aiko is my favourite Japanese singer. Her music is often regarded as one-dimensional as she has released very similar sounding tracks from the start of her career to present. However, I really enjoy her music. She has remained consistently popular in Japan throughout the last two decades and while her release schedule has slowed down, she still pumps out an album every few years. astral box is her debut mini-album and was an indie release.
Released: December 20, 1997
1. DO YOU THINK ABOUT ME?
2. Kiss de Okoshite (キスでおこして)
3. HOW TO LOVE
4. POWER OF LOVE
5. Hikari no Sasu Ashimoto (光のさすあしもと)
DO YOU THINK ABOUT ME? is a bit of a laidback midtempo pop song. I do like it has a bit of a more programmed sound with its keyboard and funky synths. It really does sound the start of aiko’s general style of music, especially when the vocals get rolling. It’s quite charming, although I do find that the song drags on a bit with it being over six minutes. The buildup to the chorus takes a while and the chorus itself doesn’t particularly stand out. It’s a decent tune with nice music, but could be worked on.
I think Kiss de Okoshite is a bit more interesting with its slight electronic elements in the music. The song itself is also far more uplifting and upbeat. The chorus is explosive and really hits with a bang while the melody is still rather catchy. I do find this one does drag on a bit around the end because it heads over six minutes again, but it’s definitely more exciting than the last song.
HOW TO LOVE brings us to the slower sound again. I really enjoy aiko’s voice during the verses here and she doesn’t sound as nasally as usual. The buildup to the chorus is actually quite nice, but the chorus is a bit of a letdown. It just isn’t catchy or memorable at all. I do quite enjoy the music though.
POWER OF LOVE is definitely the most aggressive song on the mini with its heavy guitar and percussion. With that said, it still has quite a bit of a positive sound to it due to aiko’s sweet vocals. The chorus isn’t too bad and the melody is definitely more memorable than the last song’s. However, I don’t think I can totally fall in love with this one. It feels like the music and the vocals don’t entirely mesh at times.
Hikari no Sasu Ashimoto ends the album with a ballad. I really enjoy the music here because it’s quite calming a bit mystical sounding with the odd synths that replicate an Eastern flute. The verses are a tad dull, but the chorus is just weird because I really can’t pinpoint where it is. Everything seems to blend together and while there are some breaks, the song does bring a more unpredictable approach to things. Interesting, but not my favourite.
Overall: This was a good predecessor to aiko’s music, but there is definitely something missing in the melodies of some of the songs. They are missing that moment that really shines that many of her other songs have. With that said, I did find the music of these songs to be quite interesting a bit more adventurous than some of her later music.