album review: hitomi “huma-rhythm”

We’ve reached album stage for the “huma-rhythm” series, and just in the nick of time! Did you know this album was released on this day in 2002? That’s… wow, 20 years ago!

Insane to think I’ve gotten to that point in my life where music I’ve grown up with is now 20 years old, but here we are. Of course, I didn’t find out about this album until a mere 3 years later, but the sentiment is still the same: imagine finding this at a young age, and several years later, you still find yourself able to listen to it (spoiler alert).

huma-rhythm” is hitomi’s sixth studio album (which is also crazy, since she herself is a 90s J-pop star), and it tackles a lot for an album, considering the time it was released, when the world took a deeper look at itself. I won’t say what it is but if you recall anything big that happened in 2001, you might pin it together. So without further ado, is “huma-rhythm” the album that is guaranteed to get us as human as possible, or is it a lost melody buried deep in itself? Let’s see!



hitomi promoting huma-rhythm

COSMIC WORLD [intro]

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Serving as the introduction to the album, “COSMIC WORLD [intro]” is a distorted track, featuring space-like elements of astronaut communication, worldly synths, silent whispers, and a pulsing bass beat that all merge together to give off a space-travel thematic that is evident in the album’s art direction. It’s brief, and at 1:30 length time, it doesn’t wait until it kicks into the album’s first track…


Ele pop

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Ele pop”.

Introduced by a heavy electric guitar that is then joined by an assortment of instruments ranging from piano synth to a booming dance beat that all flesh together to create this futuristic travel track that Utada Hikaru would be proud of, “Ele pop” is that intro song.

“Ele pop” is an absolute fun track, one that never lets its melody go too slow and keeps its momentum going with its speedy and loud instruments. It’s a banger of an introductory track, and it definitely establishes what sort of sound we can expect following this (with most certainly pop-rock being one of the genres). With harmonies that feel so suited for the track, to hitomi’s vocals being amplified like she was screaming into a megaphone, to a sha-la-la midsection that will have you excited for the rest of the album, “Ele pop” is just that, girl power in pop form, with a lot of edge.


SAMURAI DRIVE

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Now, if you haven’t already read my review on this yet, check it out here. But spoiler alert, it’s one of my favorites!

SAMURAI DRIVE” is the lead-up single to the album, and is also a cover of Japanese rock band CUNE’s original song. It’s a highly amped-up version of the original track, with more speed to go along with the album’s motif, opting for ska melodies to give it more of a unique edge.

It’s a fantastic and fun song, and with it being one of her more well-known songs, I could see how this is here in its full glory following “Ele pop”. I’m already starting to feel the drive to becoming a futuristic samurai hearing this…


IS IT YOU?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

IS IT YOU?“, another single song, follows suit to downplay the momentum from the first two futuristic tracks. Yet, while it disrupts that sort of flow, it never feels like things are completely downplayed.

Having reviewed it here, I can say this: it may be ballad-like, but it becomes a tour-de-force of a song, taking you in waves as the song’s power increases towards the chorus. There’s full-on emotion here, and its orchestral melody adds to that feeling, giving its chorus a sense of beauty and epic, goosebumps following suit. Many elements of the album’s motif are also here, so it feels like it belongs to the album.

So, is it you that’s going to feel the same way about this as I do?


Primary

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

We’ve reached a new song!

Primary” is an interesting track, and when I first heard it, I didn’t really know what to think of it. That said, it’s become a favorite!

Starting off with a radio-like introduction by a “DJ T” before expanding into a song that will have you do-do-ing before you know it, “Primary” is a whistle of a tune; with its pop-rock, and occasionally, flute and flirty instrumental that feels jazzy and pop all at the same time, “Primary” is a fun tune that will have you singing along without even realizing it.

It’s such a unique song, even while incorporating elements of a typical J-pop song, and we have to attribute that to its many additional elements of flute, do-do’s, etc. One would say it’s primarily a pop song, but with its distinct and unusual elements, there’s nothing primarily pop about this.


Hi Hi Hi

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Hi Hi Hi”!

I absolutely adore this song; it’s a positive song, with its instrumental feeling so loud and in-your-face, yet so happy and so uplifting. Featuring synth elements, heavy electric guitar, claps, bells, and hitomi’s hopeful vocal, “Hi Hi Hi” is an anthem-like song that will also have you singing along in joyful tone.

I sadly can’t find translation for the lyrics, but I can only imagine with this melody and this upbeat atmosphere, there’s a positive message here. I don’t know how much more I can jush up this track because it’s such a fantastic song, one that is suitable for the album’s themes and sound, as well as for just a regular spring/summer day. It’ll have you saying hi hi hi everywhere you go.


OPEN MIND

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

OPEN MIND“, previously released as a B-side from the “IS IT YOU?” single, and was also reviewed here, follows suit and again, it just really grows nicely on you over time!

“OPEN MIND” is a fun track, featuring elements of your usual 00s J-pop/J-rock song, with its speedy electronica elements giving it a bit of an edge, and its elements of stock/background-vocal that is constant but never grating adds to its catchiness that I didn’t quite catch on when I was younger.

The song also fits the album’s themes and sounds so well, it is no surprise it is even here. Sure, it might not have been a wow-me track from the get-go, but certainly keeping an open mind to those kinds of songs never hurt.


I am

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Where are all my InuYasha fans at?

I am” is the next track on the album, serving as the second opening of the popular anime series InuYasha, of which I also reviewed here. To this day, my anime-loving heart still has a soft spot for this song, as it is one of the many first J-pop songs I was exposed to, as well as the track that got me to listen to hitomi more.

