I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Taeko Ohnuki -- Aventure (アヴァンチュール) Follow-Up

All the way back in the early days of the blog, I wrote about Taeko Ohnuki's(大貫妙子)5th album from May 1981, "Aventure". Since then, I've given some of the other tracks from the album their own articles, so I figure it was time to wrap things up and cover the remaining songs on this disc. For the record, the individual songs are the Latin-themed songs of "la mer, le ciel" and "Samba de Mar", "Bleeker Street no Seishun"(ブリーカーストリートの青春), and the poppy tune that starts things off "Koibito Tachi no Ashita"(恋人たちの明日). Another reason for revisiting "Aventure" is that I listened to it again for the first time in several months, and I guess it was a case of absence making the heart grow fonder since I truly enjoyed each track as if I were listening to them for the first time.

The one thing I realized that I had left out were those tracks that have been imbued with the European sound that critics were talking about when it came to this new Ohnuki entering the 1980s. And it is that European sound that finally hooked me into her albums. Case in point: Track 3, "Ai no Yukue"(愛の行方...The Fate of Love). In collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一), Ohnuki sounds absolutely lovely as her voice is matched with his glacial synthesizers to create this old but new techno waltz. And then in the second verse, this pop percussion comes in all of a sudden to add another interesting layer this song about lost love. The above video has a concert performance of the song.

The title track "Aventure" (11:56) is truly a melodic adventure as the song starts off with an intro consisting of these constantly slicing violins and a piano creating a soundscape of heading off to work in the bustling city, whether it be Paris, Brussels or Berlin. Then things get dreamier for a short bit when Taeko sings as if the protagonist is zoning out while on the subway or bus before a jauntier dance sequence enters the equation. But those strings are simply wonderful.

"Terminé"(16:42) is another great chance for the strings to shine but with a more contemporary beat. And the ballad is a bit more romantic and wistful. Images of ballet dancers floating across in front of the Louvre come to mind.

And the final song for the article and the final song for the album itself is "Saigo no Hizuke"(最後の日付...Final Date)at 35:37. As the melody will hint right from the intro, it's a somewhat bittersweet song about moving on from a former relationship despite the difficulty. The last date refers to the final entry of that relationship as written in the diary. I'm sounding like a broken record, I know, but again I love those strings especially when they soar up in volume with the deeper sounds of the cello and bass coming through. And in the back, there is always that layer of technology by Sakamoto, but it is definitely not a YMO product. It's a nice finish for a great album.

Come to think of it, "Aventure" is a most appropriate title for this Ohnuki album since although it was released in Japan, the songs don't have that feeling of City Pop or New Music in its country of origin per se. Instead, you're already transported to some place in Europe or South America.

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