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Musical Discoveries in Touhou Fandom


Ken Hisuag

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Another year's end tradition that I've been somewhat less established in is featuring some arrangements I'd otherwise reserved for use in remix tournaments. I've collected quite a list of these, and as things stand now they're not likely to see their intended use, so it's a good thing I have this way of utilizing them. Then again, they probably won't stand out as much as they otherwise would have. Just consider these special features as being a look into what I found noteworthy enough to hold onto for a special occasion.

Karasu - Entrusting the World to Idols ~ Idolatrize World
I haven't yet found piano arrangements that quite match up to Dean Nguyen's work, but this is heading in the right direction; playing with the melody and progression to create something almost-but-not-quite unrecognizable, playing to the strengths of the instrument over the piece itself.

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Sosop - Millennium Fantasy ~ Dance of the Monster
I've had this one so long that it's gone unlisted. Before I discovered GET IN THE RING, this was my ideal mashup arrangement. The key is integrating the motifs into each other, not simply overlapping them or lining them up next to each other.

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maritumix - Memorabilia
Maritumix has continued to be a favorite artist of mine. The large quantity of productions therefrom tend to dampen the novelty of his style, but once in a while an arrangement sticks out to me, and I save it away for later. I still wish he'd compile and sell albums of his remixes, but at least he's publishing his original material more often now.

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I won't be here tomorrow, being Sunday, but I'll try and stop in on Monday. Happy New Year!

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In commemoration of the New Year, I have saved this beast of a medley which incorporates motifs from across the series, plus a wide range of fangames, into a base-template of the best Zunish piece I know of:

Kirbio & Tokiko Tatsunagi - Jewel of the Sky-Ruling Dragon Deity ~ Quintessential Fragments (Destroy Star MIX)

Here's to this year, whatever may be brought in it; shalom.

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Mascarpone - Loose Flowers
I can't think of another character besides the two primaries who has so many unique themes. IMO, this one's harder to arrange due to the structure of its melody, which doesn't seem like it would lend itself to progression. Despite this, I have heard several remixes that manage it well, usually by turning into jazz.

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Cerotte - Dream Bubble
The warning will go unheeded, but for my own conscience's sake I must advise against looking at the video; just listen to the music. Normally inappropriate art is enough for me to scrap a feature, but this tone of folk was exactly what I was looking for, and I couldn't find anything else that fit.

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Bullet IX - Equinox Sky - 2019 Demo
I'm not happy with this feature either, but for a different reason. As the title implies, this is an early version of a later more fully realized remix, which is itself unavailable on Youtube despite existing for some time. I couldn't bring myself to buy it just for this feature, but it is essentially that version that secured this spot.

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Various Colors - Eastern Judgement in the Sixtieth Year ~ Fate of Sixty Years / Piano Arranged
As something of a consolation to myself, I'm including this as well. Exceptional piano solos are not as easy to come buy as one might expect, requiring a degree of technique either in the player or the programmer to pull off. I can't claim to be able to tell the difference, but I can appreciate the effort.

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  • 3 weeks later...

marasy - Mound Where the Flowers Reflect
This seems to be a sparsely represented one. Granted that it's primarily reliant on atmosphere with technically little motif unique to itself, it's also one of my favorites, and I had hoped for a bit more. A lot of musicians seem to prefer pairing it up with its counterpart pre-conversation theme.

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show-jow nico - Reunion
See, this is more what I was looking for; the mood is retained, but the whole piece is overhauled for a uniquely enhanced experience. The more I listen to it, the more impressed I am; definitely a hidden gem.

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TKB0111A3 - The Flowers Remain in Fantasy
Have I featured this artist before? I've alluded in the past to the not-so-fine line between a musical "cover" and a remix or "rearrangement." Most PC-98 adaptations I come across are more covers than remixes, but the technical aspect makes them a bit more impressive than the same thing done for piano. This is one of the few tracks I can think of that I can properly call a PC-98 remix; the artist goes beyond merely recreating the piece and adds interpretive flair.

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Raccoon Factory - Sagittarius
An extra, both to make up for the hiatus and because it's the only track left in Touhou 9. After arrangements of piano, folk and chiptune, respectively, it seems only fair to finish with something high-energy and intense, though perhaps maintaining a similar mood. This one is probably as ideal as I could have asked for in all respects.

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Windbreaker - Tengu's Notebook ~ Mysterious Note
It was really tempting to use the Genso Wanderer theme, but I ultimately decided to go for something more low energy. This remix is short, but successfully recreates the atmosphere of the original track.

