Kyoukai Kara Mieta Keshiki 4 Roundup

We’ve already reached the 4th iteration of Kyoukai Kara Mita Gaikai [境界から視えた外界-至-, Cajiva refers to it in English as ‘Scenery Seen From the Boundary]. 至 (shi) sounds like 四 (shi – four), which explains why it’s included in the title. How clever. I’ve been a bit disappointed that more people haven’t arranged the new themes from Dr. Latency and Old Adam, but thankfully… this event exists. It’s a Hifuu-only event, which makes it the perfect time to arrange all those new themes!

Also, if any of you are following 夢想吟遊詩人 (Musou Gin’yuujin – The Dream Troubadours), they’re apparently distributing a card with the details of their next Sealing Club-inspired CD, 歪曲列島. Cirtus Resuscitation and The Victors’ Space Odyssey were amazing, so I’m awaiting their next release with bated breath…

sachlich1. BUTAOTOME’s “sachlich”

XFD || Official Site

Hot off the heels of their major debut album ‘Fullbokko’ (フルボッコ), BUTAOTOME is releasing another Touhou album…! This time, there’s a twist. There’s 8 tracks in total: 5 instrumental tracks, and 3 vocal tracks. But the vocalist…

Is Ranko’s sister. If you’ve ever watched this video, you’ll know what her voice sounds like, but it turns out she can sing, too! According to the official site, the album is based on the ‘taboos’ one embraces while they are children. It’s a dandy, old-fashioned album. It certainly sounds unique. Ranko’s sister’s voice reminds me of Yuu Kanade from TAMAONSEN, and I think we need more voices like that, so I’m hoping she makes more appearances in future albums.

I love this album because it reminds me of the I LOVE albums. You can almost think of it as I LOVE HIFUU but without rap… This is more jazz-inspired, I suppose. My favourite vocal track is track #5.

Cajiva2. Cajiva’s Gadget Workshop’s “Grenze”

XFD || Official Site

Cajiva Gadget Workshop is back with another tribal house album. They’re pretty much the only circle who does this, but they do it really well! It feels like there are less vocal samples that on previous albums, but there’s more vocal percussion. If that makes sense…

I think the track selection is quite solid – some rare Ghostly Field Club tracks make an appearance, and two of my favourites (The Barrier of Ame-no-Torifune Shrine and The Darkness Brought in by Swallowstone Naturalis Historia) are also represented. Overall, it sounds promising. This circle is great at dragging you to different places…

artworks-000213723548-065fdx-t500x5003. AramiTama’s [荒御霊] “Cruithne” [ヒミツパビリオン]

XFD || Official Site

“Are you approaching the other side?
…Or are you approaching from the other side?”

I always feel that AramiTama’s albums complement Cajiva’s really well (well, they’re always distributed at the same booth, after all). Cajiva’s music is always so organic and vibrant, whereas AramiTama’s music is much colder and calculated. I… I mean that as a compliment! If I had to draw a comparison to another genre, I’d go with Baroque music (think Bach). The sounds are tight and precise, and its mechanical nature has a charm of its own. This time, the tracks seem to be split into multiple parts, which I think is a nice touch. This time, there are a few rare Sealing Club tracks, too – I particularly appreciate the “Children of the Age of Science” (科学世紀の少年少女) arrangements.

Incidentally, Cruithine is colloquially known as Earth’s second moon. It shares the same orbit around the Earth as the sun.

tumblr_static_ctrrk252wls8sg4040kw0ss4g4. Echollapsar’s “Artificial Eden”

XFD || Official Site

This single marks the debut of a brand new circle! Apparently, it’s a preview track from the circle’s first album, which will be released at a later event (possibly RTS14). This single is being released alongside a cosplay photo album.

The music itself is bittersweet yet soothing. It reminds me a lot of Secret Messenger and QLOCKS, so if there are any fans of those circles out there… give Echollapsar a try! I say this every time a new circle forms, but since it’s such a rare occurrence, throw your support behind them…! The XFD links to their official Youtube channel, and their official Twitter account is here. Overall, I think it’s a very promising debut, and I’m looking forward to listening to (and hopefully translating) their first album when it comes out!

artworks-000211054740-yavomr-t500x5005. Cajiva’s Gadget Workshop’s “ARCHIVE545”

XFD || Official Site

This album is a bit out of the ordinary: it’s a compilation album featuring tracks from a variety of different arrangers. The twist is that most of them feature dialogue instead of vocals! I really like that sort of stuff, so I thoroughly enjoyed the demo. The subject matter seems to range from Renko and Merry talking about dreams to… Renko talking about wanting to become a cat? There’s a wide range of subject matter, so it should satisfy anyone (like me) who likes hearing people speak over music.

Curio6. Kijou no Kuusouriron’s [机上の空想理論] “Dream Curiosity” [夢幻のキュリオシティ – ‘Mugen no Kyurioshiti’]

XFD || Official Site

This circle is pretty new as well: this is only their third release. It’s billed as a ‘multigenre arrangement album’ and it certainly delivers. There’s upbeat tracks, guitar tracks, and even a smooth track here and there to balance the mood. All the arrangements are by Chair (ちぇあ), a mysterious figure who I haven’t heard about before.

Track 4, “Jazz Bar Old Adam” is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s so smooth, and so jazzy, and I didn’t even realise I wanted the original theme arranged in that way but I’m so glad it is. Another standout track for me is the final track. It’s chill, and I love how the electric piano transitions into a fuller orchestration.

A-GEAR7. A-GEAR’s “Reminiscent Bricolage” [追憶のブリコラージュ – ‘Neko no Anmin DISC’]

XFD || Official Site

Bricolage is a word which here means “constructed from a variety of different things.” You can think of it as a patchwork of sorts.

This album is constructed around a trio featuring piano, bass, and drums. The jazz influences can be clearly heard, as well. It’s a smoother jazz than something you’d hear from Tokyo Active NEETs, which I appreciate. They do some great things with the melodies of the original themes, especially Dr. Latency’s Sleepless Eyes. They make jazz out of themes I didn’t really think of as being very jazzy…

Bassy8. Glassy:oceaN’s “Clear Expedition” [明晰エクスペディション – ‘Meiseki Ekusupedishon’]

XFD || Official Site

This… is a very curious album. It’s based in electronic music, but each track has a different genre: French House, Future Bass, etc. It reminds me a lot of Cajiva and AramiTama, but it has its own unique style. The main theme is ‘exploration’ and, let’s face it, the Sealing Club is made for this kind of stuff.

The track that impressed me the most was the third one, a Future Bass arrangement of G Free. It has a kind of chiptune style that I really enjoy. Does all Future Bass sound like that…? I feel like there’s a whole ocean of music out there waiting for me now…

artworks-000210890026-7q60v7-t500x5009. ATMOSPHERIC’s “電腦祕封EP -DEN NO HIHU EP-

XFD || Official Site

I thought this was their first album, but it looks like they released a bunch classified under the ‘Touhou Dreamscapes’ collection [東方夢景色]. It’s a collection of synth arrangements, and you know what? It reminds me a little of the Synth de Touhou series by DDBY.

The first track has that ‘opening’ feel to it, and I really enjoyed the short snippet in the demo. Overall, if you like synthesizers, this album is definitely worth a listen!

UNION10. Sound Refil’s “UNION II”

XFD || Official Site

It looks as though the first UNION album was released in 2013, so there’s been a fair gap between installments…

Like the majority of albums released at this event, it’s more electronic in style, but it sounds completely different when compared to the other electronic albums. (Let’s face it – I really don’t know much about electronic music…). Actually, scrap all that because the 3rd last track is an orchestral style arrangement, and the one after that adds in an… erhu? This is a true multigenre album.

If my ears don’t deceive me, there’s an arrangement of Adventurer’s Tavern of the Old World in there that also mixes in Oriental Dark Flight. That’s a unique combination! I really like the second last track (the one with the erhu). It soothes my soul.

Parallel11. Girl’s Logic Observatory’s [少女理論観測所] “ParallelEnd Observer”

XFD || Official Site

This is an old album, but I missed it the first time and it features Ayaponzu*.

C91 Roundup

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).

jake1. Shinra-Bansho’s “The Happy Egoist” [シアワセエゴイスト]

XFD || Official Site



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.

tsutae2. Diao ye zong’s “Tsutae” [伝]

XFD || Official Site

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…]

pavilion3. Liz Triangle’s “Secret Pavilion” [ヒミツパビリオン]

XFD || Official Site

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.

tpk5_l4. Kokyo Active NEETs’ “Touhou Philharmonic Orchestra 5: PoFV” [東方フィルハーモニー交響楽団5 花]

XFD || Official Site

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…

jacket_big5. BUTAOTOME’s “Paradise Lost” [ぱらだいすろすと – ‘Neko no Anmin DISC’]

XFD || Official Site

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!

paradox6. 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…

ringing7. Ringing Volcano’s “My Scarlet Devil Mansion” [私の紅魔館 – ‘Watashi no Koumakan’]

XFD || Official Site

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.

memories8. Ringing Volcano’s “Memories From This Year -2016-” [今年の思い出 -2016- ‘Kotoshi no Omoide -2016-‘]

XFD || Official Site

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…

halozy-room9. Halozy’s “A Constellation of Dog-and-Cat-Like Electronic Songs” [犬猫的電子座曲]

XFD || Official Site

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!

cloud10. 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.

mameya11. 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」]

XFD || Official Site

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.

twice12. “TWICE,” by Hatsunetsumiko’s

XFD || Official Site

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!

artworks-000199813485-7m1i1f-t500x50013. Akatsuki Records’ “KILLOVE FIREPROOF”

XFD || Official Site

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.

cat14. BUTAOTOME’s “Touhou Keyboard Cat 13″ [東方猫鍵盤12 – ‘Touhou Nekokenban 13’]

XFD || Official Site

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!

xion15. xi-on’s “GROOVY MOON”

XFD || Official Site

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.


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…

yuuhei-neets17. 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]

XFD || Official Site

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]

XFD || Official Site

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.

kosuzu19. 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…

tribal20. Cajiva’s Gadget Workshop’s “TRIBAL TUNING MECHANISM”

XFD || Official Site

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.


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

XFD (Disc 1) (Disc 2) || Official Site

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…

ddby23. DDBY’s “Two Travelers in the Wilderness 2: Trojan Green Asteroid” [荒野の旅人2 鳥船遺跡 ~ Trojan Green Asteroid]

XFD || Official Site

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…

logical24. 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”

XFD (Destiny) (Vision) || Official Site (Destiny) (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!

pz227. Pizuya’s Cell’s “Irony Juuhachi Bancha” [アイロニー十八番茶]

XFD || Official Site

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.

fluster-escape28. FELT’s “Fluster Escape”

XFD || Official Site

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.

Plugins, VSTs and Things

I thought I’d put together a list of the main programs and plugins I use to make music, accompanied by a brief comment/review! If there’s anyone out there looking to make their own music, I hope this list comes in handy. I’ll add to list in the future to include other things, but feel free to leave a comment if you’d like me to go into more detail about anything.

