Seiko Oomori – Muteki

4 out of 5

Label: Avex Trax

Produced by: ?

A compilation of fan-requested tracks done up acoustically, plus a couple of bonus plugged-in new tracks, Muteki reminds us, track by track, that Seiko isn’t just hiding behind idol glitz and glammer: she’s got the goods as a performer and vocalist. Those who’ve followed her or who own her first few EPs / albums are already familiar with her guitar and voice roots, but it can still be easy to forget those offerings with the bevy of bright and shiny material found on later albums; Muteki not only brings that back around, narrowing Seiko down to just a guitar or piano and her voice, but recontextualizes some of those bright and shiny tracks with the kind of nutso ranting that appeared on those early discs. But it doesn’t stop there: Seiko makes these more than energized covers by giving them a production workup, layering in multiple vocals in stereo and some acceptable ‘acoustic’ effects, definitely justifying Muteki as a full album and not one of covers.

Of course, given that it is something of a ‘best of,’ I wouldn’t say the tracks necessarily hang together as an experience out of the box; they gain context through their familiarity, but, at points, rather clearly don’t feel like they were intended to be on the same disc. There’s also the head scratcher of some of these already being rather stripped down to begin with, so why request them in this format? …Though that doesn’t prevent the versions here from feeling properly redone.

Finally, it should be said: the original songs kick ass. Taking notes from the album’s ‘quieter’ sound, they’re incredibly dense without being overwhelming, which some of Seiko’s rock and pop stuff can (at least initially) be. I’d make some statement about how these tracks make the disc, but there’s plenty of other material that merits relistens here as well; Muteki stands up without the selling point of two new songs.