zx touhou music review

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A recital of unbearable passion

The first dojin piano solo recital is the ultimate coterie creative fusion of 2-dimensional and classic traditional virtuoso music experience.

The bewitching 107 minute 50 second dream begins in a mystical land.

May has begun; the winter storms show no sign of stopping. A maiden awakens in the sakura-scattered depths of the netherworld to uncover the truth behind spring. Sharply surreal yet fast dissolving, 前奏曲「東方妖々夢, the recital’s opening piece, captures a vision: the clean sweeps of a katana shadowed by a half-moon of bewilderment—an enraptured 2 minutes and 28 seconds. By chance or arrangement, 風街詠史 shapes and configures an audible revelation in which the presence of a spectral gardener crosses a magical boundary to gather up unending eminent essence. 風街詠史’s of Zun’s 東方妖々夢 ~ Ancient Temple / 東方妖々夢 is a sakura vision with subtle ascensions, virtuous signatures, and spreads that will reap something much more amusing than destruction.

Summer’s Left
Summer lights cast summer shadows. The imaginary spirit of air gives a near-tangible expression to all. K. Kuroya’s languorous melodies extend beyond the outward mysteries of musical freedom and scale slowly the sylphid heights to crescendo at a shelter so fundamental and familiar, one’s existence must be circling eons to know it. Misuzu’s leitmotifs are released gracefully, as metaphors slip into the romanticism and extinction and the listener eagerly remembers the track list and is heartened!

The shadows hold night in their tangles. A visit to the ancient temple is haunted by illusitory night visions. Akami’s second visit to Zun’s sanctuary drifts and releases slowly like an Oriental dream book, but (once again) he chooses an arranger who yields to lunatic mode to exhibit the complete mastery of his bobs and weaves, proving that these thoughts, images, and sensation can be captured in a flick of the wrist.

CLANNADの主題によるソナタ 第一楽章 and CLANNADの主題によるソナタ 第二楽章
Following a linear plotline, Akami’s arrangement of CLANNAD’s most superlative themes hints at predetermined scenarios and courses of interaction. CLANNADの主題によるソナタ 第一楽章 transitions between the series’ reoccurring themes 渚, は~りぃすたーふぃっしゅ, 彼女の本気, and メグメル, creating a 13 minute and 39 second total bishojo plain of joy replete visions of Nagisa (self-titled), Fuko (Hurry, Starfish),Tomoyo (her determination) that culminates in a dango family anthem: Mag Mell (Megu Meru).
This world is devoid of all life, expect for that of a young girl’s, but for the glowing orbs of completion are not realized. In divine dexterity and psychic development, the second movement of the Clannad sonata--CLANNADの主題によるソナタ 第二楽章—sets the mood spatially in some of the most glorious and heart-staggering recurring revolutions of theme. The arrangement envelopes the dream against the backdrop of illusion, giving weightlessness to sublime subsumptions of Étude pour les petites supercordes, 日々の遑 (The daily遑), 白詰草 (White Grass tamping), 空に光る (Glow in the sky), 有意義な時間の過ごし方 (Meaningful way to spend the time), 有意義な時間の過ごし方 (Small palm), -影二つ- (Two shadows), making each thematic twist and turn of the 21 minutes and 27 seconds a conception of the gentle reminders—the symbols of happiness—reflections in the opening of eyes.

Last Regrets
A delicate cross between overture and antiphon, Last Regrets is a miracle, a promise made and a promise kept. Each intonation of Akami’s interpretation follows a colorful path leading to where only the wind can reach, a sunny city, a girl in the snow, a fox in the grapes, a place beyond a smile, to a place where a girl’s prison finally is unlocked.

遙かな年月 -Piano Solo-
A little song to pass the time until Ushio is able to return home from years afar and overcomes the tragedy of lostness. Arranged by Piko, this simple 4 minutes and 36 second expression pairs hope with futurity as desperation is escaped in the illusitory world.

