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Ken Hisuag

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Ken Hisuag last won the day on February 2

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  1. Machikado-Mapoze - Sky of Scarlet Perception The title of this piece being reflective of the game's name makes it a difficult track to search for in Japanese, and a later track having the same name with a single additional word makes it equally difficult to search for in English. This is a relatively simple arrangement, but in a charming way, and by no means lacking in imagination. Yamata no Orochi - Usual Days The first iteration of this motif, and hardly the best, but still deserving of recognition. Representation seems to be lacking a bit, but I'm happy with this find. Hako_FUJ850 - Heaven is Black, Earth is Yellow A rough start on this one, but I think it balances out past the intro. I considered looking further, but I didn't want my personal preferences to dictate too heavily for this track, being that it's already well known and represented.
  2. Final Fantasy X marked a significant change for the series's music, this being the first entry to feature additional composers. Most of the soundtrack is still Uematsu's work, but with several arrangements and additional compositions from Junya Nakano and Masashi Hamauzu. The platform this time around was the Playstation 2, and it's at this point I begin to question the absence of live instrument performance. So many of these tracks are obviously VSTs, and while there isn't technically anything wrong with that, by this time the hardware should have been able to handle more, and the series certainly had the necessary clout to justify it. I hesitate to assume this to be a conscious decision on the part of the developers; more likely there's simply more to the process then I'm aware of. The soundtrack itself is significantly subdued overall compared to the previous entries covered. While this fixes the cohesiveness problem I mentioned in FFVII, I feel this goes too far in the other direction, lacking sufficient range for such a large collection. That being said, individual track quality is still impressive. I've deliberately avoided using final boss themes for these features, and I'll continue to do so here, but I felt this iteration was particularly well suited as a musical point of culmination. I also mustn't neglect to mention the primary leitmotif the pervades throughout the soundtrack, that being of Zanarkand, which serves to tie the music together with the story in an exemplary way.
  3. MN-logic24 - Lunar Ark I'd been looking for an instrumental, but I admit this duet is well executed. For this piece, the airy atmosphere is almost a necessity; it's the space song of Touhou, after all. I'm glad it's also high-energy; I would have settled for a quieter piece, but I think the motifs work better this way. Secret Messenger - Disaster There are a lot more arrangements of this piece then I expected, including a really impressive one by Aqua Style that I only passed on because it seemed fairly well known; maybe I'll share it at a later date. I imagine a slightly sinister sound in this remix which I don't believe is intentional, but nonetheless adds some depth to its progression. Theking35 - A Drunkard's Lemuria ~ On the House I intended for a remix of the Retro Ver. specifically, but it seems those who arrange the piece do their due diligence in tracking down the original and using that as their baseline. I actually appreciate this, especially as I consider the original to be the superior version, but as it isn't technically a Touhou piece its representation here technically bends the rules a bit. Then again, the "rules" are purely self-imposed, so the only one who'd take notice is me. The jazz take is unusual, and the harmony clashes a bit at times, but the melody still shines through.
  4. Before this week's Musical Discoveries post, I have a few miscellaneous VGM tracks I want to share. I'm thinking giving Fracture Features a more off-schedule function, so that I can share the little discoveries without needing to wait for an available slot.
  5. Final Fantasy VII remains one of, if not the, most legendary video game releases of all time. I say "legendary," because while other titles may be more iconic, influential, or even prolific, I can't think of any that are held in such high esteem outside their general fandom. Well beyond the playerbase, there is an almost reverent familiarity with the characters, important moments, and music of this game. Uematsu was once again in charge of this soundtrack, which was adapted for the PlayStation system, but may have begun composition with the SNES still in mind. While the instrument sampling is more clear, it still retains an artificial sound that must be worked around to achieve the desired effect. Genre variety is more obvious, either because of the aforementioned sound improvements or possibly due to further experimentation by Uematsu. This works in the game's favor, allowing better tone and mood capturing through the music, but also weakens the soundtrack's cohesiveness as a collective work. For this reason, I think I prefer FFVI's OST, even as I acknowledge FFVII's as being the more technically superior production.
  6. I appreciate that you made this statement; sudden cessation of activity can imply a variety of concerning situations, so I'm glad that wasn't the case here. God bless you, whatever happens next.
