Game Music, Reviews

Bossa Nova is Back and Remixed: Hiroto Saitoh’s Dia Novo (Review)

October 11, 2009 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Bossa Nova is Back and Remixed: Hiroto Saitoh’s Dia Novo (Review)on Twitter

After taking a break with the Cross Hermit soundtrack, we’re back with more bossa nova from Hiroto Saitoh. This time it comes in the form of Dia Novo, an album (or EP) of arrangements of bossa nova greats like Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moreas, Baden Powell, Chico Buarque, and Paulo and Marcuos Valle by Hiroto Saitoh and his friends. A lot of artists for just six tracks, I know, but trust me when I say it’s all good.

These are some serious chillout tracks. The source material is of course pretty highly regarded among bossa nova fans, so it’s definitely interesting to see how Saitoh and the other arrangers have handled them. You’ll also see another familiar face here with Apaco on vocals, who you may remember from our Melodia review.

Hit the jump to find out whether these arrangements amount of sacrilege in our review of Dia Novo.

Now, I said EP before because you’re only getting six tracks that come in at just under 20 minutes. Quite short, especially for the 1,500 yen asking price, but it’s not every day that you get to hear arrangements that take you through the history of a given genre. And that’s just what Dia Novo is.

Saitoh opens with “Samba do Avião,” originally by Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes. The original is of course great (check it on YouTube), and this arrangement adds driving percussion and a groovy bassline. Apaco’s layered vocals sport a thick layer of reverb, giving them a trancelike quality. There are also lots of playful piano and belltone ditties that are simply beautiful.

Arranger Kayoko Maeda tackles a guitar piece by Baden Powell next, titled “Berimbau.” Here, a chip lead takes on the initial melody before other electro elements are added, giving the piece a sort of metro pop feel. Toshikazu Saitoh (a relative, perhaps?) is next with “Chega de Saudade,” another Jobim/Vinicius track. An upright bass along with shaker and side stick percussion set the mood for Apaco’s vocals once again. This one is funky, and I dig the dreamy flute solo about half way through the piece.

Saitoh arranges the next three tracks himself. “Imagina” is a Jobim and Carlos Buarque track. The original was pretty angelic, and the full string backing to this arrangement and the rapid vocal lines are quite beautiful. Finally getting away from Jobim, “Butacada” is a Macros and Paulo Valle track that sports an upbeat hip hop vibe with synths and brass stabs alongside electronic organ and electric piano. “Latina (Em Praia)” is an original composition by Saitoh that fits in amazingly well with the previous tracks by the bossa nova masters. It’s a simple guitar and accordion piece with the sounds of ocean waves crashing in the background. Apaco sings a pretty melody line and handles the guitar performance, showing that she’s more than just a pretty voice.

While Dia Novo is short, I found it to be a very enjoyable experience as a fan of bossa nova music. Even for those who aren’t big fans of bossa nova, perhaps this album will turn you on to it, as Saitoh’s arrangements transcend the genre and bring in other elements to give the music a wider appeal. This is a really cool concept, and I hope Saitoh revisits this format in the future. In the meantime, I recommend hunting this one down from LILT Records if you can, as it was originally released at Comiket 67.

Are you a fan of bossa nova music?  Would you like to see more game composers tackling popular music in other genres?

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