Piano Sonata No.2 "Reminiscences of AIR" 第一楽章,
Piano Sonata No.2 "Reminiscences of AIR" 第二楽章, and
Piano Sonata No.2 "Reminiscences of AIR" 第三楽章
Souls were once free of the chains of their earth. We are reminded that the soul of a winged being is too much for the human body to bear. The piano takes flight to the mountains and to the seas. Inside the dream. Inside the darkness where the sun and moon set with scarlet head and black eyes. 第一楽章, the first movement, is the bird’s poem: the first to compose musical airs is a bird of five colors. It is luxurious and elegant, warm and delicate like the summer arc of love. 第二楽章, the second movement, is blue sky, and it is as if blue light scatters on gorgeous wavelengths. The divine bird of three name—Kano, Misuzu, Minagi—ascends the boundaries of life and death, atmosphere and outerspace, breaking the curse to descend from the sky, to protect life on earth. 第三楽章 , the third movement, is the ultimate farewell song. With impressions of an altair, a vega, and a nocturn, the story arc, the summer arc, the dream arc are caught in their endless rotation—and set free. The legend of “one thousand summers” manifests. Make a wish for something with being. There are two people here: girl sacrifice and girl destroyer. Both noneother who died and came back to life in this form. This is the spiral cry.

Fantasia on themes from "Atlach=Nacha"
An ornamental design arrangement consisting of intertwined flowing lines, the arabesque fantasia’s free form and improvisatory style unites several familiar themes with a mixture of melodious moods. The feeling of belonging to the very distant past and nearing no-longer-existence, the composition lingers in the ancient acts of banquets, running clouds, and battles of worldly proportions. Something is hidden deep within the fantasia: visions of a something hidden within a forest, of the intricacies of obtaining life energy and conserving power, of making apparitions from hundreds of lives lived over hundreds of years.

Voyage into a cage...
Return to the ghost princess of the cherry blossom. To voyage into a cage is something of a strange dream, as the cage transforms the flowering vision of the banishment of impurities. Akami enters lunatic mode, and his gradual phrasing makes for an untouchable score. With this bewitching dream and his rendering of the most beautiful cloud-like entity, he’s earned his cherry points.


A Far Eastern mound of flowers glows in the lunar reflections. This is the absolute love of the moon. Light wave, brain waves, electromagnetic waves all wash over the most levelheaded and serious characters, and a smile melts over the melody of folklore.

Armored Ladybird
In candid friendship the ladybug walks a colorful path, capturing all of the magic of summer: puddles, summer lights, the moon child, rainbows. The most spirited arrangment of Michiru’s leitmotif caps the recital in playful, guileless adoration. The performance chases bubbles with such glee that the tearful goodbye simply drifts into the background of the audience’s applause as we watch a single feather picked up in the wind and dissolve.

Friday, June 19, 2009

perfect cirno sundae wtf!?

Continuing with the theme of melting things down and re-embodying them comes a luxuriant Cirno-centered collection of songs from C.H.S., provocatively titled “Ultra Cute!?” The album title of course is never really a question – this scandalous serving of Cirno cupcake is deliciously kawaii in every way.

For those unfamiliar with Cirno, she makes her Touhou debut in 東方紅魔郷 ~ the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, only to return for a special mid-boss cameo in the following game, 東方妖々夢 ~ Perfect Cherry Blossom, as a playable character (⑨) in 東方花映塚 ~ Phantasmagoria of Flower View, and yet more times in the esoteric 東方文花帖 ~ Shoot the Bullet.

Revolving around the alluring scenes when the ice fairy deigns to make an appearance and shamelessly far from sounding anything like its source material, “Ultra Cute!?” gleefully injects dempa moe pop with a pummeling dose of over 9,000 bpm lolicore. The breaks are often stunning and C.H.S. keeps the production on point with sticky beats and juicy synth hooks, perpetually floating on the surface of an 8bit bass bubblebath. The vocals are delightfully sparkly, and with only a handful of brief exceptions, utterly prepubescent throughout.

