This event is shaping up to be a really busy one, with lots of circles putting out two or more releases. What’s more, Touhou 15.5: Antinomy of Common Flowers is being released! This event will also feature Liz Triangle’s last album, and I’m already getting emotional writing those words and I don’t even know what the album will feature yet.
First up, I’ll do a mini non-Japan circle roundup!
- I’m releasing two new albums. The first is ‘Voyage‘, my third Len’en arrangement album. The second is ‘For the Travelers‘, a HSiFS arrangement album.
- Find Your Way is releasing their long-awaited second album, DIFFERENT WAYS!
- Frozen Starfall is releasing a new album, Mirrored Worlds.
- Maiden’s Capriccio is releasing an album, Highest Peak of Enlightenment.
- AXZIEL is releasing a new single.
- Violet Delta is currently fundraising. Please go and show him some support and help out his music-making!
(If I didn’t find you, please leave a comment and I’ll add you!)
So, without further ado… let’s get to the list! I normally put the albums I really like the sound of at the top of the list before moving on to albums that I want to introduce. You know the drill. Things are a bit more topsy-turvy than usual, though…
1. Liz Triangle’s “Triangle”
XFD || Official Site
And so, we’ve arrived. This is Liz Triangle’s final album, which we knew was coming for a while now.
Watching the crossfade demo emotionally destroyed me. It never really sank in that Liz Triangle was disbanding until I watched it, and read the simple message written in the description:
“Nice to meet you. It’s been a while. Until the day we meet again…
With thanks for the last 9 years.”
I’m the one who should be thanking them. Every track on this album sounds so stunning, and track five is a masterpiece. If you haven’t listened to the demo yet, listen to it and you’ll know just why it’s a masterpiece.
Thank you, Liz Triangle.
2. ShinRa-Bansho’s “Season 4 you”
So, the single ended up being the title track from the new album! I wasn’t expecting a HSiFS-only album, but it’s a pleasant surprise and I’ve just fallen in love with this circle all over again. And, Cheluce is here as a guest vocalist on track 4! I say how much I love her vocal tone all the time, so it’s an absolute joy to hear her sing on a track arranged by kaztora. ticat has taken on the lion’s share of lyric-writing duties this time, so I’m looking forward to reading through them and seeing how her style has developed!
There are still some event-limited CD tracks yet to be released, so I’m making the bold assumption that that will be the focus of their RTS15 album.
3. Ringing Volcano’s “Well, Someone Like Me Can Dance in the Human Village, Right?” [まぁこの人里で踊れるのなんて私くらいだしね？]
Ringing Volcano had a really busy year, at least if their Booth page is anything to go by. We’ve got a couple of Aikatsu arrangement albums, that really good Touhou vocal album, a Kemono Friends album, and even some Kosuzu-flavoured blank sheet music! Unfortunately the Touhou albums are the only things that can be bought digitally…
Anyway, what about /this/ album? Well, as you can tell from the title, it’s a collection of Touhou dance music. No, not EDM! We’re looking at more traditional genres like the waltz. Basically, if you want Touhou chamber music, you need to listen to Ringing Volcano! Also listen if you’re a Kosuzu fan, since they’ve provided basically all the arrangements of her theme out there… (^_^);
4. touhoujihen’s “Hopeless Concerto” [絶望的協奏曲 – zetsubouteki concerto]
touhoujihen’s 4th album is here! This one contains a bunch of new arrangements of themes from Perfect Cherry Blossom, along with three previously released tracks: Hopeless Discord (絶望的不協和音), A Kind Song (ヤサシイウタ), and Adrenaline (a remix of a track from NSY’s Sally days). It’s a shame there aren’t any arrangements of tracks from newer games on there, but what can you do. Also, NSY has welcomed a guest arranger into the fold for this album! He went from collaborating with a crocodile (Wani) to… a koala! (こあら王子 – Koala Prince). They bring a more chilled, bossa-nova vibe to the album, and their tracks are really good! They make me feel like I’m in a cafe in Paris…
Alice’s Tea Party just jumps out at me. It’s so quirky and creative! It’s just like Carnival, which was the first track that made me really appreciate IZNA.
