Japanese people have traditionally enjoyed the beauty of the moon. In autumn, o-tsukimi, or moonlight parties, are held at home to watch the harvest moon.

My mother would make an offering of white o-dango dumplings and a bunch of pampas grass. And I, as a little child, would watch the full moon with my family, intently. This is a pleasant memory, isn't it? The moon where "a rabbit lives"... The moon that gives out pale and eerie light... The moon that seems to arouse a dark impulse at the bottom of our heart, endangering our sanity...

1. Gekko

... so was I thinking when I heard this all too famous song. This song begins abruptly with the words:

I was condemned to this corrupt world

This could be interpreted as an expression of haughtiness but I believe it isn't so. Chihiro often writes lyrics that can easily be misunderstood. This is just one of the examples.

I'm deeply impressed with the ingenuity of naming of this work. Surely the sounds of this tune feel like moonlight. Had it been titled "Seikon" (Stigmata) as initially planned, it would not have earned such an enormous reputation.

Keep on talking about the "reasons"
Until I succeed in falling asleep
None of these medicines lying around here don't work
What on earth should I believe
When no voice can be heard here

The warm tones of the piano are pleasing to the ear. It reminds me of the fact that pianos are made of wood. Unlike other works that have both single and album versions, this single version is not at all loud.

2. Innocence

This powerful rock music opens with a dangerous atmosphere. (Incidentally, this album received the Rock Album of the Year award in 2002.) Chihiro uses male language here. She repeats the following phrase furiously:

If you haven't got enough, say so
I will give you
If you haven't got enough, ask me
Then I will be rewarded

At first I thought "hareagatta heya" meant "the room that has cleared up" (like sky), but I found out it was in fact "the swollen room". (Both Japanese share the same pronunciation.) These are eccentric words as always.

3. BACK DOOR (album version)

After "Innocence" is ended suddenly as if to sever something by force, a clear view is introduced with the comfortable F chord.

On this level road you enjoy a distant view
But you'll be lost in obscurity here
So break the window and go forward

This is a spiritual song. You can enjoy her resonant voice here. I'm fascinated with this number. Incidentally, the single version is a rock-style number.

4. edge

This is a heartrending song. It opens like this:

If I could hate you
I would find myself nearly drowned in such a shallow sea

I'm carried away from this very beginning. A number of Chihiro's songs captivate my heart at the very start.

Please don't go
This affection of mine aches
Because I'm still alive here instead of crumbling down

5. We can go

Probably this is the happiest song Chihiro has ever released, at least in terms of sounds. The electric bass sounds nice and pleasant. Overall, it conjures up an image of the sunny American West Coast.

We can go to the place
Where we get freedom
Even if I lose my wings
I can fly

The combination of this kind of happy tune and unhappy words like "nausea" is one of the characteristics of her songs.

6. call

INSOMNIA makes a sudden change here. The lyrics of this song, originally written in English, are visionary:

The evanescence falls in drops
And tints the time
How I wish it reached you

The everyday life that has gone to the limit is now breaking
Making a sound
How I wish you could hear it

A formidable work.

7. Shine (album version)

Chihiro made her debut with this song. This is a simplest form of musical piece—her voice, Mr. Haketa's piano, and nothing else. She spews out her emotions:

I wished for the day, the day, the day, the day, the day
When I could kick down my chair
And leave the classroom

Just like "BACK DOOR", its single version is a rock-style tune.

8. Cage

This is a yet another kind of Chihiro music in which she sings desperately:

Shake me violently
And tell me "You have nothing to lose any longer"
Don't leave me alone, please
If the day should break
Take me away together with the "present-reality", please
Why on earth don't I dream a dream?
Tell me, somebody
Make me believe that everything has gone wrong
If you are there, my God
Please let me escape to a distant place

She makes reference to God here again.

9. Rasen

This song didn't appeal to me at first. She sings surreal words absentmindedly:

These arms of mine reach out
To become branches and a stem
And by forgetting about you
I reach the heavens
My fragile life
I came to be aware of it at long last

10. Memai

This is an unexpectedly maidenly tune. Here you can take a glimpse of Chihiro's interesting sense of values:

If I turned into a gem, for example
Along this road that runs cruelly
Throw me into a flame with your hands
A nuisance would disappear instantly
Leave me like a rubbish as I am

Very reassuring sounds that are agreeable to the ear.

11. Gekko (album version)

Like the moon that waxes and wanes, this album returns to its starting point. Chihiro always says that the titles of her works have no particular meaning. I don't know whether it's true or not.

INSOMNIA is a kaleidoscopic album with stunning contrasts between tracks. It's fully packed with Chihiro's musical essence. It also concentrates on making the best use of the acoustic piano. I love INSOMNIA best of her three albums. It's a real treasure to me.

(All quotations are given from respective works listed above. Original text copyrighted by Chihiro Onitsuka. Translated and quoted by Folia in compliance with the Japanese Copyright Act. The above translations may be superficial rather than deliberate, and are intended for your information only.)



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