With its hopeful melody, its feeling of being hit by a breeze on a sunny day, and its blended mixture of guitar riffs, drums, booming bass, piano synths, and vocal harmonies, it is the right kind of J-pop/J-rock that can serve as an anime opener, and it has such a nostalgic feel. ‘I am’ in love.


プラスティックタイムマシーン

Plastic Time Machine

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lo and behold, my favorite song on the album, also produced by CUNE!

Plastic Time Machine” is most definitely the best song – it follows the momentum of “I am”, following the same sort of melody and recipe that it had, but amps up the instrumentals to a louder tone, and incorporating a country-like element to its verses and chorus. I don’t even like country music, but this is somehow lifting me high to the sky.

Not only is this song really fun to sing along to, its melody is hopeful, full of sunshine, full of life. I did a bit of a translation of its lyrics and it touches on themes of love and a what-if scenario that takes this ‘time machine’ into account. It’s a cute song, and one that always gives me joy when it enters my hearing space.

If only I had a plastic time machine to take me back to when I first heard this song and immediately thought, ‘wow, this is going to be one of my favorite songs ever’.


WHY?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

WHY?” is also one of the B-sides from the “IS IT YOU?” single, and as I’ve reviewed here, I absolutely love it that it’s one of my favorite tracks from hitomi.

It still fits the themes and style of the overall album with its synthy elements and bits and pieces of pop-rock that are evident in its chorus. I mentioned that it is less of a pop-rock song, which is actually quite refreshing in the album since we’ve gone nine songs in and need to switch things up. It’s certainly a fun song, one that will have its staccato-like synth playing in your head for a while after listening.

I don’t really know ‘why’ this happens to be one of my favorites other than what I’ve mentioned, but perhaps it could be nostalgia, and is there any reason ‘why’ to look beyond that?


果てしない悲しみ

Hateshinai Kanashimi
Translation: Never-ending Sadness

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hateshinai Kanashimi” follows suit, and it continues the pop-rock sound that hitomi has going throughout the album, but only this time, with a title like ‘Never-ending Sadness’, you already know this is not going to be as uplifting as the majority of the album.

In fact, it is really here that the momentum of the album’s high-speed and amplified futuristic tracks take a slower, melancholy turn in its themes and sound; that said, “Hateshinai Kanashimi”, while sad, still takes on a heavy rock sound that is very reminiscent of early-00s J-pop/J-rock (maybe even Western rock). Its a track that is fueled by its electric guitar, drums, piano, and oddly enough, tambourines. Its lyrics touch on finding meaning in endless sadness, so we’re not as hopeful as we were before.

However, this song is crafted so beautifully, I can’t help but feel that sadness radiate throughout. It turns out this is one of my favorite tracks from the album, as well; even if it is endlessly sad, I continue to love this track.


INNER CHILD

Rating: 5 out of 5.

INNER CHILD” follows in the more mellower side of the album, though it actually might be the slight outlier in the last half of the album; consider that it has elements of early 00s J-pop, featuring sounds that you could hear from Hamasaki Ayumi or even Do As Infinity songs, topped with orchestral elements that give it a positive and hopeful undertone.

It is a little toned down than its predecessor tracks on the album, but that doesn’t stray from the fact that the song is not only hopeful, but it is also beautiful. With its lyrical themes and its inspirational-like backing, “INNER CHILD” is a song that will guaranteed reach out to your inner child, as I reviewed here.


innocence

Rating: 5 out of 5.

innocence” is the last of the single songs, of which I reviewed here, and this is the one of the two songs on the album that are significantly ballads, though “innocence” has more of a mid-tempo feel to it with its anthemic march-like beat.

As reviewed here, “innocence” may feel like a long song with several tempos of melodies in between, but everything still feels fresh a second time around, and with its unique instrumental blend of piano, acoustic guitar, and odd portions of record scratches and drum beats, the song doesn’t feel bland or boring. As I said earlier in 2020, ‘innocence’ is a lovely feeling.


リトルモア

Little More

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Little More” caps off the album with not one, but two different songs!

The first, of course, is actually “Little More”, which is a ballad that ends off the last half of the album, which is the mellower, more subdued set of the album. With “Little More”, instruments of harps and violins, and occasionally guitar, take hold while hitomi sings softly along. Eventually, we are thrust into an orchestral array of sound that almost feels like we are drifting off in space, turning this into a ballad that feels vast and explorative.

It’s a fantastic ender, and it is very beautiful. It does wane towards the end with its six minute length, and there certainly doesn’t need to be little more to this, but whatever little we got, it was great.

The remainder of the album is capped off with a secret track, which, you’ll find in a future review, is a preview for the track “Understanding”, the next single that follows the album. I won’t review it, but it does have a taste of its great chorus.


OVERVIEW

A fantastic, fantastic, fantastic album.

I give “huma-rhythm” a definite recommend. There’s no other way around it.

“huma-rhythm” is one of my favorite J-pop/J-rock albums of all time, and to this day, even after 20 years, it still holds. hitomi collaborates with many producers for the album, but it feels so coherent and of its themes and motifs, that I can’t help but feel that she had a very clear image for the album and all the producers involved knew exactly what she had in mind. Add to that that all the songs were crafted so lovingly lyrics-wise, with so much hope, love, and sadness all packed into one.

I cannot stress this enough; if you’re looking for music to get you through some of the most human of life’s issues, listen to this rhythm.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

MUST-LISTEN: プラスティックタイムマシーン, SAMURAI DRIVE, Ele pop, IS IT YOU?, Hi Hi Hi, 果てしない悲しみ, INNER CHILD, WHY?, innocence, I am

For more hitomi reviews, visit the archive!

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