5. Kokyo Active NEETs’ “Touhou Philharmonic Orchestra 7: MoF Pt. 2” [東方フィルハーモニー交響楽団７ 風 第二幕]
XFD || Official Site
This is the ‘flip’ side of their previous album, including the stage or boss theme that they /didn’t/ do from each stage (except stage 6, for some reason). For the most part, I like all of the themes they’re doing this time better, so I’m glad they decided to split the album up! I was a bit worried when I heard their full version of Native Faith, since it seemed to stick a little too close to the original. But, thankfully, the full medley shows that there’s plenty of creativity to be found here!
The standout track for me is Sealed Gods. Somehow, the arranger managed to turn it into a cross-examination theme from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and I love it!
6. Feuille-Morte’s “Wanderia” [ワンダリア]
I haven’t been able to fully get into Feuille-Morte’s previous two releases, but after translating both tracks from the previous album, I feel like I ‘get’ what RD’s going for now. I mean, the hashtag on the crossfade’s Souncloud page says it all: #Storytelling. It makes a world of difference when you sit down and really think about what the individual songs are saying, and when you try and turn them into a narrative. I know the tracks are going to be really long, like they always are, but I’m really looking forward to looking closely at the lyrics and working out where each song is going! I guess, rather than ‘songs,’ they’re all ‘stories’…
Also, we’ve got a star-studded list of vocalists, including Merami, Nayuta, Kushi, and Mitsuki Nakae (中恵光城). How can you go wrong with that?!
7. VAMPIRE KISS, by Hatsunetsumiko’s
Well, as acknowledged on the official site, this is more of a Danceness☆miko’s album than anything else. I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, but Hatsunetsumiko’s operates under three (official…?) labels:
-Hatsunetsumiko’s (pop sound)
-Darkness†miko’s (dark sound from Alkaloid)
-Danceness☆miko’s (newest label, what we were getting from them during 2015-2016).
Anyway, I know a lot of people loved the Danceness☆miko’s sound, so I’m sure they’ll be happy with this. I think the instrumental tracks are divine, especially the Mysterious Purification Rod arrangement. Vocal tracks are great as well! I’m still pining for another Darkness†miko’s album, though…
8+9. Diao ye zong’s “Matsuri” [祀] and Shimensoka’s “And Then, I Ended Up Alone – Until Dream Do Us Part” (そして一人だけになった)
RD returns to his roots with an album based on the album he released at Comiket 10 years ago (called Matsuri [祭]). Unlike the other Akyuu albums released in 2017, this contains only one vocal track, unless you include the inevitable bonus track. Instead, it’s mostly chiptune music. I wasn’t that taken with it on my first listen, but listening to the crossfade again makes me appreciate it a lot more! I love the blend between chiptune and more traditional instruments. RD’s always a storyteller, and I bet each of these tracks has a story that’s just as complex as any other vocal track.
The second album contains all of the RD tracks commissioned by Shimensoka for their doujin works, along with RD’s contributions to TUMENECO’s Genmu [現夢] and one of Vita Sexualis’ doujins. When artists release tracks elsewhere it’s hard to keep track of them all so it’s great that these sorts of albums are released!
10 + 11. DDBY’s “Gensokyo Drive 2” [幻想郷ドライブ２] and “Bartender Reimu 3” [バーテンダーレイム３]
Like usual, DDBY delivers us a dose of quality instrumental music. This time, we’ve got two albums, but since both are Double Dealing Character albums they work well as a set! The first one is part of a new-ish album series that focuses on ‘easy listening’ music. It’s like a continuation of the Synth de Touhou series, which has been on ice for a while now. The second is part of the Bartender Reimu series, which aims to be trendier than other DDBY albums.
I love them both because they contain great arrangements of Magical Storm. I love that theme and it hardly gets any attention… I think it’s a shame that DDBY doesn’t distribute these albums digitally, because I’d pick them up in a heartbeat if they were. Putting that aside, if you’re a DDC fan, a synth fan, or a jazz fan, these albums get a hearty recommendation!
12. flap+frog’s “magical star collection 01”
Following directly on from the DDBY albums above, we have flap+frog. I actually almost filed this album under DDBY before I went to link to the official site…
Though this album marks the start of a new series, it’s similar to the typography series that I wrote about before. The arranger classifies their music as EDM and Dance, and this album continues that trend. It’s very chill, and I like the blend of electric piano and regular piano. It’s like icecubes clinking against a glass of water on a hot day.
