The fourth record release by X Japan
, the Art of Life album consists of one continuous song, or thirty straight minutes of music. It should more rightly be called a symphony
, for Art of Life features everything from guitar
s to a harpsichord
and evolves through multiple movement
s before finally culminating into its final chorus
. According to Yoshiki
, the song was inspired by Schubert
's Unfinished Symphony
. Yoshiki composed it during his rehabilitation from a physical collapse at the end of X Japan's tour in 1989 - a condition termed 'neurocirculatory asthenia
due to overwork.'
Art of Life was originally intended to be released as a second disc with the album Jealousy
. However, due to Yoshiki's ruthless perfectionism (even after ten months of recording) and his second physical collapse, the piece's release was postponed. It was finally released as its own album in July of 1993.
Due to its length and difficulty, the song was only performed live twice, on December 30 and 31st, 1993, at the Tokyo Dome
Everything about the song is a concept
, from the dischordant breakdown
of a piano solo
to the cliffhanger vocal ending. It is, in Yoshiki's own words, 'a journey to identify who I am.' And a journey
the song certainly is - when the main motif
returns at the end after nearly twelve minutes, it's so goddamn exciting you could cry.