Camellia


(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Paroxysm (2013), 6/10
Diffraction (2014), 6/10
Sudden Shower (2014), 5.5/10
Dreamless Wanderer (2014), 4.5/10
Planet//Shaper (2015), 5/10
Crystallized (2015), 5/10
Insane Inflame (2016), 6/10
Invaidas from da Jungle (2017), 7/10
Heart of Android (2018), 6.5/10
Blackmagik Blazing (2019), 7/10
Tera I/O (2020), 5.5/10
UUFO (2021), 5.5/10
With Nanahira:
Versus (2014), 6/10
Reply (2015), 5/10
Sleep (2016), 5/10
Force (2017), 6/10
Go-in (2019), 6/10
Links:

Camellia, the brainchild of prolific Japanese producer Masaya Oya ("Cametek"), specialized in a kind of electronic dance music that was a chaotic, abrasive, euphoric and hyper-syncopated blend of breakcore, dubstep, drum'n'bass and soundtracks of arcade videogames.

Camellia debuted with a series of collaborations with the "vocaloid" and virtual idol Hatsune Miku, the 16-year-old girl simulated by the voice-synthesizing software Vocaloid, originally released by Crypton Future Media in 2007, the third "vocaloid", already the protagonist in 2009 of Kei Garo's manga series "Maker Hikoshiki Hatsune Mix" as well as of Sega's videogame "Hatsune Miku - Project Diva", and the first vocaloid to top the Japanese charts when the compilation Exit Tunes Presents Vocalogenesis of songs featuring her voice was released in 2010. Their first album was Hanijinjaeru/ Honey Ginger Ale (2010), released when Oya was still only a teenager. It was followed by Trippers (2011), mikUbiquity (2011), Michno-sequence (2012), and Stance on Wave (2013).

Paroxysm (2013), his first instrumental album. contains the more conventional booming techno of Ring and the melodic and atmospheric Paroxysm, but excels at the jazzy and neurotic contortions of Bug Collection and at the manic barbaric accelerations of Fastest Crash.

A punk and rock influence permeates Diffraction (2014), another mostly instrumental album that, past the acrobatic beats of Blast your Headz with the Railgun, focuses on more traditional structures, notably the thumping Not Epic, the pummeling drum'n'bass of /Dev/null, and especially the anthemic and telluric Into the Lava. It even contains the space-rocking song Peaceful Invading (with him himself on vocals) and the synth-surf ditty Phatty Influencers. Unfortunately half of the album is uninspired filler, although the tribal vocoder soul ballad of Helixfossil is an intriguing experiments.

Another conventional dance, This is Rock n Roll Maybe, opens Sudden Shower (2014) that also contains the bombastic and relentless Blown with the Glare (but with a catchy refrain) and the cute novelty Treaty of Peace between GlitchHop and Moombahcore. As usual, the most interesting compositions are at the end of the album: the panzer onslaught of No Kidding, the metal-operatic overture of Dark Thunder, and the orgiastic eight-minute jam Danger Drug.

Dreamless Wanderer (2014) only has eight compositions, notably the epileptic Shadows of Cats (but a bit trivial at epilepsis), and the infectious Feel my Conscious (with chipmunk voices). His weakest album yet.

Versus (2014) inaugurated the collaboration with high-pitched singer Nanahira (a specialist of catchy and childish "denpa" songs) and includes the jovial singalong Jump Over, the breathless Basasu (eighth track, after Rainbow) and especially the anthemic march All Japan Bath Plan (ninth track). The following year they delivered Bassdrop Freaks (2015), followed by the album Reply (2015).

Unfortunately the first half of Planet//Shaper (2015) is mostly garbage. The real album begins with the decomposed horror metal of Why do you Hate me, and continues with the fractal explosion of Ill Intelligence, the rhythmic rainstorm of Flying in the Flow of Deep-Sea, the prog-rock fantasy Exit This Earth's Atomosphere, and concludes with the best piece, the digital hardcore/speedcore of R U Still xxxx. The lengthy title-track is instead another waste of time.

Crystallized (2015), another eclectic collection, falters at the beginning (with the long opening song Rain of Amethyst) but then delivers the Zappa-esque novelty First Town Of This Journey and the closing triad of Nuclear Star, Crystallized and Liquated. But too much of the album is devoted to trivial melodies and facile beats, and even where it rises above mediocrity it sounds like old-fashioned prog-rock adapted to electronic dance music.

