Sunday, September 28, 2014

Curumi Chronicle's Magic Technopop Touch

I tried to hard to come up with a title that didn't sound overtly creepy. It's kind of difficult when the single I'm reviewing is called Touch Me.

With a title like that, you'd think Touch Me consists of songs like Perfume's Take me Take me! Previously on Nia's Wonderland, she reviewed Curumi Chronicle's last single, 17. However, released on the same day was another Curumi Chronicle single. Because that's just how lovely the world can be sometimes. This single is Touch Me, and I've finally gotten around to reviewing it! Ideally, I would have liked to review 17 and Touch Me back to back, but time flies by when you're in college. Better late than never though! Besides, reviewing Curumi Chronicle is always a treat. She's one of the more consistent idols I review, and I know I can always expect something to jam to when she releases a single! So what songs are jam-worthy on Touch Me? And how does Touch Me hold up in comparison to 17? What is the meaning of life? Some of these questions and more will be answered so let's not waste any more time and jam out to Curumi Chronicle!


Well, there's not exactly an outfit for this single... at least not one I can clearly see. It's probably just Curumi performing in street clothes. Which is fine, she's got great street clothes! Actually, the cover for Touch Me is a nice change for Curumi Chronicle! Usually, her covers show her very up close and personal. I like the more distant shot showing both Curumi herself and her audience! The colors for this single cover are also great as well. Like I said, most of Curumi's covers are simple and have more neutral colors. Touch Me is freaking purple. The strobe lights going everywhere make me want to see Curumi Chronicle in concert! Touch Me's cover gives off a much edgier vibe than 17. Do the songs elaborate on that? Let's find out!

Voice ft. Usagi Disco

To distinguish this song from Perfume's much lamer song of the same name, Curumi Chronicle added "ft. Usagi Disco" to the end of this song! That's totally the reason why, right? In actuality, I'm pretty sure that's just a thing Usagi Disco likes to do. Why remains a mystery. Before the news that Curumi Chronicle was even releasing this single came out, I'd listened to Voice ft. Usagi Disco. How? Through witchcraft, of course! No, Voice ft. Usagi Disco was actually a free download available around... May, I think? I was immensely happy to hear more music from Curumi Chronicle after Second Spring EP, so I wasn't complaining. Also because Voice ft. Usagi Disco is freaking awesome. Immediately, Touch Me sets itself up as a contrast to the light, fun 17 with Voice ft. Usagi Disco. Voice ft. Usagi Disco is a hardcore dance song. Do you want to know how I can tell? Because all the lyrics are in English. Voice ft. Usagi Disco reminds me a lot of 16 ft. Usagi Disco. A more serious sound, solely English lyrics, the same moniker in each song, these songs could practically be twins! No, Voice ft. Usagi Disco does sound different from 16 ft. Usagi Disco.

Voice ft. Usagi Disco is wonderful on so many levels, but it isn't without a few weird parts. Like the lyrics. What do the phrases, "Devil in my heart," "You crash my wall," and "Play my strongest card" have in common? Who knows? I don't! When someone figures that out, please tell me! Because those lines all come right after the other in Voice. Individually, these statements make sense. Kind of. With the right coupling lyrics, they would sound normal. But altogether, they sound completely nonsensical. Oh well, I doubt English is Usagi Disco's first language, so he gets a free pass. That and the weirdness of the lyrics is kind of cool. Bizarre, but cool. Voice ft. Usagi Disco is a cool song all around. I love hearing Curumi Chronicle do more dance-oriented songs; they're great to work out to! And you know, they're enjoyable! I'll bet Voice ft. Usagi Disco is amazing live. There are probably all these cool lighting effects and glowsticks and stuff. I'm extremely happy that Voice ft. Usagi Disco got included on Touch Me. It's such a great EDM song!

Five apples to Voice ft. Usagi Disco! Big surprise, I know. This song's been out for several months now, and I still love it as much as I did on the first listen. I know this is only the first song on Touch Me, but Voice ft. Usagi Disco is one of my favorite songs on this single. But wait! There's more!


Remember those previews I mentioned in my review of 17? Well, Flight was another preview that I was pumped for. Flight sounded freaking awesome. I hit play on that preview more times than I can count, waiting anxiously to hear the rest of the song. If Voice ft. Usagi Disco set the hard EDM tone for Touch Me, then Flight hammers it into the wall. Oh my Perfume, I can't emphasis how much I love this song. I can write about why I love this song, but that won't do it justice. Flight is also an EDM song, but to say that it's just that does Flight injustice. Flight is the kind of song I wanted to hear from Curumi Chronicle: a darker, edgier song, the equivalent to Perfume's GAME. Curumi had already dabbled in fun, catchy technopop music; Flight is her whipping to the opposite end. The full song is nearly five minutes, and it is five minutes of eargasmic technopop. Flight goes hard from the opening note. Curumi's vocals are deadpan serious, and the instrumental is this crazy awesome blend of sounds. There's this underlying panic in Flight, like a time bomb slowly ticking down to zero. And the music just gets louder and messier as each minute goes by, leading up to an explosive instrumental break.

