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.


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