Another event, another roundup post!
Like usual, some albums are being released by Western Touhou circles: Frozen Starfall (Babbe’s new circle) is continuing with their ‘DANCEFLOOR’ series with PROMISED DANCEFLOOR. Veto and denshuto are also being featured on Shinigiwa Satellite’s WOW!! EP. Also, Shoop has released an album, ‘Where no Miko has Gone Before.’ Check them out if you’d like to support the Western community!
Also, I’m releasing my 4th Touhou arrangement album! It’s called ‘Mastermind,’ and it’s another LoLK album. It features all of the themes that weren’t featured on my last album.
Just stressing that these are all my opinions! If there are any albums I haven’t put here that you’re looking forward to, mention them in the comments! (Oh yeah, any title translations are also unofficial. Just putting that out there.)
1. Team Shanghai Alice’s “Dr. Latency’s Freak Report”
I was hoping for ZUN to release another Sealing Club CD. And… he delivers! I’ve been spending too much time since the album was announced imagining what the new themes will sound like, imagining how I’ll arrange them, etc. Yeah, my 5th album is definitely going to be a Dr. Latency album.
Anyway, there have been a few theories regarding the title and what the story will be about. Some people think that Renko is Dr. Latency, observing Merry (hence, ‘Dr. Latency’s Sleepless Eyes’). No matter what happens, the story should be interesting, and the music will be great, too. Also, it makes me happy to see that ZUN is giving ‘Eternal Short-Lived Reign’ the attention it deserves. Thanks, ZUN.
2. Ringing Volcano’s “Chitchat at the Teahouse ‘Bakeneko'” [Kissa Bakeneko de Oshaberi wo – 喫茶化猫でおしゃべりを]
Yep. Amazing. Simply amazing. If you are remotely into instrumental arrangements of Touhou themes, you need to visit the circle’s BOOTH page and do everything in your power to buy their music.
This album sounds so good I don’t even want to waste your time talking about it. Just listen to the crossfade. Please.
2. Shinra-Bansho’s “M other
Right on schedule, Shinra-Bansho has returned with another release. (It takes joint second place because I can’t decide whether I like it more than Ringing Volcano’s album…)
If you’ve been following my translations, you’ll know how much of a Shinra-Bansho fan I am, and this album doesn’t disappoint! This one is more like Paraiso, since it doesn’t have a musical. But it does feature Ranko instead (a total of 2 times!). Awesome!
Like always, one vocalist is emphasised. This time, it’s あやぽんず＊ (ayaponzu＊). It looks like she’s new to the circle, so she’s been flung into the deep end, singing a total of 4 songs including the title track. She leaves a pretty good impression – she has a bit of a ‘cutesy’ voice, but it doesn’t overpower everything else. That probably didn’t make sense. Lyrics-wise, kaztora and azuki have taken care of 2 songs each, and Seiji (the newcomer from the last album) has taken care of 3 (!) songs. I’m interested to read his lyrics to see how he’s improved over the last year.
Also, the last track is brought to us by ACTRock. I bet you weren’t expecting that.
3. Touhou Jihen’s “revoltech”
XFD || Official Site
“Why are you putting this album so high when there’s only 3 tracks, and one of them is ‘Addicted!!’ which has already been released?”
Well, according to the Melonbooks page, this is the first in a series of 3 consecutive singles! So rather than waiting for over a year for a new album, NSY is splitting it up into parts. Based on this album, it seems like they’re all going to be based on DDC, though it could end up being different. Anyway, the title track is great, but track 2 is, in my opinion, the best. IZNA really shines – you can tell that NSY knows exactly how to play to her strengths. Also, ‘Addicted!!’ is still one of the
only best arrangements of ‘Thunderclouds of Magical Power.’ So overall, the first single leaves me with high hopes for the next 2!
4. Diao ye zong’s “Kakage” [掲 – ‘Declaration’]
The theme this time is spellcards. RD also said that he’s aiming to make an album that everyone can enjoy and get into. Which, honestly, is a massive departure from his last album.
Anyway, as can be expected, the songs sound great. I’m not entirely sold on the themes he chose to arrange, mainly because he’s arranged most of them before and there’s a whole game’s worth of themes that need arranging
*cough cough Pure Furies* but that’s his choice, and I’m okay with it when the results sound as good as this. I like the instrumental tracks more than usual this time, and it looks like Evil Sign “Hao Xioaogui” (邪符「ハオシャオグイ」 ) is the Desire Drive/Old Yuanxian mashup I was waiting to hear. It has 3L, too, and unlike last time I feel much warmer towards her voice!
