Hey everyone! Today in this installment of reviews of Classic Vocaloid Works we’re gonna focus on the debut release of a very popular Vocaloid composer/producer, cosMo. I was, of course, drawn to this particular fellow due to the track “The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku” which I thought just contained all the elements of a real scorcher: a heart-wrenching ‘tale’, bpm’s to blow your brains out, and shapeshifting melodies and arrangments – the most notable being a single-note melody delivered at RAPID FIRE by Miku, at the beginning no less! I had to check out more. I noticed he had quite a few out there, but I decided that ∞ – InfinitY-, which contains the aforementioned track among other equally scorching numbers, was the one to speak about! Away we go…
“0 -Birth-” leads off the LP in glorious fashion, letting you in easy, but still letting you in on where he’s going with all this. The timbres may be decidedly easy on the ear, complete with billowy production, gorgeous piano plucks and drums placed squarely in the back, but the pace is breakneck. I love the Vocaloid usage on this track. It’s particularly effective against the panic-attack-pace, with reverb-a-plenty and texture galore added to the tense syllabic near-rapping of Miku: EXACTLY what I love. Also notable about this track are just the fantastically wild chord changes. For an intro track, cosMo decided to let the freak flag fly and I’m glad he did.
A march on a full pot of coffee, “Utahako -VOCALOID BOX-” teases the ears with microbeats, insidious cowbell, and yet again, a melody that is completely bonkers yet so easy to digest you swear you’ve heard it before. The popping snare is a nice touch too — shoots through the head like a bullet. Lovely!
“Den nou Suriku . kai -REVENGE-” is just a rock song. It’s a rock song. An awesome. Badass. Rock. Song. With flittering cabasa. It’s got that same whiplash pace as the first two, but the beauty of what cosmo does is managing to do the ‘fast thing’ with enough variance in each song that it never could be called yawn-worthy. Prime example here.
Now to these ears, hearing the very original version of “The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku” is a real treat. Sure, it’s less ‘tech’ than later recorded versions, but so are the rest of the songs on the LP — so we’ve got a fit with a famous track in the album context! This version has a bit more 80’s-feel synths in the mix and a less-bombastic production, but more subtlety in all respects makes for a much more interesting and poignant listen. The drum parts are just pure metal as well (don’t EVEN get me started on the last bars).
A carnival-in-purgatory is what we hear on the next track, “Hatsune Miku no Shuuen -WORST END-“. Personally, I’m a BIG fan of this track. Can anyone say dissonance? And that GNARLY guitar solo in the middle! These usually strange elements, of course, cosmo makes totally ear-friendly. There’s a reason I haven’t ‘dug in’ to the way Vocaloid is used over these last few songs: there’s not particularly any huge vocal production on any of these, but far from “a slouch” still.
“Infinity -TRUE END-” is, however, vocally and musically, truly mind-shattering. It’s got That CosMo Pace, but with the most beautiful, fragile, yet completely tense and anxious melody and EXPERT (did I say EXPERT? Yes.) Vocaloid work. The harmonies are GLORIOUS: one second beautifully consonant, the next tantalizingly dissonant. Those harmonies spiral upward during the duration of the song, finally culminating in what sounds to me like close 5ths. Awesome.
Take a breather, folks. “Tokihako -LOST BOX-” just fools anyone thinking at this point that cosMo is a one-tempo pony. We get a nice, easy, not-so-intensive pop track (cool!) that despite being a bit run-of-the-mill for Vocaloid fare serves its purpose as ‘ginger’ well.
The penultimate track of the EP continues in the self-referential legacy of Miku. “Hatsune Miku no Bousou -OVER DRIVE-” takes the themes of “The Disappearance” and places them in just a bit of a different context: however it’s done so greatly when I first heard it, I really thought it was its very own thing until I then listened closely. Not only does Miku deliver her wind tunneled syllables, but also a rap that cosmo has to be commended for. GREAT. SOUNDING. RAP. To do with the Vocaloid interface, this is HARD, folks.
Capping off this gem of a debut release is the “I’ve-Taken-10-Five-Hour-Energy-Shots-and-Lived” track “Mahoushoujo Rajikarupeinto -VOCALOID MANIAX-“. It’s just that. Vocaloid mania. Easily the most frenetic, fast-paced, tear-your-skin-off track on the album, even though there are flourishes like very clear xylophone cuteness at times. Miku is so intense: close harmonies galore. By the end, it’s clear. cosMo has a mission, and he’s stating it. Let’s. Get. To. Business. (…ok!)
I was very surprised by the sheer professionalism of this very early Vocaloid release (2008, clocking in at EIGHT years old!!!) despite its obviously homebred origins and how its legacy has lived on through its maniacal songs. If you don’t know cosMo, or just know “The Disappearance”, or indeed DO know of him but somehow have passed this one over, GET. THIS. RIGHT. NOW. Don’t walk, run.
∞ – InfinitY- is Vocaloid Supreme.