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rythmique - Wind Circulation ~ Wind Tour
For immediate contrast, saxophone and violin over electronic rock! I can't help but get excited about rarer instrumentation combos, and this piece has pretty good range to justify the interest.

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EdelSounds - Eyes of the Wind
Finally, something else high energy but with slightly more grounding, accomplished through a surprisingly balanced vocal duet performance.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I forgot to post on Saturday, and I'm a bit embarrassed about it because I definitely had the time.

Unionest.NET - Sleepless Night of the Eastern Country
I'm rather fond of the original, so I hoped to find something especially good for this. I'm beginning to think any arrangement that could be classified as hybrid will immediately appeal to me; obviously this is a rock remix, but the light elements of jazz really help bring the whole thing together.

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HAPPY I SCREAM!! - Rainbow-colored Rain
Again, this is technically just a rock remix, but how often does one hear a harp riff incorporated into such a piece? Then again, I suppose a lot of rock looks for one-off gimmicks to give it character; maybe that's part of what rock is?

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Assaultdoor - Hiroshige No. 36 ~ Neo Super-Express
Part of the charm the original is known for comes from its instrumentation and presentation; as such, a remix often must forgo recapturing that charm. I was surprised by this piano arrangement, because it manages to recapture the original's character simply by pausing at the right moments, and otherwise being as straightforward as possible.

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Since I was late, I'll add something else to this feature, though it may be more to my benefit then anyone else's.

Sometimes while I'm seeking out remixes to feature, I come across videos that lack proper documentation and without citation of sources. This essentially renders the accompanying piece useless to me, no matter how much I appreciate it, so I'll often endeavor to hunt down alternative uploads in hopes of getting the metadata I require. Sometimes this hunt is successful, but other times I'm left wondering if I've stumbled upon lost media with no way to know for sure.

This is another remix of Sleepless Night of the Eastern Country, favoring funk; that is the only thing I know about it.

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greenscarf - Synthetic Shore
Piano would be too obvious; here's a synthwave remix instead! This motif lends itself to almost any low-energy style, so it's no surprise it works so well in this form.

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ti - Song of the Secret Sealing Club Meeting a Dangerous Cult
Iffy on the translation here, but it definitely matches the song. Something this unique only turns up in my searchings once in a blue moon (as they say), and I'm always excited by the discovery. Maybe using strange sounds as instrumentation to achieve the weird atmosphere could be considered "cheap," but then again it doesn't seem very common, and one can't deny it works.

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Irohaya - Izanami
Reversing the approach from the previous feature, we have a soothing acoustic remix of a weirder ZUN composition. This is the ideal guitar performance, too, with enough improv to keep unique without losing the mood.

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Groovy Trancer - Spacefaring
Magical Astronomy is among ZUN's best work, imo. I picked this arrangement to start out with because it fits the theme of space. It's a tad bit long and lacks sufficient progression to justify it, but there is variance between parts if you wait long enough, and that keeps it interesting.

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AKANEIROTOWN - Labyrinth of the Starry Skies feat. Sarah_
I've heard so many Greenwich remixes that I wasn't expecting to find anything too interesting. This, however, impressed me; by intentionally contrasting the melody with a discordant vocaloid, the arrangement cultivates a disturbing mood, which both compliments the melody and enhances the impact of the drop later on.

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Yayayayayaa - The Wheelchair's Future in Space
Far less refined a remix than I usually favor, but perfect for showcasing what I consider to be the most defining attribute of the original piece: the major key intro. I was surprised to find most remixes failing to incorporate this aspect into themselves; it sets the tone for the rest of the piece, and provides an uncommon contrast of mood. Being so unique in Touhou music, why not use that?

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minimum electric design - Gutenberg's Scientific Century
I have my doubts over the title translation. The arrangement itself has excellent energy; a lot of Music Collection vocal remixes will feature duets as a thematic gimmick, but only a few will sound like it's a part of the arrangement itself.

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Macco-ya - Winding Spacewalk
The problem with finding a G Free remix is that I'm inevitably going to compare it to Final Dream, and subsequently find it lacking. So instead of choosing something expanding upon the original's tone, I've gone with something more experimental. There's a commitment to atmosphere that keeps the piece going, even if it takes awhile to get anywhere particular.

