We’ve reached the end of another year, and you know what that means – Winter Comiket is here again!
I’m releasing two albums this time – Side Effect (an Old Adam album) and Welcome to the Satellite (an updated version of my first album). If you’re interested, please check them out! On the Western side of things, there are also new albums out by Frozen Starfall, Solair Echoes, and Orange★Jam. Check them out and support Western artists!
There were a few more albums I wanted to add to my list, but it’s long enough already. Some honourable mentions include ANSWER//TALKER [Konpeki Studio], Wild Sweetheart [A-GEAR], and SYNCHRONICITY (Eternal Melody).
1. Shinra-Bansho’s “The Happy Egoist” [シアワセエゴイスト]
Woo, two albums in one year! I feel so lucky! This album features a new vocalist – Ayo (あよ). She sings in tracks 3 and 5, and both are absolutely divine. Mie is also back with an English-language track. Sadly, azuki only wrote the lyrics for one track. Instead, we have more kaztora lyrics, and more ticat lyrics.
Anyway, it features a great selection of themes, like usual.
2. Diao ye zong’s “Tsutae” [伝]
The theme of this album seems to be ‘communication.’ More specifically, it follows the structure of a traditional Noh play, mixing vocal performances with non-vocal performances. Like usual, the concept is neat.
This album’s crossfade drew me in more than the crossfades for recent Diao ye zong albums. I guess it’s because there are so many themes in there that we haven’t seen RD arrange before? I’m talking about The Lost Emotion, Pristine Beat, Kasen’s theme, and (of course) Pure Furies. It also features some excellent ‘character’ singing from Merami, which I’ve missed.
Of course, now that Kosuzu finally has a theme related to her, I’m looking forward to seeing what RD can do with it. Perhaps his next album will be called Suzu (鈴)…
[I’m tempted to translate the title as ‘Legend,’ since that seems to be another major theme of the album. I’ll have a better understanding when I get to look at the lyrics, I guess…]
3. Liz Triangle’s “Secret Pavilion” [ヒミツパビリオン]
Two more events to go now. I wonder if there will be new albums at both of those events… Well, I guess there will have to be something new at C92, since it will be Liz Triangle’s last event. Maybe they’ll release a complete collection or something like that…
Anyway, this is a Sealing Club album, which is unusual for Liz Triangle. It features 5 new arrangements, and 5 old ones. And of course, World of Electrolytes is included! It’s a shame there aren’t any Dr. Latency or Old Adam tracks, but still, it’s kaztora, so the arrangements sound great anyway.
4. Kokyo Active NEETs’ “Touhou Philharmonic Orchestra 5: PoFV” [東方フィルハーモニー交響楽団5 花]
I was really, really looking forward to this album last time… but it was postponed in favour of another Kancolle orchestral album. But, based on a tweet by Akai Ryuusei, this album is coming out at this event! Woo!
I was hoping to see Medicine’s theme on this album, but it isn’t there. Instead, we have Cirno’s theme, which they skipped over when they did EoSD.
Either way, I’m glad to see that this series is still progressing. I think we’ll have two Mountain of Faith albums, except one will be a crossover with Scarlet Weather Rhapsody. Unless they fit Shoot the Bullet in there somewhere…
5. BUTAOTOME’s “Paradise Lost” [ぱらだいすろすと – ‘Neko no Anmin DISC’]
Another solid album from BUTAOTOME. It follows their ‘usual’ style, but it draws from an interesting selection of themes (including Satellite TORIFUNE! Finally!). The surprising standout track for me is the third track, an arrangement of Adventurer’s Tavern of the Old World. I say ‘surprising’ because it’s a rare example of a ZUN track I don’t like, and BUTAOTOME makes me like it more. Track 6 is great, too – it’s orchestral, and it gives off strong ‘The Creation God Protects‘ vibes. It’s good to see Paprika experimenting with some new styles! Overall, I’m looking forward to reading and translating the lyrics, like usual.
Oh yeah, in case you missed out on the news, BUTAOTOME are having their major debut next March! Exciting news!
6. Touhou Jihen’s “Boundary Paradox” [限界パラドックス – ‘Genkai Paradokkusu’]
Demo (‘Paranoia’) || Official Site
So, after releasing three singles this year, Touhou Jihen finishes it up with an album. I was expecting it to be the three singles put together in a single album, but it looks like there’s a good amount of new content in here! Only the three title tracks were taken from the singles, so we have 6 new tracks. Exciting!
