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Nostal Lab
review by The Jrock Ninja

Do you believe in life after Malice Mizer?

Klaha's first album, Nostal Lab, is a new and unique direction for the former Malice Mizer vocalist. As lead singer of the biggest rock band in Japan, Klaha had to endure not only the disappointment of fans bereft at the loss of their dear Gackt, but also with being thrust into the public spotlight after years of obscurity.

Yes, Klaha was in the right place at the right time to catch Mana's ear and become the new singer for Malice Mizer, and a year and a half later he was almost right back where he had started.

Fans of Malice Mizer will remember Klaha as a dark, mysterious character who spoke in a stoic manner to interviewers. Truly, Klaha's time in Malice Mizer was the time when the band was at it's darkest and it's hardest. He was the voice of the final incarnation of the beast. For this reason, the sound and look of Klaha's first album is quite a surprise.

For those fans who say Klaha is 'trying to be like gackt' I say 'pah!' Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, emerging as a solo artist, the makeup and costumes come off and the focus is on the sound. This sound of course, is nothing like Gackt. In fact, it's not like anything I've heard before at all. The songs, composed by Klaha, range the gambit from thought-provoking instrumentals like "Kanjou Prism" to big-band inspired romps such as "Kamereon No Seppun" in which Klaha is heard to remark "doobie doobie sto-wop - dop - doo wop."

All the songs on the record, of course, are much more on the mellow side and the word 'dark' doesn't come to mind even once as you listen to Klaha's trademark voice over beautiful melodic and harmonic pop songs. The artist sings several songs about the beauty of freedom and the sadness of lost love. In the song "Penguin" he voices his dream to fly away from his pain, but the image he uses to touch the hearts of viewers is that he cannot fly away because he is just "a useless penguin."

Other ballads like "Shokoreito" (chocolate) and "Green ~ tsutaetai omoi" really set the stage for a beautiful album full of harmony. Klaha uses alot of sound on the record, from keyboards to strings to horns and spanish guitar, and no, there is not a single distorted guitar lick in the house. With Nostal Lab Klaha shows off his musicianship and scope in a big way and the sound and lyrics alike are sure to capture the hearts of many listeners.

If you're looking for another Malice Mizer, you might want to start a band of your own... but if you want to hear some great music, Klaha's "Nostal Lab" is for you.