  7. This thread had several reading recommendations: Genre-wise, I don't read as much sci-fi compared to other categories, so I'm a bit lacking in recommendations there. Closest I could get would be Frank Peretti, and I would not recommend his work to just anyone; maybe check out the Cooper Kids series, if you don't mind younger-level reading (but skip the first one). I remember being impressed by Ender's Game, but I felt it would have been better as a more self-contained work instead of a set-up for a series; take that as you will.
  8. Mochi.Rin - A Sky Dyed Scarlet I feel a bit guilty about this one, but figured if I was ever going to try this experiment then there weren't many other options that would suit it better. This is supposedly a remix of Sunny Milk's Scarlet Mist Incident, which itself was a remix of Sunny Rutile Flection and U.N. Owen was Her? combined into a single piece. The latter is among the most recognizable motifs in the entire franchise, so it shouldn't be that hard to hear it in an arrangement, even a more experimental one. As it is, I can't hear anything of either piece, much less the combo version. I've sometimes wondered about the quantity of "faked" remixes, where the arrangement is more inspired-by than adapted-from. What do y'all think? ??? - A Land Resplendent With Nature's Beauty (piano arrangement "2" from kkcwkoh) It's important to cite your sources. I almost didn't use this for the feature, but I couldn't find another remix that respected the original motif in quite the same way (to be fair, it's a more obscure piece). If anyone recognizes the arrangement and can identify the artist, I'd very much appreciate it. Mon Mari (Monmari?) - Star Voyage 2008 It was between this and a heavier rock arrangement, and between the two this seemed more in keeping with the spirit of the original (but it was close). Didn't find as many remixes as I'd hoped too; does that mean I get to call it an underrated piece? BTW, I've technically skipped over a piece, but only because I'm saving it for later; I also doubt anyone remembers it anyway, considering its placement.
  9. Yea, shipping tends to be the real cost of these purchases. I use Japan Rabbit to expand my options, and hold off on orders until I can get a couple different products from the same seller. Booth is also an option for some digital albums that don't make it to iTunes, but their payment system doesn't always cooperate with me, making them an unreliable supplier. I wish more doujin circles would make their projects available through western-friendly services, but I also can't really blame them for not doing so. _______________ In relation to today's OGM feature: The moment I heard Decisive Battle, I noted its similarities to another piece that had no association with it. Sure enough, I wasn't the only one. Lemming - Himorogi, Burn in Decisive Battle
  10. While it may seem hasty to follow up FFI with Final Fantasy VI, I only get five features total for this month, and there's a lot of ground to cover. Uematsu returns, this time composing for the SNES (though not for the first time), the sound system of which supported instrument sampling. I've had difficulty in the past appreciating the style of music made for this system; many composers would attempt to replicate an orchestral sound, but fail to balance the layers, seeming to prioritize instrumentation over tone. I suspect this was a consequence of system limitations being better than ever before while still unable to match ambition. In my opinion, the best soundtracks composed according to their limitations, adopting a unique style for the system. That being said, FFVI has surprised me in that it seems to do both. Many parts of the soundtrack are clearly inspired by cinematic orchestral arrangement, but succeed where other attempts have failed by keeping the melody clear and the atmosphere consistent. At other times, arrangements utilize a wider range of options for the system, incorporating and even relying on sounds that are very un-orchestral to achieve their tone. Perhaps in the several years it's been since I last tried this soundtrack I've become more acclimated to its sounds; regardless of the reason, I appreciated it much more this time around. I should also note the strong usage of leitmotif throughout the soundtrack. I don't claim to be especially skilled at recognizing leitmotifs, but there were enough obvious ones here to alert my attention. Every main character has a unique theme, and many of these motifs are integrated into other pieces, presumably for the relation of events to character arcs. I don't normally hear the technique used on this scale, and I'm not sure I'm capable of representing it here, but it impressed me nonetheless.