_ _ _ _ _

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) – FL Studio

Official Site

Basically, this is the program I use to make the backing tracks to all of my recordings (I then export the backing track and record my live performances into Audacity, a free program). I use the Fruity Edition, which is the cheapest version. It’s missing a few features, such as audio editing and the Soundfont Player (which you have to buy separately, unless you want to go with a free version), but it has enough features to do what it needs to do.

It also comes with a generous free trial – you can use everything for an unlimited period of time, but you can’t open up projects after you save them. Before I bought it, I actually would use the free trial and finish off all my backing tracks in a single go…

_ _ _ _ _

Free VSTs

  • Old Music Box [DSK]

Official Site

As the name implies, this is an old music box. It has one job, and it does that job well, adding atmosphere to any track. It doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles you’d find in other plugins, but that makes it simple to use. I used it in Clockwork Mermaid, as well as in a couple of other tracks.

  • Redtron [Artifake Labs]

Official Site

This is a synthesised Mellotron, a type of old keyboardy type of instrument. It has a very distinctive sound. If you’ve listened to the Beatles, particularly Strawberry Fields Forever, you’d recognise its sound. It’s pretty easy to use, and it comes with a bunch of different sounds as well, including violins, flutes, (I think) a choir, and more. Like the above instrument, it’s quite atmospheric. I used it in Forgotten to add in a bit of spookiness…

  • Firebird [Tone2]

Official Site

Formerly a paid VST, the developers have made this one free since it’s now ‘vintage.’ It’s a type of synthesiser, but it has a bit of a different sound to regular synthesisers. It has a bunch of different customisation options, allowing you to create the type of sound that you really want to hear. I didn’t really end up using it much, but it could be the perfect VST for someone out there.

  • Asian DreamZ [DSK]

Official Site

This is by the same people who made the Old Music Box. As the name suggests, it includes a bunch of Asian instruments including the erhu(!). The sound quality is quite good for a free instrument, and it even has a few customisation options. I had a lot of fun using its percussion and erhu in Spellbound Stone.

  • Super Spook Keys [Simple-Media]

Official Site

This is a recreation of the theremin, an electronic instrument used a lot in sci-fi movies and TV shows. It’s quite cool, and has a lot of different customisation options, so it’s worth a look if you’d like to work on something futuristic. I haven’t used it much yet, but maybe I will someday…?

  • Nintendo VST [Matt Montag]

Official Site

I was out looking for a proper NES/chiptune VST the other week, and I stumbled across this one. It’s easy to use, and simulates the traditional triangle and square waves. You also get a rich range of customisation options. A recent experiment with it is I Can Be Your (Hero).

_ _ _ _ _

Premium VSTs

  • Friedlander Violin and Blakus Cello [Embertone]

Official Site

These are some of my most favourite paid virtual instruments. Basically, the people at Embertone meticulously sampled 4 stringed instruments and put them together into 4 separate bundles. I only have 2 at the moment. The instruments themselves sound great when used as a regular solo instrument, but they absolutely shine when it comes to the extra effects like pizzicato and tremolo. They do a lot of the heavy lifting in my arrangements, and were the stars of my 4th album, Mastermind.They’re quite difficult to program, which is one of the reasons why I love the extra sounds so much, but it seems like they’re quite easy to use if you have a keyboard plugged in (which I don’t…)

The staff are really friendly, and they offer a generous education discount, too – just email them a copy of your student card. As a side note, their instruments require either the full version of Kontakt (quite pricey) or the free Kontakt Player. I think all of the strings can be used with the free Kontakt Player, so there’s nothing to worry about!

  • The Steinway Walnut Grand [Imperfect Samples]

Official Site

This is another heavy lifter in my collection. Unlike other virtual pianos, this one captures the rawness of the piano sound, rather than focusing on getting a pristine sound. I think that gives it a lot of charm, and I like it a lot! It comes with its own free player, but can also be used with the full version of Kontakt if I remember correctly. It has a lot of different settings, too, and changes completely depending on the velocity of the note. Kind of like a real piano…

My only complaint is that sometimes the sound gets a bit muffled and choppy if you have too many notes playing at the same time. Other than that, it’s a great virtual piano, especially if you’ve previously stuck with generic soundfont pianos like me. I used it a lot in Mastermind (the track, as well as the album), as well as in Barrier Breaker (the track).

  • AAS Session Bundle [Applied Acoustics Systems]

Official Site

I found out about this bundle when I was out looking for a proper virtual synthesiser. I actually had a look on RD’s website and saw that he uses it, so I decided to give it a go! This bundle includes three instruments: the Lounge Lizard electric piano, the Strum Session guitar, and (most importantly) the Ultra Analog Session synthesiser. They’re all really easy to use, and they give you a lot of different customisation options. I haven’t used them much yet, but that will all change when I release my next album…! They’re quite cheap, and you get a lot of value for your money.

_ _ _ _ _

That’s all for now. I probably sound too positive, but I’m honestly really happy with my current range of virtual instruments, and haven’t really encountered any problems with any of them.

Second Anniversary – My Top 10 Composers

And so, my blog has reached the ripe old age of 2 years. I had a pretty busy year offline, and managed to finish my final year of postgraduate study, which involved writing a really, really long minor thesis. As a result, I wasn’t able to translate as much as I wanted to, but I still got some stuff done. I also released more albums, including the first Len’en arrangement album, and there are more albums to come…!

Like last time, I want to take this opportunity to say thanks to all the people who have supported me throughout the last year. That includes everyone who has requested translations, commented on my posts/videos, downloaded my albums, and inspired me to do my best. There’s too many people to list fully here, but you know who you are! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Now, back to business – last year I wrote a list talking about my top 10 Touhou circles. I was thinking about how to follow on from that, and I decided to go for an unconventional list completely unrelated to Touhou. Since I am, after all, a music student at heart, I thought I’d put together a list of my favourite composers, along with one or two pieces by them. Most don’t fit under the label of ‘classical music,’ but under the broader category of ‘art music.’ There are a lot of hidden gems out there, so I want to try and share them around! Each has a little blurb talking about how I first encountered the composer/piece, and perhaps some interesting facts about the composer/piece. I’ve also attached videos, taken from a variety of different artists.

Like always, leave a comment if you like them or have your own favourite composer you’d like to share – I’m always on the lookout for more good music to listen to!

_ _ _ _ _

10. Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

a) Arabesque no. 1, from Deux arabesques (1888-1891)

Performed by: Stephen Malinowski

I was first introduced to this piece in my final year of high school, during a music class. We were discussing the different ways in which you can write about how music affects you, and a guest teacher played this for us on the piano in a variety of different styles. I remember the majority of the class said that it made them think of the ocean, and fair enough, it has that sort of a feel to it. I thought about it and realised that this piece makes me think of an oasis. It’s as if someone’s travelling through a desert, seeking a mirage in the distance that they’ll never reach. It’s a bit of a dark interpretation…

b) La fille aux cheveux de lin [The Girl With the Flaxen Hair] (1910)

Performed by: Lang Lang

When I was studying music at university, a friend of mine chose this piece as one of their end-of-year recital pieces, so it has a special place in my heart. The first few notes of the melody, which if I recall correctly spell out a major 7th chord, are captivating, and they draw you right in. I feel like it has an innocent, almost childlike quality to it; I guess that’s appropriate, given the title.

The version I’ve got here is performed by Lang Lang, who’s basically a superstar in the piano world.

_ _ _ _ _

9. Erik Satie (1866-1925)

a) Lent et douloureux from Gymnopédies (1888-)

Performed by: Daniel Varsano

This piece has an especially important place in my heart, since it formed the basis of my first mashup, which is really the source of everything I’m doing now. I don’t think that I’d be exaggerating if I said that this is Satie’s most popular work – you can find it in a whole lot of places, even in video games!

I found out the other day that I’ve been pronouncing the title incorrectly my whole life. It’s meant to be pronounced ‘gym-nop-eddy.’ I’ve been pronoincing it ‘gym-no-pea-d’ this whole time…

_ _ _ _ _

8. Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)

a) Étude Op. 10, No. 3 [‘Tristesse’] (1832)

Performed by: Valentina Lisitsa

I won’t lie – I was first introduced to the music of Chopin through a certain game called Eternal Sonata, released in 2007. The main character is Chopin, and it’s basically a JRPG with historical facts about Chopin thrown in there for good measure. I enjoyed the game, but it was Chopin’s music that really stood out.

The common name of this particular piece means ‘sadness,’ but I can sense a few moments of hope throughout. I almost feel like it’s more nostalgic that anything else – you’re looking back over the past, and that’s the reason why you’re sad.

[Writing this makes me realise that it’s been almost 10 years since I played Eternal Sonata. Perhaps I should go back and replay it…]

b) Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 [‘Heroic] (1842)

Performed by: Evgeny Kissin

I first heard this in Eternal Sonata, too. The name was given to it by Chopin’s lover, George Sand/Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, and it really lives up to it. It always makes me feel a little more inspired and motivated each time I listen to it. This piece is a polonaise, which is a Polish dance with its own distinctive rhythmic pattern. I’d love to arrange a Touhou theme in that style one day…! On an unrelated note, I’m also fond of Chopin because he was Polish, and I also have Polish ancestry (even though I can’t speak the language and haven’t been there before…).

_ _ _ _ _

7. Percy Grainger (1882-1961)

a) Lincolnshire Posy – I. Lisbon (1937)

Performed by: The North Texas Wind Symphony

Unlike the other composers I have on this list, Grainger is Australian. I’ve been exposed to his music through playing it with the concert band I’m a member of. He wrote great music for concert bands! In particular, he likes to split the band up into brass and woodwinds, and make one get louder while the other gets softer. It’s quite unique. He also hated Italian terms, so most of his scores have English performance markings – it’s not odd to see stuff like ‘clingingly,’ and ‘to the fore’ written on your part.

This particular piece is the first movement of a series of folk songs that he arranged. A ‘posy’ is a bunch of wildflowers, which is an apt description for the work.

b) Irish Tune from County Derry (1911)

Performed by: The Dallas Wind Symphony

I played this piece with my concert band, too. Grainger wrote some really good music for concert band, and his main instrument was the saxophone. Like the other piece, this is based on a folk song – in this case, it’s ‘Danny Boy.’ Grainger was an early pioneer of music recording (bear in mind that he was alive over 100 years ago). He had a recording machine, and he liked to go around and record people singing folk songs into these little cylinders. He’d write them out, and apparently he’d write them out exactly as he heard them. So if someone coughed, he’d simulate that in the music. Likewise, if they sang out of time, the arrangement would also have weird time signatures. You don’t really see that in this one, though…

_ _ _ _ _

6. Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

a) Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity, from ‘The Planets’ (1914)

Performed by: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra

I don’t remember how I first came across this, but I guess ‘The Planets’ is pretty well-known. ‘Mars’ in particular gets used in a lot of films and TV shows… Either way, I like Jupiter the most. Like the next piece, it has an adventurous feel to it, but it also feels noble. I guess that’s only appropriate, since Jupiter’s the largest planet in the solar system. I don’t think Holst ended up writing a movement for Pluto, and this was written before Pluto was demoted. Poor Pluto, always being left out of things…

b) St Paul’s Suite, I. Jig (1913)

Performed by: The City of London Sinfonia

I don’t have a sentimental story this time. I think I had to analyse this piece for an assignment at university, but I ended up really enjoying it. The first movement has such an adventurous spirit to it! I feel like I’m about to set off on a really important voyage!

