Tujiko Noriko

Hard Ni Sasete (Make Me Hard)

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Make Me Hard (referred to in some places as Make Me Sasete or Hard Ni Sasete) is Tujiko Noriko's third full-length album, her second for the Viennese label Mego. Her blend of Japanese pop seduction, modern-day electronica, and avant-gardist arrangements (both vocal and instrumental) gives the music a highly personal flavor, even though you might feel like you've heard it before. If Haco had recorded her eponymous album for ReR Megacorp five years later (while being at the same stage of her musical evolution), it could have sounded very close to this. Noriko is part Haco, part Kate Bush for the 21st century. Her multi-tracked vocal lines are exotic birds stubbornly refusing to follow their flight pattern: They crisscross and occasionally brush feathers with each other without ever colliding. The lightness, delicacy, and dreamy detachment of her voice may or may not be mirrored by her lyrics, but listening pleasure shouldn't be inhibited by the language barrier for those who do not understand Japanese. The seventh track (titles are provided in Japanese script only) is a highly intricate assemblage of vocal lines with a layer of fake organ. The other pieces all feature prominent digital electronics. Some of them, once stripped from the vocal layers, could even sound like typical Mego music (Pita or Farmers Manual -- it is that rich and messed up). Put Noriko's voice back and it subdues the glitch-o-rama, turning an avant computer geek's wet dream into a delicately chiseled collection of mutated pop songs. The artist tends to reuse the same ideas, making the album a bit too homogeneous for its own good, despite the appearance of guitarist Yoshiharu Okubayashi and drummer Yuichiro Takashima for the closing ballad. That's why it doesn't lend itself to repeated listens as well as Haco.

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