Kanon – Lolitawork Libretto review

Kanon - Lolitawork Libretto review

Japanese cellist Kanon Wakeshima produces J-music on another level. If you wish to feel like a rococo princess trapped in a book, thinking about you ruined love, read on.

Classic Lolita cellist Kanon creates an air of grandeur in her pieces, and the ‘Shoujo Jikake’ album is no exception. Let it you to a new place; imagine you’re a fairy-tale princess or an aristocrat in Rococo France. Kanon would be pleased if you did. If you look up the translations of her lyrics you’ll find they are seeped in escapist romanticism. In one song, ‘Heroine Syndrome’, Kanon is a princess trapped in a book, thinking about her ruined love. In another, ‘Tree of Sorrow’, she is yearning for a forbidden truth. What could possibly be more romantic than that?

Kanon is a musician with a vision that permeates everything she touches: Not only the music, but also the album art, website and concerts. Her aim is nothing less than to fill you with fantasy and rich wonder, whether you listen to her work or look at it. She dresses in Classic Lolita style, which blends so perfectly with the music. The cover artwork for ‘Lolitawork Libretto’ shows two Kanons, one in a mirror, one outside. Classical and colourful, these album photos are also intimate; it’s always just Kanon, her cello, the stage and an amazing dress.

So… if you’ve heard of Kanon’s music before, how has it progressed since the first album? Well, the drums are more upbeat and fast-paced, as if we are running through the pages of a story book. Kanon’s voice comes forward far more in ‘Lolitawork Libretto’ than it did in her d├ębut. Using subtle harmonies mainly at the beginning of songs, the power that she can maintain is highlighted beautifully. We also see her amazingly versatile vocal range, something that failed to come across in her singles ‘Suna no Oshiro’ and ‘Still Doll’, both included in her first album.

My one concern with ‘Lolitawork Libretto’ is that I feel Kanon’s cello takes something of a back seat to the drum beats and that beautiful voice of hers. We are no longer enchanted by emotional cello solos, or addictive bass lines. And in losing that, we lose a danger that occupied those two singles. Whereas Kanon’s music has always been romantic, this album sees the slightly unhinged edge taken from most of the songs. In other words? It’s too romanticized. It’s too typically fairy tale.

But fear not: ‘Shoujo Jikake no Libretto’ does make for haunting listening in places. In ‘Celmisia’, Kanon’s voice soars above the beat and the cello in beautiful sorrow and the drums fade to allow just a quartet to carry this beautiful piece forward. The album also starts with a soulful introduction, a piece that encapsulates what Kanon is all about; grace, emotion and the premise of fantasy. We find ourselves drawn into a sad tale… and its name is ‘Shakespeare no Wasuremono’ (‘Shakespeare’s lost work’.) Unfortunately, I can’t help feeling that these are the only two songs that truly lived up to the original beauty of the d&eactue;but.

Kanon Wakeshima has finally managed to break away from her ‘Vampire Knight’ roots, showing us that she can move her work forward, but without losing her magical touch. Overall, this makes for exciting and fast paced listening, with unexpected moments of wonder. Perfect if you want an hour of child-like, blissful escapism.

And if you’ve not yet heard of Kanon, isn’t it always nice to try something new?

Kanon cellist