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Nostal Lab
review by Elec

In 2002, Klaha, former and short-lived vocalist of Malice Mizer, released a solo album, one year after Malice Mizer’s breakup. A clear-cut deviation from the former style, Klaha flexes his solo muscles and offers us a little project.


1. 心像プリズム (Romaji: Shinzou Prism)

An intro track, just like most other Japanese albums. This sounds like a nice little music box with a brooding sort of melody. I actually really like the mood this presents. Plus, music boxes are always winners.

2. Scape~With Transparent Wings~

This song really surprised me. Compared to the others that left Malice Mizer to make more music, we have Tetsu’s pop-punk, Mana’s battery-of-goth, Kozi’s 80’s euro stuff, and Gackt’s pop-rock. This is more of a standard J-pop type song, I suppose.

It starts off with Klaha singing over some piano. It sounds nice.

And then, the fake beat comes in. I was really hoping Klaha would use a real drummer, since, according to the liner notes, he’s using real guitar and horns. But hey, whatever.

It’s not a bad tune, it just feels rather stale. One thing I can say is that the lyrics seems pretty heartfelt; it sounds like he put a lot of effort into writing uplifting and/or good lyrics.

I also have a problem with the vocals, to a point. Klaha’s voice was very well suited for Malice Mizer, and I think he’s a bit too operatic and doesn’t have enough control of his vibrato to be effective on a pop track.

Guitar solo: Pretty cool. Sounds a bit like lounge music or something, but otherwise groovy.

One positive, though; it has a pretty good melody. I do not, however, like how tentative and slightly flat he is on the ‘wings’ note he holds.

3. 太陽の檻

This song has a sort of ethereal thing going on, kind of ambient throughout. At first, the vocals are smooth and pretty nice, but then he hits some sour notes that actually do work with the chords, but for some reason are just off. I think it’s because he’s sitting a bit flat. It’s not so annoying as to make it un-listenable, though.

And what is with the chorus? Is he a Las Vegas lounge act? Opening for Celine Dion, maybe? It reminds me of musical theatre all over again. It’s not crap or anything; I actually kind of like it, but it’s just some bad, lazy jazz. I blame the vibraphone and fake strings.

The vocals get really nice in this song, though. I think it could be his best work on the album.

4. Red Room~硝子の花~

Spanish flamenco? Uh…vocals yay, music nay. The drum pattern is terrible, the guitar solos are absolute crap (Yngwie Malmsteen, anyone? No inspiration, just going nuts on the guit-stick?), and it doesn’t stay consistent.

I think Klaha’s vocals really work on this song, though. You need a sort of operatic air to even attempt something like this. Another good effort by Klaha, vocal-wise. But again, the music here is awful. More research, please.

5. Penguin

A lot of people I’ve spoken with think Penguin is some great artistic achievement, when really it’s a good, cute poem put to a terrible piano ballad. Piano ballads can be awesome; they’re my favorite things to play on piano (Paul McCartney?), but LAWD not this.

It sounds like something an American pop act would do to try to ‘slow down the set.’ Or something we’d play in the contemporary service at church for an offertory.

The song picks up a bit just before the chorus, which is written well enough, I guess.

I hate to hate this song, because the words are actually really—I dare say—cute. And a bit sad. But good LORD what a terrible chorus. The song is honestly nothing special. And why so long? To torture me? Klaha hates the fans. Or at least me.

6. 感情プリズム

And here we have an interlude, thank goodness. Another instrumental track, which is nice. Another one I sort of like; sounds like it’s coming through an old transistor radio. Just some strings and piano. Not as good as the other instrumentals, but nice and short. Huzzah.

7. 奇蹟の声

Klaha’s shaky vocals: not for one phrase, but for two whole phrases. That’s just lazy. And it’s not easy on the ears, for sure.

Luckily, when the music does come in, the song is much better. I like the simplicity of the strings, and the ‘renaissance faire’ sort of percussion.

There’s a key change in here, which is normally an automatic winner, but not really here. I think the strings in the song really save it; the music along creates a pretty cool atmosphere; I just wish Klaha’s vocals were stronger.