  11. I want to finish this, especially after the hassle I had just to listen to the latest album (almost feels like I'm being gatekept by ZUN himself ). First, though, a note about the "eras;" from my introduction to the series, the separation between the "Classic," "First Modern" and "Second Modern" eras had confused me to some extent. As far as I can tell, the distinction refers to the games specifically, and technically has nothing to do with the music (although there may be some argument out of the Classic Era). I found them useful for the purpose of dividing up the series, allowing for easier compartmentalization, especially for this topic. However, as their seems to be no signs of a Third Modern Era being declared, the Second is becoming too large for my purposes. To keep things organized for myself, I have begun internally considering a division between Touhou 17 and 18, completely arbitrarily. This has no effect on anyone else, nor indeed on the task at hand, but it was on my mind as a curiosity, so I decided to share it anyway. Touhou 18 ~ Unconnected Marketeers Hard to believe this is three years old already. I'm not sure how accurate my perception on this is, but it seems to me this soundtrack gets undeserved flack, and I have no idea why. It's not necessarily one of my favorite collections, but it's far from being among my least favorites, and continues to deliver on exactly what I love about Touhou Music. I do see signs of ZUN experimenting with his instrumentation; this is technically nothing new, but perhaps it's more obvious here, resulting in others taking more notice of it? Regardless, I appreciate the more experimental tracks as much as the more standard ones. Personal picks here are The Perpetual Snow of Komakusa Blossoms and A Fantastic Giant Underground Railway Network; it's tough to favor these over the boss themes of Chimata and Momoyo, but overall I think this album's style shows more strength in the stage themes. Touhou 17.5 ~ Gouyoku Ibun ~ Sunken Fossil World This is the first entry to not be primarily composed by ZUN or Akiyama, instead featuring the talent of Shun Daimon, a.k.a. ziki_7. I was initially worried I'd fall into comparing ziki's style to U2's, but thankfully I didn't experience that tendency and was able to appreciate it on its own merits; and merits it has! There's a stylistic theme going on throughout the album connected to the game's setting, just subtle enough to avoid restricting genre exploration while still supplying a unifying character. Realizing this made the whole collection really engaging for me, especially in tying the remixes in with the original tracks. Love-Colored Master Spark stood out to me immediately, and it's still the track I listen too most out of the album. ZUN's contributions were slightly less impressive to me; I'm all for reutilizing one of the best motifs from T17 into a more epic boss theme, but by doing it twice I think he unintentionally shortchanged both the new iterations, making them too reliant on each other. That may perhaps be why I prefer ziki's arrangement of Memento of the Avaricious Beast over either of them, even though I'd have said Memory of Fossil Energy otherwise. I wish there were more of those original compositions, but I'm still grateful for what is included; I'll highlight Law of Heaven, Desires of Man as honorable mention. ZUN's Music Collection Vol. 9.5: Rainbow-Colored Septentrion What's to say about this one that I haven't said for its predecessors? Neither arrangement is significantly different from its original, although I do appreciate Illusionary White Traveler having an ending. The Wolves of Nanatsuishi Dash to Seize the Clouds is a good piece, but I'd have preferred it to have more unique companions. Touhou 18.5 ~ 100th Black Market I'm slightly prejudiced against this entry only because it didn't have a silhouette-art cover variant, being the only game in the entire series to lack it (even ULiL's DLC had a unique silhouette-art cover!). That aside, this is an excellent addition to the spin-off soundtracks. It's comparable to T12.8 in organization, specifically in that it has unique boss themes, which is unusual for these titles. Despite this novelty, I still lean toward the stage theme Black Markets Can Happen Anywhere, Anytime as my favorite, simply as a fun motif jovially presented. Touhou 19 ~ Unfinished Dream of All Living Ghost As a phantasmagoria-type, this release had me hopeful for some ZUN arrangements; my expectations weren't too high, given he doesn't usually change much (see MC9.5 above), but with the varied cast reveal I had at least hoped for some upgraded older themes and perhaps even a fixed version of Avaricious Beast. In this respect I was admittedly disappointed, and I can't think of a single remixed track that impressed me from this collection. The new themes, however, were another matter. Tiny Shangri-La gets early mention here, and I promise it isn't just because of the erhu; it's more how perfectly the piece is composed with the unique instrumentation in mind! For comparison, I offer Kingdom of Nothingness for honorable mention as a continuation of T18's experimental styles; the pieces motifs and progression structure are designed to some extent around the instrumentation, favoring smoother transitions between notes and less movement through the bridges, allowing the flavor of the piece to be in that instrumentation. On the other hand, The