A very pleasant alternative-rock album with plenty of electronic elements and some vocals mixed in. Quite pleasing stuff, and definitely worth checking out if you haven’t heard anything from Aftergrow before.

I’ve tried to hold off from reviewing an Aftergrow album for quite a fair bit since it’s quite hard to describe the style. Aftergrow is actually pretty similar to ECHO Project, but that’s because Aftergrow’s only arranger, Hiratake, is also a part of ECHO Project. The only difference I would say is that Aftergrow tends to produce more instrumentals while ECHO Project makes more use of vocals.

Both are pretty good.

Hiratake’s style has a fair number of influences, ranging from Jazz to Alternative/post-rock and some Electronic/House as well. This makes Hiratake’s work quite intriguing to listen to, with an interesting mix of different elements in each track while maintaining a good overall ambience.

Aftergrow as a circle doesn’t deal with vocals very often, often featuring only a track or two with vocals. As such, the only vocalist that really works with Aftergrow often is Pyn, who has a voice that’s quite different from most other vocalists I’ve heard. I don’t quite know what to think of her even after listening to her songs quite often. She has quite a versatile vocal range, which is shown quite well in this album’s titular track. Overall, I think that Hiratake’s arrangement does an excellent job of directing Pyn’s voice, so most of her tracks make use of her strong points and are quite good.

Circle Name: Aftergrow
Album Name: Like a shooting star.EP
Website: http://aftergrow12.web.fc2.com/lssep/lssep.htm

  1. Introduction
    A some-what soft melody to start the album off with. Does a good job of demonstrating Hiratake’s style, with a very interesting combination of multiple elements that still maintain a good overall focus. Of course, it’s just an introductory track, so there’s not much substance to it. Segues nicely into track 2, though.
  2. Like A Shooting Star
    The titular track of the album, with Pyn providing vocals. Very emotionally charged vocals right at the start, which are very nice. Sadly, there’s a fair amount of build-up afterwards, which is rather disappointing when compared to the climax. The climax is pretty awesome however, and makes this a pretty awesome track in general. The arrangement is also superb, with good direction of the different instruments, building up a very emotional atmosphere adds alot of power to the vocals. One of the best tracks of the album.
  3. Truthwriter
    A much sadder song than Like A Shooting Star, with Pyn at the vocals once again. The violin used throughout the track emphasizes the sadness of the track, while Pyn’s vocals provide the raw emotion. There’s a nice touch where the drums kick into overdrive when the vocals start at the more emotional parts, which adds even more power to the track. The climax at 3:00 is quite simply amazing, and there’s no way that I can describe it at all. Beautiful track.
  4. Sinker
    The first of many instrumental tracks, with a very sad feel to it as well. Excellent use of very soft-sounding piano chords in the background with just a simple guitar playing most of the melody, along with a slow drum that builds up a very sad atmosphere as the track progresses. While it’s not really quiet enough to be called minimalist music, this track certainly seems to have a fair number of minimalist-style elements. Once again a pretty emotional climax at 3:00, with the formerly-soft guitar amped up considerably in volume along with a much faster drum, all of which adds up to a very exciting climax. I have to say though, my favourite parts of track 3 and 4 have been the outros, which are done quite beautifully and set up the next track very well.
  5. Dayflight
    One of the more cheerful songs in the album, with pleasant-sounding synthesizers providing much of the melody and a very simple repetition of chords keeping the mood fairly light. The violin in this track is much more cheerful than in previous tracks, while not lacking the emotion. The break-downs and build-ups are managed very well in this track, keeping the overall happy feel of the song going while also giving the impression of a considerable amount of development as the track goes on. It’s almost like an audio metaphor for a journey or something hippy-ish like that.
  6. Step Into The Night
    Starting off with a much more jazzy sound, has a bit of a house vibe to it as well. Overall it sounds like a combination of Jazz and House elements, with a very funky sound resulting from this fusion. The funkiness is actually pretty overwhelming at times, and a bit funny too. Regardless, it’s a unique, interesting combination though somewhat lacking in emotion most of the time. I like the use of piano to perform portions of the main melody, which adds a very classy feel while injecting some emotion into this piece.
  7. Faithful Faith
    Another relatively cheerful song, this time without so much jazz. I like this piece a fair bit more than the other off-vocal pieces, with a bit of piano and a large amount of electronic elements that results in a very pleasing overall sound. The piano used in this maintains a very light atmosphere, which is further reinforced by the very light-sounding synthesizers. The build-up and climax in this song also further strengthens this impression, resulting in a very light sounding track that’s very easy to listen to. Very good track overall.
  8. Nine Second Chill Out
    Much softer overall than most of the other songs, with a very Easy Listening vibe to the entire song. Very classy piano once again, almost seems like something you would hear in a lounge or a jazz bar. Also has a good amount of development over the course of the song, which is very interesting and pleasant. I think the best way to sum up this song would be with a short narration.
    *Leaving* “Hey, it’s time to go now, but I’ll be back, okay? Don’t cry now, just wait and I’ll be back! Come on, be happy!”
    Of course, that ignores the whole loungey-parts and only describes the emotional bits. Anyway, a very pleasant end to the album, one of my favourite tracks too.

You probably shouldn’t trust my words all that much since I’m heavily biased in favour of Hiratake, and always will be. Hiratake’s style appeals to me directly in a way that very few artists manage, with a very emotional touch that still maintains good mechanical mastery. From my point of view, there’s simply no one who can match his style of arrangement, and most of anything he does will be great to me (unless it includes male vocals, upon which I will feel very sad).

Nevertheless, I feel that everyone should at least listen to Like A Shooting Star once. I think it has quite a bit of potential for most people to like it, with a good mix of different popular elements while having the very emotional touch that’s present in most of Hiratake’s songs. I really hope that most people would like Aftergrow – it’s one of my favourite circles of all time and I really wish more people knew about it.

Sadly, Aftergrow hasn’t released any new discs recently. ECHO Project has been more active, but these days it seems Hiratake is more focused on doing guest arranges for other circles, such as on Syrufit’s latest album, which produced a truly spectacular track that is unbelievably awesome. Even so, I think that a new Aftergrow release would be very nice, and I look forward to when it does happen.