_ _ _ _ _

5. Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

a) Mephisto Waltz No. 1 (1862)

Performed by: André Laplante

This piece is an example of program music – it’s intended to describe a short section of ‘Faust’ by Nikolaus Lenau. He wrote a few different versions, but this piano arrangement sounds quite challenging. Well, Liszt was renowned for writing a lot of really hard music for the piano. He also played all of his works in public, and was quite the rock star – he was known for leaving behind a trail of broken pianos, and some of his fans fainted while they were watching him. Ironically enough, it was performers like Liszt who helped piano makers further refine the instrument, making it stronger and contributing to the pianos we use today.

b) Liebesträume (Dreams of Love) No. 3

Performed by: Daniel Barenboim

If you’re a fan of Pandora’s Tower, you’ll recognise this piece – it’s used as the game’s main musical theme. Unlike with Chopin, I discovered this piece before I played the game. I think it was played at a lecture or something like that…

Anyway, the melody is beautifully crafted. It’s nostalgic, poignant, full of melancholy at times… it has a bit of everything, really. It also demonstrates Liszt’s versatility when listened to alongside the above piece.

_ _ _ _ _

4. Luciano Berio (1925-2003)

a) Sinfonia, Mvt. 3 (1968)

Performed by: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Berio is one of the more recent composers on my list – he only died in 2003. Either way, his works are renowned for their experimental nature. He was particularly involved in electronic music, too. The piece I’ve chosen here is one that I heard at a lecture whilst studying music, and it defies all explanation. Movement 3 is my favourite. Basically, it’s a mishmash of (1968) pop culture references, references to well-known pieces, and random talking. Come on, how can you not love a piece in which the singers themselves are instructed to tell the orchestra to “keep going!”? I love the craftsmanship that went into this.

_ _ _ _ _

3. Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

a) Symphony #5 (1937)

Performed by: The New York Philharmonic Orchestra

I was introduced to this work in my final year of high school – we had to talk about a small section of it as preparation for our final exam. Shostakovich ended up writing a lot of symphonies: last time I checked, he managed to write about 15 of them. This one stands out, probably because it was the first one I listened to, but it’s also really dramatic. The opening is probably one of the best openings to any piece of music I’ve ever heard.

This is the sort of piece you have to sit down and actively listen to. It’s quite the experience.

b) Piano Sonata #1 – 24 Preludes, #18 (1933)

Performed by: Evgeny Soifertis

This is only short, but it’s so charming! I had to arrange this for a small ensemble during my music studies, and it was a lot of fun. I managed to get quite a high mark on it, too! Shostakovich wrote a lot of music for piano, mainly preludes and fugues, so they’re worth looking into if you like piano music. Most of them are quite dark, but there are some lighter ones scattered in there, too.

_ _ _ _ _

2. Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

a) The Firebird – Infernal Dance of King Kastchei (1910)

Performed by: The Vienna Philharmonic

This ballet is basically the work that pushed Stravinsky into fame and fortune. It helped him transition from relative obscurity to a globally renowned superstar – perhaps the last composer to truly define an era. It also marked his first time collaborating with the Ballets Russes, a ballet company who would collaborate with him for later works including The Rite of Spring.

The movement I chose from this, as its name implies, is the theme of the ballet’s ‘bad guy.’ It certainly has that final boss feeling to it, and probably wouldn’t sound out of place in a modern video game. When he gets creative, Stravinsky does all sorts of weird things with time signatures, which is one of the things I like the most about his works. It’s particularly evident in the Rite of Spring, which I highly recommend, too!

If you’re interested in what this section looks like in the original ballet, feel free to check out this video (performed by the Kirov Ballet).

b) ‘Chinese March’ from ‘The Nightingale’ (1914)

Performed by: The Philharmonia Orchestra

This is a section from ‘The Nightingale,’ a lesser-known opera by Stravinsky. As a whole, the plot deals with themes such as nature vs. machinery. The titular nightingale is captured and made to sing for an imperial emperor, but it loses its position in favour of a mechanical bird. Humans aren’t the only ones losing their jobs because of machines…

This particular section was composed with the intention of making it as ‘Chinese’ as possible, a style of music called ‘chinoiserie.’ It ends up being a bit cliché as a result – like, come on, pentatonic scales can be used to refer to any country in that region, including Japan and Korea. Either way, I think it’s charming. The rest of the opera is quite nice, too – the ‘Song of the Nightingale’ is particularly haunting and beautiful.

_ _ _ _ _

1. Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Putting together this list made me realise that most of my favourite composers belong to the Romantic period… This brings me to Sergei Rachmaninoff who, in my opinion, is the king of Romantic music.

a) Piano Concerto #2 (1901)

Performed by: Nobuyuki Tsujii, an amazing Japanese pianist, at the BBC Proms

I don’t have any words to express how much I love this piece, and how much it means to me. I first learned about it when I watched Nodame Cantabile in 2010, but since then I’ve tracked down a bunch of different recordings, played it during some significant points in my life, and it’s taken on a life of its own for me. I was actually lucky enough to hear a student at my university play this whole thing live during a recital preparation class. Their performance was so passionate they managed to break a string on the piano…

Anyway, for me, this piece is a prime example of the word ‘romance’ in all of its various meanings. It takes you on a journey. For some reason, I think of a desert whenever I listen to this. Like… you’re struggling on through a desert, and every now and then there are just these oases of musical goodness. I guess it’s a fitting piece to end this list – the first one reminded me of a desert, too. Maybe I just associate music with deserts and oases too much… >_>

_ _ _ _ _

And that’s it for another list! If you read this far, thank you. Here’s to another year of translations and music! I wonder if I’ll make another list next year…

Kouroumu 12 + Autumn Reitaisai 3 Roundup

This time around, I’m covering two events: Kouroumu 12 [K12, held on the 9th of October, 2016] and Autumn Reitaisai 3 [ARTS3, held on the 16th of October, 2016]. I don’t understand why they’re held so close together, but both events are too small to have their own pages, which is why I combined them.

Oh yeah, this isn’t related to the events, but according to Wani’s Twitter banner, he’s starting a new project in 2017. He hasn’t revealed any information yet, but it’s likely to have something to do with the single he released with monochrome-coat at C90. The official site is registered under ‘Knife,’ which will probably be the name of his new circle. It’s old-ish news, but I know there are some Sally fans out there who might be interested in a quick status update.

jihen-arts1. Touhou Jihen’s “Redemption” [贖 – ‘Aganai’]

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

I predicted last time that the last single in the Touhou Jihen 3-single project would be a Subterranean Animism single, but it looks like I was wrong.

But still, we finally get to hear NSY arrange some themes from Imperishable Night! I was really looking forward to the Sally Imperishable Night series, so this single kind of makes up for it. All three tracks are new, and they’re great. It also features Mooned Insect, which makes me happy.

A postcard featuring artwork from the three singles is also being distributed with this one, and it says that a new album is coming soon. I wonder what themes the album will showcase? Will it just be a compilation of the three singles that were released this year…? Or… could it be a Subterranean Animism album?

shinraeventonly2. Shinra-Bansho’s “The Milky Way’s Super Dream Gravity Star” [銀河超夢重力エトワール – ‘Ginga Chou-Yume Juuryoku Etowaaru’]

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

I’m always happy to see more Shinra-Bansho stuff. This single features an arrangement of Marisa’s theme along with an arrangement of ‘The Centennial Festival for Magical Girls.’ They sound great, but… it’s an event-limited CD. In other words, it’s not being sold at stores, so I’ll probably never get a chance to listen to it. It’s like the Liz Triangle single that was released around the same time last year.

Either way, I’ll translate the lyrics if kaztora posts them on Twitter, and I’ll keep replaying the crossfade demo until he decides to put these tracks on another CD…

cat-krm3. BUTAOTOME’s “The Cat’s Quiet Sleep Disc” [猫の安眠DISC – ‘Neko no Anmin DISC’]

[K12] XFD || Official Site

This is a piano-only album by Paprika. The songs on it were selected from a poll that was conducted a month or so ago. It features tracks from BUTAOTOME’s first 12 albums. It’s being advertised as an album to help you sleep, but… I don’t think that ‘To Death in Love’ [恋死に] will help you sleep. ‘Y’ is pretty up-tempo, too…

I voted in the poll, and my favourites [‘Pitch-Black Snow’ (真っ黒な雪) and ‘Y’] made it in, so I’m happy. I’m looking forward to the next volume of this collection, and I’m also looking forward to the next Comp x Paprika rap album! I was kind of expecting that to be released this year, but it looks like we won’t be seeing it until next year…

another-line4. TAMAONSEN’s “ANOTHER LINE EP”

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

This is a Chen album, and the second track is called ‘Chen Reaction.’ I… can’t believe nobody’s used that name before.

I don’t quite know how to describe it, but this EP has a different feel to it. The tracks seem… ‘dirtier’ than normal? Like, the album has a darker sound to it. I think it’s because it’s missing ill.bell. Anyway, there are only 6 tracks, but they’re 6 quality tracks.

casket25. Casket’s “Fest noz: reter 3”

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

It feels like Casket has been off the scene for a while, but they’re back with not one, but two new albums! It seems like both will have an Irish sound to them.

I can’t really judge the two albums since the crossfade demos haven’t been released yet, but I put this one above the other one because it features an arrangement of ‘Starry Sky of Small Desires,’ which nobody wants to arrange anymore.

Thanks, Casket.

casket16. Casket’s “Pribuskers 2”

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

The second Casket album. This one doesn’t have ‘Starry Sky of Small Desires’ on it, but it does feature arrangements of the Perfect Memento in Strict Sense tracks. If you’re an Akyuu fan, it seems like it will be worth a listen.

Hopefully Casket will arrange some tracks from Old Adam soon. I think their style would really suit it.

orchestra7. Takuan’s “Takuan Vol.2 feat. Touhou Project”

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

This is a relatively new group, specialising in orchestral arrangements of video game music. Their first album was a Kancolle album, but now we have a Touhou album. It mostly contains old favourites like Septette and UN Owen, but I like their sound. It’s refreshing to hear another live orchestral group, and it makes the wait for the next KOKYO album more bearable…

If you’d like to hear more from them, check out their Youtube channel!

hana8. [※論理について。] About Logic’s “Sensitivity to Flowers” [花のあはれ – ‘Hana no Aware’]

[K12] XFD || Official Site

I’ve never heard of this circle before, but I was quite impressed by the album’s demo. According to the official site, they haven’t released a Touhou album in a while, and this album just contains re-recordings of past tracks. They justify it by saying that the original album didn’t sell well, so there are probably lots of people who haven’t heard these songs before.

