Hi. petrichor here.
Aaaand this time, strangely enough, I think I’ll review an album. First let me tell you guys, unlike both of the reviewer before me, my knowledge about music is positively next to nothing. So bear with me, ‘cause this is gonna be as non-musical as an album review can be.
Moving forward, in this review we’re going to talk about one Goth-damn talented producer which goes by the name of tohma (トーマ). He might not be one of the mainstream popular producers but this is by no means that he cannot create a great album. One such an album is Azalea no Shinzou (アザレアの心臓) which roughly translates to “The Heart of Azalea”.
Released on 3 April 2013, Azalea no Shinzou was tohma’s first major album, but also sadly, marked his last involvement in the vocaloid music genre. Yeah man, you read that right: he’s already retired from making any vocaloid music. Bummer. Also retired from vocaloid music are well known producers such as supercell, livetune, wowaka and kemu, but losing tohma, was a massive loss — more on that later.
Generally speaking, what you’ll hear from Azalea no Shinzou is steampunk-themed rock music, with a touch of jazz vibe here and there. It’s purely magical. The cover art of the album is cleverly crafted by the talented toi, and oh boy if it isn’t pretty, I don’ t know what is. With the teaming up of tohma-toi, the steampunk theme of Azalea no Shinzou is ever so prominent. Just by listening to his previous songs, you can tell that he has a love for this kind of steampunk themed music and it is very distinctive in this album.
Azalea no Shinzou’s Cover art. Despite the name, it is by no means related to that rapper. So don’t even think about it.
The style of music that he creates has his own unique signature to it… well okay, it is mainly rock but not just rock, there is a lot more to it: there is an element of fantasy, as though the music are from theme songs of role playing games. If you are familiar with Casiopea, tohma is not as technical, but, his jazz vibe is very much comparable and cool, if not just as cool as theirs. With a combination of hissing, high-pitched vocaloid tuning, vibes of cool jazz/fusion and signature steampunk, it results to helluva amazing music to listen to. This is why tohma’s retirement is one of the greatest loss in vocaloid music — unlike most of the retired and very well known popular producers, tohma’s music is just so unique, to the point of irreplaceable. To try and find something that’s even remotely similar, results in naught.
I’m now going to review a few of the noteworthy songs from Azalea no Shinzou. Orange(#8), is probably the most like-able mainstream song from the album. The song has a nice and slow flow, but a very impactful kick of rock to it. Upon listening, you’ll notice a sad and dark nature from this song, only to be emphasized by Miku append’s sweet voice. The guitar, piano and slow but powerful drum beats helps to emphasize the sad atmosphere of the song. Yet, the song can be in a way, be very… pleasurable. Bravo. Other than Orange, Yankee Boy Yankee Girl(#10) is another good example. With this song, tohma flexes his skills showing us his specialty, combining a fast and energetic piece with high-pitched vocaloid tuning. Adding a touch of electronic tones for that extra flare but just enough as to not overshadow the rock vibe.
Enough chit chat, now we get into the thick of things, The main highlights of this album are Envycat Blackout (#5), Kowloon Idola (#6) and Sunset Bus Stop(#3). The three songs mentioned all share what could be considered the best from tohma’s music; fast music with an unusual pacing… which is good.
Envycat Blackout is an interesting piece, finding familiar energetic rock throughout most of the song but skilfully weaved into the song, wild, borderlining what could be considered metal. It show just how rich and dynamic tohma’s music is. Next up is Kowloon Idola (#6). This one (for me that is) is possibly regarded by most, as the best track on the album. Combining complex, beautiful music (OMG DAT BASS LINES AT THE INTRO followed by OMG DAT DRUM PATTERNS) with a very interesting oriental beat. But it doesn’t stop there, because we still have Sunset Bus Stop. This song is a brilliant combination of music that’s technically decent, a melody that’s so nifty, and an atmosphere that’s so classy. It is perfection. A beautiful stuff.
There are many ways people enjoy music, but as I see it, generally they do it either by 1) enjoying the beat (also its atmosphere — e.g. enjoying the brutal atmosphere from metal music, or the energetic atmosphere from electronic music), or 2) by digging deep into the music’s technicality — by this I mean analyzing the intricacy of the song, finding as many musical instruments played; the sophistication that goes into the musical score. The songs reviewed are special because in a way, manages to appeal to both types of listeners. For those who just want to kick back and enjoy the beat, it really delivers; or when you close your eyes and listen intently to realize just how exquisite these songs are, — and once you realize it — omg, such intricacy. Being able to create songs like that is what tells great songs apart from good songs. And tohma really nails it in making great songs.
If you do a bit more research on tohma, you’ll find that a few songs in this album are actually remake versions of his songs from Eureka, his debut album. Those songs are Libera Babylon, Envycat Blackout, and Kowloon Idola. Comparing the songs mentioned to the remakes, we can see the transition or evolution of tohma’s music. Transforming from very dynamic and experimental-sounding music into more mainstream music. This kind of “dumbing down” strategy often meets a fatal demise, but here in this album, tohma has worked his magic and it actually works.
The rest of the songs featured in this album are also decent, but compared to those mentioned above, they still retain his signature experimental-like quality that makes them a little … less likely to be accepted by common.
As a closing (finally, you say!?) verdict, let me copy yukidoke’s MikuDB Rating System:
this album gets a 4 out of 5 Mikupoints.
here are some useful links:
[there should be a potato somewhere around here]
this post was originally written by petrichor but it would never actually be worth reading without the contribution from the co-author, WoobiE.
Heartfelt thanks for your edit, pal!
 FYI, both reviewer before me play at least one music instrument — that I know of
 Take note that this is his major debut album. His first album however, is Eureka.
 In fact, tohma is also a great metal producer. Check his songs Mimir no Hana and Yugudo no haguruma.
 Their alternate names in Eureka, respectively: Babylon, Envycatwalk, and Kowloon Retro.
 Why the missing star? Because the music’s potentially too unusual for most, that’s why. Me personally, I’d give it 11/10 must try.
 Sadly, tohma’s official page is already expired too. However, you can check the internetarchive cache here. It was good.