This album is also full of little surprises. There’s a guest arranger this time! It’s MiYAMO from Conagusuri (こなぐすり). Apparently, they give the album “the coolest EDM vibes.” I’ll take them at their word. IZNA’s also singing a duet with ヒロキ (Hiroki, @higakurerecords). Finally, NSY is contributing death vocals to a track. Why not.
There’s also a special limited event-only single. It’s called ‘錬-len-,’ and it features Chata and lyrics by shuriken. It looks like NSY will incorporate it in a future album as well, so keep your fingers crossed because we’ll never hear it otherwise…
7. Ringing Volcano’s “My Scarlet Devil Mansion” [私の紅魔館 – ‘Watashi no Koumakan’]
This album is focused on the Scarlet Devil Mansion crew, which I wasn’t too thrilled about. But come on, the album sounds amazing anyway. ‘Mercury’ in particular is like something from another dimension. It’s simply stunning. I talked about wanting RD to arrange Kosuzu’s theme, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what Ringing Volcano will do with it. After all, Kosuzu is basically this circle’s mascot!
Also, I just want to stress that a downloadable version of this album is available to download now! It’s being sold through Ringing Volcano’s BOOTH page. I can’t express just how happy that makes me, and I really wish more circles would do that.
8. Ringing Volcano’s “Memories From This Year -2016-” [今年の思い出 -2016- ‘Kotoshi no Omoide -2016-‘]
Another Ringing Volcano album, and this one is also available on BOOTH. It’s basically a ‘best of’ album, with generous selections from each album. I didn’t really need to pick it up, since I have all of Ringing Volcano’s albums, but I decided to get it anyway. The last 4 tracks are from singles that were released throughout the year, so they’re kind of rare, so it’s worth getting this compilation just for those tracks alone.
Plus, how can I not support a circle who’s so willing to put their stuff up for digital purchase? I’d be so poor if more circles did that…
9. Halozy’s “A Constellation of Dog-and-Cat-Like Electronic Songs” [犬猫的電子座曲]
I have no idea what that title’s supposed to mean, or even if I’ve interpreted it correctly.
Anyway, this album is a 14-track bonanza of the greatest macaroom tracks featured in Halozy’s past albums. I’ve already translated quite a few of them. As a compilation album alone, it’s worth buying, but 4 of those 14 tracks are new! And…
One of them features IZNA as a vocalist. That’s right, if I’ve read Asahi’s Twitter updates correctly, Touhou Jihen’s IZNA is singing a track by Asahi. Just thinking about it makes me excited!
10. Floating Cloud’s “Touhou Irish 8”
XFD || Official Site
It feels like it’s been so long since Touhou Irish 7. But Floating Cloud is back!
This time, they have a vocal track. And… it’s Wind of Agartha. Oh my gosh. I nearly fell out of my seat when I heard that familiar melody. It feels like an eternity since I’ve heard that theme arranged, and this arrangement is simply stunning.
Anyway, it’s Touhou. It’s Irish-style. It’s excellent.
11. Mameya’s “Secret Sealing Club Piano Arrangements: 雪音終永” [秘封倶楽部ピアノアレンジ「雪音終永」]
I’ve never really paid much attention to this circle before, so I was surprised by the quality of these piano arrangements. The album’s focused on Dateless Bar “Old Adam,” too, which is a bonus! As was the case with BUTAOTOME, this circle’s arrangement of Adventurer’s Tavern of the Old World makes me dislike the original theme less. How strange.
The album has a bit of a classical feel to it, but the liberal improvisation on the original themes keeps it fresh and interesting. It’s kind of like you’re listening to someone writing a poem.
12. “TWICE,” by Hatsunetsumiko’s
After what feels like 3 years of dance tracks, Hatsunetsumiko’s has returned to its original(?) pop-ish style. Following on from this, the dance side of Hatsunetsumiko’s has been christened ‘Danceness☆miko’s,’ contrasting with Alkaloid’s ‘Darkness†miko’s.’ To be honest, I’m just surprised to hear Japanese lyrics in Hatsunetsumiko’s again. I really like the vibe of all of the tracks, but I have a soft spot for Sunshine in the Rain. It’s just so peppy and positive!