It features smooth male vocals, and it has sort of a Satellite Himawari-ish guitar sound. If you’re a fan of male vocals, it’s worth a listen.

aki9. GET IN THE RING’s “Aki -秋-” [‘Autumn’]

[K12] XFD || Official Site

Another GET IN THE RING album, another ‘A’ title. We’ve seen a few experiments in heavier genres like rock in the past, but this one sticks to what we’ve come to expect from GET IN THE RING.

It kind of reminds me of AQ, but I like the original themes used in AQ more, so I don’t think this is quite as good. Still, Mie sounds great, like usual.

dateless-steam-visions10. AramiTama’s “DATELESS STEAM VISIONS”

[K12] XFD || Official Site

“Though the abandoned machines no longer move, they continue to let off smoke in the illusory threshold.”

Well, that’s what the Soundcloud page says. Just from listening to the demo, I can see the image they’re trying to create – this album has a very electronic, dirty sound to it. Listening to it makes me understand even more what ZUN was saying about trying to make Old Adam ‘hard to listen to.’ If I’m not mistaken, this is the only album on my list featuring themes from Old Adam. Hopefully we’ll see more arrangements at the next event…

nina11. Shounen Vivid’s “Images of Nina” [ニナの群像 – ‘Nina no Gunzou’]

[K12] XFD || Official Site

This appears to be a collaborative album between Shounen Vivid and Tengu no Mai [天狗ノ舞], but… both circles are new to me.

This features more male vocals. Is it just me, or are there more CDs featuring male vocals this time around? Maybe I just haven’t paid enough attention to them in the past…

As a whole, I think I like the Tengu no Mai tracks more. Track 3 (‘thistle’) is my favourite from this album.


12. Akatsuki Records’ “No Way -Gravity-”

[K12] XFD || Official Site

After a bunch of consecutive album releases, Akatsuki Records tones things down a bit with a single. I’ve found myself liking Akatsuki Records less and less as time goes by, but this single isn’t bad. The three tracks aren’t related in any way, but this single feels more focused than previous releases; even though the three Akatsuki arrangers [ACTRock, Stack Bros. and Neko Manjuu] contributed one track each, it feels… more cohesive than usual.

The third track is my favourite so far, which is a surprise since I don’t normally like Neko Majuu’s arrangements. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for Akatsuki Records!

godwoodfairy13. Pizuya’s Cell’s “Pretty Little Wars” [プリティリトルウォーズ]

[K12] XFD || Official Site

Another Godwood piano album. This time, the tracks covered come from Fairy Wars.



I’m… not quite sure what else to say.

chiptune14. Francois’s yomogi farm’s “Witches in Chiptune Wonderland”

[K12] XFD || Official Site

Just like the title says, the witches are in chiptune wonderland. In other words, it features chiptune arrangements of Alice, Patchouli, and Marisa’s themes. There’s also a random arrangement of AN ORDEAL FROM GOD, which nobody ever aranges.

Thanks, Francois’s yomogi farm.

sisters315. Ganemes’ “sister’s♯3”

[K12] XFD || Official Site

Rounding off my list, we have an album featuring nothing but arrangements of ‘Romantic Fall’ and ‘Because Princess Inada is Scolding me.’

So, if you can’t get enough of the Aki sisters, this is the album for you. I never realised the two themes could be arranged in so many different ways.

And with that, we’ve reached the end of another list. Yuuhei Satellite, Shoujo Fractal, Hachimitsu-Lemon, and IRON ATTACK are also releasing new albums, so if you’re a fan of any of those circles, seek them out!

C90 Roundup

Another event, another one of these posts!

A new music CD was released at Reitaisai 13, but… there are surprisingly few arrangements of themes from it this time! Join me as I run through some of the albums I’m looking forward to – there are a few surprises this time!

On the Western side of things, I’m releasing a Dr. Latency x Impossible Spell Card album, ‘The Reign Falls.’ Veto (Find Your Way) is releasing a covers EP, ‘CROW FLIES’ and Frozen Starfall has a new album out – Ocean of Blossoms. Solair Echoes is also releasing an album – check out the preview track here!

As always, feel free to leave a comment if there are any albums you’re looking forward to that I haven’t covered here, or if you want to share any predictions/theories or anything like that.

Adam1. Team Shanghai Alice’s “Dateless Bar ‘Old Adam'”

Another Sealing Club album! ZUN is promoting this one as Dr. Latency’s ‘flip’ side. I love Dr. Latency’s Freak Report (Planck has quickly become one of my most loved music CD tracks), so I have high expectations for this one. I have no idea what the story will be like this time, but Renko actually looks kind of suspicious in the album art. I’m used to Merry being the suspicious one, so we’ll see how it plays out…

Anyway, this one follows the traditional formula: 5 new tracks, 5 arrangements of earlier tracks. ZUN’s promising more ‘difficult’ music this time, so I’m looking forward to arranging the new themes.

Shinsou2. Liz Triangle’s “Shinso Diver” [シンソウダイバー]

XFD || Official Site

In case you’re not already aware, Liz Triangle is splitting up after C92 (next year’s Summer Comiket). According to lily-an, it’s due to her physical condition and issues with scheduling/time. I don’t think it’s anything serious – the word she uses (体調 – taichou) is an all-encompassing term. She might just be getting tired or something like that.

Anyway, with that in mind, we’re slowly counting down until Liz Triangle’s final album. I didn’t realise the finality of it all until I listened to the crossfade demo for this album. I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet…! On the music side of things, this album delivers yet again. The first track is my favourite so far. It’s definitely one of the best arrangements of Sekibanki’s theme out there. I’ve fallen behind on my Liz Triangle translations, but I will definitely get back to them once I have more free time. They deserve it.

So what’s kaztora going to do once Liz Triangle disbands…? Well, he mentioned that he intends to make Shinra-Bansho his main circle. The possibility of more frequent Shinra-Bansho albums is exciting, but it’s bittersweet…

Pizuya 13. Pizuya’s Cell’s “The Maze of Time Paradoxia” [taimu paradokushia no meikyuu – タイムパラドクシアの迷宮]

XFD || Official Site

And the award for ‘biggest surprise’ goes to…

Well, I started listening to the crossfade, and I had to check to make sure I was actually listening to a Pizuya’s Cell album. This time, he decided to go with jazz, and I think it suits him perfectly. I… actually think he does jazz better than SWING HOLIC. This album is also a Dr. Latency album, which gives it bonus points. Did I mention that it features Ranko? As in, Butaotome’s Ranko? Well, it does. Sadly, her tracks aren’t jazz. Other positive points include the mixing, which sounds much better than it has in the past. What’s my favourite track from the crossfade? I’d say it’s a tie between the first and sixth tracks. I can’t finish my writeup on this album without mentioning that the ‘classic legend’ series is back after a brief hiatus. I need my dose of music history!

(Also, is it just me or does Renko look really suspicious…?)

jacket_4P_01-124. Ringing Volcano’s “Komorebi Sketchbook” [こもれびスケッチブック]

XFD || Official Site

Ringing Volcano delivers, once again. Seriously, these are some of the best ‘genre’ arrangements you’ll find anywhere. Each theme is completely transformed, and you discover aspects of the original themes that you didn’t even think existed.

Like usual, there are some rearrangements of tracks we’ve seen before, including ‘Library Rag’ and ‘INVIDIA.’ They sound like completely different tracks, so don’t feel let down or anything! And finally, each page in the booklet has been drawn by a different artist. The full lineup is on the official site – you might see a couple of very familiar names there! My two favourites are the fifth track and Strawberry Tango (the last track).

But of course, the best thing is that it’s available to buy at BOOTH now! As in, right now! What are you waiting for…?

FREAKS5. Butaotome’s “FREAKS”

XFD || Official Site

I was vocally disappointed with Butaotome’s RTS13 album, but they’re back in top form with this album! If you remember last year’s ‘folie a deux,’ this is kind of the same (it’s a Sealing Club album) but with a couple of extra tracks. It even features ‘A Sky Enclosed in Tears’ [涙閉じ込めた空] like folie a deux did…

Anyway, the tracks are pretty evenly split between Comp and Paprika, but what I like the most is that they never forget their original themes. My main criticism of the last album was that most of the tracks sounded like originals with a tiny bit of Touhou thrown in, but the majority of the tracks this time seem like they’ve been delicately crafted. Which, for me, is a good thing! Which track do I think is the most promising? I’m a big fan of track 4 because it gives ‘Unknown Flower’ a sense of playful energy I didn’t think it had in it. Track 9 is also nice because I love Planck.

(This time Merry’s the suspicious one. I’m definitely looking forward to this album’s lyrics…)

utsutsus6. Diao ye zong’s “Utsutsu” [夢]

XFD || Official Site

I feel like this one will grow on me. There are a lot of themes in this one that we’ve seen before, but the concept is pretty neat – for the first time ever, the title doesn’t match the kanji used. The kanji is ‘yume’ [夢], but the romaji is ‘utsutsu’ [reality]. The album itself is split into two parts [kind of like Tadori and Izanai], with Doremy’s theme starting and finishing the album.

I can’t pick a favourite just yet, but I’m glad to see nayuta again. It’s a shame 3L and Kushi don’t also feature in the album. Maybe they’ll appear next time along with the legendary Pure Furies arrangement…!

yoake7. Touhou Jihen’s “The Night of Dawn” [yoake no ban – 夜あけの晩]

XFD || Official Site

The second of three consecutive singles. I… wonder what’s going to happen after all 3 are released? Will they be compiled into an album? Or will NSY just announce a different project? One can only wonder…

Anyway, the theme this time is PCB. But the second track totally sounds like an arrangement of ‘Pristine Beat.’ Like last time, the third track was featured in a compilation album. This time, it’s 落花流水  [‘rakka ryuusui’ – Mutual Love], which I translated when it first came out. Putting all that aside, the two new tracks sound great. I wonder what the next single will be based on? I can only assume that the Melonbooks compilation track will be included, so I’m willing to bet the album will be based on that. Since it’s Hartmann’s Youkai Girl… I’m going to make the bold prediction that their next single will be a SA one.

As a side note, if you’re into bishounen Youmu, IZNA made some wallpapers that you can use for your phone. Download them from Twitter.