5. Akatsuki Records x Liz Triangle’s “First Memory/Next Memory”
Yes, you read that right. Akatsuki Records and Liz Triangle have joined up to create a completely unexpected album. Have we seen a collaboration like this before? I don’t think so.
Anyway, the album consists of new and old arrangements, and each track is influenced by both circles in at least one way. It all makes sense if you look at the official site. It’s interesting to hear how the two circles combine, and to be honest it makes ACTRock stand out for me a lot more than he usually does. I never thought I’d hear lily-an sing LOVE EAST (arranged by kaztora), but it actually works. It seems like the song pushes her out of her comfort zone, which is what a collaboration should do. Stack does an awesome job with who killed U.N. Owen, as well. The theatrical nature of the song suits her voice perfectly. I’m a bit disappointed that Stack Bros. doesn’t make an appearance, but that would have made the album too crowded, I suppose…
6. KOKYO Active NEETs’ “Touhou Philharmonic Orchestra 4: IN + IaMP” [東方フィルハーモニー交響楽団4 永+萃]
So, that’s not the full crossfade – instead, it’s their version of Dream Battle. Anyway, if you’ve been following my roundup posts, you’ll know how much I love this series. I’m… slightly disappointed that they didn’t go straight to PoFV, but I’m still happy with how this album sounds. My biggest concern is that… they had 2 albums to arrange Wriggle’s theme/the stage 1 theme and they didn’t! As if! And, for reasons that will probably never become clear, they decided to release a second Kancolle jazz album at this event instead of Explosive Jazz: UFO edition. Isn’t this… a Touhou-only event?!
(Also, is it just me or is their orchestra getting smaller with each release?)
7. Halozy’s “Lucky 7”
The album is called ‘Lucky 7’ and completely through coincidence, it ended up at 7th place on my list…
I’m here for the Asahi/Emaru track, and boy does it deliver. It’s everything I could have ever hoped for in an arrangement of ‘Wonderful Heaven.’ (I still can’t believe it took me so long to learn about him…)
8. Pizuya’s Cell’s “The Mallet and Stylus of Magical Power” [魔力の小槌とスタイラス]
XFD || Official Site
Another Godwood piano album. This time, the theme is DDC. Like usual, Godwood gives us some excellent piano playing, and his version of the original themes sounds fresh. He’s kind of like the antithesis to Marasy.
I don’t know if it’s just me, though, but these albums are beginning to sound a bit same-ish. Harmonically speaking, it seems like Godwood has the same patterns that he keeps coming back to. I was originally captivated by his Ten Desires album because it had some extra instruments, too, but he never went back to that style. Part of me wants to hear that style a little more… Anyway, don’t let that turn you off. It still sounds great!
9. Akatsuki Records’ “God’s Stories -INNOCENT- -to the beginning 06-” [神様Stories-]
I stopped believing in Akatsuki Records for a while. I came close to ignoring this album, too, because I wasn’t too fond of the first two tracks. But then I heard the third track – wow, I haven’t heard this vocalist before! And then track 6 hit me. The beginning is so haunting, and then the tension just ramps up [plus, I love the original theme]. It turns out it was arranged by the enigmatic Stack Bros…
Speaking of Stack Bros., there’s also an event-limited CD full of arrangements by Stack Bros. Are they… planning on splitting off and forming their own circle? Honestly… I’d be okay with that.
Also, the title track has already been translated over at stargazer, so check it out!
10. Shibayan Records’ “TOHO BOSSA NOVA 5”
As expected, we have another iteration in the bossa nova series. This time, there are two (!) arrangements of Desire Drive, and Shibayan has only arranged one (!) of the tracks. There’s also only one (!) vocal track – a wonderful arrangement of Futo’s theme. There’s also an arrangement of LoLK’s stage 4 theme + Sagume’s theme, but I’m not too fond of it. With bossa nova, you have to be careful or else it will sound too generic
(a problem that I’ve faced a couple of times).
So, even though I’m not as hyped as I was for the previous bossa nova albums, it’s still going to end up pretty good. Shibayan has also released some of his older albums on BOOTH, so go and check them out if you’re interested!
