saazanka’s note: Today’s review is hosted by our guest, AzureKnight. Please give him a warm welcome! All of the song translations are unofficial.
Hello! Today I would like to present a review of the latest album from Quadimension’s MEDIUM5, “森罗万象(Sēn Luó Wànxiàng)”, also known as “Kaleido” in English! This album features the vocals of Stardust, HaiYi and ChiYu, and it has been produced by a variety of composers and artists.
The CD & packaging
The box which was delivered to me doesn’t look anything out of the ordinary, besides the huge Quadimension logo on top of it and… the scrawl of writing from the Taobao seller spoiling the appearance a bit.
If you are worried about the safety of the contents Quadimension has you covered! Inside the box there were layers and layers of foamed plastic with an indentation for the CD letting it sit comfortably in place.
The front cover is drawn by ATdan and Hanasa, depticting the three vocalists wearing elegant, mystical dresses inside a room reminiscent of the inside of a kaleidoscope, something which represents the overall concept of the album. The contrast between the deep purple and the plethora of pastel colours seems to be promising a magical experience to the listeners.
Once again, the back side of the cover depicts similar geometric shapes and pastel colours. The tracklist inside contains the pen-names for all composers and artists who created all of the songs and illustrations.
The booklet includes the lyrics and illustrations to all nine songs. What’s interesting to note is that some of the lyrics are colour-coded according to the singer, making it easier to follow who is singing and when. (Blue – HaiYi, Red – ChiYu, Purple – Stardust, Yellow – duet and/or all)
1) 噩梦铺 (Èmèng Pù) / Nightmare Store
This is the opening song of the album created by Evalia and 瑞安Ryan. The song seems to reflect the mysterious atmosphere of the front cover illustration, especially with its unique style of tuning and editing.
2) Requiem of Excalibur
The second song invites you to the world of the British legend of King Arthur. The track benefits from the fairly unusual combo of HaiYi and ChiYu, accompanied by a choir and instruments. All in all, it delivers an extraordinary experience of listening to the timeless epic poem. Even the lyricist Uniparity said that it has been an enjoyable experience to compose the lyrics in this kind of style.
It’s worth mentioning that “Requiem of Excalibur” is the only song from the album which got its own PV, where you can see a representation of the narrative of the heroic poem.
3) 四季 (Sìjì) / Four Seasons
The third song makes very good usage of HaiYi’s voice, including times when her voice is significantly deeper. This, alongside the echoing sound effect and the piano, is what evokes the mystical atmosphere of the entire album. The corresponding illustration by 言寺马川 makes use of calm, blue tones, fitting the emotions in the track.
4) 恒星坠落之时 (Héngxīng Zhuìluò zhī Shí) / When the Star Falls
Once again we can see the brilliant result of a collaboration between KIDE and Creuzer, which reminded me of their previous work entitled “ArroganT” (part of Quadimension’s album “Fairytale”). The singing duo of Stardust and ChiYu successfully manages to enchant the listener with their voices, which feels like they’re leading you into an eerie realm. That unusual experience ended up goving me a pleasant feeling of fulfillment, and made me more eager to continue listening. To top this off, illustrator “kieed” has showed his mastery in the form of a spectacular illustration, to match the song.
5) 静止时间 (Jìngzhǐ Shíjiān) / Time Standing Still
This collaboration between 瑞安Ryan and 胧音Long is always going to feel special to Quadimension, as it was actually the debut of 胧音Long! The song utilizes ChiYu’s powerfully deep voice to an impressive extent, since she is even able to growl. It’s the absolute best way to showcase her abilities in a song, as her voice develops from soft all the way to far lower tones.
6) 带我逃跑 (Dài Wǒ Táopǎo) / Take Me Away
This song in particular is very light and calm, just like HaiYi’s voice itself. So of course not only the choice of HaiYi as a vocalist is perfect, but the tuning work couldn’t be better.