LilyForest8-9. AdamKadmon’s “Lily” and “Forest”

XFD || Official Site

Like a certain circle beginning with F and ending in ELT, I have a complicated relationship with AdamKadmon. I kind of liked them to start off with, then I stopped liking them for a while, and now I’ve started liking them again. I used to dislike KamiyaShiro’s arrangements for sticking too close to the source material, but he’s branched out over the past few albums and developed a really unique style! I’m quite excited about these, because he’s selling them as ‘concept albums.’ Take the beginning of ‘Forest,’ for example: it includes a narrative section. I can’t help but think of NSY’s old Chata arrangements and feel all nostalgic. Anyway, they’re doing their bit to add to this event’s Latency count, so they get two thumbs up. Renko and Merry also look so happy! Good for them. Having said that, though, Poisonous Paradox has an entirely unexpected feel to it. Maybe these albums aren’t as innocent as they appear…?

tos033_jak10. TAMAONSEN’s “STELLA”

XFD || Official Site

It feels like ages since TAMAONSEN last released an album (I know they’ve released stuff, but I haven’t really been keeping track…). But, this album looks like a return to form – it’s full of new(?) tracks, and they all sound great! It doesn’t exactly have the best selection of original tracks, but TAMAONSEN keeps them fresh. STELLA MIC RELAY should be fun to listen to as well.

Hopefully TAMAONSEN will be able to return to a regular schedule! I’d definitely like to hear some LoLK/Dr. Latency arrangements from them.

Cajiva11. Cajiva’s Gadget Workshop’s “GOOD EVENING Ms ETAOIN & SHRDLU”

XFD || Official Site

It sounds like Cajiva has finally got the hang of his vocal samples! Apart from LEADING, they all fit in really well. Putting that aside, this is pretty much what we’ve come to expect from Cajiva – he’s in his very own genre. This is a Latency album, so he’s arranged all of the tracks (including the old ones, except for the Pure Furies tracks). He’s also, like, the only person to arrange ‘Eternal Short-Lived Reign’ for this event. Bless his soul. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this ‘Mr. John’ person…

(For a change of pace, Renko doesn’t look suspicious. She just looks… determined, I suppose? Well, Cajiva did release a free Undertale set, so…)

Partybox 2212. “Touhou PARTYBOX 2,” published by Melonbooks

XFD [Disc 1] [Disc 2] || Official Site

Another compilation album by Melonbooks, taking over from Toranoana’s similar series. It also features not one, but 2 Butaotome tracks, and neither one is Hartmann’s Youkai Girl! Instead, NSY arranged Hartmann’s Youkai Girl for Touhou Jihen, according to Twitter. There’s also a Liz Triangle track. I know kaztora contributed some Shinra-Bansho tracks to Toranoana’s compilations, but it’s good to see a Liz Triangle contribution! Exciting! I also want to mention here that I recently became addicted to TaNaBaTa, so I’m glad to see there’s a TaNaBaTa track on this album.

Paprika13. Butaotome’s “Touhou Nekokenban 12” [東方猫鍵盤12]

XFD || Official Site

I don’t normally look forward to these albums, but this one has a really good concept. It’s a horror piano album. Didn’t Paprika make one of these before? Either way, she’s showing off how much she’s improved as an arranger. This series started off with just piano, but it has evolved along the way to become something quite nice!

To be honest, these tracks wouldn’t sound out of place in a sound novel. Think Higurashi/Umineko no naku koro ni. And I just realised that the last track is called BAD END, so the joke’s on me for not realising it sooner. These tracks were actually designed for use in videos/games.

MCCD-018-100014. monochrome-coat’s “DIARY”

XFD [Primula] [十六夜物語] || Official Site

(Well, looking at the tracklist, it looks more like Wanichrome-coat now?) This time, merami’s the main vocalist, and IZNA doesn’t appear at all. I’m a bit disappointed, but Wani’s arrangements are sounding great, so it’s not so bad.

Wani’s also releasing a single – an arrangement of Hiroshige that he’s been working on for a really long time now. I think he mentioned that he’s going to put it in another album. He just wants to release a single now. He posted the lyrics on Twitter, but through a cruel twist of fate, they’re low-quality so I can’t read them… >_>

Pizuya 3L15. Pizuya’s Cell’s “The Etiquette of Playing in the Miniature Garden” [hakoniwa asobi no reigisahou – 箱庭アソビノ礼儀作法]

XFD [Disc 1] [Disc 2] || Official Site

Note: Pizuya has released a message informing everyone that, for various reasons, this album will not be released at C90.

This album is a 2-disc behemoth containing all of the tracks 3L has sung for Pizuya. I only discovered Pizuya’s Cell last year, so I missed all of these tracks the first time around. So… it’s kind of like a new album for me!

I like the jazzy ones the most. I thought Pizuya’s new album represented a new style, but it looks like he’s dabbled in jazz before. Anyway, if you’re a 3L fan, this album looks like a must-have!

SOS16. Sound of Swing’s “Sound of Swing with Strings”

XFD || Official Site

They’ve returned! And I didn’t even realise they ever left…

Anyway, this album is exactly what it says on the tin – Sound of Swing with strings. We have 4 chill jazz arrangements featuring a live string quartet. They all sound great! I’d be more excited for this, except there’s only 4 tracks, and they aren’t exactly the greatest of original themes. Hopefully the release of this album means that SOS will start releasing things more frequently again? I’d love to see a Planck arrangement from them…

Violin17. Arisaki Works’ “Touhou String Ensemble Compilation” [東方弦合奏集]

XFD || Official Site

Some more arrangements for string ensemble. It looks like Arisaki hired a violinist [Croy] this time to play his arrangements. The end result is quite nice! There’s a pretty broad selection of tracks, including 3 from LoLK [Seiran, Ringo, and Doremy’s themes]. If you like string music, check this album out!

FELT18. FELT’s “Parallel Cross”

XFD || Official Site

I only found out about this one from stumbling upon its page on BuyDoujin… >_>

Anyway, those of you who have been following these random posts of mine will know that I have a… complicated relationship with FELT. This time, though, I can actually say that their album is sounding pretty good! There are some new sounds this time, which I really like. Free to Believe sounds so positive, and the instrumental tracks in there sound good, too. So hopefully this is a sign of things to come – perhaps a FELT album will be the one I look forward to the most one day?

Six19. Hachimitsu Lemon x Aftergrow’s “Touhou Six String 03 – Ties [結]

XFD || Official Site

The collaboration continues. Their first two albums were Sealing Club albums, but it looks like the next two will be ReiMari albums. I’m predicting it right now -Touhou Six String 04 will be called 界.

Music-wise, I feel like this album is more balanced than the last one. The list of original tracks is honestly a little boring, but the arrangements sound great. I’m just a big mineko fan, so it’s good to see that she’s still out there singing. This album also includes some old tracks, including fleur rouge.

Pizuya 220. Pizuya’s Cell’s “Bunjinbokkakku Kiunsou” [文人墨客起雲荘]

XFD || Official Site

[I’m not too sure what the title’s supposed to mean. The first part means something like ‘Writers and Artists,’ but the second part is a mystery…]

Paprika’s piano albums are an example of a series that has developed over time… but godwood’s piano albums are an example of a series that has stayed the same. Which is fine, since he’s a wonderful piano player. I can’t help but feel a sense of diminishing returns, though. My favourite album of his is still the Ten Desires one, since he branched out and used a few other instruments. Putting that aside, this one features the Dr. Latency tracks, which is a bonus. More Planck is always a good thing! It’s the main reason why I’m looking forward to it.

Doll21. Akatsuki Records’ “DOWN DOWN DOLL -to the beginning 07”

XFD || XFD [Bonus Album]

I honestly liked Akatsuki Records better when they focused on quality over quantity. But they still put out some good stuff! Take track 4, ‘The Haunted Castle.’ It totally sounds like it was inspired by ‘who killed u.n. owen,’ but it reveals one of Stack’s key strengths – she has a great character voice. It’s so expressive, and I can really feel the demented atmosphere behind it. There’s also another event-exclusive CD, and track 4 is amazing.

But seriously, I know ACTRock isn’t the only arranger, but how does Akatsuki Records manage to cram so many tracks into a single CD?!

artworks-000174971117-urf7d4-t500x50022. Fuling Cat Mark’s [フーリンキャットマーク] “Baby Little City” [ベイビーリトルシティ]

XFD || Official Site

I came across this circle by chance. They sell themselves as being a ‘Shibuya-Style x Jazz’ circle, which is probably one of the weirdest combinations out there. The overall result leans more towards bossa-nova, and it’s actually quite nice to listen to! The first track is a rare arrangement of LoLK’s stage 5 theme, which I’m thankful for. Track 2 is nice – it has that kind of whisper-rap thing Chata does so well. Tracks 3 and 4 wouldn’t be out of place on a TOHO BOSSA NOVA album. I know this is near the bottom of my list, but it’s actually really good! I’ll keep an eye out for this circle in the future…

Amanebeat23. COOL&CREATE’s “Bridal Amanerio” [ブライダル あまねりお]

XFD || Official Site

This is here for its novelty value – Amane and Beatmario got married, so they decided to release an album to celebrate it. Congratulations, Amane and Beatmario!

It features contributions from Alstroemera Records, Butaotome, and more.

Jazz24. TOKYO Active NEETs’ “Touhou Explosive Jazz 10” [東方爆音ジャズ10]

XFD || Official Site

I said in the first version of this list that KOKYO Active NEETs would be releasing another Touhou orchestral album. Well, it turns out they’re not. They’re releasing another Kancolle album instead -_-

As for this album… well, I’m not sure what to make of it. I can’t deny that they’re all very talented musicians, but I’ve found myself liking their style less and less as time has passed. I’ve been trying to figure out why, and I still don’t have an answer. Of course, if you liked the previous albums, this promises to be more of the same. Perhaps their TD jazz album will be enough to win me back over…?

Oh yeah, Shinigiwa Satellite is releasing an album, too.

RTS13 Roundup

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.)

ensekihakubutsukancdjacket1. 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.

jacket_16002. Ringing Volcano’s “Chitchat at the Teahouse ‘Bakeneko'” [Kissa Bakeneko de Oshaberi wo – 喫茶化猫でおしゃべりを]

XFD || Official Site

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 otherMother

XFD || Official Site

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.

revoltech3. 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!

kakages4. Diao ye zong’s “Kakage” [掲 – ‘Declaration’]

XFD || Official Site

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!

Akatsuki Triangle5. Akatsuki Records x Liz Triangle’s “First Memory/Next Memory”

XFD || Official Site

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…

tphill4_l6. 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]

XFD || Official Site

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”

XFD || Official Site

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…)

Godwood8. 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!

kamisama_Jt9. Akatsuki Records’ “God’s Stories -INNOCENT- -to the beginning 06-” [神様Stories-]

XFD || Official Site

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!

artworks-000158891166-tu02ns-t500x50010. Shibayan Records’ “TOHO BOSSA NOVA 5”

XFD || Official Site

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!

Adam11. AdamKadmon’s “moon”

XFD || Official Site

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.

Activity12. 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…

Rute13. 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!

Party14. “TOHO PARTY BOX – Hakurei Shrine Ver.” presented by Melonbooks

XFD || Official Site

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!

Pizulolk15. 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?

kyou_ga_saigo16. 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*

FELT17. FELT’s “Rebirth Story III”

Official Site

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.


I decided to seek permission from the artists whose lyrics I translate. I want to seek permission to:

a) Translate their lyrics.
b) Post the original lyrics (+ romanisation) alongside translations.

