Sometimes, music you’ve never heard in your entire life just comes out of nowhere, smacks you in the head, and tell you “Listen!”, even though you have no idea where it’s from, or why you like it until you’ve had some time to think about it.
Mionelol, well-known in the WoW community as the master of soloing (or at least someone who likes doing it enough to keep trying and posting new video every week regarding it), posted a video of Heroic Scholomance on the Mists of Pandaria beta. I have a beta key, but I honestly just played through the Pandaren starting area, and logged out. I feel like you aren’t playing a finished product, and I don’t want to be a free beta tester for Blizzard (if you’re reading this, pay me and I’ll do it.)
Mionelol usually plays “Touhou” music in the background of his videos; everytime you try to look at the titles, you end up in total confusion as they tend to integrate a weird variety of English words and Japanese characters. Touhou games, as far as the Wikipedia article will tell you, are all created by a one man team (which isn’t really a team if it only has one person), containing genres from shmups to fighting games – that’s a pretty big track record for a single person. That’s not to mention composing ALL the music too? Insane. Japanese games by doujin (our equivalent is “indie”) show such dedication for their craft that most Western developers (the big budget ones) can’t even match; see Melty Blood, a fighting game series created by a doujin team that, though completely for the Japanese market, still made its way to being a game at Evolution, the biggest fighting game tournament in America.
Specifically, the track which plays near the middle is just unbelievable. I’ve been playing it repeatedly, and I have no idea what context or even what it means in the original game, but it’s so catchy with that beat, synth horns, drum, and piano that I just can’t resist. It’s difficult to describe the effects of good music, but this is good music, bar none. If you have any affinity for synthesized Japanese video game music, this’ll be right up your alley, as it was for me. The albums takes elements of electronic dance music to the game, which enhances the catchiness, not that it wasn’t already. The remix part adopts the same elements with additional sound effects and samples, and it’s just as good as the original (or not?).
As a complete two hour electronica house set, it’s got a variety of tracks from the Touhou game Perfect Cherry Blossom (one of the more popular ones, so I’ve been told) sequenced in a way that makes sense from even though with zero familiarity with the game series. I don’t care whether you have something against the whole “young girls” Japanese fetish or the aeshetics surrounding the game or the music – it’s still good music.
Every track is fantastic, but a few are obvious standouts. Track 8 starts with a haunting piano line, obviously creating a menacing atmosphere which explodes into one of the funkiest, catchiest, and most sytheisized musical beats I’ve ever heard. The constant house beat keeps it all under restraint and control, as the key keeps going higher and higher in pitch, fading out once again with the haunting piano. It’s a standout, to be sure.
Track 11 starts with real drums and the same house dance beat. Around the 30 second mark, though, the piano comes into the picture – and what a piano part it is! It’s quite epic, to say the least, and this blows up into synthesized horns which keep adding layers to the track, as well as little electronic flourishes. Honestly, this track and its remix in the set are the best songs on the whole thing. I just can’t get enough of it.
That’s not to dissuade you from listening to the whole thing, of course! It’s all excellent, and all worthy of your attention if you’ve got 2 hours to distractedly listen to a house set. This is dance music, to be sure, but uniquely Japanese. If anything, it reminds me of the work that comes out of Cave, a game studio well known for their shmups and the electronic music that accompanies them as you blast through levels. I imagine this is very much the same, even without any context of game levels to attach my mind.
For those not too enamored with the whole idea of listening to music from a foreign land with this:
I can see why: it doesn’t fit into what I’d call a “manly” game, but why should that matter? Is it wrong for a man to wear pink instead of blue, or are we going to have that discussion? Much as some have made of the “pedophile” culture of the Japanese, it’s just an aesthetic of young cute girls, and if you can’t handle it, don’t try it. Other cultures contain different standards on these issues, and the cultural divide between Japan and the United States is no different. In the same vein, 1 Corinthians 10 pretty much nailed it two thousand years ago.
25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?
There’s a few ways to listen to this. There’s a Youtube upload, obviously of a low quality, and the download itself. The former is the easiest way, of course, and I’ve provided a link to the artist’s website site. Just click on the blue button after the download link (use Google Translate; it helps) and the 260MB download will commence. The MP3 tags, unforunately, aren’t in order, so use the Youtube video description to decipher what track plays in which order. I’d rather not offer an actual download, because I want to support the original artists who made this. Have fun!