In Goss We Trust

Going Listal: My Top 25 L’Arc~en~Ciel Songs

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Anyone who knows me can tell you that I love lists. I’m a self confessed music geek and nothing gets me engrossed like music discussions, playlist and top 10 making. 

One of my all time favourite bands is L’Arc~en~Ciel, the Japanese stadium giants who if you are unfamiliar, sound like a cross between U2, Bon Jovi, The Cure, and Nirvana. Forbes magazine described them as "an improbable mix of Metallica’s heady guitar riffs and U2’s optimistic vocals, with a dollop of anime-inspired lyrics for good measure."

With 12 studio albums and a B-Sides collection over the past 23 years, I thought I’d take a look back over L’Arc~en~Ciel’s discography to pick my own personal top 25 songs. Really it was an excuse to listen to all their stuff again because sweet lord, I love this band to death.

25) Anata (You) from “Heart” (1998)

The Big Lighters In The Air Ballad. This is a regular concert closer and it’s so fucking triumphant. They have tried to better it since but nothing comes close.

24) Metropolis B-Side (1998)

This B-Side to their Winter fall single has an unusual, mechanical beat with chirpy guitar and bopping head chorus. A welcome change of pace.

23) Ibara no Namida (Tears of Thornsfrom “Ray” (1999)

Was featured as a concert opener on their recent World Tour with a re-tooled piano opening, The song is a dark, soaring rock song from their seminal Ray album.

22) Trust from “Awake” (2005)

A sad,shimmering album track buried on their Awake album. I really love the chorus.

21) Kaze no Yukue (Where the Wind Goesfrom “Tierra” (1994)

A melancholy song that really came into its own during the 2011 20th Anniversary concerts. It’s perfect for a rainy day.

20) Caress of Venus from “True” (1996)

The True album was the start of L’Arc~en~Ciel really broadening their sound and the biggest example of this was Caress of Venus. With its opening house-piano and pounding dance beat, this song was a game changer.

19) Good Luck My Way from “Butterfly” (2012)

A real feel good song with a driving rhythm and chunky pop punk riffs. I genuinely cheer up when this song comes on.

18) Daybreak’s Bell from “Kiss” (2007)

Another dark, heavy track with some sad but beautiful lyrics, “My life I trade in for your pain.” 

17) Shout at the Devil from “Heart” (1999)

A fast, chaotic, rocking track. When they play this live, you flail and go nuts. Usually accompanied by an awesome laser show.

16) Drink It Down from “Butterfly” (2012)

The soundtrack to the game “Devil May Cry 4”, this song was first released as a single in 2008 and has become a live staple. The song itself is pop metal of the highest order. Dark and devilish, just like the game it accompanies.

15) Finale from “Real” (2000)

Finale is a creepy, pulsing rock song that was featured on the soundtrack of the horror movie Ring 0. The reverb-laden vocals add a sinister edge.

14) X X X from “Butterfly” (2012)

A divisive single upon release, this is a sultry alt-rock song with an r&b feel and orchestral flourishes throughout. I loved it and still do as I think the melody and string section are classic L’Arc.

13) The Silver Shining from “Ray” (1999)

The quiet, sleepy closer from Ray, is a gorgeous midnight lament.

12) Anemone from “Clicked Singles Best” (2001)

Released as a new track on a Greatest Hits/Singles collection during L’Arc’s hiatus in 2001, Anemone is a lush symphonic masterpiece of considerable beauty. 

11) Love Flies from “Real” (2000)

A bluesy rock song with grunge bar aesthetics that compares falling in love to, essentially, tripping balls.

10) My Dear from “Awake” (2005)

An experiment that went right! This is a sparse, synth-led love song that was apparently written quite differently. The band liked this stripped down version and it stuck! In keeping with the overall anti-war theme of the album, this is a tender and sad song.

9) Loreley from “Heart” (1999)

Singer Hyde breaks out the saxophone for this groovy, moody album opener. The chorus was what originally hooked me with its great vocals.

8) In the Air from “Tierra” (1994)

The warm opening bass line sets the mood for this this joyful, optimistic song before it explodes into sunny U2-style arena rock à la Beautiful Day.

7) Kasou (Flower Burialfrom “Ray” (1999)

Gothic and pretty, Kasou is the centre-piece of the Ray album. By turns delicate and emotional yet relentlessly eerie, it is one of L’Arc’s strongest songs.