As I hear back from more circles, I’ll add them to this list. If I can’t contact a circle, I’ll remove the original lyrics and romanisation, leaving only the translation. I plan on making this a gradual process. I’ll continue to upload translations that have been requested to me using the current format, but after a certain period of time (perhaps 2 weeks or so), I’ll go through and change them around.

The list below will serve as a guide as to which circles I’ve contacted, and their responses. I want to stress that I’m not asking any other translator to obey this, unless they want to. It’s for my own use, and I’d also like you to keep this list in mind when making requests in the future.

_ _ _ _ _

Circle/Group Response Date [dd/mm/yyyy]
AbsoЯute Zero -Rute gave me permission to upload lyrics + translations (with some disclaimers)
-Please contact Rute [form available on the circle’s official website] before posting lyrics/translating
ALiCE’S EMOTiON -Re-posting of lyrics = OK
-English translation = OK
BUTAOTOME -Re-posting of lyrics = OK [See Tiramisu Cowboy]
-English translation = OK
Diao ye zong -English translation only = OK
-Strictly no reposting of booklet images
FELT -Re-posting of lyrics = OK
-English translation = OK
Hatsunetsumiko’s -Re-posting of lyrics = Romanisation only
-English translation = OK
Kishida Kyodan & the Akeboshi Rockets -Doujin/Touhou works = no restrictions
-Major works = under JASRAC (in other words, no reposting/translating)
Konpeki Studio (紺碧Studio) -Re-posting of lyrics = OK
-English translation = OK [Wants to be informed via. Twitter, direct a mention to @konpeki_studio)
Liz Triangle -English translation only = OK 5/11/2015
macaroom -Re-posting of lyrics = OK
-English translation = OK
Riverside -Re-posting of lyrics = OK
-English translation = OK
Saga Novel -Re-posting of lyrics = OK
-English translation = OK
(Note: Specific condition is ‘as long as it doesn’t disadvantage the circle’ so please don’t use them to make subtitled videos.)
Sally -Re-posting of lyrics = OK
-English translation = OK
Shibayan Records -Re-posting of lyrics = OK
-English translation = OK [Please state that it isn’t an official translation]
Shinra-Bansho -English translation only = OK 17/03/2016
Spangle call Lilli line -Strictly no reposting of lyrics
-Would rather avoid English translations [lyrics are intended to not be understood]
TAMAONSEN -English translation = OK 01/04/2016
Touhou Jihen -Re-posting of lyrics = OK
-English translation = OK
TUMENECO -Re-posting of lyrics = Romanisation only
-English translation = OK

C89 Roundup

So, I’m here with another one of these posts. C89’s shaping up to be an awesome event (or at least, it is for me), with lots of LoLK albums set to be released. I’m chipping in and releasing my own LoLK album, ‘Apollo Rises,‘ so be sure to check it out if you’re interested! Anyway, without further ado, here’s my list of all a few of the albums I’m looking forward to.

I’ll update this post as more XFDs come in.

Hisoka1. Diao ye zong’s “Hisoka” [密 – ‘Secrets’]

XFD || Official Site

Yeah, that’s the cover art. The theme this time is ‘secrets,’ and those who expose them. I was upset that RD didn’t arrange Last Occultism for his last album. Luckily, he’s included not one, but two arrangements of it in this album! They are ‘The Aftermath’ and ‘Ms. lonely hedgehog,’ and they’re the opening tracks. nayuta also shines on this album, with 2 solos and a duet with Merami, ‘Secret Disclosers.’ I can’t help but feel that it’s going to be linked to ‘True Outsiders.’ Kushi also returns, and 3L’s absent this time. Which is a shame, since I ended up really enjoying 3L’s song…

Anyway, why have I put this album at top spot? Well, to me, it seems like it’s a more balanced album than Tatoe. I can honestly say that I like every track on the album so far. Also, Kirisame Eversion has Witch of Love Potion mashed in. Who can say no to an arrangement of that theme?  ‘Alice, the Enigmatic Doll’ [アリス・ザ・エニグマティクドール] also has Circus Reverie in it. I love Circus Reverie.

Touhou Jihen.jpg2. Touhou Jihen’s “Peerless Patrolwoman” [絶倫パトロール – ‘zetsurin patorooru’]

XFD || Official Site

The long-awaited sequel to 悦楽バージン [etsuraku baajin – “Pleasure Virgin”]. Well… I was waiting for it, at least.

So, this circle is another one of Sally’s branch circles. The main members of this one are NSY and IZNA, and their sound is deliciously old-school. I was a bit afraid that Touhou Jihen’s second album would be a PCB album, so I nearly lost it when I found out that it’s a LoLK album. It’s basically what I would have expected from Sally if they moved on to LoLK. Anyway, one of the standout tracks for me is 神楽0 [Kagura 0]. It’s a duet between IZNA and Ranko! They work so well together! I also like the title track – I need more Eternal Spring Dream arrangements in my life. It also features IZNA rapping. I never expected that. But the whole album is really impressive. And it makes me want to go and translate the first one. One day…

3. Ringing Volcano’s “Shinmyoumaru’s Little Adventures” [針妙丸のちいさな冒険 – ‘shinmyoumaru no chiisana bouken’]

XFD || Official Site

This new circle was founded by Nakasako Sakana [中迫酒菜], the main arranger of Machikado-Mapoze. So it’s like Machikado-Mapoze, but with a different name. I honestly thought I’d never hear from any of them again after Machikado-Mapoze disbanded earlier this year, so seeing a new album is like a dream come true. Like always, if you want arrangements of Touhou music for chamber instruments, there’s no equal. Seriously. All the tracks sound amazing. Track 5 is also an arrangement of Eternal Spring Dream… and I’m sure you know how much I love that theme! Anyway, I love the crossfade, and if I can buy a downloadable version of this album, I will. No questions asked.

And isn’t that cover art the cutest? Onigiri always does such a great job.

buta4. Butaotome’s “Lunar Probe” [ゲツメンタンサ – ‘getsumen tansa’]

XFD || Official Site

Butaotome! The theme this time seems to be the moon (as you can probably tell from the title). But… about half of the tracks are arrangements of themes that Butaotome’s done before. And… they actually sound quite similar to their last arrangements. Isn’t that cheating?! That’s just me nitpicking – they still sound good. And the LoLK arrangements sound great, too! Especially the Sagume and Clownpiece tracks. No Eternal Spring Dream arrangement, though. I’m kind of getting TRASH BOX vibes from this album for some reason…

ether5. Liz Triangle’s “ether”


Liz Triangle always announces their albums later than everyone else (which makes it hard to make these sorts of lists…). Anyway, the dream trio has worked their magic on LoLK – kaztora’s provided some wonderful arrangements, lily-an’s provided her wonderful and unique vocals, and I can only assume that azuki’s provided some wonderful lyrics. Which leads to a wonderful package all-round. It may seem like I’m looking forward to this album less than Immortal Philosophy since this is at number 5 instead of number 3, but I’m actually more hyped for it. There’s more of a ‘power creep’ this time – my top 5 albums slot neatly into the empty 2nd spot from last time. If that makes any sense.

Anyway, looking at the music – I really like Sagume’s track. Hecatia’s one is really good too. And there’s an arrangement of Eternal Spring Dream, which fuels my desire for more good arrangements of that theme. Hopefully I’ll actually translate this album this time, instead of saying I will then abandoning it…

Kishida6.Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets’ “SUPER SONIC APPLE RABBIT”

XFD || Official Site

So, C88 saw the return of Sound CYCLONE, and C89 sees the return of Kishida. I’m excited for this release, since it’s their first one since I became a fan of them earlier in the year. I already translated the first track, Reach for the Moon, Immortal Smoke, back when it was still known as mokotan_demo. There’s also an arrangement of 昔話わんだーらんど [Legendary Wonderland]. I definitely wasn’t expecting that. It’s probably going to be a while until their next Touhou release, so I’m going to enjoy this one as much as I can.

Less Extra7. Sally’s “LessExtra”

XFD || Official Site

So, after being delayed due to personal issues, the fabled ‘Less 2’ is finally being released! The last time I put this album on one of my lists, it was cancelled, so I’m tempting fate by putting it on there this time… It’s a bit less of a ‘Less 2’ than some might have been hoping for – there are only 3 new tracks (1 by Shrimp, 2 by NSY), and the other 3 include a remix of zen, a re-recording of Forecast (未来予報 – mirai yohou), and a Ranko version of did. So why am I looking forward to it? Well, NSY is one of my favourite arrangers, so it’s always good to see more tracks for him. Also, hopefully this release means that Sally can start releasing stuff more regularly again. Having said that, Wani seems to have been struggling through some personal issues for a while, so please send some positive thoughts his way 🙂

Orchestra8. KOKYO Active NEETs’ “Touhou Philharmonic
Orchestra 3: IN” [東方フィルハーモニー交響楽団3 永]

XFD || Official Site

This series has finally exited EoSD/PCB purgatory, and is now approaching the games that I like more. I know that’s harsh, since I really liked the first 2 albums, but I feel like those 2 games always hog all the attention… Anyway, even without a crossfade, I know that this album will satisfy my inner orchestral music nerd. It looks like all the main themes are being covered, except for the stage 1 theme/Wriggle’s theme, which makes me a bit sad. The crossfade sounds amazing! There’s also some orchestral piano in there, which is cool. There’s also a bit more clarinet than last time, and less oboe, which I think leads to a better balance between everything. Maybe I’m just biased since I’m a clarinet player… It’s nice to see that there’s more mashups this time – there’s a Mystia mashup and a Keine mashup. I’m already looking forward to the inevitable PoFV album, and the distant LoLK album… >_>

Felicidade9. “FELICIDADE,” by Hatsunetsumiko’s

XFD || Official Site

Junko’s on the front cover, so you know what that means – a dance arrangement of Pure Furies! It’s chill. I almost thought that the third track was an Eternal Spring Dream arrangement, but then I realised that it was an arrangement of Eternal Shrine Maiden instead. I was a bit disappointed, but I always enjoy Ark Brown’s vocals, so it’s not too much of a loss. The last track is supposed to be an arrangement of Faraway 380,000-Kilometer Voyage, but I can’t hear it in the bit that’s in the crossfade. I can only hope that it’s more prominent in the full song. As a whole, this album’s more subdued than Girls in the Mirror, with less inventive scatting and stuff like that. But I think it still sounds really good.

The cover art’s also really nice. Someone needs to give their artist a raise… >_>


10. monochrome-coat’s “ReM”

XFD || Official Site

So, monochrome-coat’s releasing not one, but 2 albums for C89! As you can tell from the Doremy on the front cover, this album contains arrangements of the themes from stages 1-3 of LoLK. It also features IZNA in a grand total of 3 tracks! (2 by Eiji Hijikata (土方 英司) and the other by buoy). It’s hard to judge this album when there’s no XFD, but I’m sure it’s going to be a good one based on the arranger list alone.