I would also like to note that the duet between erazedfx and 瑞安Ryan (who created this song) have released their own album “止谎剂”, featuring three MEDIUM5 sisters at the recent Shanghai Comicup 25! I’d definitely recommend checking this out too.
7) Talking to the Rain
The composition of this song is interesting, since both Stardust and Haiyi have their own individual parts that they sing separately, all the way until they begin to work together in perfect harmony. The bell-like ringing in the background appears to gently support the vocals, making it seem like a match made in heaven.
It is worth noting that this song is the first one which has been illustrated by 枫叶 / Maple, who had previously only created art for merchandise in Quadimension’s albums!
8) 尘埃 (Chén’āi) / Dust
Just by looking at the remarkable illustration by -匙- / Shi for this song, you’re able to grasp the overall atmosphere of the song. It is serene, calm and unhurried, and just by listening to it, you can almost picture Stardust swaying and singing happily with the soulful, pleasant melody.
9) 斑驳 (Bānbó) Mottled
In contrast to most of the other songs I’ve covered here, “Mottled” begins as a very powerful song with a furiously rapid tempo! It is Zeno at his best; the combination of all three characters’ vocals ends up creating a fascinatingly feisty aura – a brilliant way of showcasing the infinite opportunities provided by their voicebanks, as well as the SynthesiserV engine.
I have to say, one of the nicest aspects of the album is the fact that it both opens AND closes with songs where all three of the vocalists sing.
One interesting feature of Quadimension’s albums is the fact that there are different editions of the album that you can buy, depending on how much additional merchandise you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it.
The full tier list is as follows:
¥60 – Basic set – Album and 5 postcards
¥110 – Peripheral set – Album, 5 postcards, an artbook, and 3 pin badges (75mm x 75mm)
¥135 – Singer set – Album, 5 postcards, artbook, 3 pin badges and 1 button badge (you can choose to have one with either Stardust, HaiYi and ChiYu)
¥190 – Deluxe set – Album, 5 postcards, artbook, 3 pin badges, all 3 button badges and an A4 clear file.
¥220 – Steelbook collectors edition – Album, 5 postcards, artbook, 3 pin badges, all 3 button badges, an A4 clear file and steelbook cover.
Here are the super cute enamel pins:
Even though I was supposed to get all three can badges with my set, I only ended up getting one, which had ChiYu on it. This is most probably because mine came from Taobao, though I’m not really sure. I’m sure you’ll admit that the badge is super pretty though:
In their previous album (“Fairytale”), the badges were different, in that they were decorated with golden stars and had a smooth texture (as opposed to the slightly textured one I got this time). Having this kind of subtle variety when it comes to the merchandise is actually quite nice!
Next we have the postcards! Each one has an official illustration from one of the songs in the album:
And here is the artbook!
The artbook not only contains illustrations though – there is also information about the song producers and lyrics! As you can see, the book has a lovely luxurious look, especially because of the use of deep blue and gold.
At the end of artbook, it was nice to read the comics created by Maple (枫叶). You can also see the illustrations which were used for the enamel pins inside!
Surprisingly, I got an additional A4 clear file (as well as the one with the main illustration), which actually made me really happy. I feel like this made up for the missing badges in my set, to be honest. Plus, I love kieed’s artwork, so that’s definitely a bonus!
As another bonus, this all came with a paper shopping bag, which has the main album illustration on it. The quality of the bag is actually really good too!
All in all, I can’t really complain about this album. There is a wide variety of songs, all having their own unique story and sound, so there is definitely something for everyone here. This album is a perfect representation of how Quadimension has worked on improving the quality of their products, and also how more and more people – including producers and artists – have grown to love Stardust, Haiyi and Chiyu over time. “Kaleido” is definitely a worthy addition to MEDIUM5’s repertoire of albums, and I’d strongly recommend it to anyone interested in voice synthesisers, even if you’re new to the world of Chinese voicebanks.