The music after the break is like a cool down after a whirlwind of technopop insanity. Curumi repeats the opening melody once more, and Flight slowly lands. I know that Flight has got to be awesome in concert. Thanks to Youtube, I actually got to see Curumi's performance of Flight from my very own laptop screen. Not quite the same experience, but I got at least a fraction of the epicness this song is live. I love the extended instrumental opening in the live performance; it makes for a perfect buildup in to the song. And then the song itself looks fantastic live. There are great lighting effects, the sound is probably blasting through the speakers, and the crowd looks extremely into it. Curumi totally owns her performance too. Her energy is fantastic, she engages the crowd, and she has great presence for being only one person on an empty stage. With or without the live performance, Flight is an amazing song and hands-down my favorite song on Touch Me. Flight is the edgy dance song that I was hoping to hear from Curumi Chronicle and it delivers wholeheartedly.

Oh gee, I wonder what Nia will rate Flight... Five apples!? What an unseen surprise! Yeah, I've gushed about Flight as much as I can. Flight is phenomenal; I recommend listening to it on extra loud volume through your earbuds to get the best listening experience! And being only the second track on the single, topping Flight will be quite the challenge...

Touch Me

I find it kind of odd that the title song is track #3. Shouldn't it be the first one? Does that make Voice ft. Usagi Disco the A-side of Touch Me? Does this single even have an A-side? Confusion aside, Touch Me follows in the dance sound of Flight and Voice. Unlike the former two, Touch Me isn't big on lyrics. In fact, there are barely any lyrics to this song. Most of Touch Me, is instrumentals, Curumi ad-libbing, or Curumi repeating the song's title. Rinse and repeat. So think Perfume's Sleeping Beauty. Like Perfume's Sleeping Beauty, I can see Touch Me not working for everyone. Actually, this is my least favorite track on the single. But I still like it! Just compared to the other songs on this single, the titular Touch Me falls a teensy bit shorter. I like the atmosphere the song builds on; Touch Me is closer to trance on the spectrum of Curumi Chronicle's music. The melodies and sounds repeat a lot, slowly building over time. If this went on for an hour, I'd fall asleep, but I can handle five minutes of this song. So I do like what Touch Me does with sound: building that ambient, moody, almost seductive tone.

Unfortunately, there are parts when Touch Me gets a little too repetitive; it's easy for me to space out when I listen to this song. I told you the lyrics are minimal, and after the 2:30 mark, I really start to notice how minimally scant Touch Me is. There are only so many times I can listen to Curumi sing "Touch me" before it sounds like she's trying to hypnotize me. Maybe that's DSP's ulterior motive; brainwashing the minds of Japan through Curumi Chronicle's music! Then they'll take over the music industry, becoming technopop gods! Actually, I wouldn't mind that. I think Touch Me is a song that would be more fun to listen to in concert. It doesn't have the intense variety that Flight and Voice ft. Usagi Disco do. Touch Me is more one of those songs fueled by crowd response. Listening to this song alone in my dorm doesn't give the same impact. But my dorm is where I've listened to this song, and Touch Me isn't quite as impressive as the first two songs on this single. But Curumi Chronicle's bar of quality is a little higher than some of the other idols I review, so Touch Me is still worth checking out. It at least continues the dance vibe on this single!

Four apples seems like the appropriate amount to give Touch Me. This is a good song, but not a great song and definitely not my favorite on Touch Me (the single). It's a nice middle-track though, with a more laid back trance sound than the first two. So with Touch Me being a middle-of-the-road kind of song, what does the next song hold in store for us? Let's journey on...

Seventeen (Original)

From here on, we're covering old ground. Well, ground of the same age since Seventeen is from a single released the same day as Touch Me. Actually, I'm a little unclear on this version of Seventeen. I think maybe it was meant to be the original version? Or maybe it's just another remix? Maybe this version was meant to be on 17? If someone can fill me in on context, that would be great. But oh well, what is this? A remix of Seventeen! You all remember that song, right? The original Seventeen (not Seventeen (Original)) was the leading track on 17. While not my favorite song on 17, Seventeen was still a pretty fun song, and it had a cute music video! So what does Seventeen (Original) bring to the table not present in the origin- the first version? The songs start off differently! The first Seventeen started off with the chorus, but Seventeen (Original) has some instrumental and Curumi sings the verses before getting into the chorus. I actually like that; it shakes off a bit of that Aira Mitsuki vibe I got from the first version. And then the chorus gets a nice little buildup instead of sounding so sudden like it did in the first version of Seventeen. Other parts of the vocal arrangement are reworked too, mainly the chorus being spread out through the instrumental.

While I like Seventeen, it is one of Curumi Chronicle's songs I have slightly more difficulty remembering off the top of my head. It lacks the distinct hooks that some of her other songs have. So comparing Seventeen (Original) and Seventeen is a bit of a challenge. Whenever I listen to one, I always think the other one sounds more-or-less the same! That's not true though, and Seventeen (Original) definitely has its own quirks Seventeen doesn't possess. I do think that both songs have the same tone; both Seventeens are bubbly and upbeat. It's kind of weird hearing such a cheery song after the sensual Touch Me. Listening to Seventeen (Original) and Seventeen back-to-back, I like both songs about the same. Seventeen (Original) definitely has a less messy instrumental, and it may appeal to more listeners for that reason. I'd actually have preferred a new song over Seventeen (Original), or something similar to Orange (Sing with Cello). Like a piano version of Seventeen! Oh, I'd dig that! I'd really dig that! Well, that's not happening, so my final verdict on Seventeen (Original) is pretty much the same as the first Seventeen.