13. Akatsuki Records’ “KILLOVE FIREPROOF”
Stack Bros. is my idol. And this album is pretty much all Stack Bros.
I didn’t even know I wanted a track like DANGO ON FIRE, but it’s here, and I love it. The other tracks are great, too – track 5 is like that haunted castle track we saw before, with strong Tim Burton vibes.
If that’s not enough, Stack herself gave arranging a go, and was in charge of track 7. Considering it’s her first time arranging, she did a pretty good job. I’m looking forward to seeing how her style develops.
14. BUTAOTOME’s “Touhou Keyboard Cat 13″ [東方猫鍵盤12 – ‘Touhou Nekokenban 13’]
Somewhere along the line, these albums stopped being purely about the piano, and turned into broader ‘instrumental’ albums. I’m quite happy with this change, and you can really tell how Paprika has evolved as an arranger. This time, each track is based on a particular region of the world. My favourite tracks so far are the third one (Old Yuanxian), and track 8 (a lovely Spanish version of Flower Land). It’s a diverse album, and there’s definitely something in there for every listener!
15. xi-on’s “GROOVY MOON”
The official site describes this album as a ‘jazz/funk/fusion’ album, and it certainly lives up to that description. Each track is so groovy! It’s also a LoLK-only album, featuring favourites of mine like Eternal Spring Dream and The Reversed Wheel of Fortune. I like the balance of this album – not every track is loud and in-your-face, and the more subdued tracks, like ‘September Pumpkin,’ give you time to breathe. If only they had a real brass section – they’d probably top Tokyo Active NEETs if they did that.
16. TAMAONSEN’s “STILLING”
XFD || Official Site
TAMAONSEN appears to have settled back into a regular stream of releases. This album lacks the grittiness of Another Line, which I’m a bit disappointed about, but the typical TAMAONSEN quality is there. I quite like track 4 – Dream Land arrangements are so rare. The vocalist kind of reminds me of Paprika.
I’m still waiting for Comp and Paprika’s Imperishable Night rap album…
17. Yuuhei Shoujo Active NEETs’ “Act 1, Concerto: Even the Blossoming Flowers Will Eventually Scatter”[第1幕 協奏曲「色は匂へど散りぬるを」 SIDE A]
This is a collaboration between Yuuhei Satellite/Shoujo Fractal and Kokyo Active NEETs. Yes, you read that correctly, some of Yuuhei Satellite/Shoujo Fractal’s greatest hits are being performed by the crew behind the Touhou Philharmonic Orchestra albums. It alternates between vocal tracks and orchestral-only tracks. The demo hadn’t been released while I was writing this, so it’s at #13 based on anticipation alone. Side B is also being released, featuring an ‘opposite’ tracklist to SIDE A (vocal instead of orchestral, and vice versa). I wonder if you have to buy both CDs separately…?
Funny story – I saw 森羅万象に触れて in the description of one of Yuuhei Satellite’s C91 albums, and I got pretty excited because I thought it was a collaboration with Shinra-Bansho (森羅万象). It isn’t.
18. Pizuya’s Cell’s “Intersecting Distortion” [交錯ディストーション – Kousaku Distortion]
This album didn’t leave a strong first impression on me, but having listened to the demo a second time, I think I’ll actually like it. I think I’ll like it quite a bit. I mean, personally, I don’t think it’s possible to release a better album than The Maze of Time Paradoxia, but this is pretty good. I like the first track – it reminds me of Capgras Syndrome, which is still one of my favourite Pizuya tracks.
19. AramiTama’s “Inkstone Noises: Frequency Scroll” (硯音 Frequency Scroll)
XFD || Official Site
“The sounds and melodies of the maidens who might someday become youkai…”
Hot off the heels of Dateless Steam Visions, released during Kouroumu 12, AramiTama is back with another full-sized album! As you can tell by the cover art, it features several arrangements of Kosuzu’s/FS’ theme, along with a few other themes. I’m surprised Arami managed to get them out so quickly…
The album as a whole pretty much sticks to the usual formula (synthesised sounds and heavy percussion), which is a winning formula, so that’s fine by me. Apart from the Kosuzu tracks, I really like the sound of tracks 4 and 6. Listening to the demo makes me want to work on an FM-synth inspired album of my own…
20. Cajiva’s Gadget Shop’s “TRIBAL TUNING MECHANISM”
This album seems to be some sort of ‘best of’ collection, featuring arrangements by Cajiva that have appeared on the CDs of other circles. The official site finally answered one of my longstanding questions – yes, Cajiva actually does use a real vocalist. Her name is Atori, from As/Hi.
