alternative rock genre. Her music is more polished and glossier, without allowing Olivia to lose her identity and trademark style.
Despite the fact that “The Cloudy Dreamer” is far from being flawless, it’s definitely an excellent return for Olivia Lufkin to the music industry. Oliva’s music tends to reflect her mental state and her lyrics tend to be autobiographical and this explains well why her music sounds more positive and hopeful. For this reason I’m rather happy that Olivia is finally finding happiness and confidence within herself. I’m also beyond happy to see that she has developed a small fanbase in Japan to the point that she’s starting to sell moderately well for an artist set in avex’s indies sub-label. Hopefully Olivia’s promising return to her musical career will continue to bring her more success in the future.
- If you only knew
- Stars Shining Out
- Dream Catcher
- Who’s gonna stop it
- Cloudy World
- Cut me free
- Wish (English Version)
- a little pain
- Stars Shining Out (PV)
- Alone in our Castle (Live at Shibuya O-WEST 25th July 2006)
- let go (Live at Shibuya O-WEST 25th July 2006)
- a little pain (Live at Shibuya O-WEST 25th July 2006)
- SpidERSpins (Live at Shibuya O-WEST 25th July 2006)
- Devil’s in me (Live at Shibuya O-WEST 25th July 2006)