Love=ALL

Although technically Reitaisai 8 has not happened yet, most of the albums that were scheduled to be released have already been released in Akihabara, so we get to enjoy these lovely albums! Most people should probably know who Syrufit is by now, but I’ll include a short introduction just in case. Syrufit mainly produces electronic vocal-oriented albums, with a sort of trance-ish style to it too. Quite popular and good.

I’m pretty glad to see that this is an independent album instead of a collaboration with CYTOKINE. While it’s nice to see different circles work together, I like it more when different circles maintain their own distinctive sound, and this album definitely ends up having more of a Syrufit-style sound. “Love Hearts?” wasn’t exactly bad, but I felt that there was a lack of focus in some of the tracks, and LinJin(Cytokine)’s style doesn’t mesh too well with the more vocal-trance feel of Syrufit.

Most people who would have picked up this album probably already have, since Syrufit is quite famous among the doujin music scene overseas for having worked quite closely with Alstroemeria Records. Indeed, Alstroemeria Record’s latest release, EXSERENSES, contains some tracks that were arranged by Syrufit.

Nevertheless, if you haven’t quite heard of Syrufit yet, a second less-brief introduction is in order. There are two arrangers in Studio Syrup Comfiture(Syrufit is short for this name), Hiro.na and TAK-sk(Poplica*), both of whom worked quite closely with Alstroemeria Record’s Masayoshi Minoshima in the past. Although they’re part of the same circle, they mostly work separately, with Poplica* being a side-label within Syrufit. This disc is an exception however, with both Poplica* and Hiro.na arranging tracks on this album.

There’s also a fair number of guest arrangers on this album, with Hiratake and Nhato arranging some stuff, which is interesting. I don’t think that Syrufit’s previous albums had many guest arrangers, so this is a new theme.

Circle Name: Syrufit
Album Name: Love=ALL
Website: http://www.syrufit.jp/love0708/loveall/