11. AdamKadmon’s “moon”
I don’t know what happened, but this is probably the most I’ve enjoyed an AdamKadmon crossfade. You can tell that Kamiyashiro has improved – I used to feel that his arrangements stuck too close to the original theme, but it looks like he’s found the confidence to step out a bit, which is an encouraging sign. This is also a LoLK album, which is a bonus. It also features a track by Wani (in collaboration with Sepia, which is a first). It has some weird gestalt thing going on – I can’t directly hear ‘Faraway Voyage of 38,000 Kilometres’ in there, but I can still feel it there. I can’t explain it. Anyway, it’s good to hear Wani arranging again. It’s like hearing from an old friend you should keep in touch with but never find time to.
12. GET IN THE RING’s “”Activity” Case:06 -Shining Future-“
XFD || Official Site
This is a compilation of all of the previous ‘Activity Case’ albums, and it also features two new tracks. GET IN THE RING sometimes suffers from the ‘sounds the same’ syndrome, but I’m a big fan of their mashups. And these tracks all manage to be pretty unique, even though their original themes overlap here and there. I wonder if this is the final volume in the series? Since we’re getting a new music CD, it probably isn’t. I’m sure we’ll see it again someday…
13. AbsoЯute Zero’s “Trident World”
XFD || Official Site
You might recall that I was really hyped for Absolute One, this circle’s first album. Well… I didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I thought it would. This album’s kind of the same story – the crossfade sounds really good, but in the end, I know that the full songs probably won’t capture my interest. For me, they’re better listened to in short bursts, because they kind of blend together a bit after a while (like with the Godwood albums). Putting that aside, there are some good tracks in there, and there’s actually an arrangement of LoLK’s ending theme – I never thought I’d see one of them!
14. “TOHO PARTY BOX – Hakurei Shrine Ver.” presented by Melonbooks
The sequel to the one released last year. By the way, did anyone notice that there’s no UROBOROS album this time? I’m honestly… a bit disappointed. Anyway, I like the sound of the new Hatsunetsumiko’s and Diao ye zong tracks. There’s also an arrangement of ‘Eternal Spring Dream’ in there. Nice!
15. Pizuya’s Cell’s “The Sweet Joker’s Trump Card” [スウィートジョーカーの偽切札]
XFD || Official Site
I don’t like the way Pizuya masters his tracks, which turns me off a lot of his albums. Considering that I really love Futoumeido’s lyrics, it’s a shame. With that in mind, the track that I love the most is track 5 (the arrangement of Sagume’s theme). I love it because it’s subdued. It doesn’t assault your ears with violins and harsh pianos. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pizuya didn’t arrange it…
Also, I want to take a moment to mourn the passing of the -classic legend- series. I knew something was up when the last one began with “I forgot what I was going to write here, so I’ll just put random stuff in. Sorry.” It was a niche series, but I loved it all the same. Now who will I go to for my amusing takes on music history?
16. Butaotome’s “The Long Goodbye” [今日が最後の一日]
XFD || Official Site
“These songs are for the humans who continue to live here.”
The title properly translates to ‘Today is Our Last Day,’ but since ‘The Long Goodbye’ is written on the jacket, I assume that’s what they want it to be called.
I don’t really like this album based on what I’ve heard so far. Butaotome have arranged most of these songs and (in my opinion) they did a better job the first time around. My main problem with it is the arrangements themselves – there’s too much original material for my tastes, which was the issue I had with Animal Path (my least favourite Butaotome album). If you said tracks 3 and 4 (and probably 6 and 7 as well) were original tracks, I’d believe you. So, in that sense, I don’t think the album is bad. I just think that Butaotome could have done a better job arranging the original themes. So I’m kind of judging it on a different level.
That sounds really harsh, but there are are still positives. Ranko sounds great like usual, and I’m honestly sure that the full album will sound awesome, like we’ve come to expect from Butaotome. I just can’t get into it this time. I feel like there’s something wrong with me! *hides in a corner*
17. FELT’s “Rebirth Story III”
So I was kind of impressed by FELT’s last album, having never been a fan of them before. It looks like this album is another ‘best of’ collection. I suppose this gives me the perfect chance to go back and revisit some of the songs I missed during my long absence from the world of FELT. I don’t know how many of the songs have been made specifically for the album. I assume the first is new, since Kokoro’s on the front cover… But they’re all new to me since I hardly ever listen to FELT >_>
And, to finish it off, I need to say that Shinigiwa Satellite is releasing CLOWN EP. It is a thing. It has Clownpiece on the cover.