6) Anata no tame ni (For YouB-Side (1995)

A true hidden gem, this is early 90s gothic rock in the vein of The Cure. The rhythm section really shines here.

5) Voice from “Dune” (1993)

Ken’s guitar soars in this track from their debut album. It established the kind of big ambitious sound L’Arc would develop going forward.

4) Forbidden Lover from “Ark” (1999)

My first L’Arc~en~Ciel song, and what a song it is. With its military drum beat and pervading gloomy atmosphere, I bled for the protagonist of this song and the crushing, transcendent guitar solo/shred lifts this song into the upper echelons of the L’Arc discography.

3) Pieces from “Ark” (1999)

First an admission, I used to actively dislike this song. I thought the intro was cheesy and never really gave it a chance. Just filler. How. Wrong. Was. I.

I realised one day I was singing the chorus as I walked out of work. I struggled to figure out what song it was from. All I knew was that I loved it. The way the tone changes halfway through, to an earnest, soaring, expansive farewell is mesmerising and even though it charts here at number 3, Pieces is my most listened to L’Arc~en~Ciel song to this day.

2) My Heart Draws A Dream from “Kiss” (2007)

Such a simple echoing guitar riff that leads into one of the most heart-wrenchingly happy songs. It is a life affirming, shining supernova of the heart.

1) Fate from “Heart” (1999)

When I heard the opening guitar riff during their 2012 gig in Paris, I felt my insides crumble and my love was complete. Fate captures the sheer emotion L’Arc~en~Ciel are capable of expressing. The song is WHY I love the band. The searching guitar strains, the walking bass line, the driving drum beat…the drama of the song that tells us there is something bigger at play. Love on a cosmic scale. They follow this track on the album with Milky Way, a light, airy fun track but that’s what they do. They show sadness and hope. Darkness and light. They are a mirror for the human condition and they continue to fascinate me. 

So there you have it, 23 years of L’Arc~en~Ciel condensed into 25 cracking songs. It was painful leaving out so many songs, I know my sister’s list would be very different. The beauty of L’Arc~en~Ciel is that they don’t have a definite greatest hits. Everyone’s lists will be different. 

I will be doing many more of these lists in the future so stay tuned.

Polar Musings ~ Dreams of the Ice Fronteir

(Picture from http://antarcticmicrobes.edublogs.org/ )

I have an unusual fascination with the Antarctic and Arctic. To me they represent the grandeur of our planet, the extreme of our natural wilderness, rivalled only by our oceans. The vast nothingness and awesome scale of the landscape appeal to a part of me that craves solitude and calm. I don’t mean being alone, simply a place where the outside world means nothing and you and whoever you are with can take in what is surely an incomprehensible natural wonder. 

If I get stressed with work or the general public, I think about how wonderful it would be to be stationed at one of the Antarctic telescopes, spending my day immersed in the sheer beauty of both the planet and the stars. I imagine the peace and happiness that comes with that immersion. Obviously, I would miss the luxuries of everyday life (I’m sure my wallet would be happier) but staring out into the most gorgeous sunsets on the planet, some of which last weeks, I think I would be a richer man in a far more meaningful way.

(Picture from http://www.antarctica.gov.au/ )

There is actually quite a lot happening at both poles. Research scientists, astronomers, biologists and sometimes tourists all go about their business, mingling with penguins, sea leopards, whales and polar bears. Micro research is conducted in the shadow of massive glaciers. Studies currently going on in Alaska may even help to answer questions such as “Is there life beyond our planet?”. By the logic of the Drake equation, an understanding of Arctic and Antarctic life, particularly their sea life, may help us to explore Jupiter’s moon, Europa to search for life in its gigantic ice-covered oceans.

These are fundamental studies into our very existence. This kind of work, in this kind of environment, casts the very notion of working on “Buy One, Get One Half Price” offers into irrelevance. (I’m being dramatic of course, but you get the idea.)

The polar ice caps are majestic in their being; silent and ageless, monolithic in their glory. I hope one day I will see their beauty with my own eyes.

Back in the Saddle ~ Truth & Ink

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It feels good to be back writing again. I have the old energy in my veins again, that wanderlust for the sentiments of youth that must out themselves in truth and ink.

I sat down today and I wrote, honestly, for hours. It felt good and pure and inspiring. I have a story in my head that I’m trying to tell. Not of cursed books or epic myths, just simply about my generation. Our age is important. We have an uphill battle worth chronicling. I feel like I’ve bled today to bring something worthwhile to the party. I have a good start. I have to keep going. Can’t let work or the internet distract me from this endeavour. It feels too important to my own well-being. 