In terms of themes, we’ve got a couple of arrangements of the new tracks from Heavenly Star in Four Seasons, along with (of course) a couple of arrangements of Marisa’s themes. If you’re picking up one or both of the DDBY albums, consider this one, too! (Or, likewise)
13 + 14. EX永遠亭 and 1569 “the Grateful BEASTS” [神獣の宴-the Grateful BEASTS-] and Karento’s (歌恋人) “Curtainless From Beginning to End” [始終幕無]
The first album is a collaborative album featuring a bunch of different circles including Honey-Pocket and Cajiva’s Gadget Shop. But, the most surprising group…
BUTAOTOME! Not just BUTAOTOME, it’s DJ Comp and MC Paprika…! *faints* A part of my heart has been sad since they stopped releasing the I LOVE albums, so this track makes me feel a bit better. Maybe we’ll get a new installment soon…?
The other album is a Karento-only release. The album art’s a bit too risque to put here, but I guess that’s the sort of image this circle’s going for. They aim for an ‘adult’ sound, I think they absolutely nail it. It reminds me of early toujihen and Automata Girl, but it has its own unique spin. This album’s a Mountain of Faith-only album.
15 + 16. BUTAOTOME’s “Youkai Back Alley” [あやかし横丁] and Touhou Keyboard Cat 15 [東方猫鍵盤15]
BUTAOTOME finishes off the year with an album that’s similar in tone to Grudgeful Divine Songs (怨言神楽謌) and the Maiden Purgatory (少女煉獄) series. Sachlich was definitely my favourite BUTAOTOME album released this year, but this one might take second place. We’ve got a couple of HSiFS arrangements, and we’ve also got new versions of Lovesickness (恋の病) and Transient (うたかた). All the tracks sound pretty good, though I think 5 and 7 sound the most promising!
On the Paprika side of things, Keyboard Cat 15 (like Diao ye zong’s Kakage) focuses on spell cards. It was a great concept when RD tackled it, and Paprika similarly does a great job here. I say this every time, but Paprika’s great at evoking atmospheres with her tracks.
See Tiramisu Cowboy for more info!
17. Hachimitsu Lemon x Aftergrow’s “Touhou Six String 05 – 想 [Idea]”
XFD || Official Site
18. “Touhou Complation CD Suiseisou” [萃星霜], published by Melonbooks
This is a pretty cool compilation CD – every track is based on a season. A lot of my favourite circles are involved, too, including ShinRa-Bansho, Diao ye zong, minimum electric design, and Halozy. Each track comes with some beautiful artwork, so if you like artwork consider picking this one up. They’re even selling a super-deluxe version for 10,000 yen!
19 + 20. TUMENECO’s “Kataritsugumono” [カタリツグモノ] and “Rainbow Season – Under the Rainbow” [ナナイロノキセツ]
The first album here is, like Himitsunagumono [ヒミツナグモノ], a TUMENECO best-of CD. You have the title track (an arrangement of Old Adam Bar) alongside a selection of tracks released during the past 2 years. I don’t remember a lot of TUMENECO albums from that period, so CDs like these are a good chance to stop and look back.
The rainbow CD appears to be the culmination of a series of vocal + instrumental singles released during the year. The project itself is a collaboration between TUMENECO and artist Miwano Rag (美和野 らぐ). It features representative tracks from Touhou 6-11, along with the usual Sealing Club tracks. I’m willing to bet that all of the lyrics are about Renko and Merry, though…
21 + 22. Akatsuki Records’ “Metamorphosis” and “Komano Shout – Doing My Best!!” [コマノエール -全力貢献中!!]
Akatsuki Records, as one would expect, have come charging straight at the new game with a HSiFS-only album! I really respect Stack Bros. and I really like the sound of all of his tracks. I just can’t help but feel that Akatsuki Records is becoming more of a family thing, now that Stack is taking on more of the arranging duties… I mean, not only is Metamophosis a Stack-only album, but ACTRock and Neko☆Manjuu only have one track each. Putting that aside, Robin has already translated the PV track, an arrangement of ‘Crazy Backup Dancers’, so I recommend giving it a look!