Object 211. monochrome-coat’s “Object2”

XFD || Official Site

The second monochrome-coat album. This one’s a sequel to Object, and it’s full of Sealing Club arrangements. I put this one a bit lower since it only has one IZNA track and more merami, but it also features an arrangement by NSY! An arrangement of Greenwich in the Sky! It also marks the debut of a new vocalist, Yoru Shirasawa (白沢よる), who’s been helping out at the live shows. She’s covering Warp Time Letter, by mono. I’m following her on Twitter, so I’m interested to see what her voice sounds like.

Recollection 12. Foxtail-Grass Studio’s “Re*Collection”

XFD || Official Site

Some of you may remember the 4 season-related albums Foxtail-Grass Studio put out about 4 years ago. Maybe not? Well, I do. This album is apparently some sort of a commemorative album, continuing in the same spirit. It’s heavily focused on Trojan Green Asteroid and Neo-Traditionalism of Japan, but there are some old favourites in there, too. The Wind of Agartha arrangement is amazing! Also, they managed to get Wild and Horned Hermit’s artist to draw the cover art. Nice!

Agony13. GET IN THE RING’s “Agony”

XFD || Official Site

Hey, look – it’s Sagume! This is another LoLK-heavy album, with GCHM bringing his trademark parody style to the table. I love Mie’s voice, and she shines on pretty much all the tracks. Track 3 deserves a special mention, simply because it’s called “What the hell is going on?” I also like the relaxed atmosphere of “Sweet Dreams.” It’s also an arrangement of Eternal Spring Dream, which I can add to my slowly-growing collection…

14. Toranoana’s “Uroboros 5”

Official Site

The title uses 業 (‘gou’), which kind of sounds like 五 (‘go’ – 5). But it means something different – I guess that means it’s actually Uroboros Karma…? >_>

And the very first track is a Shinra-Bansho track. It’s an arrangement of Little Princess. That’s it – I’m sold! Other highlights include Butaotome’s track (an arrangement of Kyouko’s theme… finally!), Sally’s track (arranged by Shrimp), TAMAONSEN’s track (I swear they put more effort into their compilation tracks than their real releases), and RD’s two(!) tracks.

Victors Space Odyssey15. 智慧人狂想曲 ~ The Victors’ Space Odyssey, by 夢想吟遊詩人 (The Dream Troubadours)

XFD || Official Site

This ‘group’ only came into existence this year. They’re basically a collection of composers who compose music in ZUN’s style, including well-known figures like リュウオウ and Pesot. This album mimics ZUN’s Mysterious Works, containing new tracks and rearrangements of old tracks, as well as an original Renko x Merry story. Their first one, Citrus Resuscitation, was awesome, so I have high hopes for this one. If I feel like it, I might even arrange one of the tracks…

Pizuya16. Pizuya’s Cell’s 怨みを溶かしたダージリン [‘urami wo tokashita daarin’]

XFD || Official Site

Normally I’d try to translate the title, but I’m actually not too sure about it this time. If I had to translate it, I’d probably translate it as “My Darling, Who Melted Her Grudge.” This album is pretty much Godwood meets LoLK. It has a similar sound to his other collections, and it doesn’t look like there are any extra instruments (which is a bit of a shame for me since I thought the other instruments gave the covers more character). Anyway, needless to say, it has an arrangement of Eternal Spring Dream.

Pizuya’s also releasing a regular album, 共犯ストラテジー [Complicity Strategy – ‘kyouhan sutoratejii’]. Like last time, I’m looking forward to the classic legend track, which is an arrangement of LoLK’s stage 1 theme.

Cajiva217. Panday@Works 2: Boobs the universe


“This album is C89 venue limited.
Then, the arranger is not a real person.
Please only person who understands pun.”

Hecatia as a Hindu God. Just let that sink in for a bit.

Moon18. Cajiva’s Gadget Shop’s “MOONTRIBE”


The above album is meant to be a supplement to this one. Cajiva made up a fake persona to do Indian Touhou arrangements, and they even have a Twitter account out there somewhere. Anyway, MOONTRIBE offers more of Cajiva’s unique sound. It also has not one, but two arrangements of ‘Eternal Spring Dream.’ Sweet! To be honest, I’m not a fan of the vocal samples Cajiva uses, but I’m sure they’ll grow on me. There’s also another Last Occultism arrangement, along with Pure Furies and Clownpiece’s theme.

tumeneco19. TUMENECO’s “Secret Winter”


They say there was once a king called Midas, who was cursed with the power to turn everything he touched into gold. Centuries later, a Japanese doujin circle called TUMENECO was granted a similar gift – every theme they touched would, like magic, become related to Renko x Merry. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I like the concept of this album – a bunch of unrelated themes are mashed with Renko x Merry themes, which at least justifies the lyrics. And I love mashups! I also love Crystallised Silver, and there’s not one, but two mashups incorporating it! Overall, it sounds like a charming, winter-themed album.

Six String 220. Hachimitsu-Lemon × Aftergrow’s “Touhou Six String 02. Sealing” [封]


So, it looks like this might be a series. To be honest, I think I’ve had enough Sealing Club albums this year to last me a lifetime, but I guess more is always a good thing! It’s also good to see that Aftergrow is still going in some form. I have a certain nostalgia for that circle… Sugar in Black is deliciously calm, and the Satellite TORIFUNE arrangement is awesome!


XFD || Official Site

I think I started to lose interest in this series somewhere along the line. But SWING HOLIC’s still at it, churning out arrangements of each game’s OSTs. They still have a bunch of games left, including the first 2 PC-98 games, LoLK, and the 13.x and 14.x spinoffs, but they’re actually coming close to arranging everything. You have to admire their dedication: some circles start off with the goal off arranging every game’s themes, but I think SWING HOLIC is one of the only circles that’s actually close to achieving that. To be honest, I really like Mystic Square, so I’ll probably like this album more once I hear the whole thing.

Kasen22. flap+frog’s “rosa canina”

XFD || Official Site

Kasen on the cover is no lie – in an event flooded with LoLK arrangements, flap+frog is releasing an album with not one, not 2, but 7 arrangements of Kasen’s theme. And only Kasen’s theme. And they all manage to sound different, whilst basically being easy-listening music.

FELT23. FELT’s “Spatial Moving”

XFD || Official Site

Last, but not least, we have FELT. I don’t consider myself a FELT fan, and I usually pass over their albums, but I listened to this album’s crossfade and I was pleasantly surprised! There’s some lovely Japanese-language songs in there, and there’s also MAGIC! (a dance track that sounds like it belongs in a Hatsunetsumiko’s album). Doloza is also really hypnotic. The only track I really don’t like (apart from the remix) is Untitled. It has a promising beginning, but then… something happened and it just jarred with the rest of the album for me. We’ve also got some Lost Dream arrangements, which are always welcome. FELT probably always sounds like this, and I’ve been missing out the whole time… >_>

There’s some more albums being released at the event that I didn’t fully cover here. In particular, a lot of Western circles are releasing albums this time! Veto’s releasing a new EP, and Frozen Starfall [Babbe’s new circle] is releasing an album, too! There’s also a collaboration album called Collection of Dreams by Last Dream coming out. The majority of these are available on Bandcamp, so getting them won’t involve outrageous shipping costs. Also, Shinigiwa Satellite’s releasing an album two albums. I can’t forget about them.

1st Anniversary – My Top 10 Circles

[Original Image Deleted]
By 星草. The original image has been deleted, and the artist doesn’t post anymore, but I’ll use any excuse to share this image!
 So… today marks exactly one year since I posted my first translation – a translation of Shinra-Bansho’s wonderful Doppel. In the time since then, I managed to basically spam translations, release two albums, and I’ve discovered a whole bunch of new circles/bands along the way. It’s been a wild ride! So, before I do anything else, I just want to say thanks to everyone who’s requested translations, or has commented on/liked the stuff that I’ve posted, both here and on Youtube. I really appreciate it! Thanks for making this an exciting and worthwhile year.

Anyway, I thought I’d make a list. I was particularly inspired by Shion’s list, so I thought I’d try and write one of my own! I’m doing things a bit differently, though – rather than choosing my top 15 arrangements, I decided to choose my top 10 circles, and choose my two favourite tracks from their entire discography [along with some special mentions, since it’s so hard to pick just two tracks]. My circle choices are probably really safe/obvious, so don’t judge me too harshly… (I might make another list focusing on more obscure circles, but I’ll leave that for another time). I’ve added Youtube links to subtitled videos where possible.

Of course, this list is all based on my own opinions. One of the things I love the most about the Touhou community is how many different types of arrangers and arrangements there are out there! Feel free to comment if you like the same circles/like different arrangements/think I’ve made a dreadful mistake/anything else.

_ _ _ _ _

10. t=NODE/Secret Messenger

a) Four Seasons
From 四季 -春- Dream of Wonder [C78]

I combined the two circles since t=NODE kind of ‘became’ Secret Messenger (and my favourite t=NODE tracks are by Yuy anyway – but watch out for the surprise appearances of RD in early t=NODE albums!). Putting that aside, what I love about Yuy’s arrangements is how they’re all stories. You could almost call them ‘tone poems.’ This one in particular embodies a kaleidoscope of different emotions, starting off in nostalgia, moving to fear and anxiety, before calming down and finishing on a more hopeful note. It’s almost 9 minutes long, but I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a listen.

b) 永遠 || Eternity
From 夢空歌姫 ~ Fantasy of the princess wings [C82]

This one’s a Secret Messenger track, and a vocal arrangement to contrast with my #1 pick. I like this one because you can tell a lot of thought has gone into the arrangement. Yuy only uses a few instruments to accompany the vocals, but they all work together. The electronic beats/percussion in particular are very effective – you could say that about all of Yuy’s tracks, I guess. Writing this up reminded me that I wanted to translate this song…

Honourable mentions: Flagilis Justitia [another haunting Kagome Kagome arrangement to go with the one above], Memoria, Disaster, In the garden of phantasmagoria.

_ _ _ _ _

9. monochrome-coat

From ID [C85]

Thunderclouds of Magical Power, along with Magical Storm, make up my two favourite themes from Double Dealing Character. And, of course, they’re criminally overlooked by arrangers… >_> Anyway, RAT1959 has a way of creating a lot of ‘space’ in his arrangements. I just imagine I’m flying through a snow-covered mountain range whilst listening to this arrangement. RAT1959 also gets IZNA in a way that few other arrangers do, except for maybe NSY and (more recently) Eiji Hijikata (土方 英司).

b) Rewrite
From 東方PARTYBOX [C88]

Another arrangement by RAT1959. I actually thought it was by Shrimp to start off with. Anyway, this arrangement has a lot of ‘space’ too. That’s especially appropriate, given that this track is an arrangement of ‘The Mysterious Shrine Maiden Flying Through Space.’ I guess only time will tell, but for now, this is definitely my favourite arrangement of that theme. I like the guitar work in this arrangement, especially the shredding (or whatever it is) that goes on before the verses. I also love the melody of the verses, even though it isn’t based on the original theme!

Honourable mentions: WhiteRequiem, ミステリートレインに乗って, Laninamivir, oblivion, 696, Daybreak Fantasy, カナシミカナタ, Needle Word.