  1. Jump!
    I read some tweets that were sent to hiro.na about how this track makes you want to jump, so I was expecting something pretty jump-styleish going into this. While the drum used is relatively hard-sounding, it doesn’t actually make me want to jump. Nodding is okay, but jumping is pretty much out of the question here.
    Moving on, this is a dual arrange by hiro.na & Poplica*, which is interesting. Would have expected something quite drum&bassy with Poplica there, but it ends up being a pretty normal trance-ish track. Vocals provided by Tsubaki and Ayakura Mei, which is excellent as expected. I’m not a big fan of the more processed sampled vocals at the start, but the main vocals for the song work quite well. It’s also quite a long track for this style of arrange, clocking in at 6:37. Couldn’t really tell that this was arranged from Voyage 1969, almost nothing remains of the original melody.
  2. Listen Up
    This is a guest arrange by Nhato, and is pretty much an ordinary vocal-trance track as you would expect from Syrufit. There’s an orchestral-style twist at the start which adds a nice bit of originality to the track, and I would have liked to see that developed further. I actually think that this would have been far better as an off-vocal track, despite 3L’s excellent job. While the vocals are done well, the instrumental is much better with a very strong bassline and a ton of energy, making the parts where everything stops to give the vocals the spotlight quite awkward. The parts where the vocals merely complement the instrumentals is quite excellent.
  3. Baby, Baby
    Title is awfully reminiscent of a certain pop track. Moving on, this track has an interesting use of sampled voices at the start which contrasts quite sharply with the vocals provided by Tsubaki and Ayakura. I think overall it detracts from the overall feel of the song, which changes pretty rapidly once the vocals are introduced, whereupon the song becomes a pretty light-sounding vocal trance-style track. It’s quite tempting to take out the “trance” bit, with all the trance elements left in the background, and most of the focus is on the vocals/drum. Not really to my taste.
  4. Desire
    One of Poplica’s tracks, with a much more D&B-ish vibe to it. The synthesizers in the background remind me a fair bit of a different song, which is odd to say the least. The vocalist for this track is actually different from the usual cast that Syrufit uses, someone named eerie, which is certainly an interesting name. She’s not bad at all, with a pleasant sounding voice and does a good job of not overpowering the song completely too. Poplica seems to like blending D&B with vocal trance, and the result is a decent if somewhat generic track, with the vocals as the main selling point.
  5. inner reality
    A guest arrange by Linjin, with a slightly different feel to it than what we’ve had so far. Linjin appears to enjoy sampling voices and distorting them, adding a unique touch to the vocals. Ayakura does a good job with the vocals on this song, but it does end up feeling rather repetitive after a bit, with not much development throughout the first half of the song. Not very good.
  6. Seeker
    Another one of Poplica’s tracks, with the same style as track #4. Has a distinctively more pendulum-like vibe to the bassline, but that’s dispelled as soon as the main vocals kick in, accompanied with rather pleasant-sounding piano in the background. I liked the vocal processing on this one near 1:05, which served nicely as a transition into the more energetic part of the song. Tsubaki provides okay-ish vocals for this, would have preferred to hear Ayakura or 3L with this style of vocals. The main focus is really on the vocals with the instruments being secondary to the experience, so if you dislike the vocals I have a strong feeling that you will dislike this song.
  7. Broken Puzzle
    Nice hard bass right at the start, with a somewhat fast beat to the entire song. The beginning actually seems to work rather well as an off-vocal, so I was a bit worried that the vocals would be disappointing. Luckily enough, eerie does an excellent job on the vocals, providing a softer contrast to the harder instrumentals. I personally dislike the breakdown around 1:35, since it robs the track of the energy it was building up. It does a good job of emphasizing the vocals more, which are really almost always the selling point of Syrufit’s music, so I suppose it’s okay. An excellent but somewhat disappointing track.
  8. – – –
    An interesting title if there ever was one. This is an off-vocal transition track between the start of the album and the more different-sounding tracks which have a pretty different style of arrangement than the first 7. Feels suitably epic, with a nice taiko-like drum to it, and a good use of piano to accentuate the atmosphere. Not much else to say about it since it’s just 1:11 long.
  9. root_A / evenescence
    Hiratake! A song on a Syrufit album arranged by HIRATAKE? Unbelievable! Hiratake has a verynicealternative-rock style that I absolutely love, and this track is no exception to that. I’ve always been a bit sad that Hiratake never really arranges using many female vocalists, and I was even sadder when echo project’s latest release had only one track with him arranging with a female vocalist, so I was extremely pleased to see that Ayakura did the vocals for this track. Hiratake’s arrangement does a good job of bringing Ayakura’s strengths, imbuing the track with alot of emotion while the instruments build up a very intense atmosphere. Probably my favourite track of the entire album.
  10. root_B / nephilim
    This is a track arranged by another one of Echo Project’s arrangers, Mano. He also has a pretty alt-rockish style when it comes to arranging, but it sort of lacks the energy that Hiratake brings to the table. Nevertheless, Mano produces a very emotional, sad-sounding and yet not gloomy song. Tsubaki’s vocals in this sound somewhat sad, but at the same time quite comforting and warm, a feeling which is enhanced by the instrumental side quite well. Also transitions quite nicely into much more soothing vocals & instrumentals that make me want to go d’aww. One of the most stellar tracks of the album without a doubt.
  11. root_C / =ALL
    Also a pretty sad sounding track right at the start, with a dual arrange by Syrufit/Poplica on this one. A rather slow drum and a single guitar make up most of the instruments for the first half, so you could probably call this a some-what ballad. 桃華なゆた(Touka Nayuta) does the vocals this time, which is another vocalist that I’ve never heard of before. She does a pretty good job of carrying the main melody with a fair amount of emotion, and is actually pretty darned good. It ends up sounding quite normallish when more instruments are introduced, so it’s a pity that the minimalist theme didn’t carry throughout the song. Not as good as the previous two, but definitely an excellent track as well.
  12. xxxx
    Sounding much more like an audio drama than a song, there’s not really much to say about this track. Narration is done by someone called 神咲りのあ, which I won’t try to romanize. She’s not bad as a storyteller, I guess? There’s also not much to say about the instruments either, they’re just some background noise that’s not really going to be interesting for very long.

By now I’m actually regarding Syrufit as fairly ordinary, so I tend to get bored of listening to their albums alot. While the composition within each album is usually quite decent, Syrufit album tracks are mostly designed with an intro and outro for each track, which disappoints me. I personally love it when an album (like Alstroemeria Records’ “The Garnet Star”) has smooth transitions from song-to-song, so Syrufit has always disappointed me in this respect.

I guess the main hook for these albums is the much more emotional aspect to their songs that are missing from alot of other circles, while also maintaining a good balance between instrumental and vocal bits. I feel that Syrufit’s arrangement quality is much better than similar circles like East New Sound or Cytokine, simply because of the instrumental side of their tracks being much better, while the vocals are more than a match as well. In essence, Syrufit does everything that they do, but better.

I think the only circle that might be better than Syrufit would be Alstroemeria Records, but Alstroemeria has really stopped releasing independent albums recently. Their newest non-compilation release would be Saisen Turn, which is a collaboration with Alice’s Emotion, and their latest independent album release was at C78, which is a very long time ago by now. Syrufit would be quite a worthy successor to Alstroemeria Records I feel, especially with how outdated their releases are by now.

Still, I don’t really like the Vocal Trance genre all that much anymore – it seems to be too soft most of the time, and I like more rock-style or more minimalist styles most of the time, which is pretty evident from my liking of Root A/B/C. I don’t know if it’s that the quality of the first 7 tracks is off or something, but the Root tracks are definitely the best of the entire album, and they’re also the tracks that differ most from Syrufit’s style. Interesting, to say the least.