8. ショコレイト

More cheese-ball music? On a Fender Rhodes or something, if I’m correct. It’s at this point in the album where I think that maybe Klaha’s putting too much effort into writing really, really complex melodies, and in doing so, makes them very hard to follow, and thusly not very memorable.

So we’ve got two whole verses of…just kind of…nothing, and then the ultimate cheese-ball beat comes in. It sounds like maybe something Utada Hikaru would have done early in her career, I guess. (I actually really like most of her music.)

But, as usual on this album, the lyrics are pretty complex and interesting. I really can’t place my finger on why, but I keep catching small phrases and concepts I can understand (I’m not completely fluent…almost) and it strikes me as an interesting thing to say.

Agh; painful high phrase toward the end of the song.


9. カメレオンの接吻

I played in jazz bands for five years, and swing and jazz and Frank Sinatra and Brain Setzer have always appealed to me. I also did musical theatre for a long time, so I’m used to the sort of ‘fun-song’ idea.

Despite the fact that they should have used a real jazz drummer on this song, and maybe gotten a real jazz bassist on the track, I actually like this one. It’s the first time I think Klaha is actually having fun on the album, with no detectable trace of nervousness.

The vocals are ‘cool,’ although I think some of the rest of the song is a bit too busy (something “Red Room” suffered from). This time, Klaha kept the vocals still interesting, but simple enough to where I find this one catchy enough to be passable.

The chorus is fun but the snare needs to back off. Also, during the piano solo, the horns should NOT be playing. And maybe the piano solo could be better anyway?

Luckily the sax solo is pretty groovin’. I haven’t heard a good sax player for awhile. And, honestly, hearing a Japanese guy sing “doo-bee-doo-bee” is pretty darn cool/funny. Decide for yourself. (It’s kind of like when my co-worker in Saitama would sing songs by The Carpenters to himself.)

All in all, a fun song, I guess.

10. サヨナラ


Actually, it’s not as hokey as I would have guessed. The earlier part of this album really kind of lowered my standards, so I was expected more cheesy music.

Luckily, the piano composition has some nice parts to it (I think the piano player would be a perfect piano player for my church), even though it’s another typical, ordinary ballad.

However, the chorus is kind of nice. He keeps his voice pretty sweet on the song, not forcing any of it. And for once, his falsetto is passable. And again, the lyrics intrigue me. Still, usually a song I just skip, much like Penguin.

11. Green~伝えたい想い~

What. The. Crap. Is. This!? Is he playing Christian music in the 80’s? This song almost embarrasses me. It’s got more energy than most of the songs on the album, but good LORD what cheese.

However, I almost like the second block of text he sings, and I almost feel bad for that.

And what’s with this terrible “whoa” noise he makes? And the English? Ugh; are you Barry Manilow? (Did you know he didn’t even write “I Write the Songs”?)

There’s just nothing in this song that’s any good. And it doesn’t even end well, just peters out.

12. 開放プリズム

Finally, closure. Again, I like this instrumental, and I don’t know why. I like that it fades out back into the first instrumental’s idea. This definitely leaves a better taste in my mouth than the previous song would.


I really want to like Klaha. He’s got a humility and joy that I like, and a charisma that one rarely sees in Japanese musicians. I loved his work with Malice Mizer; I think he was finally the piece that made them seem to fit together as an even group with no one person overshadowing everybody, so I was expecting a lot from any solo project. And I was massively disappointed.

I don’t think Klaha really has a clear concept of who exactly he’s marketing to. The 35+ crowd? Well, you tell me, because it certainly sounds like it. I like that he tried something drastically different from MM, but I honestly don’t think it suits him, and I hope he sees that.

I’m very, very disappointed in the almost total lack of vocal harmonies anywhere on this album, except on the horrendous Green. They really help to make songs interesting and can enhance climaxes in songs.

I see in the liner notes that all the songs were written by Klaha. Well, perhaps he should get someone to help write his next few releases, or at least get a better producer. These Takaki Oyama and Naoki Yamamoto people aren’t cutting it. And real instruments, for peace sake.

So, because I believe in Klaha, he’s got one or two more chances to prove himself to me. He tried so hard on Nostal Lab, I can tell. It just didn’t work.