My thoughts on “Cultural Mixing”, the first album from Kaqriyo Terror Architect.
Release Date: March 14th 2018
1. Yubikiri Genman
2. Hide and Seek
3. Oni no Inu ma Ondo
5. Hybrid TABOO
6. Iroha ni Collage
7. Kaqriyo Kisou Kyoku
8. Original Satire
11. Like a Fake
12. Kagome Kagome
The world of Japanese Idol doesn’t exactly conform to many music industry norms, but even then 2 singles and an album in the space of about 5 months is pretty uncommon. That’s where Codomomental’s newest project Kaqriyo Terror Architect find themselves though, although perhaps at a slightly accelerated pace due to factors outwith their control. I’ve covered all of their sister groups’ various setbacks in other reviews though so we’ll leave that thought alone. You’re more than welcome to go look it all up in your own time if you’re not already familiar.
So yeah, Kaqriyo Terror Architect are a 3-piece group from the Codomomental production agency. If you haven’t already heard of them then perhaps you’ll have heard of their sister groups Zenbu Kimi no Sei da and Yukueshirezutsurezure. Or perhaps you recognize Nonamera from her stint in AVANDONED or Yamakomaro from her time in Bokura no Oyugi. There’s a little bit of Idol pedigree to this group you see. Although Kaqriyo Terror Architect’s blend of EDM, Hardcore and Drum and Bass is fairly different to what they were doing in their previous Idol lives.
I suppose “Cultural Mixing” is an apt name for this album as it blends together a range of musical stylings from several different countries. Perhaps unfortunately for longer term fans there’s a lot of reused songs from previous singles, but it’s an Idol album so that should be expected. A lot of people I know have already touted this album as having Album of the Year potential and with what I’ve heard of it so far from past releases I would tend to share that opinion. Though we’ve got to see how it all works when packaged together and also what the new songs have to offer first. Let’s do that now, shall we?
The album kicks off with “Yubikiri Genman”, which also served as the a-side for Kaqriyo’s most recent single. You can go read my full thoughts on that particular single by clicking here. I’ll probably do this for all of the previously released material so I’m not repeating myself too much. Basically it’s a very synthesizer heavy song with some fairly aggressive sounding vocals for the verses and a slightly more cute sounding chorus. It’s a really good representation of what a good portion of Kaqriyo’s budding catalog has to offer so it makes for a good choice of opening track here. Honestly, my only real complaint with this song still is that it’s too short. Gotta leave them wanting more I guess.
The album’s second track is “Hide and Seek” and it’s also the first brand new song offering. Rather surprisingly this song is much more guitar driven than anything we’ve heard from Kaqriyo up to this point. Of course there’s still plenty of synthesizers but honestly much of the instrumentation here plays very much like a Heavy Metal song. The vocals also adjust to take this into account, rapid fire verses with a sprinkling of vocoder lead into what I guess could be considered a cute sounding chorus…in a really warped way. There’s also a decent amount of harsh vocals on this track, and I’m particularly both fond of and terrified by the part where they scream “Ready or not here I come!” This song could have easily been a single in its own right so it’s hardly surprising that it’s being used as the promotional song for the album.
“Oni no Inu ma Ondo” continues the guitar driven theme but this time with a bit more of a Alt/Punk Rock feel to things. The main guitar riff in this song is really catchy and you get the impression things were built mostly around this particular element. There’s a little bit of a recent BiS feel to it too I suppose. Vocally things get a little crazy, and I mean that in a very literal sense too. There’s lots of rambling going on and borderline psychotic sounding voices which I find pretty cool but it could be a little much for some people. Those people probably haven’t heard much from Kaqriyo though because it’s very much a theme as you’ll find out shortly. The chorus is more normal though, with a bit of a Punk vibe to match the instrumental. This is a really good song but once again if I had to complain about something it’s that it’s on the short side.
We return once again to the “Yubikiri Genman” single for our next track, but this time it’s one of the b-sides. “Therefore?” ended up getting bottom billing on that particular single but that should in no way speak to the quality of the song. Take the main synthesizer melody for example, that’s absolutely fantastic and I like it more the more I listen to it. I still like my coined term of “Schizophrenic EDM” to describe this song, especially the vocals as they’re rather similar to those on “Oni no Inu ma Ondo” but perhaps slightly more unhinged here. I think it’s cool that Kaqriyo can do these songs with similar themes but in very different styles. Once again you can check out my full thoughts on the “Yubikiri Genman” single by clicking here.
We go back further still into Kaqriyo’s discography with “Hybrid TABOO” next to feature in the running order. This was one half of the trio’s double a-sided debut single and you can read my full thoughts on that release by clicking here (although the version featured on this release has had both the instrumental and vocals tweaked a bit). This one probably caught a lot of people off guard at the time due to its focusing more on Rap and elements of Dubstep than the Digital Hardcore sounds of “Kagome Kagome” that it shared top billing with. In the context of what Kaqriyo have done since and more specifically this album, the song doesn’t seem that out of place anymore. It’s still pretty markedly different to the majority of songs you’ll hear on this album though. Not something I would typically go out of my way to listen to, but this song is really good and I’m not going to sit here and try to argue to the contrary.
The “Yubikiri Genman” single is returned to for a third and final time as “Iroha ni Collage” marks the mid-point of the album. You’re probably sick to death of me saying this by now but you can read my full review of that single by clicking here. Like I mentioned in my initial review, it’s hard not to compare this song to something that Zenbu Kimi no Sei da might release, although Kaqriyo put their own Rap twist on it just as things are starting to sound a bit too familiar. It perhaps sounds like an odd mash-up on paper but it actually works really well, although it does help that the song is really catchy too. I suppose if you’re a fan of Zenkimi but haven’t checked out Kaqriyo by now for whatever reason then this might be a good song to start with. Either way I found it rather enjoyable, a theme of this album so far.