Insane Inflame (2016), a return to form, contains the pulverized carillon of Break the Silence, the maelstrom of voices Neurocloud9, the tragic expressionism of Immortal Scream, and one of his most poignant composition, the symphonic Darkness Overload.

The pieces of Invaidas from da Jungle (2017) exhibit a higher degree of narrative complexity and of stylistic cross-pollination (the Indian-esque One Bite for all) that also lend themselves to more dystopian atmospheres (Ethnik Khemikal Teknologi) The elaborate constructs result in the cinematic gargantuan flavor of Attack from Mandrake (orchestral exotic glitchy hip-hop), the sonic jackhammer of Powa of da Wildanes and the hyper-psychedelic freak-out of Poison Mushroom. Furry Cannon feels like a desperate danse macabre, while The King of Lions feels like the soundtrack of a demonic nervous breakdown. Other songs are simpler, but no less brutal, from the infectious Jungle Dance Music the comic case of jazzploitation and sampledelica that is Do you Know Donkey Kong?

Sleep (2016) was the third collaboration with Nanahira, with the most demonic numbers (the second track Animal Land Japanese, a musical vertigo, the sixth track Sleep Japanese, a Japanese square dance), and Force (2017), the fourth one, was perhaps the most elegant of their collaborations (the second track Heart Beat Overheat, and especially the fifth, Can I friend you on Bassbook? Lol).

Camellia reached a new peak of multistylistic eclecticism and of hysterical syncopation on Heart of Android (2018). Alone intelligence feels like a cubistic remix of east-listening music of the 1960s. Arcology on Permafrost is an exuberant android form of prog-rock. Ns is a demented showtune aria. Stealth Dash scrambles alien messages like an interstellar typhoon. FM Synthesis Experiment makes techno music out of thundering videogame cacophony. A few pop and soul temptations temper the onslaught: the seven-minute Tojita Sekai toys with an easy-listening motif, Heart of Android mocks cartoon music, and The Future we didn't Expect features female vocals and strings. The 15-song parade is both exhilarating and exhausting.

The compilation Galaxy Burst (2018) contains the digital hardcore/speedcore Bangin' Burst.

Blackmagik Blazing (2019), ostensibly a concept album on black magic, is less brutal than Invaidas from da Jungle and Heart of Android but still boasts a generous dose of vicious audio creatures, from the old-school aggro of Circles of Death to the bombastic and epileptic Night Raid With A Dragon via the pyrotechnic display of Arche, the breathless run of We Could Get More Machinegun Psystyle and the carpet bombing of Under Construxion? The detours are sometimes more intriguing than the core atrocities. Nasty Nasty Spell is comedic meta-jazz a` la Do you Know Donkey Kong?, Luin Of Celtcha? toys with Celtic motifs, and the mini-operetta Nightmare + City annihilates classical music in a festival of distortions with a devastating intermezzo of heavy-metal guitar.

Go-in (2019) was the fifth collaboration with Nanahira, with the effervescent and pounding first track (Super Dangerous Sound Quality with Magical Energy), the rocking third track (Cheese Bomb, one of their all-time best), the demonic and dizzying fourth track (Yaminabe), the bizarre charleston of I'm not Interested in Christmas (12th track), and so on.

Tera I/O (2020) contains too much filler but also the pseudo-melodic Dance with Silence, the deranged cartoon music Compute It With Some Devilish Alcoholic Steampunk Engines, the seven-minute mini-operetta M1lli0n PP and especially the black-metal and neoclassical fantasy Flamewall. It is certainly a different album in Camellia's discography.

The double-disc UUFO (2021) feels like a random compendium of ten years of production tricks. Red * Room and Zombie Circus are two of his reinventions of vintage dancehall pop. The neoclassical element yields Mystery Circles Ultra, the operatic element yields Electromagnetic Stealth Girl Born In Philadelphia and the heavy-metal element yields Bermuda Delta Triangle. The music tends to be more atmospheric than brutal, and maybe even self-parodistic (Tentaclar Aliens' Epic Extraterretterrestrial Jungle Dance Party Inside Of A Super-Ultra-Mega-Gigantic UFO (It Maybe UUFO) Silently Flying Over Illinois St). The usual rhythmic bombardments (WYSI (When You See It), Slime Incident, and especially t/a/n/a/s/i/n/n) alternate with and perhaps complement melodic fantasies like We Magicians Still Alive in 2021. Alas, half of the album is redundant and none of the pieces truly stands out.

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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