World is Made in an Adorable Way is a more standard composition, but for all that I think I prefer it over the final boss theme for casual listening. ZUN's Music Collection Vol. 10: Taboo Japan Disentanglement Yep, I found a way to listen to it, despite the best attempts of unidentified entities to thwart me. To those who have similarly managed to experience this inexplicably forbidden album, can we agree that the Tinkerbell of Inequality is the most bizarre piece of music ZUN has ever composed? I'm not sure if I appreciate it or not, mainly because I suspect that's the entire point of the track. Regardless, it deserves honorable mention for novelty at least. Personally, though, I much preferred The Lonely Road of Hitachi, which features some of the same kind of experimentation in its staggered notes, but with a much less chaotic result. Who knows, though; in a couple months, as I acclimate to this album, my opinion may flip. Whether it does or doesn't, I suspect my enjoyment of Ghosts Exist Even When It's Not Night will remain unaffected; simultaneously a calm reflective piece and an actively journeying piece, both elements are presented as separate yet cohesive. Additionally, I want to note the arrangements of this album, which are unusually good, to the point where I'm not prepared to highlight a specific one. With that, the list is finally caught up! A quick note for individual release tracks that don't fit into this format: Touhou Unreal Mahjong has two original compositions of ZUN's, one being Curious old Shanghai tile and the other being Shinki's theme from another game, and the collaboration album Touhou Sound Fireworks featured a ZUN track called Every Day a Red Day ~ Folksy Touhou Days. I also realize I didn't include Akyuu's Untouched Scores in this ranking, thereby excluding Theme of Eastern Story. There may be others I'm forgetting; should Charming Domination ~ Speed Fox! count? Seihou was excluded intentionally, as I figured it ought to be considered as derivative. Despite the long breaks I've taken with this idea (and how long it takes to write each post up), I genuinely enjoy doing this, and with the remix tournaments no longer active I don't get to do it as much. I may continue with reviewing some miscellaneous derivative works the way SoundOfRayne did; we'll see how I feel about it later.
  12. A lot of releases happened last week (mainly due to the event), and I wanted to highlight a few of them while they're still fresh. ssbbmaster - le moineau de nuit This is part of the new 11th Hour album. Everything I could say about ssbbmaster, I've already said before; he's still one of my favorite orchestral arrangers in the fandom. Yiter - Old Yuanxian (with album attached) +TEK released "the fourth and the last" of his masterful chiptune albums, which collectively contain some of my favorite Touhou arrangements of all time. As with the previous album, this is a collab with arrangements from other artists included. Yiter in particular has a similar style to Rumya, in as much as it reminds me of Rivals of Aether, and I'm a big fan of that. Honorable mention to +TEK's Bad Apple!! arrangement which seamlessly combines the motifs of the original and its infamous remix. Nightcord at 25:00 - Bad Apple!! Speaking of Bad Apple!! . . . I'm inclined to consider remixes of the remix as a-dime-a-dozen, not for any lack of quality but simply for how many of them fail to stand out from the rest. This one stands out to me because of the names attached to it, which are too many to fully record here. It seems like a proper revival project, rather than a remaster or rehash, and I respect that.
  13. Went to my first ever concert recently; it was exceptionally loud, even for what I was expecting, but it was also decently fun, and I really enjoyed the music. Rend Collective is a lot more active on stage then on video apparently (or maybe that's the benefit of having control over perspective), and their antics appealed to my appreciation of Irish culture. The standout performance was Let it Roll, and while the video I found later doesn't quite to it justice, it's close enough.
  14. Thinktank - Shrine at the Foot of the Mountain I prefer to know the lyrics to a vocal song, but I can't make these out and I can't find a transcription anywhere. It seems to have minimal effect on the arrangement, so I'm letting it slide. I feel like this kind of rock is less common in Touhou arrangements, but maybe I'm just passing over them. SOUND OCTA - The Lords Give Us Blessed Rain ~ Sylphid Dream While the source album is credited to the circle SJV-SC, said album is a collaboration project, and this specific track is more properly credited to SOUND OCTA. I wish there was a better upload, but I'll take what I can get. This is a very nice blend of jazz and synth, perfect for these post-game pieces. Novaneo - Player Score ~ Pure Lunacy This pick was difficult, because I have so many other options from various fan projects, all of which sound so similar as to lack significant distinction. The decision rests primarily on this being a fresh discovery remaining true to the simplicity of the original. Which iteration of the motif came first: Player Score, or Suwa Foughten Fields?
  15. It's been so refreshing reading the finally visible bios on other profiles and being reassured I wasn't the only one to have one or believe it was already visible.

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