Genki Rockets – Genki Rockets I -Heavenly Star-

September 13, 2011 at 9:21 am | Posted in Genki Rockets | Leave a comment
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  1. Prologue -Earth Rise-
  2. Breeze
  3. Smile
  4. Star Line
  5. Heavenly Star
  6. Intermediate -Orbit Swimming-
  7. I will
  8. Star Surfer
  9. Never Ever
  10. Fly!
  11. Star Line (Japanese Ver.)
  12. Breeze: Summer Afternoon Mix
  13. Breeze: Star Breeze Mix

Genki Rockets is an electronic virtual band created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi who is also the producer alongside Kenji Tamai. The face of the group is Lumi, a 17-year-old girl who was born in outer space 30 years in the future and wants to come to Earth. Her voice is made up of the voices of several female singers that have been combined into one. Nami Miyahara and Rachel Rhodes, who is also the model for Lumi, are the credited vocalists. They made their debut in the video game Lumines II and made their first live debut during LIVE EARTH. My first run in with Genki Rockets left me in awe because the whole project is captivating. Compared to other Japanese electropop/techno artists whose music is usually quite heavy, they offer an alternative that is light and easy to listen to.

Prologus -Earth Rise- takes pieces of Heavenly Star and mixes it with majestic, space-like synths. The outcome is an intoxicating melody and the atmosphere is heavenly. I love the pulsating synth line that makes a short appearance and the constant addition of beats elevates the vibrancy of the track. It’s almost like a remix of Heavenly Star but it works as an intro because this bright feel dominates the rest of album and this is what makes their music so hard to resist. Breeze has never stood out to me but I like it a lot more than I did before. A blast of summery synths and percussion beats invades the song the moment it begins. Lumi’s vocals are completely vocoded and the little touch of acoustic guitar gives the song an organic feel. It picks up in the chorus and it has a wonderful flow, “imagine the sunset sky, the warm desert waves/the breeze blows, ooh I’m close to you/you’re kissing me, I’m here embrace you here in my heart.” The bridge fades into a soft synth line that builds back up into the main melody. It’s really cute and they capture the feeling of a soothing summer breeze wonderfully. Smile is a gorgeous mid-tempo that drifts into ballad territory. This time a piano joins the uplifting synths and Lumi works her way into your heart with her lush voice. The melody is pure bliss with all of its sparkling and futuristic synths. Percussion beats are the main focus in the laid-back verses but there are sporadic synths that elevate it up a few notches. Lumi’s voice is vocoded but its light, especially during the chorus where delightful synths take over, “smile, chemistry I’m feeling/smile, look into your eyes/see the colors inside/happiness takes you all the way through.”

Genki Rockets leave behind the soft electropop for Star Line and it comes in the form of an electric rock track but it maintains the optimism of the other songs. The guitar riff is cleverly mixed with synths and a piano which gives it some edge. The urgent chorus is catchy and her powerful vocals make up for the cliché lyrics, “there’s love in the stars/there’s love in the sky/there’s love in my dreams/there’s love and peace.” Even though it’s corny, I can’t help but be drawn in. I was instantly sold on the song when I heard the bridge. It blends parts of the chorus and verses together with backing and distorted vocals. It’s really awesome and it makes the song more enjoyable. The best song on the album and their most popular one is the spectacular Heavenly Star. I fell for it the first time I listened to it and being exposed to it on a daily basis when playing No More Heroes embedded it into my brain. It has the most addicting synth line and the extreme use of vocoder works well because it enhances the electro goodness. The verses are sometimes difficult to understand because of the vocoder but it’s so uplifting and beautiful that you just don’t care, “I hear you whispering surrounded in silence/blue vibration/I hear the waves singing in the distance/pure isolation.” When the chorus hits, the vocoder is toned down and the fusion of synths is so surreal. The melody is infectious, brilliant and alluring, “let’s get away, fly away/I found the path to paradise/shining spiral of gold/take my hand, find our way out.” This is easily one of the greatest electropop songs to come from Japan and it never gets old. I love how the music calms down in the bridge, which is an altered version of the chorus with different lyrics, with gorgeous synths and chimes. This is a masterpiece and it’s captivating from start to finish. Intermediate -Orbit Swimming- is an interlude that splits the album in half and the majority of it is comprised of instruments. It begins with some cool synths and light percussion that gets intricate as more beats are added. Distorted vocals eventually make their way in and the melody takes on a cosmic sound.

