Even though はる*あま*にゃ is about a year old, their core members go way back. As of now, haru*nya and あまね are providing dual female vocals and paraoka (麹町音源) completely produced their latest album. In fact paraoka and haru*nya have been making music together since 2006! Check out 33 of their tracks in 52 minutes. As for あまね, yes that is absolutely the same girl which has provided fantastic vocals for COOL&CREATE since 2004, alongside the always-hyperactive ビートまりお.
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Their April 2012 debut CD 『haru * ama * nia』 opens with 「御洋服革命」, a roaring anthem from ビートまりお which sounds pretty much exactly how you'd expect one of his songs to sound. You can't fault this guy for consistency! The lyrics and overall theme make it clear right off the bat that this is going to be a fun record. 「Sun! Sun! Sun! シャイン!」 continues the theme with a fun-in-the-sun variation. It is composed by 狐夢想(狐夢想屋), the same guy who came up with 「ぎみぎみ☆もあもあ」 on 2012's 『プチリズムＧｏ！』 , one of last year's best denpa songs which made it to our "Honourable Mentions"! It is an absolute rager of a track, with fast piano, rolling percussions and some kind of ultra-distorted lead instrument that definitely stands out. The girls' voices are a perfect match to this summer roadtrip theme song! (tested by yours truly)
With 「約束」, composer naotyu-(studio7) slows things down a bit and comes up with a great melodic piece that highlights their ability to sing sweet songs. Actually it gets pretty powerful overall and you have to love the stylish sound. 「ki-zu-na」 sounds straight-up 80s synthpop with tons of attitude. It was also composed by 狐夢想(狐夢想屋) who demonstrates his wide range of skills. As the title would indicate, track 5 「スイーツホリック」 is on the funky side with lots of jumpy bass, light-hearted piano lines and an unexpectedly violent finish from yamajet.
狐夢想(狐夢想屋) returns for the third time with 「オシャレセラピー」, a confusing track which throws all kinds of tempos at its bewildered listeners. This guy sure loves to crank up the distortion on anything he does! The synth in particular is very colored, sounding almost like a harpsichord but I'm not sure that's the best comparison. It really does sound unique! This sixth track also ends with some surprisingly fast parts and is just a joy to listen to.
ARM (IOSYS) makes a surprise appearance with 「輝け乙女たち!」 which might remind you of his work on 2010's 「燃えろ！東方ブラスバンド」. This one's a little more "epic" (in the proper sense of the word) and sounds more like a full orchestra than a brass band. Finally 「トリックスター」 is full-on technopop from paraoka(麹町音源) with a nostalgia-inducing sonority despite futuristic overtones. Honestly it reminds me of old NAMCO and SEGA arcade game soundtracks with the heavy slapping bass and reverbed drums. The girls really give it their best shot and intertwine their beautiful vocals throughout the song.
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The theme for April 2013's CD was haru*nya+あまね+paraoka=ハルアマパラダイス and... that's exactly what happened! If you enjoyed the last track from the first CD, then you'll love this whole CD. Not that the genres are all technopop (far from it) but there's strong stylistic cohesion between all five songs. Opening track 「ハイ・ファイ・レイ」 is extremely vigorous and features compelling singalong moments. The guitar, drums and keyboard arrangement is nothing short of sublime, I particularly enjoy the parts where the ride cymbal is clearly audible. Track #2 「カステラ」 feels like soft picopop, just some easy-going music with good rhythm and catchy phrases.
「スゴイ・エナジー」 definitely stands out from the rest and would be a great PV candidate if they ever decide to go that way. Honestly, this sounds like something 中田ヤスタカ would compose for Perfume and I totally mean that as a compliment. This is definitely skilled electropop with all kinds of influences from the past 30 years. It's just a shoe-in for the girls, their voices sound appropriately mature here and I would just love to see some choreographed dancing! 「ブリーズ・スピナー」 feels a bit like an extension to the opening track with a slower tempo, but the same gorgeous instrumental arrangement. Great drums once again! This brings us to 「スローコースター」 which closes the album with class. By the way... noticed how all track titles are written in katakana?
It's too bad the second album has only 5 tracks as opposed to 8 for the debut album, because I could definitely stand to listen to some more of this wonderful unit! At this point we can only hope for a third album in April 2014, but I sure hope they'll surprise us with something else in-between. Highly recommended, talented artists and memorable songs for fans of electronic Japanese music.