Do As Infinity: Deep ForestCertified Non-Bubblegum

Do As Infinity: Deep Forest
Genre: JRock, JPop, Jazz/Rock
CREDITS: 2001 AVEX Network Inc.
Track Listing:

  1. Fukai Mori
  2. Tooku Made
  3. Tadaima
  4. GET YOURSELF
  5. Tsubasa no Keikaku
  6. Kouzou Kaikaku
  7. Koi Hime
  8. WEEK!
  9. HANG OUT
  10. Boukensha Tachi
  11. Enrai
    BONUS TRACK: Signal (Album Remix)


When I first heard Fukai Mori, the title track that means “Deep Forest” in English, I imagined the vocalist to be tomboyish or grunge. I wasn’t aware then that Do As Infinity was such a huge name in Japan, but what I know of Japanese pop girlies is that they usually sang bubblegum tunes with ultra-irritating high pitched nasal voices and that they bank more on their cutesy charms than actual talent. Well, vocalist Van Tomiko certainly is one of Japan’s rarities—with her model-like angelic looks that belie that pair of powerful alto-driven lungs. She’s right up there in my to-worship list, alongside Hikaru Utada, Megumi Ogata, and Hatsumi Morinaga.

But Do As Infinity is not just about Van Tomiko alone. In fact, she’s sambun no ichi (1/3) of pure talent that also includes composer Dai Nagao and guitarist Ryo Owatari. Having Led Zeppelin, AEROSMITH, Natalie Imbruglia, Sheryl Crow, the Corrs, MEJA, Jimi Hendrix, and Radiohead in their roster of inspirations, it isn’t difficult to figure out why this band is so versatile they could jam to old jazz and Big Band swing tunes that dates back to post-WWII America to 70s-infused classic rock to modern-day hard rock. They can even do bubblegum pop without sounding like overgrown babies with a bad case of diaper rash. The use of various unconventional instruments from ethnic to computer generated—with Ryo Owatari’s guitar leading, of course—can leave one’s mouth agape with awe. Listen to this album and be enthralled with their music. You will never find yourself bored because one track is immeasurably different from the last one.

Swing to Kouzou Kaikaku—60-year-old Benny Goodman fans will probably like this one. Do a karaoke sing-along with Week! and Hang Out. Cry with Fukai Mori as the lyrics go: “In the deep, deep forest, surely I left my heart behind…” My favorite would probably be Enrai, a soft ballad that speaks of a future likened to a distant thunder. It’s also the most “imperfect” track, hearing as Van Tomiko does a lot of flats during vocal register transitions, the most prominent of which could be heard in the first refrain before she finally settles her belt-to-falsetto style later on. I actually cringed upon hearing the first flat, but I got used to it after a while and actually found its imperfection strangely endearing.
To date, DAI, as they are fondly called by their fans, has become so popular since their 1999 debut single Tangerine Dream that they’re now a household name. There almost isn’t a work of theirs that hasn’t become a theme for a soap opera, a TV show, and even an anime movie. In this album alone, there’s Fukai Mori and Tooku Made, both already internationally known. Fukai Mori is the second ending theme for Inu Yasha, while Tooku Made is the ending theme for Vampire Hunter D 2000: Bloodlust.

Rating: 8/10

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