If you haven’t already figured out, I’ll be reviewing more of Hikki’s older discography.
Next up is another from the album ‘DEEP RIVER’, known as “traveling”, which is the first of Utada Hikaru’s transition into different experimental genres, stepping outside of her usual late 90s-early 00s R&B sound. In fact, this was one of my very first Hikki songs outside of her more well-known songs! Going for a more electronic sound with this release, is this single worth the travel or is it simply a waste of vacation time?
Her most hyper-electro track in her discography, “traveling” is Utada’s first dip into experimental waters, transforming her R&B sound into avant-garde territory. Here, she goes for a dance beat, built on a looping melody extended into the song’s groove-filled verses before going ham on a twisty and quirky chorus that only makes you want to sing along. The track’s futuristic feel is further emphasized here, giving this track a really space-like feel. Near the end, Hikki gives us a robotically-sound English-language finisher before fading to black. This song is built like you’re traveling, and I’ll be humming da-da-dum as we keep going.
At almost 10 minutes and a half, the PLANITb remix is a complete drag. “traveling -PLANITb remix-” still maintains the original song’s futuristic catchiness, albeit with more groove attached. It’s a hyper-disco affair, giving the song a much more upbeat vibe, but due to its extreme length, it only makes me wonder when it will be over. To be fair, it is a dance song and a remix, so I’m a little lenient here, but I don’t think I’ll be replaying this multiple times, even while traveling.
The last remix on the single, “traveling -Bahiatronic Mix-“, amps up the futuristic feel, allowing for more robotic-like spacious noises, but it does not amp up the beat, keeping this song from going anywhere in terms of satisfaction upon build-up. It is a mellower version of the original, and it goes offbeat at certain points during the song. Often, the song feels a little disjointed and all over the place, and at other areas, the song has a slight groove. Yet, this does not hold any interest and I am left at the end of my travels feeling like the remixes were completely unnecessary.
The first of Utada’s transition into a different realm in her music, “traveling” is a wonderful introduction. While the single itself lacks anything in terms of other content apart from some disconnected remixes, the title track is/was a welcome introduction to her new world, and I attribute it to being one of the best songs to really introduce me to Utada, apart from your usual Simple-and-Cleans. Give this title track a try, but steer the travel clear from the uninteresting remixes.