We Are X Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the latest release from the living legend X JAPAN. It is released to coincide with the distribution of We Are X, the band documentary movie, to public cinemas.
As expected, this soundtrack album heavily features the band’s previously released songs. This album’s only fresh songs are La Venus and Without You.
La Venus is the band’s latest song. It was debuted only a few months ago. So far, it was always performed in full band setting. But, in this album, we are given the acoustic version of La Venus. I believe they will keep the full-band version for the new album. This acoustic version is majestic. It beautifully showcases YOSHIKI’s piano play and TOSHI’s pitch-perfect voice. The full-band version gives me an impression of hope; like a ray of light cutting through dark times. Meanwhile, the more somber acoustic version gives me impression of strength and tenacity to go through troubled times. Either version, it is a strong song with a strong message of not giving up.
Saying ‘fresh’ about Without You is a bit of figurative speaking. This is actually an old song. The song was written by grief-stricken YOSHIKI not long after HIDE’s death nearly two decades ago. The first version of Without You appeared at YOSHIKI’s Eternal Melody II album (2005). The lyrics were included in Eternal Melody II’s booklet but they were not sung, because according to YOSHIKI, TOSHI was the only one who could sing it. Taking into account the circumstances of that time, with X JAPAN disbanding and YOSHIKI and TOSHI not even talking to each other, everyone thought this song would never be sang. But in 2008, the band regrouped and Without You was finally sung by its intended singer. However, even though it had been sung on stage 10 times since X JAPAN’s resurrection in 2008, there was no studio version available. So, yes, it is actually monumental and satisfying that after all these years we finally have the studio version of Without You with vocal. And yes, it is as beautiful as it can possibly get.
Xclamation is actually one song that stands out for me. Unlike other songs in this album which were written and arranged by YOSHIKI, this song was written by the two late members of X JAPAN, TAIJI and HIDE. Originally published in Blue Blood album (1989), this instrumental piece is one of their lesser known songs. It is full of quirky psychedelic yet bold and energetic notes. Even YOSHIKI’s drumming sounds very different here. It is a song that slams your senses. This song truly lives up to its title and makes an exclamation mark, a distinctive piece from other X JAPAN songs. I am glad this song is given a second spotlight in X JAPAN’s history.
A Piano String in Es Dur and Standing Sex are two of other lesser known X JAPAN songs which are included in this soundtrack album. A Piano String in Es Dur, originally appearing in Jealousy album (1991), is the piano-only instrumental track ever included in any of X JAPAN studio albums to date. Standing Sex is a standalone single; it has never been included in any of X JAPAN studio albums. But instead of giving us that studio version, they include the live version of Standing Sex from X JAPAN Returns (1993). I find this deliberate selection interesting. Standing Sex was a song from their time when they were still called X, with TAIJI as their bassist. But X JAPAN Returns was the band’s first concert after they renamed themselves from X to X JAPAN in 1992, with HEATH as their bassist. So, I personally see this particular version of Standing Sex as a symbol of that transition period.
Art of Life is undoubtedly X JAPAN’s (and YOSHIKI’s personal) masterpiece. Its studio album version lasts for 29 minutes. The first time they played it on stage, it actually ran for 38 minutes. It is definitely one of the longest heavy metal songs in the world. Its full version was only played on stage for a couple of times before they disbanded. Since it gives enormous physical strain to YOSHIKI (as he has to alternate between playing both piano solo and drums), the song is never performed fully again on stage. The song version in this album reflects that and only includes the 3rd movement, in which all band members take part. Even so, it still represents all the best part that makes this song a masterpiece, such as its detailed technically intricate layered notes, which are magnificently accentuated by background orchestra that gives it an overall imposing aura.
Kurenai, Endless Rain and X are staples in any of X JAPAN concerts since forever. Respectively, they have been played on stage 200, 119, and 182 times. X JAPAN is an excellent example of a great live band– their live performances often come out better than the original studio versions. The Last Live was their good-bye concert after they disbanded in September 1997. It was an emotional concert and that strong emotion bled into their playing. And that gave extra intensity and edge to their overall performance that night. Thus, I think it is only natural they include The Last Live version of their most played-in-live songs in this album.
If Without You is dedicated to HIDE, Tears is actually dedicated to YOSHIKI’s father who committed suicide when he was young. That tragedy actually drove YOSHIKI towards his current musical career. Therefore, Tears’ presence in this album is foreseeable.
Tears is not the only song taken from Dahlia era. There are Dahlia, Crucify My Love, Forever Love and Longing ~Setsubou no Yoru~. However, only Dahlia and Crucify My Love that were actually taken from Dahlia album (1993), their last studio album before their disbandment. This soundtrack album features the single version of Forever Love (Dahlia album’s version is the acoustic one) and orchestra-only version of Longing ~Setsubou no Yoru~. Longing ~Setsubou no Yoru~ itself, which in a way is another lesser known song of X JAPAN, is a alternate standalone single version of the more well known Longing ~Togireta Melody~ (which is released as a single and included in Dahlia album). In fact, Tears version in this soundtrack album is also a different version than the one in Dahlia album. In the Dahlia version, there was a poem read by YOSHIKI for his father. That poem is not included in this album’s version.
Overall, this soundtrack album offers interesting song selection. It is a good mix of the band’s most popular and lesser known songs and spiced up with two fresh songs. I think it is a good warm up to their upcoming new studio album, which hopefully will be released in the near future as promised.
Reviewed by Mutia N. Kurniati