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Laputa

Laputa

Laputa was a rather obscure Japanese rock band that I came into chance contact with on an online radio station. The song was Breath, which I became absolutely addicted to in short order. But that song, it turns out, doesn't really represent the band that well. Laputa started as a high-speed riff-based metal group, sort of typical of the visual kei sound at the time. They became more and more commercial rock oriented as they released more albums, which is when the aforementioned Breath came around, and then quickly abandoned that and headed down a heavy electronic rock path instead. The music of the band feels very sharply divided into these two parts, but I enjoy them both anyway.

Album Reviews

Laputa's first indie release isn't terrible. The Laputa sound that would continue for the next few albums is in place. Lots of speedy rockers like Insatiable and Obsessed Life are here, as well as some more medium tempo, but still guitar riff-based songs like Nervous and Vertigo. The fault in this album is that its songs are mostly pretty long, and they all sound same-y. Many repeated listens will help the songs start to distinguish themselves, but the album is just a long blur with few standouts the first handful of listens. I find this album mostly skippable.

Best tracks:
1. Vertigo
2. falling~
3. Nervous

Although only a mini-album, it's a step in the right direction. The production is better and Laputa feels a lot heavier. Furthermore, every song on here is pretty heavy! If it weren't so short, it would probably suffer the same fate as their previous effort, but its brevity makes it an enjoyable quick listen for the heavier side of Laputa. Some of the better tracks from their last album, Vertigo and Insatiable, even got a cool, heavier makeover. The insanity of the opening and closing tracks would rarely be matched in the ensuing major releases of the band.

Best tracks:
1. Vertigo
2. naraku no soko
3. doro~IN BOG...IN WORST~

Laputa's first major album suffers from a similar problem to its indies predecessor: most of this sounds the same the first few times around. The increased production helps, and there is a slower tune on here, which is pretty good. But everything else is more of what Laputa has always done: heavy riffs in two speeds: fast and very fast. Once you can separate the songs from each other, you'll find most are pretty good, and certainly stronger than on their indies album, but that's it. I really despise the closing song, Venus, which tries to be this sudden major-key upbeat rock tune. It's kind of embarrassing to listen to, honestly.

Best tracks:
1. hari no mushiro
2. garasu no shouzou
3. yamanai miminari

This album is the culmination of Laputa's sound. It turns the heaviness up pretty significantly from the previous album, but is otherwise more or less the same old Laputa. Unfortunately, I don't feel like the album really takes off until the second half. The first five songs I could more or less do without, as they are either fine but nothing special (LOWSPIRITED), or a little dull (REINCARNATION MORNING), or just a bit too weird (MOVE ON DARKNESS). MONOCHROME is the exception of course; it is a diamond in the rough if ever there was one. It perfectly encapsulates everything about Laputa's early sound and makes everything else they've done seem unworthy. Anyway, once we reach the heavy B.C., it's just one heavy song after another, and they're all great. It only lets up at the end, with FREESIA, Laputa's first successful slow song.

Best tracks:
1. MONOCHROME
2. FREESIA
3. OVER MIND

Laputa moves towards a little more commercial sound here. Make no mistake, this is still riff based rock for much of the album, but you get these occasional oddities like yurenagara... which suddenly features lots of keyboards. There's still plenty to love if you're into Laputa's older sound, but you can tell that change is in the air here. It also means that the "it all sounds the same" problem is cured once and for all. The songwriting is a little less hit-and-miss than before as well, and everything is pretty solid on this album.

Best tracks:
1. hakuchuumu reality under the sun
2. sakarete nimai Hallowed Lucifer
3. KANARIYA Canary

Of all of Laputa's albums, this is the simultaneously the one that sounds least like them, and also the one with the tightest collection of songs. It's quite a departure from their earlier sound; it's still rock, but not as fast, not as many distinct riffs in a song, more accessible melodies, etc. It's sort of The Black Album for Laputa. As a result, it's an easy and enjoyable listen. Every song is quite good, and there's even an unusually high amount of great songs. But it just seems so unlike all their other music, and therefore I wouldn't recommend it as a starting place.

