Friday, August 25th, 2017

Hachi ft. Hatsune Miku – Suna no Wakusei

We cover Hatsune for the first time in five years…


Patrick St. Michel: A decade since arriving on store shelves, the Hatsune Miku installment of Vocaloid software has proven massively influential on the Japanese music scene, while also generating some interesting twists abroad (not to mention a surreal late-night TV appearance). Yet as the digi singer’s tenth birthday arrives, a new generation of artists whose first real foray into music creation are coming of age in Japan. Some of Kenshi Yonezu’s earliest musical work was under the name Hachi, creating songs centered around Miku’s voice in all its electronic glory. He’s become a fast-rising singer/songwriter under his own name, but “Suna no Wakusei” finds him revisiting his origins to write the aqua-haired software avatar one of the stranger birthday songs one could ask for. It’s literally about life post apocalypse (happy birthday Miku, death is imminent), the guitar adding a jagged edge that makes the cheers breaking through feel all the more sarcastic. Miku’s voice programming gets pushed towards the computerized extreme, melding well with the uneasy stomp Yonezu conjures up in the music. It’s one of the more clever uses of a software often just serving as a substitute for an actual human voice, Yonezu treating Miku as an instrument that can be morphed into unexpected shapes. Ten years on, there’s still a lot to discover with Miku.

Alfred Soto: Pure momentum and proud of it: vocals as processed as canned pork and beans competing with busy piano runs and a fierce (in context) guitar solo. As accompaniment, impeccable, but there’s not much song.

Ryo Miyauchi: It’s easy to forget that Hatsune Miku isn’t limited to a voice of a synth pop record. Kenshi Yonezu, for one, used vocaloid technology for his earlier, more pop-rock material as Hachi. But it’s still a bit peculiar to find her in a contemporary setting: “Suna no Wakusei” reminds me of a vocaloid version of the many current J-rock bands imitating the jazz-rock musings of Soitaisei Riron’s Etsuko Yakushimaru. Yonezu prioritizing how words sound over what they mean especially call back to Yakushimaru, and it’s a direction that works well with the glitched flow of Hatsune’s speech.

Tim de Reuse: Hatsune Miku’s artificiality is leaned into sharply, meshing aesthetically with the crisp, angular instrumentation; it’s a lovely effect, but I don’t feel like the track has any other tricks up its sleeve that impress as much as the initial presentation does.

Katie Gill: How exactly DOES one talk about a Vocaloid song? So much music criticism prioritizes the singer which, considering that the singer is a literal computer program, doesn’t exactly work in this case. Despite the fact that it lasts about a minute too long, the song embraces the inherent electronic tones in Miku’s “voice” and doesn’t try to hide them or smooth them out like it seems a lot of Vocaloid music does. But at the end of the day…it’s just kind of there. The song’s good. And I enjoy the piano, even though it’s a bit too busy. But it doesn’t bring anything new to the table with regards to musical styles or pushing the limits of the Vocaloid program.

Jessica Doyle: This song feels like a large industrial structure with the front entrance locked; I’m not sure if there’s an alternate way in, or if it’s worth the effort to look for one.

Nortey Dowuona: The piano that rises into the synths and guitars is purposeful and energetic, and the rock breakdown is actually on point. The singing feels anonymous, but feels more like an instrument in the song. It’s perfect, except for the fact that the video is absolutely superior in every way.

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One Response to “Hachi ft. Hatsune Miku – Suna no Wakusei”

  1. Oh man the games have some fucking AMAZING pop songs though.

    “Sekiranun Graffiti”, “Ageage Again”, “Shake It”, “No Logic”, the genuinely affecting “Interviewer”, “Dream Eating Monochrome Baku”, “Melancholic”, “To the End of Infinity” etc etc etc