To no one's surprise (especially my own), the apple rating is the same! Seventeen (Original) gets the same four and half apples the Seventeen from 17 got! I enjoy both versions, and I am kind of bummed that Seventeen (Original) doesn't offer something radically different to the first Seventeen. This next song on the other hand...

Kitty (Touch Me Ver.)

Oh hai, Second Spring EP! Remember that single? Ah, good times. To recap, Second Spring EP was Curumi's first single she released this year. Of the five tracks on the single, Kitty was one of them, and it happened to be my favorite. Now my least favorite tracks on Second Spring EP were the two remixes. I felt they were unnecessary and bogged down the single. So when I heard Kitty was getting a remix for Touch Me, my response was nervous but hopeful. After all, Gozen Juuichi (Usagi Disco Remix) was an awesome remix. So what changes does Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) have compared to the original? For starters, Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) is a minute longer than the original. Most of that minute is occupied by a strange bridge. Remember how Curumi crooned "Touch me~" a hundred times in Touch Me? Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) picks up on that; the breaks feature that same repetition only with much more distortion. It definitely makes me see why this version of Kitty is the Touch Me version. Arrangement wise, Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) speeds up the tempo in a few parts, and it can be a little off-putting if you don't expect it.

So yay or nay on this version of Kitty? After all, I adored the version on Second Spring EP. It'd be pretty hard to beat that version. Sadly, Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) doesn't trump the original Kitty. However, it comes pretty darn close! Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) is better than I thought it would be, a lot better. I didn't think Kitty could be made into any more of a dance song, but Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) embellishes on that dance sound while adding its own alterations. The arrangement is a little hard to get into first, especially since I repeated the original version of Kitty so many times. But once I got used to it, I really enjoyed Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) There are still a few wonky parts in this remix, mainly that bridge. I'm not sure what the hell is going on in that part; the vocals get weird. Maybe it's one of those songs that explodes with energy in concert. In my dorm though, Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) is still a fantastic remix. It's different from the original but not appallingly different. Instead, the changes made in the remix work surprisingly well.

I'll give Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) four and half apples. This remix is a great way to close out Touch Me. Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) carries that dance sound that's prevailed over the rest of the single, while also maintaing the fun Seventeen (Original) brought. I wasn't sure how I'd like it in comparison to the original, but Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) stands well on its own!

The Verdict

I've had more than a month to bode on Touch Me. How does it hold up? Well, going in, I suspected that Touch Me would offer a more dance-oriented sound than 17. What I was worried was that the songs on Touch Me would all sound like copies of each other. The titular song suffers the most from repetitiveness, but everything else on Touch Me is great. The original songs are great, the remixes are great (and much better than I thought they would be), and like 17, Touch Me has a wonderful variety of technopop. Only with Touch Me, there's less emphasis on the pop and moreso on the techno. The first three singles are the most dance-oriented. Voice ft. Usagi Disco and Flight both have a darker, edgier sound that's a refreshing direction for Curumi Chronicle. She's done music like 16 ft. Usagi Disco, but Voice ft. Usagi Disco and Flight push her even further in that direction. If you don't listen to any of the songs on Touch Me except one, I strongly recommend that one song to be Flight. It's my favorite song on this single, and believe me, that's hard to pick from considering the high quality of the other four songs on Touch Me.

So that leaves only one question: which single is better? The bubbly and fun 17? Or the intense and edgy Touch Me? Both singles showcase different sides of Curumi Chronicle's music so which one is better boils down mainly to personal taste. Me personally, I lean closer to EDM. And yet... of the two singles, I think I like 17 a teensy bit better. Touch Me is still an amazing single that I enthusiastically recommend, but 17 offers more variety. All the songs on 17 are so distinctive, and 17 has more new material than Touch Me. Also, 17 has that wondrous Orange (Sing with Cello). The original songs on Touch Me are great and fit nicely together, but I feel like Seventeen (Original) could have been replaced with a new song. Kitty (Touch Me Ver.) is a good remix, so I'm okay with that being on Touch Me. Even then, those are but small complaints. Both 17 and Touch Me offer more than enough new Curumi Chronicle music. Touch Me is a fantastic collection of more serious technopop songs, and I thoroughly enjoy listening to this single even months after its release. Between this and 17, I think I'll have more than enough Curumi Chronicle music to keep me satisfied until her next release!

My final rating for Touch Me is four and half apples. Like with 17, I can't recommend Touch Me enough. In fact, I can't recommend Curumi Chronicle enough. If you like Perfume, Capsule, Aira Mitsuki, Saori@destiny, or any idol technopop, then you've gotta listen to Curumi Chronicle. If not, you're missing out. I can't wait to see where she goes after this. She's getting better and better with each single!

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