Like usual, Cajiva offers his unique tribal house style. This means that the tracks get quite gritty and dirty, and they have a lot of character. The bass is quite strong, too, and at some points it doesn’t quite match up with what’s going on in the melody, which makes you feel uneasy.
21. SOUND HOLIC’s “TOHO PIANISM III”
XFD || Official Site
Thankfully, the wait between II and III was much shorter this time. As the title suggests, this series features piano-only arrangements of your favourite Touhou themes. Is it just me, or are we seeing more and more of them lately…? Putting that aside, the tracklist looks pretty good. My eyes immediately stopped on The Lost Emotion, Faraway 380,000-Kilometer Voyage, and Desire Drive. Like the above album, there’s no demo yet, but this should be a quality release.
22. Touhou PARTYBOX03, presented by Melonbooks
Melonbooks has taken up Toranoana’s mantle, and has another Partybox album for us this time. I’m only looking out for the BUTA, Shinra-Bansho, and RD tracks. So… that’s pretty much 4 tracks. Interestingly, though, the third disc contains old tracks from some circles… and they’ve actually been rearranged! Wow!
I’m quite excited for the Shinra-Bansho track, though – it’s a Bucuresti arrangement, and the vocalist is Ayaponzu＊. She’s quickly becoming Shinra-Bansho’s main vocalist…
Which reminds me, I’m still hurting because Shinra-Bansho’s last release was that event-limited CD I’ll never be able to listen to…
23. DDBY’s “Two Travelers in the Wilderness 2: Trojan Green Asteroid” [荒野の旅人２ 鳥船遺跡 ～ Trojan Green Asteroid]
This is an instrumental album, featuring arrangements of themes from Trojan Green Asteroid in a variety of different genres. Trojan Green Asteroid is my favourite Sealing Club Album, so I’m glad to see it get some more love! I like track 3 the most – the vibe suits Trojan Asteroid Jungle really well, and I like the swells in the melodic instruments. I can’t say no to track 6, either.
Maybe next time we’ll get Synth de Touhou 3? That would be nice…
24. logical emotion’s “Touhou Project: acoustic arranged instruments 3”
XFD || Official Site
This album seems to focus mainly on Shoot the Bullet, though the LoLK rabbits are well-represented, too. It’s quite chilled-out, stripped back to just piano, bass, and/or percussion. I’m looking forward to hearing the September Pumpkin arrangement.
Listening to stuff like this makes me want to make a stripped-back album of my own.
25 + 26. Nanagen Straße’s (七幻シュトラーセ) “DESTINY” and “VISION”
This circle is an offshoot of Rokugen Alice that started up earlier this year. Based on the demos for both albums, it seems as though this circle’s signature style involves bombastic orchestral/trance arrangements, accompanied by a stern, dramatic reading of a text. DESTINY is an Old Adam album, and VISION is a PoFV album. The demos make you feel like the world is ending around you. They have that sort of apocalyptic charm. Is charm even the right word…?
I’m not entirely sold on the female vocals, but I have a feeling that they’ll grow on me. Overall, though, I’m afraid that I’ll be sick of the dramatic verse-reading thing after listening to two albums of it. But then again, I love it when people talk over music (see Pizuya’s classic legend tracks), so that’s unlikely. Once I’m more familiar with this circle, they might jump up my lists pretty quickly – I have high hopes for them!
27. Pizuya’s Cell’s “Irony Juuhachi Bancha” [アイロニー十八番茶]
Another Godwood piano album. This time, the tracks covered come from Impossible Spell Card. It also features a cool, jazzy arrangement of Eternal Short-Lived Reign.
I’m… not quite sure what else to say.
28. FELT’s “Fluster Escape”
FELT continues to puzzle me, yet soothe my soul at the same time. To start off with, ‘Different Kind of Love’ is amazing, and might possibly become one of my favourite FELT tracks. The last two tracks are beautiful, too.
Putting that aside, though, there is a massive elephant in the room. And that elephant is how loud the first two tracks on the demo are. I’m hoping that it’s just a glitch in the demo, because they’re… almost painful to listen to. Maybe it’s just me…?
Shinigiwa Satellite is also releasing their 3rd album.