Akico, vocalist for Amasia Landscape
Isn't it funny how the smallest sites and least known artists have the most information? (^^) I guess that old adage "great things come in small packages" could be more true here. Be prepared for a LOT of reading...and I hope you read it all! Amasia Landscape is a really great group, and I'll tell you why.
First, let's start from the beginning...
In late 2003, Do As Infinity went on a very long hiatus. They wouldn't release an album or single for nearly a year (but they would do a few live concerts here and there). During this break, Ryo Owatari and Dai Nagao formed their own groups: Missile Innovation, and Eurasia 404 (which would later be called "Amasia Landscape")
Eurasia 404 had a very small, obscure start. They only released two known songs:
2. "Eurasia404" (featured on "Amemasu no Kawa" OST. Notice that the song title has no spaces, but the group's name DOES)
Anyway!! About a year later, they changed their name to "Amasia Landscape". And that was when they started making their presence known. First, they tried to win people over by singing "classic" songs -- songs they already knew people liked -- songs by Dai Nagao's old group, Do As Infinity. That plan backfired SEVERELY, and I'll explain the mistakes in Part 3.
After the failure of that CD (which was called "NEUTRAL Type"), they started developing their own very unique style. Another "unique" aspect is that they NEVER release singles, or full size albums. Instead, they reach a middle ground by releasing "mini-albums". These mini-albums are 6 tracks long (so it's longer than a single, but shorter than an album), and they come with a PV/music video DVD.
You might be wondering, " Why Are They Called 'Eurasia 404' / 'Amasia Landscape'?" I'll admit, those are some REALLY unusual names. Though not as strange as "Porno Graffiti". (side note: Turns out, "Porno Graffiti" was actually named after a famous rock album! Look it up on Wikipedia!! Now where that album got its name from, I have no clue. Wikipedia couldn't even tell me that. x_X)
Now let's get back on track!! First, I'll start with the name "Eurasia 404". I'm not sure where the "404" comes from, but apparently, it has a LOT of value to Dai Nagao since his official site is called "Area404". Luckily though, I can tell you about the word "Eurasia".
What "Eurasia" Means
The word "Eurasia" is actually a combination of Europe and Asia (so says its Wikipedia page). In fact, the actual landmass of Europe and Asia is sometimes referred to as "Eurasia", which is considered a super-continent.
So...what does ANY of that have to do with the group? Well, I have a couple of theories:
What "Amasia" Means
When the group was renamed as "Amasia Landscape", it symbolized a bigger, brighter future. Their overall theme is still the same (nature & unity), but unlike "Eurasia", "Amasia" is not a supercontinent. Not yet, anyway. (you can get a bit more info on its Wikipedia page.)
In the future, it is speculated that America and Asia will combine into a super-continent, and that's what "Amasia" is -- a cross between "America" and "Asia". If those 2 continents were to join forces, they'd be the largest landmass EVER. So...the fact that the group was renamed "Amasia Landscape" proves several things:
Based on all the info I gave...you might have noticed that I really like Amasia Landscape (but more than anything, I respect them). But did I always like them? NO.
You know the expression "3 strikes -- you're out?" Well, Amasia Landscape (and especially Akico) was VERY close to getting 3 strikes with me...
Strike 1) They did "remakes" to classic Do As Infinity songs. These "remakes" are on the infamous "Neutral TYPE" CD. The songs were mostly in English...and they were pure garbage. The lyrics were actually pretty good...but Akico's English was HORRIBLE, so you couldn't hear how good the lyrics were. It almost sounded like she was singing another language, like French.
And since Akico can barely sing English...a lot of people (myself included) assumed that ALL of her singing sucks. But actually, her Japanese voice is GORGEOUS. And it gets better overtime.
Anyway, if you heard anything from "NEUTRAL Type", you probably felt like hurting her. (xD) But the person you should *really* hurt is Dai Nagao. I'm SURE he had to give permission for this album to be made. Plus, he's Akico's producer! Why on earth did he butcher his own songs?!!!!
He was apparently on medication (or using "other" drugs) when this album was made...but whatever. Let's move on!! ^_^
Strike 2) Amasia Landscape's first mini-album, "Goldenvine". Again, Akico tries to sing in English. Again, the English songs suck, mostly due to her mispronunciation of words. BUT...there were a few decent tracks, like "Yuugure no Sakamichi". For starters, that song is 100% Japanese. And it tells us that Akico sounds really good in Japanese. And, the overall album tells us that her singing has gotten better. (in fact, "Goldenvine" has a bit of odd charm to it. I like most of the tracks now, including "Ark" -- which is sung entirely in English!!)
However, Goldenvine (and especially "'NEUTRAL' Type") is far from "excellent"...but it did seem like she was getting better. Still, I wondered about her 3rd release. Would it truly be better than the first two? Or would it be so abysmal that she'd get 3 strikes? Which means I wouldn't build a site for her & Amasia Landscape AT ALL. I refuse to build sites for crappy artists. T__T
Bearing that in mind, I bravely sat down and listened to "Flower Crown"...
Was "Flower Crown" Strike #3?
...I am happy to report that their second album, "Flower Crown", is a million times better than their other albums. In fact, "Flower Crown" is one of my all-time favorite albums. My only complaint is that I wish it were longer! I fell in love with every track -- it's seriously that good (and the lyrics...so different and PRETTY!!). They've improved so much -- especially Akico -- that I actually feel proud of them.
The fact that they improved so drastically made me realize several things: