Sigh: Imaginary sonicscape
20/08/12 || Sokaris
Oh wow, have I got something for you. I’ve tried it a few times and just damn, you’ve got to check it out for yourself. What? Don’t worry what it is, just close your eyes, sit back and take the journey. You feel that? You’re going somewhere else, but don’t worry, it’s worth the trip. It might be a little strange at first but everything becomes clearer after a few visits. It’s different for everybody and not everyone has a taste for it. But if you’ve got a penchant for something different you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. Me, though, I just feel at home here. It’s like something I’d been looking for without realizing it. I pop this in and BAM! I’m there. Every time I leave, I feel a little different and reality isn’t quite the same. As soon as it’s over I just want to go back there, to the “Imaginary sonicscape” and just watch and listen and feel alive.
10. Just a gift, I’m not even sure how else to describe it. It’s all come to this, the previous recordings that showed an early mastery of extreme metal, a mature approach in the inclusion of classical elements and a constant desire to incorporate eclectic influences. Although the musical range is just as broad as ”Hail horror hail” there’s an even more nuanced thought process at work here. The album works together beautifully as a whole, bringing the psychedelic and progressive elements to the forefront to help provide character to “Imaginary sonicscape” and create a 60+ minute experience that’s simultaneously unified and diverse. There are surprises, subtle layers that aren’t immediately noticeable and a liquid sonic narrative that might gently pour itself into slightly different and beautiful shapes in front of the listener or just as easily shatter rigid musical barriers with its force.
10. I imagine the recording process was an arduous one, although the results are very much worth whatever work was put into the album. We have thick distorted guitar tone, a very full sounding organic drum kit, warm bass with plenty of presence, harsh vocals with their raw force left intact and a tapestry of vintage synthesizers, keyboards and sequencing elements pulsing throughout like some kind of acid ensemble. Somehow everything stays balanced and the basic metallic core that provide the album’s skeleton is never lost.
10. You can divide up the work here in a few categories. We have straightforward, typically crunchy riffing, ultra-melodic phrases, the more compositionally complimentary cleaner sections and of course the always appreciated evocative soloing. Of course these general approaches mix and overlap but through it all a mastery unmatched is shown in every style taken on. The synth-heavy parts that feature backing guitar never feel like the six string melodies are tacked on and the sections where the metal takes to the forefront feature great riffs with deep hooks.
8. Still a higher register scream for the vast majority but a little less vicious, an aspect that makes sense considering the album is not so much a lesson in violence but more of a darkly psychedelic excursion. The vocals are mostly straightforward in a black metal sense, though there is a gentle female-sung refrain in “Scarlet dream”, operatic male vocals in album closer “Requiem- nostalgia” and vocoder used throughout. It might have been interesting to hear a more varied approach to match the music but what’s present does nothing to detract from the album’s overall impact.
7. The bass guitar is represented more by its tone than by its melodic qualities but it’s easily separated and functions as its own instrument. Since the electric guitar employs a fairly bright sound the bass is free to rumble around the low frequencies, bringing a smoothness that helps unify the album’s various sounds.
5. They’re okay. I really think an opportunity was missed to employ more non-standard beats and additional percussion. The snare has a somewhat distant sound that actually fits really well and the other drums are nice and full. Satoshi definitely has some cool ideas in him, since there are some memorable drum parts, the problem is that his standard arrangements are just that; standard.
10. In the booklet Mirai is credited with Fender Rhodes, Hammond, Minimoog, Yamaha acoustic piano, Hohner Clavinet, Yamaha string machine, Roland Vocoder Plus, melodeon and other keyboards, who knows how goddamn many. That’s of course not to mention the sampling, programming, ring modulating, Speak & Spell usage (seriously!?) and recorder-ing. If you’re a Sigh follower or you’ve kept up with my coverage you know he’s the band’s bassist and vocalist as well, because why the hell not. Anyway, the conception, arrangement and performance of all of these keyboards and extra elements is a musical feat for the ages. The album features bluesy organ shred, classical ivory tinkling, psychedelic orchestration, a goddamn disco section, industrial elements and more than even the most list obsessed music writer could detail. Most importantly though, it all sounds good and grants “Imaginary sonicscape” its eclectic aesthetic.
7. More abstract language but very dark overall, which is fitting. “Corpsecry- angefall” and “Bring back the dead” seem to show the regret-filled downfall of a killer, which is an interesting approach considering the murder theme of the last album where Mirai penned the lyrics.
5. I like the idea. Taking antiquated Eastern art was something Sigh had done many times before and adding a psychedelic flavor to it was a brilliant move. The mix of green and orange make it apparent this isn’t some stock metal album and that the music included is much more daring. However the execution lacks a decent central focus and the details of the orange linework tend to get lost
7. I appreciate that the layout of the cover features unconventional logo placement and the old Sigh sigil looks cool on the clouds added underneath.
8. The warm-colored tripped out collage method works a lot better for a booklet than it does a cover in my opinion even if the lyrics are a little difficult to fully take in, the lack of line breaks not helping matters much.
Overall and ending rant
This album will always hold a very special place in my mind, my soul and my music collection (all equally important things) and would be one of my most likely answers to the clichéd “desert island” proposition. Does the rating indicate perfection? No, because “Imaginary sonicscape” exists outside of any conventional barometer for rating music that I possess. What I can attest to though, is that it’s an auditory experience that I enjoy more deeply than anything else that comes to mind.
In the interest of providing complete information on different versions, as I have attempted to do on all of these Sigh releases, there exists a remastered editionwith bonus tracks, released on The End records. The sound isn’t different enough to warrant an additional analysis. The bonus material (“Born condemned criminal”, “Voices” and an extension to “Bring back to the dead”) is worth hearing and I recommend picking up The End Records’ release of “Imaginary sonicscape”
- Released: 2001
- Label: Century Media
- Website: Sigh MySpace
- Mirai Kawashima: vocals, bass, keyboards
- Shinichi Ishikawa: guitars
- Satoshi Fujinami: drums
- 01. Corpsecry- angelfall
- 02. Scarlet dream
- 03. Nietzschean conspiracy
- 04. A sunset song
- 05. Impromptu (Allegro maestoso)
- 06. Dreamsphere (Return to the chaos)
- 07. Ecstatic transformation
- 08. Slaughtergarden Suite
- 09. Bring back the dead
- 10. Requiem- nostalgia