_ _ _ _ _

8. Hatsunetsumiko’s

a) クハシヤの廃園 || The Kasha’s Abandoned Garden
From Alkaloid [C85]

Yeah, I know everyone loves disco Hatsunetsumiko’s, and I love them too, but I still fondly remember the days when their arrangements were more subdued… Anyway, I love this one because it plays out like a sort of dark children’s song. It has a sort of ‘abandoned carnival’ feel to it. The vocals are also really effective – it feels like Chen-U crafts each syllable, which works with the lyrics to cement the song’s macabre atmosphere. It’s really effective!

b) Satellite Rendezvous
From Girls in the Mirror [C88]

I had trouble deciding which disco track I should put here, but I decided on this one – it’s not often that you find a Touhou vocal arrangement that doesn’t actually have lyrics. Vivienne scats the whole time, and it’s so fresh and lively!

Honourable mentions: Girls in the Mirror, drifter, DANCE with WOLVES, A Prayer, It’s You, Innocent World, Libertus, Origin of Love, Treasure, Drifter, C2U.

_ _ _ _ _

7. Liz Triangle

a) World of Electrolytes
From laglange point [ARTS1]

Before this song came out, I was starving for good arrangements of ‘Blue Sea of 53 Minutes.’ But after listening to this one, I don’t think I need to listen to another one (okay, that’s not really true, since I like Butaotome’s version, too!). Anyway, the arrangement is typical of kaztora’s Liz Triangle style – lily-an’s vocals mixed with a backdrop of traditional and chiptune-style instruments. And azuki’s lyrics do what azuki’s lyrics do. I don’t think there’s a better trio in the entire Touhou community.

b) Line
From reunion [C81]

Reunion was actually my first Liz Triangle album, and this song was the song that made me fall in love with them. I had no idea what it was about until I translated it, but (again) azuki’s lyrics do what azuki’s lyrics do. You wouldn’t think that an arrangement of Futo’s theme using the bit at the start as the chorus would work, but kaztora makes it work. He makes it work really well.

Honourable mentions: L50, Immortal Philosophy, 地球儀の旅, refrain, Little Dreamer.

_ _ _ _ _

6. Shibayan Records

a) Fall In The Dark
From Mágico Catástrofe [C83]

I think Mágico Catástrofe will always be my favourite Shibayan album, no matter what else he comes out with. The other vocal tracks from this album are so good, but Fall In the Dark stands out – partially because it’s an arrangement of ‘A Soul as Red as a Ground Cherry,’ and I always need more of them. The chorus is also really catchy! Sing after me: “One, two, three, time to fall into the dark!”

b) オズネイ・ハマンはもういらない || I Don’t Need Any Oznei Haman Anymore
From ムソウマテリアライズ [M3-28]

There are lots of awesome tracks from Shibayan’s noise period, but for some reason I really like this one. I only have a vague idea of what an Oznei Haman is, but if I ever eat one, you can bet that I’ll be singing this song in my head the whole time. Using food as a metaphor for love isn’t something you see all the time, but it makes this song really powerful – can it actually make you feel hungry by listening to it? Possibly.

Honourable mentions: Clockup Flowers, MyonMyonMyonMyonMyonMyon!, Desert Years, GAZE IT!, 荊の城, わたしはこねこ.

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5. Diao ye zong

a) 葬迎 || Burial Meeting
From 屠 (Hohuri) [C86]

Try as I might, I can’t quite pin down what I love so much about this song. It isn’t even an arrangement of a Touhou theme, unless you count the last part (where we get a few short sections of ‘Legend of Hourai’). Maybe it’s the build-up? The whole song flows organically, and I love how RD adds in different instruments (and takes them away) to effortlessly control the song’s tension and release. Merami oversteps her vocal range a little when she sings 人間遊びを始めよう at one of the song’s many climaxes, but I don’t even mind. It’s so visceral. And don’t get me started on the lyrics! I think RD just… ‘gets’ Merami. She sings for so many different circles, but I think he’s one of the only arrangers who uses her to her full potential.

b) 捧げられたイメェジ || With an Expression of Sacrifice
From 薦 (Susume) [C85]

I love Erik Satie’s Gymnoipedies. I never expected to see them mashed up with a Touhou theme that isn’t Nitori’s theme. But somehow, RD makes it work. Circus Reverie is definitely on my list of favourite tracks from ZUN’s music CDs… and of course nobody ever arranges it. I think RD’s made about three arrangements of this theme, but only the instrumental one uses the main ‘melody’ [the one with the octave leaps in the piano]. I think that’s a bit of a shame since it’s my favourite part of the theme, but oh well. As you’d expect from RD, the lyrics are powerful and… somewhat demented, I suppose? They really fit well with the ‘unhealing’ theme of Dolls of Pseudo Paradise. I’d like to make an unhealing arrangement of Circus Reverie one day, too…

Honourable mentions: The Anonymous, (I’m gonna eat you up!), はじまりのワイゲルト, Tied Corruption, Mad Party, Sanae, げんきになったときのうた, Lonely Monster in the Desolation #0, Lost Dream・Generations, she’s purity, ←ALIVE.

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4. Sally

a) Plaza Ashitaka Mondo + Soon
From Bachi [C85] and Less [C86]

I’m bending my rules a bit and putting two tracks here. So it’s kind of a top 3, rather than a top two… Anyway, I love both of these tracks dearly, and in my opinion they’re some of the best that Sally has produced. Ashitaka Mondo’s there because it’s just amazing. Listening to it is like looking into a future landscape full of hope. Or something like that. It’s one of the only arrangements of Pristine Beat that I really enjoy, and Ranko’s totally in her element here. Soon’s there because I think it demonstrates just how much IZNA’s grown as a vocalist. I didn’t like her much to begin with, but now I can’t imagine Sally without her.

b) plaza Blue age
From Sadomasochism [C81]

Toyosatomimi no Miko is my ‘mascot’ of sorts, so I had to put in at least one arrangement of her theme! It’s full of power, the lyrics are meaningful, and I love the little rapping bit in the middle (it’s kind of like a precursor to what we’d see later in Plaza roboscape). NSY makes the most of the melodic sparseness of the original theme. By the way, I like the original version better than the redone ‘Plaza blue Rage.’ I think the extra sound clarity somehow hurts the ambience of the track, and the rapping part in the middle is missing.

Honourable mentions: Basically everything else… And let’s not forget about Min. Everyone loves Min.

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3. Machikado-Mapoze

a) Дешантрапа
From 舞踏会のドスコナウォシチ [C83]

Fully instrumental circles are under-represented on my list, but Machikado-Mapoze is one of the best (which is why I was so unhappy when they disbanded earlier in the year…). Over the years, they released a bunch of wonderful classical arrangements – unlike some other orchestral circles, Machikado-Mapoze’s classical arrangements strictly follow the forms of their genres, which stretch from baroque suites to tangos to waltzes. There’s honestly something in there for everyone. Anyway, why do I like this arrangement so much? I think it’s the atmosphere. When I listen to it, I think of Renko x Merry on an old steam train, journeying through icy mountains. The flute effects are really cool (listen out for the train whistle!) and the harmonies are wonderful.

b) グリニッジ高空舞踏会場にて || When a Dance Party was Held in the Sky Over Greenwich, a.k.a. The Catcher in Greenwich
From The Catcher in Greenwich [2010] and けーね先生の音楽教室 [C85]

I love this one for pretty much the same reason as the first track. I’m not even that fond of the recorder, but it works so well as a member of a larger ensemble! When I listen to this one, I think of Renko x Merry riding on a larger, ricketier steam train, dancing in comically large pairs of shoes. This one has two versions – I like the second one slightly more because it features the clarinet…

Honourable mentions: La java de verdure, The Hagoromo Legend of Tango, Seija’s Reversal, Cannibalistic Tango, Cantata ‘Let’s go to School!’, Summer-Coloured Crystals, La critica, ‘Shadow in the Sun’ for Recorder Consort and Piano,

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2. Butaotome

a) うたかた || Transient
From 少女煉獄 第三巻 [C88]

A recent addition. But from the moment I heard this track in the crossfade, I knew it would become one of my favourites. It’s mainly because of the chanted section. It’s a wonderfully inventive arrangement moment from Comp, and Ranko’s lyrics fit in beautifully. It also references Mokou’s dialogue with the player in Imperishable Night, which itself is a reference to an older work of literature. Basically, it’s really well-thought out, and I love it for that.

b) 非科学的表裏一体 || An Unscientific Symbiosis
From ありきたりな脳髄よ、今宵の月と踊れ [C87]

This makes it in because of the timpani. I always find myself tapping my feet along with it… Anyway, it’s basically everything I’d want from an arrangement of ‘Boys and Girls of a Science Era’ – there’s so few of them out there. It’s more laid-back than your average Butaotome arrangement, which I suppose demonstrates just how versatile they are as a circle.

Honourable mentions: 私家版 百鬼夜行絵巻 (Privately Published Night Parade Scroll), 残された星 (The Star That Was Left Behind), サーカスのナイフ投げ (The Knife Thrower of the Circus, Alone), 逆転の世界 (Turnabout World), 巡る業 (Returning Karma), Y, ない。 (Nothing.), 真っ黒な雪 (Pitch Black Snow), 夢紀行 (Dream Travel Journal), 響縁 (Echoed Bonds).

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1. Shinra-Bansho

a) Good Bye RAISE
From その日私は空を見上げた [RTS12]

If you’ve been paying attention to my Shinra-Bansho translations, you probably already know that I have an unhealthy obsession with azuki’s lyrics. I just love how he throws scientific concepts, religion, fairytales, and basically everything else together and comes out with lyrics that get at the core of human existence. This track is no exception – it’s a wonderful arrangement of Rigid Paradise, dealing with themes of death, the afterlife, and rebirth. There’s one particular part that I love:

“Continuing on towards death is a sign of living.
My heart aches – it’s proof of my existence.”

The song could have ended on a tragic note, but it rises above that and ends full of hope.

b) 蛙楽 -パレード編- || The Cries of Frogs -Parade Version-
From Doppel [ARTS1]

It was a tough to choose between this one and anjir, but this won out by the smallest margin. To this day, I still have no idea what was going through kaztora’s mind when he wrote the lyrics to this song, and I guess that’s one of the things that attracts me to it so much. The arrangement’s a lot heavier than the original version sung by Merami – it’s kind of like looking at the mirror and seeing a demented face smiling back at you. Mie does such a great job at giving this arrangement character, demonstrating versatility rivaling that of Merami herself. Overall, it relishes in its weirdness, and I love it for that.

Honourable Mentions: Basically everything else, but especially anjir! I love anjir! Also, I didn’t include the musicals because that would be a bit unfair, but they’re excellent, too. My personal favourite is their most recent one, その日私は空を見上げた || On That Day, I Looked Up at the Sky.

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So, that’s the end of my list (yet another massive wall of text)! Here’s to another year of translation spam. If you read this far, thank you!