Capsule: World of Fantasy

The name may have changed, but the tempo doesn't on album number 12

Capsule: World of Fantasy

Post 3/11, it's hard to think of a more unfortunate title than the one originally intended for Capsule's latest. The duo's 12th album had initially been scheduled to come out on March 23 bearing the name Killer Wave, a moniker whose sheer inappropriateness could only have been topped if they'd chosen to call it Earthquake?!? lolz instead.

Now inoffensively retitled World of Fantasy, the album represents a progression of sorts for a group that, a dozen LPs into their career, might seem to be running out of options. In recent interviews, producer Yasutaka Nakata has talked about how he finally struck an ideal balance with singer Toshiko Koshijima, blurring the line between the vocals and instrumentation. You need only listen to the title track to get what he's talking about: when the vocals enter, they're so heavily processed and low in the mix that they might as well be another synthesizer line. On 'I Will', Koshijima is pushed to Hatsune Miku levels of artificiality; elsewhere she fills in the gaps that Nakata might once have plugged with an anonymous vocal from a sample CD, although the deadpan 'tonight it's party time, it's party time tonight' refrain of 'Striker' gets a tad numbing after the twentieth repetition.

World of Fantasy also boasts another, more curious, distinction: for reasons best known to himself, Nakata has stuck to a tempo of 128bpm throughout. On the plus side, this means that we're spared any downtempo numbers as ghastly as 'I Was Wrong', the trip-hop nadir of last year's Player album, but the lack of shade amidst the neon glare makes for a repetitive listen. Only the Kosmische-style 'Keep Hope Alive' (one of the standout tracks) and the throwaway intro and outro instrumentals operate at anything less than full throttle.

Given how much time Nakata has been spending in the DJ booth recently, perhaps it isn't so surprising that he'd make an entire album of dancefloor fodder. World of Fantasy taps deeper into the clubbing tradition than anything Capsule have released to date, be it the rave-era piano riffs and sirens of 'I Can't Say I Like You', the relentless Chemical Brothers stomp and fake vuvuzelas of 'Striker', or the oh-so acid house synths of 'Prime Time'. When the latter suddenly peels back to reveal a sweetly melodic chorus, it's one of the only moments that really resembles Nakata's work with girl-pop trio Perfume. That he's done such a good job of delineating between his own project and his more famous progenies is impressive. But did it have to be so one-note?

Time Out Tokyo rating:

World of Fantasy is out now on Contemode/Yamaha Music Communications

By James Hadfield
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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