The second album is a collaboration album featuring tracks arranged by ACTRock. It’s the second one in the series, and this time we’ve got Ayaponzu* along for the ride for one of the tracks! As a Cheluce fan, I’m glad that she’s featured in two tracks on this album. Her voice has such a great tone to it!
23. “Longing for…” by nayuta and Chata
As a fan of both nayuta and Chata, this album is delightful! It’s a collaboration album between the two singers, and all of the tracks are so calm and soothing. Three of the tracks are duets, and listening to the demos makes me truly appreciate how great they sound together. Now, if only RD would write a song for Chata…
24. Casket and AramiTama’s SSCSB: Secret Sealed Cask: Small Batch
XFD || Official Site
Some things just go well together. Casket and AramiTama are just two of those things. I can’t find a good way to express this, but it feels like the two circles feed off each other and grow stronger by collaborating. AramiTama’s hypnotic beats give Casket’s floating melodies a much darker bite, but those same floating melodies give AramiTama’s style a whole new energy and vibrancy. Apparently their combined circle name is CasMitama [Cas御霊].
If you like this collaboration, I recommend listening to their original album ‘On the floor / the door’, which is available for digital download on Bandcamp.
25. Cajiva’s Gadget Shop’s “Nameless Squrad”
This album features the rad Tengu squad (Aya, Momiji, and Hatate), complete with the tribal house sound this circle is renowned for. I’m still disappointed that Hatate doesn’t have her own theme yet, but there’s not much we can do about that. Music-wise, I’m not as much of a fan of the vocal samples as I have been in the past (looking at you, track 5…), but the underlying arrangements are still high-quality. I especially like track 2!
26. Knife’s “Code”
XFD || Official Site
I know next to nothing about this single. All I know is that, like Story, it’s an original ‘image song’ for the Sealing Club. I think it’s fascinating to see how Wani and NSY have developed since going their separate ways, and I feel like Wani’s found his groove here. Definitely looking forward to hearing a full album someday…
Also, props to the artwork. It’s called ‘code’ and the apples have barcodes on them. AdamKadmon’s releasing a new album at this event, too.
27. Fuling Cat Mark’s “Give Me Skirt Showtime”
This is such a great circle, seriously. Like, their whole aesthetic is just so… cute and charming and soothing. Listening to their music makes you feel so calm and happy!
This time we’ve got some mashups. I love mashups! Especially when they’re based on themes that you wouldn’t expect… which is basically all of them. They’ve got a BOOTH page, so if you want to pick up any of their past albums, head over there!
28. GET IN THE RING’s “Aratama” [荒魂]
No, this isn’t a collaboration with AramiTama…
I know I’m reaching the end of my list, but I had to include GET IN THE RING. Again, they’ve decided to tackle the new game’s music head-on, as one would expect. It sounds great, like usual – it’s the usual rock/pop sound we’ve come to expect from them. I know track 6 isn’t based on a new theme, but I really like how it sounds. Also, if anyone was wondering where Seiji (who wrote some lyrics for ShinRa-Bansho) went, he’s here! He wrote the lyrics for track 5. Good to see he’s still around.
Also, if anyone was wondering about the Activity Case series, GCHM confirmed on Twitter that #8 will probably be released next year! Awesome!
29. Togakisan’s “Touhou Japanese Music Collection 3” [東方邦楽集3]
3 of these were released and I didn’t even know! Anyway, this album is a collection of arrangements done in a traditional Japanese style. That means lots of shamisen, and lots of Japanese percussion. It’s so cool! Especially the arrangement of Crazy Backup Dancers.
30. Tokyo Active NEETs’ “Touhou Explosive Jazz 12” [東方爆音ジャズ12]
I thought I’d really love the previous album in this series because I love Ten Desires so much, but it didn’t stick with me. I did some thinking and realised that it was because the solos just didn’t resonate with me. With that in mind, I’m reluctant about getting too hyped up for another album from this circle. Still, they’re all really talented musicians, so if you like jazz you can’t go wrong if you choose this circle. Can we all just take a moment and appreciate that they did a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”?
Also, I don’t think I’ll like the full version as much, but the Magical Storm/Illusionary Joururi arrangement sent shivers down my spine.
So… that’s it for another event! This one was more jam-packed with releases than I expected, so I had to cut a couple off to keep the list at 30 albums. Still, please leave a comment and let me know what you’re looking forward to/what you’re planning on buying!