Cyclamen has always been a project that defies conventional wisdom about how bands should work. It’s all attributable to the genius of Hayato Imanishi, who is essentially Cyclamen all by himself. The Japanese prog/tech metal visionary has built up a grassroots following for his work, and he continues to innovate how musicians can connect with and deliver content to their fans. Before Protest the Hero‘s subscription exclusive songs, in early 2015, he had an idea. An exclusive fan package, with merch, artwork and more being delivered to a few fans who signed up for the package at the time. Around 30 people signed up to it, and the third Cyclamen album, Creatuneau was made exclusively for them. Creatuneau is made up of tracks with nonsensical titles, and was made in a short window of time by Hayato alone. This is perhaps the purest view one can get into the mind of a creator, and it’s quite a unique experience.
First of all, a disclaimer. I was also part of the exclusive pack group. “What’s the purpose of reviewing an album that only a limited amount of people can hear?”, one may ask. Well, it’s still a window into the mind of an artist, and it’s similar to a live performance review. Every live show is exclusive to the people who were there, yet they are reviewed. Why is that so? It’s because it shows what the artist is capable of – Hayato may be considering doing another package like this.It also shows what the future of an artist might look like, exposing the creative process. And Creatuneau is exactly that. An exposé of Cyclamen, a very personal album. The Cyclamen that we all know and love started with one man and his recording software. The project later grew in size and scope, becoming an international band that tours and has many talented members. 2013’s Ashura was an incredible, complex album with creative technical songs. Creatuneau takes a step back and takes a different approach. With explorations of different styles and formats, Creatuneau is perhaps Cyclamen’s most experimental album yet.
There’s quite a heavy focus on groove on several tracks, letting songs drive themselves instead of funneling them through a heavy focus on technicality. Each song is a different view on the core elements of Cyclamen, reinventing what the band should sound like. The off time, moving groove of “Pharse”, the nu-metal-esque rapping on “Naryinn”, every track takes the band on a different route while still remaining the same in essence. Hayato does a lot of experimentation with his vocals, with how he ties riffs together – this is the sound of a musician reinventing themselves. And it all just works so seamlessly. Every bit connects emotionally, the soaring clean sections, the polyrhythms brought together by atmospheric guitars, it’s like this is all second nature to him.
Speaking of nature, the production of the album is exceedingly, well, natural. While the roots of Cyclamen have always been DIY, the more the band grew, the more “professional” their sound also became. That’s not a bad thing at all, just different. Creatuneau sees a return to a more personal, more singular sound. That’s not to say the production is amateurish. There aren’t any flaws with the sound, it’s just that the focus is different. It feels less “huge” and more focused. Like the work of an individual pouring out his creativity into sound directly instead of sounding larger than life. This, yet again, goes back to the fact that it’s such an experimental album that tries to form a direct connection with the fans, both in format and sound.
Overall, Creatuneau is a great experiment, simultaneously proving the success of an exclusive funding model and the capability of Cyclamen to grow and change. While it’s a shame that such an interesting album won’t be available to the public, it only shows promise for the future of the project. If there’s another exclusive package available in the future, it will definitely be worth participating in again.