Home > m.o.v.e/move, Music Review: Album, Release Date: 2005 > Rock? Hard Place? Pick the rock. [move’s BOULDER]

Rock? Hard Place? Pick the rock. [move’s BOULDER]

I figured that if anything, the first non-boyband post on this blog at least ought to be related to the name of the blog. With producer/composer t-kimura’s recent confirmation on the musical style of their upcoming album, and his reply to me on the current state of the Japanese pop market (“toomuch dancepop market in japan now” – shush, it gave me great great joy at 4AM, an hour when I obviously should not have been up), it served as an additional reminder and motivation. And so, ladies and gentlemen and those otherwise inclined reading this blog, I give you m.o.v.e, formerly move.

In case you’ve never heard of them, m.o.v.e is famous for two things. The first is changing their musical style fairly often. The second is for doing a whole bunch of Initial D – and some other anime – theme songs. (Or should those be reversed?)

2005 marked a pivotal year for m.o.v.e. For one thing, it’s the year they made the switch from move to m.o.v.e, thanks to “move” already being trademarked when they entered a global remix contest. For another, it’s the year they invented the genre “J-Loud” in reference to their BOULDER album. (This album was also their last under the name “move.”) It’s most probably this same J-Loud genre the group will be returning to with the next album, so what better way to prepare for their upcoming release than by going over their past work?

Let’s start with some basics. I first got into m.o.v.e in summer 2001, when on a trip to Hong Kong, I heard Gamble Rumble on the in-flight Japanese music channel. All attempts to find releases of theirs in the Hong Kong music shops were useless, but luckily, when I returned there just happened to be a little thing called the Internet. Also luckily, there was a Japanese bookstore that I not-so-quickly (two years later) became acquainted during my high school years.

Between 2001 and 2005, when BOULDER was released, is four years. That’s a lot of time for a lot of change. In fact, m.o.v.e went from dancepop to trance to latin influence to what I like to call emo/symphonic rock to a more heavy rock/synth sound that is the aforementioned “J-Loud.” It is probably telling of my short attention span (because things stay fresh), the greatness of this album*, or both that I stuck and have stuck with m.o.v.e for so long through these changes.

Of course, it helped that the releases prior to it are forever some of my favorite in Japanese pop.

*Yes, I’m biased. Did you not read any of the above?

o1/ How To See You Again The group’s 22nd single continues the turn into the ska punk realm. Way back when it was first released, I apparently didn’t like this song very much. (Really. I went all the way back into the archives of the music community I was posting as part of then, and my reviews then tell me I didn’t like this.) Skip forward 6 years, and this has since grown on me to be a definite favorite. Oh, what time does to a person.

While this song takes out the orchestra for grunge guitars, it’s a lot of fun. The fact that motsu takes a turn at singing – though he does have rap intermissions – should tell you that. It starts out slow and wistful, and then rushes into one hell of a headbanging chorus. You’ll be bouncing along.

o2/ DOGFIGHT The last relic of the symphonic rock era, the group’s 20th single, and the first opening to Initial D Fourth Stage, DOGFIGHT marks a lot of moments. Appropriately, this song is epic. Not Korean pop/Koda Kumi epic, but epic. As in, Beowulf could kill to make this his theme music. The opening strings lull you in quick and steady into powerful guitars. Everything that follows is nothing short of amazing. Just watch the video above.

o3/ 無礼講ナイト ~Bring your mic [Bureikou NIGHT ~Bring your mic] The observant ones will notice that this song bears the same title as this blog. The unobservant ones don’t get cookies. As mentioned in various places, this is one of my favorite songs by m.o.v.e – period.

This is sort of an inverse of How To See You Again above, in that it dumps you immediately in grunge guitars and a chorus inviting a mosh pit to go absolutely crazy for a minute and a half before bringing in yuri’s vocals, and then slamming us with motsu’s high-energy rap. In fact, yuri appears in all of 7 lines. That doesn’t mean that yuri’s bad, it just means that this track doesn’t need the calming sense her singing brings. Throw aside all your restraint – it’s bureikou night.

o4/ Nobody reason ~ノアの方舟 [Nobody reason ~NOAH no Hakobune] The second ending to Initial D Fourth Stage, the rock has been toned down, reduced to guitars in the chorus. In fact, the song is on all accounts mournful, with a few more exotic influences courtesy of the strings during motsu’s second rap, but yuri sets the tone with a constant piano backing. I’m not even sure how it fits Initial D. Coming off a series of highs, it’s not a favorite, and even tends to drag after a series of fast-paced high-energy tracks.