This is a work born of the love, respect and admiration I have for my friends and family. I hope someday it will see fruition and you can read it. Until then, it’s good to see the flames lit once again. The engines are roaring. The work goes on.

-Billy

The Long Bright Dark ~ “It’s gonna rain down like black hell…”

There are moments of clarity when you reach down and pick up the fragments of what another human being has torn down and you see through the density of human darkness. It is a moment of pure humanity amongst the animals.

In the past week several of my friends got robbed, their homes broken into and their possessions stolen. Both friends live in different parts of the world and the incidents were unrelated but sometimes this run of darkness can seem pervading, all conquering and destabilising. A lot of people I know had bad weeks recently and it is usually because of someone else’s lack of respect for another. I have seen friends crushed by the actions of others and I hate it.

Maybe at certain times the dark edges over the light. It creeps in through the shadows that stark sunlight can cast. To paraphrase Cormac McCarthy, these shadows are black tentacles binding us to the darkness. 

I can’t rest. My mind is racing constantly and it won’t slow down. It is a hundred miles per hour thought, worry and uncertainty. Sometimes we fall into the darkness. I wonder sometimes why we bother being good people when the bad always wins and even worse, goes unchallenged.

I can be very confrontational when I encounter someone who is inconsiderate of others. I don’t know what makes my eyes roll into my head and ignite the spark. I don’t take it any more. Not from random assholes. I get verbal. I call people on their actions. Yet I regret it each time I light on someone because invariably it is triggering a dark emotion. We are all learning how to live in this black hell.

So why bother? We are pollutants in our world. To quote Rust Cohle in the TV series True Detective,

We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self; an accretion of sensory, experience and feeling, programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody is nobody. Maybe the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction, one last midnight - brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.”

It is tempting to agree. I thought about what my answer would be. I am anti-social at the best of times. Why would I bother being good when the world allows the bad to flourish? 

I guess my answer is not to the world at large but to those who feel the stress of existing in this world in the small moments, in the painful seconds when you reach down and pick up the fragments of what was lost. In that dark moment of blinding clarity and sadness, I want you to know that good people will always be near, hiding in the shadows, light in the dark. I don’t want anyone to feel that loss of hope. It’s reason enough.

myedol:

The Story by Mobstr

This put a smile on my face. Continuing on from Mobstr’s "Playing With The Buff Man" series, The Story tells the tale of the on going dance between the artist and the so called “Buff Man” as they both fight for control over the wall.

Artists: | Website | [via: Vandalog]

(via thebrockway)

Capturing the beauty and tragedy entrenched in our Irish heritage, in particular the history of Croke Park, I present to you this beautiful song written and performed by my friends, Tourist Walk.

After Dark ~ What I Think About When I Read Haruki Murakami

To paraphrase the author himself, Haruki Murakami is like a fine whiskey, first you gaze, then you drink. I first learned of Murakami’s work through my sister. She owns his entire bibliography and enthusiastically recommended them for being utterly unique. This week, after borrowing my sister’s books for so long, I took the plunge and bought my own complete set. It is money well spent. His writing is consistently brilliant, thoughtful and insightful. 

Murakami’s books are post-modern, surreal and yet imbued with a melancholy and subdued nostalgia for people, places and emotions that ground the protagonist in a recognisable reality.  I have long tried to put into writing the moods I feel, often wishing I could convey emotion and colour the way certain songs can. Murakami is possibly the closest an author has come to doing so in my mind. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald (whom Murakami has translated into Japanese), Murakami captures fleeting moments with a delicate longing and resolute nobility.

He also has a lifelong obsession with music, inserting plentiful music references into his books. In his younger days, Haruki Murakami owned a jazz bar and his love for the genre is apparent in everything he does, from off-kilter rhythms, to lilting melodies. His love for music is something I identify with. In fact it is perhaps his passion for his hobbies (which also include marathon running) that translate into passion in his writing. He is an author who is resolute in his passion for life and it carries into his work. It is inspiring. 

If I can follow his trajectory, I know I will have achieved something worthwhile. Not in terms of acclaim or success, but in his passion for living. 

Haruki Murakami’s latest novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is released in English in the UK on August 12th.

I sit down at my desk and nothing comes — no ideas, no words, no scenes. Not too long ago I had a million things to write about. What in the world’s happening to me?

—Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

(Source: rimudo)