Finally we get back to some new material with “Kaqriyo Kisou Kyoku”. The Heavy Metal guitars and drumming are back with a vengeance on this song, something which seems to be consistent with all of the new material we’ve heard on this album so far. Lots of cool sounding guitar shredding on show if that’s something you’re into although it’s not an ever present thing, which brings me to my next point. Most of the verses on this song are rapped, and very well might I add. Then the choruses are sung relatively cleanly with both vocal styles having instrumentals to match. The Heavy Metal stuff only really happens when no one is singing. The even crazier thing is that all of this somehow ties together into a coherent song. We pretty much saw every corner of the Kaqriyo wheelhouse on this one although the more recent divergence into harsh vocals was oddly absent.
Another new song follows in the form of “Original Satire”, which is a pretty amusing title in and of itself. The fact that they do somewhat satirize both Zenkimi and Tsurezure in this song just makes it all the more fitting. Honestly, I knew I’d love this song the second I heard that opening guitar riff. Talk about total ear candy right there. We’re then treated to some vocals that are not too dissimilar to Zenkimi before diving straight into a chorus that you wouldn’t be surprised to hear on a Tsurezure track. What a chorus it is by the way, pretty basic but very catchy and effective. That’s how much of the song plays out, although there’s a little bit of Rap mixed in to add some Kaqriyo flavor to things. This is probably my favorite of the new songs on the album and the one that I would have personally picked for promotional purposes, although I understand why they chose not to.
Maybe all of this isn’t really your thing, well how about a “Club Banger”? That’s the term I’d use to describe “Makafushigism”, although I can’t say I’ve been to a club in…well, ever. I know I said “Original Satire” is my favorite of the new songs on this album but man this one comes really close. The huge, floor filling synthesizer instrumental is sure to please a lot of people, although it’s perhaps not the most original idea in the world but boy is it done well here. Even my boring ass would get up and dance for this one if it came on in the club. This one is also noticeably more heavy on the Rap than most of the other songs we’ve heard so far. Oh yeah, this song also has a really catchy chorus too. It’s like a perfect one-two punch combination and it’s not like they’re trying to be too fancy with it either. Sometimes you don’t have to go looking to reinvent the wheel to create a fantastic song, as seen here.
We slow things down quite considerably, with what probably comes the closest to a traditional Idol “Ballad” on this album in “Never”. You get a pretty good idea of what’s coming from the first 15 seconds or so of the song, although there is of course a Kaqriyo twist or two thrown in to make it their own. I’ll be honest, this isn’t the most interesting song for me personally but it does do at least one thing that I can always get behind. It shows that all of the members of Kaqriyo can sing, and rather well at that too. There’s very little smoke and mirrors in play here, certainly no crazy voice modulation or anything like that. No, instead we get some nice clean vocals and a sprinkle of Rap here and there too. The instrumental is also exactly what it needs to be, which is an emotive Rock piece to act as a tone setting backdrop to the vocals.
Our nice run of new songs comes to an end with the album’s penultimate track “Like a Fake”. When this song started I kinda figured they were going to go the tried and true route of combining more traditional, perhaps even tribal inspired instruments with synthesizers. That is what they ended up doing kinda, but I feel like Kaqriyo did a much better job of combining the two genres than most Idol groups tend to do. This is very much an EDM song, but it’s enhanced by the previously mentioned instrumentation instead of having to fight with it for airtime. Vocally we get some more very well executed rapping for the verses, have I mentioned how good these girls are at that yet by the way? Then for the chorus it’s more typical Idol Pop sounding structure to things. This is another really good song that easily gets stuck in your head. What’s not to like?
The album closes with my absolute favorite Kaqriyo song from everything that they’ve released so far in their short run. I am of course talking about “Kagome Kagome” which served as the other half of the group’s first single’s a-side. For the final time, you can go read my full thoughts on that particular single by clicking here. Much like “Hybrid TABOO” there have been a few tweaks to the vocals and instrumentals which I think we could agree were probably needed. Things haven’t changed that much though, this is still very much the Digital Hardcore meets J-Pop banger that it was when it was originally released. Oh yeah, this song also has a stupidly catchy chorus that I just can’t seem to get out of my head…not that I’d want to anyway. Seriously, if you’re only going to check out one song from this album then make it this one. It was and still is one of the best Idol songs I’ve heard in a long while.
If anyone was still sleeping on Kaqriyo Terror Architect then “Cultural Mixing” should hopefully make them sit up and take notice now. This album is fantastic and is a 100% lock for a spot on my Top 10 at the end of the year. I’m not quite ready to start shouting “Album of the Year” though as albums from both Oyasumi Hologram and NECRONOMIDOL are announced and arriving imminently. It’s going to take some effort to beat this release though.
Kaqriyo Terror Architect could probably take the rest of the year off after releasing this album, but that isn’t quite how Codomomental like to operate. I imagine we’ll be hearing news of a new single in the next 3 months or so and it likely won’t be the only single coming this year either. Can they keep up the quality of output? I’m not a mind reader (I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about this stuff if I was either) but given everything I’ve heard up until now I certainly wouldn’t want to bet against it. The sky is pretty much the limit for Kaqriyo Terror Architect as things stand currently.