During the more introverted arc of the album, the listener is taken on a dizzying instrumental ride inside the genius Cirno’s mind when she’s thinking way too hard. The trippy, tranced-out progression of nonsensical mental activity actually sustains itself through quite a few levels of discourse before the inevitable explosion of ice cream, perchance egged on once and for all during “10Q-385,” a hot blooded staring contest with Izayoi Sakuya, the illustrious head maid of Scarlet Devil Mansion.

In Cirno’s loveable world as conjured here, thought quickly devolves into beat repeat sampling madness. It’s like a sped up candy factory that moves so fast it starts to loop around on itself, a perplexing and flirtatious play on time. The final stretch of the album is complete chaos, with raging standout track “ねむれないよ。(QTODMix)” casting a hyper-pop perfect freeze of distorted drums, distorted moe vocals and thumping bass lines.

The closing song, “SunnyFunnyChiny(BlueberryMix)” breaks the general pattern of haphazard derangement on an extremely high note, with some lovely waifish vocals by RIKU intoning the melody of “上海紅茶館 ~ Chinese Tea.”


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

life and death in miniature

Am I a lazy reviewer? My second review and yet another glorious CD that clocks in at less than 16 minutes.

Neko & 雅's haunting 14 minute and 40 second "夢幻軌道" recalls Touhou’s PC-98 days, back in the day, when ghosts and scheming interdimensional lolis were relentlessly on the prowl and nights in Gensokyo were popping with mysterious encounters. Drawing 4/6ths of its content from the second and third Touhou games, 東方封魔録 ~ The Story of Eastern Wonderland and 東方夢時空 ~ Phantasmagoria of Dim.Dream, respectively, as well as one romp derived from 東方萃夢想 ~ Immaterial and Missing Power (and one other spectral source…), "夢幻軌道" is a cryptic instrumental phantasmagoria of heavily layered analog synths, keyboard shredding and tsundere guitar tendencies, filled with secret intent.

The opening track, "夢は時空を超えて," pairs epic ZUN-style bass synth with the album’s signature contemplative pseudo-phuzz lead guitar for a uniquely minimal and bracing arrangement. While not the centerpiece of the album by any means, this recurring, odd, moe electric guitar work successfully drives the music outside of ZUN’s sonic palette and illuminates the otherwise ghostly terrain, providing clarity in the midst of the hyperactive, manic and claustrophobic mood. The effect pays off especially well on the album’s fourth track, "博霊神社境内," a bipolar showdown of angular riffs and soft, gloomy bells.

At a mere 55 seconds, "魔法鐘愛," the third track on the CD, easily disrupts the capacity for rational thought as waves of lavender arpeggios surmount a doomed backdrop of analog synth graffiti and piano. One for the farewell cup, the sixth and final track, titled "おまけ," is a Touhou third impact, though its origins, perhaps fittingly, lie elsewhere. See for yourself what happens.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

marisa's fag

"恋艶 THE NIGHT CLUB" from circle 電開製作所 is 15 minutes and 24 seconds of pure starlight arcade bliss. Dwelling mostly on themes from 東方永夜抄 ~ Imperishable Night, the concise 5 song album encompasses 8bit synth mastery, squiggly dancefloor tangents, and in the stunning final track, all out face-wrecking ZUN-core. A thoughtful degeneration that matches with the overall spirit of lunatic pursuit!

The 8bit segments are well paced and the drums are steady, fluffy and pleasing. Rainbow colored arpeggios whirl around like sped up carousels. Some brief but intense vocoding suggests yet another level to the wonder. The synths are fresh with plenty of unexpected saws to moisten the triangle and square waves. The overall "production" is accordingly balanced, both raw and accessible; not really lo-fi but in some other world.

The last track, called "KOI-IRO the Night Club," is a transcendental rampage of love that fans of total awesomeness won't want to miss. Nihilistic, incomprehensible, unforgettable, noisy as fuck. The arrangement basically killed me.


Monday, June 15, 2009

the coming of late spring

when the ghosts come to the shrine in the twilight and must be swept away.