Article originally written by Scott:
Here’s a little tidbit for you all; namely L’Arc~en~Ciel’s second demo tape. Serving as kind of a blueprint to their magnificent debut album; no less than four of the seven songs present here appeared on “DUNE” although in rerecorded and (in some cases) rearranges versions, which makes this tape a most fascinating piece of visual kei-history.
01. Claustro Phobia
02. Kioku no kakera
04. No Truth
06. Tsuioku no joukei
07. I’m in pain
Bitrate: 192 kbps
Label: N/Ahyde (vocals)
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out much in the way of concrete information pertaining to this release, and I once again would like to extend a plead to any of my readers out there that might be in the know regarding early L’arc~en~Ciel history. I’m most curious to find out exactly when this was released (were I to guess I’d say around 1992) and if the lineup mentioned above is the correct (it seems to be Ken that’s on the cover …yet all sources I’ve consulted claim Hiro as the guitarist for these session).
Even though the sounds quality isn’t the best (the expected muddled sound, tape-hiss and warbling are of course present) this release manages to be quite pleasing to the ears – a fact which I’m inclined to contribute to early L’Arc~en~Ciel’s transparent and atmospheric songwriting.
The cassette starts off with “Claustro Phobia”, which reappeared in a somewhat different shape on “DUNE” as “Shutting from the Sky”. In an interview conducted around the release of “DUNE”, Ken states that “[Claustro Phobia] was a song without much breadth or spaciality, but with the re-arrangement, the songs atmosphere and the nuance of the lyrics have pleasantly changed” …to which I’m inclined to agree. The version featured here is still good, even if it lacks a bit in power compared to it’s later, more polished incarnation.
“Kioku no kakera” follows. A song which, to my knowledge, hasn’t appeared anywhere outside of this tape. A bit unfocused but quite nice song. I find the introduction, first verse and subsequent riff-section particulary enjoyable. The more upbeat sections that follows unfortunately feels very disruptive and tacked-on – the refrain being the worst offender, even if it’s a well written one! The solo (fraught with tape warbling) and outro reverts to the ambience of the beginning, but the tune ultimately leaves an impression of disjointedness.
Next is “Entichers”, which ended up in a drastically reworked version. This is a much rawer and straightforward version – actually teeming on the verge of being a punk tune (albeit a very melodic one). Quite a contrast to the spanished-tinged tune off off “Dune”. And even though the album version of “Entichers” isn’t one of the groups finest (or even finer) moments in my opinion, I do have to say that I prefer it over the version present here.
“No Truth” is yet another tune that never received a proper release. Too bad since this track is actually very good! Starting off with some chilling clean guitar and an ominous throb provided by Tetsu and Pero, the track soon shifts gears into a grooving, brooding monster of a track. hyde handles the vocal duties impressively on this one, in particulary during the sinister whirlpool of sounds that is the refrain. Great stuff!
“DUNE” should require no further presentation, as it is almost identical to the album version. Suffice to say that it is L’arc~en~Ciels second finest song (the first one being, of course, “Voice”). Always a pleasure to hear – even in such a murky version that we find here.
“Tsuioku no Joukei” also turned up on the “DUNE” album. I was never too fond of this tune …I always felt it only went on and on without going anywhere in particular. Slightly different than the album version, it feels a bit more driven on this tape …for better and for worse. We are however spared from the horribly cheesy acoustic guitars in the beginning (but not from the synthesized pizzicatto string-plucks in the background!).
The tape concludes with “I’m in pain” – yet another otherwise unreleased song, and an agressive one at that – at times the band sounds almost feral! One could argue that this track suffers from the same disjointedness that plagues “Kioku no kakera”, but here I think it works in favor of the song, producing a disorienting and disturbing atmosphere. I’m especially fond of the abrupt “slow” section in the middle, seguing into a verse. Watch out for the Bauhaus-esque effects on the guitar!
Even though “Unfinished DEMO 7 track” is flawed here and there, great unreleased tracks such as “No Truth” and “I’m in pain” more than makes up for any shortcomings. Taking its historical value in account, I’d say this is a must-hear.