SAQAVA by the band apart

Released: 22.07.13 / Label: asian gothic label

This hand-painted jacket design is really well done and features a Ninja! SAQAVA is the lead single from the band apart‘s newest album Ninja of Four. Given what I know about English in Japan, I’m guessing that they meant something like The Four Ninja. Although it may be about a ninja that just loves the number four. The track title SAQAVA is also a bit mysterious, but my best guess is that it’s a respelling of the Japanese “Sakaba” or “Drinking Establishment.” So, lots of fun little cultural tidbits in this one. Let’s see what kind of band they are.

the band apart is a four-piece Japanese rock band that formed in Tokyo in 1998. Throughout their 24 years on the scene they’ve released an astounding 9 albums, 20 EPs and 6 DVDs. They’ve had varying degrees of popularity over the years, but they’re well known and play to large crowds wherever they go. This is their first full album in five years, and it’s gotten a fair amount of attention from the music media here in Japan. Impressively, they’ve been releasing music through their own label, asian gothic label, since their first full album back in 2003. The label also has a small roster of signed musicians they release, and occasionally the sponsors events like AG FES. I’m excited to hear what the band has been making over the past five years, so lets check out the track.

That was much more relaxed and poppy than I was expecting. A very smooth song overall, but definitely more in the realm of pop than rock. The vocals are wonderful, this is a very experienced singer who knows the sound he wants and gets it. I’m a bit surprised at the lack of pitch correction I’m hearing. A lot of groups will edit the vocals a bit more, but here you can hear the tiny wavers in pitch that are often corrected. It’s refreshing and very welcome for this kind of song. The melody has a pretty small range, but given the feeling of speed that the song is going for I think it works.

The music is also really solid and the players have a tight groove that’s to be expected from a band together this long. But the parts themselves, while masterfully played, aren’t really that interesting. This is all music we’ve heard before, nothing new or fresh is being done. I feel like I could have heard this song played 10 years ago and thought it was outdated then. The most interesting thing that happens is the lead guitar line before the mid-song break, and even that’s just basic jazz scales. This is a strangely safe track for them to release ahead of the album. I just hope some of the other new songs are a bit more original.

Verdict: Worth your time (3.4/5)

Stream or download the track

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