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Unprepared Orchestra - Magical Astronomy
To make up for the lack in the previous remix, I've found a nicely realized orchestral arrangement for this spot. Too many similar pieces have bad mastering, usually featuring poor instrument balancing or amplification problems; so I'm always impressed to find another artist that seems to know what they're doing.

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CHRONOS RECORD - Legacy of my Grand Father
Y'all get four this week; don't question it. Obviously my love for folk is showing, but it helps that this is an appropriately reflective remix in tone, thereby capturing the theme of retrospective ending.

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Pot Still Records - Japanese・Lofi・Saga
This same artist did two more remixes of the same piece, and I have to respect it. Out of the three, this was the one I appreciated best. The strength of lofi lies in its atmosphere and mood rather than its progression; this is a "chill" arrangement, perfect for background listening.

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aocha - Child of Are
The marking of progression checkpoints is a nice touch, but it can be distracting, so I recommend listening without looking at least once. The original piece catches attention with its initial discordance, so I was intrigued by how the motifs sounded in a different setting.

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NIZI-RINGO - Child of Are (ginkiha house remix)
I couldn't initially decide between this and the previous feature, so I decided to do both of them (it also transitions better into the high-energy piece that comes next). This is pleasantly bouncy while also having a smooth oriental folk feel; a happy sound, to be sure.

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VAGUEDGE - Girlish Aspiration
High-energy vocal to balance out the post. Proper remixes of this piece seemed scarce, most simply adapting the original PC-98 sound into modern Zunish. While there's nothing wrong with that, there's also plenty of strength in the motifs for more standard use.

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MTK - sunset stage groovin'
I'm not really a fan of funkot, but that hasn't stopped me before. Given the context of the original, the tonal conflict embodied in this arrangement style is almost thematic.

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IZMIZM - Night Daydream
This may initially seem like a direct contrast to the previous piece, but as it progresses I think it starts to resemble the other a bit; more like the other side of the coin, perhaps.

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Grimoire Technlogy - Fairly Brilliant
To complete the trifecta, I've settled on a simple and straightforward arrangement for this track. Overall I'm very pleased with my findings this round.

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Higashino Seizon Penguin - Fragments
Admittedly I was more impressed with the circle name than the remix itself, but it's still a fine arrangement (I ran out of time this week, found all of these literally within the past half-hour).

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SUMIty Piano - Touhou Fuujinroku Stage1 Theme
This is a really great piece, and I was continually finding arrangements that didn't quite live up to what I wanted for it. So instead of going big, I've gone simple. While I wish the sound quality was better, there's no denying the impressive skill in the performance.

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Minazuki - Autumn Zwei
This track has always suffered from having too little to work with. Most remixes I've heard use explosive high energy to keep things going, and it works, but I still feel bad that such effective motifs are so tightly regulated to these styles.

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Oshio Kuimu - Road of the Mistfortune Deity
Touhou 10 is full of great pieces, and it's a joy going through them for these features. This is a methodically paced arrangement, strong in the melody and deliberate in its accompaniment. It's also a bit louder then typical, so maybe adjust your volume before listening. I don't really understand the visuals, but I appreciate the effort put into them.

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Jerico's Law - Dark Enchantment
A remix that puts the "dark" in Dark Side of Fate. This is similarly paced to the previous piece, but has moments of higher energy due to the instrumentation. I know a couple of exceptional arrangements of these pieces, so I'm impressed to have found something comparably unique.

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Zawapee - Moist Gensokyo Beloved
Translation subject to adjustment. Another piece I've heard a lot of great renditions of, but this one stood out for being notably more relaxed while maintaining the tone of the melody.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sawawa / Maria - Akutagawa Ryuunosuke's Kappa ~ High Speed Cucumber
Given the character, I wanted something techno or otherwise electronic. The original being 3/4 timing may incentivize artists toward more classical-sounding styles (or maybe I was fighting the algorithms), but I eventually found this one, which was exactly what I wanted.

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nori - Autumnal Waterfall
I've searched enough for this piece around Thanksgiving that I didn't expect to find much this time around, but this one pleasantly surprised me. It feels a bit short, but the instrumentation is excellently arranged for the melody; folk really suits this track, doesn't it?

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Mikkie - Youkai Mountain ~ Mysterious Mountain
Expectations were to contrast the previous pieces, and I had to search quite a while to find something satisfactory. I don't personally listen to the original much, but I didn't think it was that unpopular; yet I struggled to find many remixes that weren't from the big circles, and I was determined to use something more obscure. I'm glad I stuck it out.

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