I will has a long introduction but the melody is nice due to the acoustics that join the laid-back synth beat. The verses are calmer and Lumi’s vocals are shrouded in vocoder. I like how relaxing it is and the chorus returns to the melody from the intro where Lumi sings in a lovely high tone, “I will sing for you, gaze into the sky/I will dance for you, bubbles in the air.” The chorus is fairly short but it does a good job of hooking the listener in. Crashing waves open Star Surfer and quirky acoustic and electro beats are added which then explode into an up-tempo melody. One thing that’s instantly noticeable is the lack of vocoder on Lumi’s voice. Her crisp vocals sound great with the accompanying acoustic guitar. It’s all about synths in the chorus and they fill the song with a light, happy atmosphere, “feel the waves/and happy vibes surrounds us twilight shinning/I’m feeling good/we’re star surfers.” Not much happens in the bridge except for the crashing waves that briefly join the melody. I thought Genki Rockets were only going to make electropop songs but they prove to be more than that with their first ballad Never Ever. Comprised of only piano chords, the song showcases a completely different side to the band. Lumi’s voice is vocoder free and she sounds so different. Her vocals are strong, clear and emotive. The rich quality of her voice is beautiful and during the chorus she sings faster with a high tone, “I want to chase the seasons on the move/want to smell the rain changing into snow/everything I want to do with you is still in the future.” The second half of song marks the first time Lumi sings in Japanese and it’s nice to finally hear her sing in the language. Their first attempt at a ballad is a major success and it provides a nice break from all the synthesizers.

Fly! is another interesting song and it takes the album into somewhat of a pop rock direction. Lumi sounds similar to the way she did during the previous song and she sings enthusiastically with cheerful vocals. The guitar is partnered with the band’s usual happy synth line and they make a great duo. The uplifting mood that comes out in the chorus is infectious, fresh and cute, “nature’s exploding/flowers are blooming/The waves are singing/walking the clouds and the moon/you pull me up all the way/we’re making a brand new escape.” I love how the synths take precedence for the second verse and the guitar-less chorus at the end is amazing. Star Line (Japanese Ver.), as the title states, is a Japanese version of the original and that’s the only difference. It’s cool to hear Lumi sing an entire song in Japanese and it flows really well. Breeze: Summer Afternoon Mix replaces the main synth melody with a tropical acoustic set. The instrumental interlude after every chorus showcases the wonderful melody of the acoustic guitar and the high, reverberating synth line. The new arrangement gives it a stronger summer and organic sound. Breeze: Star Breeze Mix does the opposite and takes out the summery flavour and goes for an outer space atmosphere. This remix focuses more on the melody because there are hardly any vocals. It’s a nice mixture of synths and it has more of a dance sound then the other two versions but the lack of vocals takes it down a little. Furthermore, it goes on way too long and if it was shorter it would be a lot better.

Conclusion: Genki Rockets I -Heavenly Star- is synth heaven and it’s full of addicting, beautiful and poetic songs. This is one of the most creative bands I’ve come across and I’ve never heard anything like them. I find it difficult to get into techno/electropop artists in Japan because their sound is either too heavy or there’s too much of a focus on the melody rather than the vocals but Genki Rockets does all the right things for me. The surprises that they threw into the album, like the ballad and rock oriented songs, make this more than just an electronica album and it shows their versatility. This is an excellent debut and it’s a must-listen for any fan of the genre.

Recommended Tracks: Heavenly Star, Fly!, Never Ever, I will, Smile and Star Line



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