Best tracks:
1. Breath
2. Chimes
3. Masquerade

Someone intelligent realized that Laputa's b-side tracks were actually just as good, if not frequently better, than anything that appeared on their albums, and created this awesome collection as a result. This makes for a surprisingly cool listen and actually a great place to start with the band. After all, you get a little bit of everything from the band. Squall and komorebi represent the earlier sound of the band, Pink animals and xxxk animals the weirder and more experimental side, and Beautiful place and kimi no koe the more accessible rock sound from their previous release. And as I mentioned, these aren't just the rejects from the albums. Any of these songs seems very worthy of being on an album, if not maybe the a-side! Definitely worth having in a Laputa collection.

Best tracks:
1. xxxk animals
2. Pink animals
3. Squall

I feel like this album continues the transition period from JAKOU better than their previous album. It's still a rock album, but the electronic and noise elements continue to creep in. It's the usual quality from the group. There's a few songs I don't particularly care for, but most are good. Silent on-looker is really the last, great Laputa-esque rock song they'd ever do. Programized Heaven and Dazzling Sun show much more electronic influence and point to the future. Notably, the last three tracks are just a series of straight rock tunes, all great. It seems to be a sort of send off for this style of music for the band. It's a good way to end it!

Best tracks:
1. Sapless Heart
2. Silent on-looker
3. Borderline

This was actually the first album from the band that I was able to buy as it was released, and what a surprise it was. The old Laputa was completely gone; the transition was complete. This mini-album features 6 heavily electronic songs. Oh sure, Kouichi's riffs still show up, but they do not dominate the sound or the song as they once did. One of the tracks, 1234>>>, is sort of a needless instrumental, but everything else is really good. It sorts of picks up where kurumeku haijin left off. Laputa does mini-albums well, it seems. The single released afterwards, shinkai, is also amazing and worth getting. Both songs are among their best.

Best tracks:
1. POPular UPrising
2. In Confusion
3. Unusual

Laputa's final full album was an interesting way to go out. The abundance of electronic noise continues, although it seems a bit of a step back from glitter and the shinkai single. Kouichi's two songs actually sound pretty typical, and they're quite good. I suppose that's what makes this album interesting: the principal songwriter only contributed two songs, and the rest come from the rest of the group, primarily Junji. In terms of song-by-song quality, this is among Laputa's best. The only track I don't like is Generator, and everything else works very well. I particularly like how the album transitions into totally electronic music by the end. Love Song features minimal guitar, and Kiss in the Clouds is basically entirely electronic. Sort of the opposite of raku~HEBUN~en, which ended with just straight rock.

Best tracks:
1. Night and Day
2. New Temptation
3. Kiss in the Clouds

Laputa's farewell release doesn't particularly distinguish itself in any way. It's very... average. Its best track, Persona, sounds like Kouichi's contributions since glitter, which isn't bad, just not anything new. Songs like Material Pleasures and Gorgeous also sound very much like Junji's typical offerings since that time. They're OK. Beauty x Butterfly stands out as a weird major-key departure for the band, and is a kind of cheerful, upbeat pop tune. It stands out, but it's not great either. The most interesting is the concluding OFF, which mixes a sort of soft, spoken word over light ambient music verses and noisy, chaotic choruses. I was taken aback at first, but I really like it now. Seems oddly like a good swan song for the band.

Best tracks:
1. Persona
2. Stray
3. OFF

Top 10 Songs

  1. MONOCHROME
  2. Breath
  3. POPular UPrising
  4. taiyou to aoi tsuki~2 Lovers~
  5. Sapless Heart
  6. hakuchuumu reality under the sun
  7. Vertigo
  8. "Body"Communication
  9. Silent on-looker
  10. shinkai