o5/ Lookin’ On The Sunny Side Oh, avex. This is the video that came out of nowhere. It certainly wasn’t to make money. But there is a lot of pretty scenery shots and pictures of children – I hear some of those pictures are of t-kimura’s kid? The opening strains will probably sound familiar – that’s because this is another of those songs based off of Pachelbel’s Canon, with synth beats tossed in. (It’s also the first cover m.o.v.e has done.) yuri only comes in for the chorus, but motsu’s rapping is kept low-key. You’ll either like it or not care about it, but it’s a solid piece.

o6/ REAL FACT Aaaaaaaaaand we’re back with the energy. Chaotic synth and guitars are the opener to track number 6, and they don’t go away anytime soon. Think of it like a less poppy How To See You Again. motsu’s rapping almost melds with the distorted instrumental, and then yuri’s sweet voice hits. While yuri’s got her constant low-energy problem going on, here she serves as a foil to motsu and does it well.

o7/ ROCK DA HOUSE We can call this the instrumental of the album, and of course, this is where producer t-kimura shines. It’s a variety of synth melodies with distorted guitars, and the occasional male vocal line, and that’s the best description I can give without resorting to fighting game references. Let’s just say that at 6:25, it’s the longest track on the album and not tiring in the least.

o8/ Noizy Tribe Contrasting against DOGFIGHT and Nobody reason, this is the second opening to Initial D Fourth Stage, and was also to be found on the group’s 22nd single. You can still hear traces of the symphonic rock, though the symphony part has been replaced with a synthesized backing melody. yuri being the stanza vocalist combined with this adds a dramatic sense of danger to the song that grows into the raging chorus. Not as epic as DOGFIGHT, but still a great listen.

o9/ Mission 2 Gemini We open with some buzzing noises. Yes. Buzzing noises. Looking at the title, you then realize they’re probably meant to induce some sort of space or futuristic traveling imagery. But if you don’t like buzzing synth, this may not be the song for you. We soon get the heavy guitars and fast drum that has accompanied a large number of songs on this album, and basically if you’ve liked any track in which motsu sings thus far, you’ll like this one.

1o/ GHETTO BLASTER “Wait, you’ve been mentioning the 22nd and the 20th single, where is the 21st?” This would be it, also marking the beginning of m.o.v.e’s slight turn into ska punk. This title has also become something motsu apparently likes to wear, judging from his outfits at live performances. I don’t blame him – this song is jump-up-and-down fun. Or jump-rope fun, if you go by the music video. And in keeping with the title (a “ghetto blaster” is basically a boombox), this is one song you’ll want to blast at high volume.

11/ selfless I confess to having a problem with this song. I think a big part of it is the chorus line “Feel my selfless love, my selfless heart for you” –  the English-speaking part of me can’t get over the contradiction. (Basically, asking to be noticed is a sort of selfishness.) That aside, this is slow in the vein of Nobody reason, led by yuri – but the guitars get amped a bit at parts, making this song slightly more powerful. I don’t think that’ll make much difference

12/ Cherry blossom Every time this song starts up with its lonely guitar opening, I think of some generic American emo-rock song that I probably listened to in the very late hours of my middle school years, staying up at night with my bleary eyes focused on VH1’s Insomniac (oh, look! The days when they actually showed music videos!) – but I can’t tell you what song because I honestly have no clue.

Out of the three slow songs on this album (the other two being Nobody reason and selfless), this is probably my favorite, probably this sounds a lot like it belongs on the DEEP CALM album. yuri is the main vocal, of course, and motsu practically doesn’t even need to be in here, though his interjections provide a small break from the singing. My favorite part, though, is undeniably the backing vocals in the chorus, that sound like a cross between a Horror of Horrors and a Greek chorus.

13/ Noizy Tribe (English Version) Fans of m.o.v.e generally know that motsu did a stint in America before he really got started in the music industry, and since he writes the group’s lyrics, that’s about the only explanation I have for occasional “English Version” songs m.o.v.e puts out. (To their credit, there are only three – ROCK IT DOWN, DOGFIGHT, and Noizy Tribe.) The music is the exact same, but as to be expected, sometimes the English is unintelligible. It’s more of a novelty than anything new, and whether you liked the original or not, this won’t change your mind.

There’s some good, some iffy, and if you’re not inclined to this style, some bad. But the meaning of move is to keep moving forward, and I won’t be too disappointed if they move a bit backwards into a similar sound.

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