Demoscene, Doujin, Featured, Japanese, Reviews

Even Fruitier Than Before! Fruited Vagabond Vol.2 (Review)

August 30, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Even Fruitier Than Before! Fruited Vagabond Vol.2 (Review)on Twitter

Over 150 game, anime, and related albums were released this past August at Comiket 82. That’s a lot of music: I’ll never hear 95% of it.

But I sit up and pay attention to the second album in a new original works / demo series from Pinokiti Records, “Fruited Vagabond.” Featuring music from some of Namco’s best in-house composers, as well as some new faces that generally only work in the doujin scene, these albums feature some really enjoyable dance/electronic music.

After the jump, we have the Soundcloud demo reel for the album, as well as my impressions of all five tracks.

The newcomer, “syatten,” closed out Vol.1, but he’s the opener on Vol.2. And he’s got an absolutely gorgeous, dare I say decadent, piece of dance/trance/ambient music for us. The track is called “Lyra,” and it’s designed to soothe. The tempo is slow enough and the beats are soft enough that one can just relax with this one. Instead of going on a Ridge Racer-esque joyride, now I’d rather just drink a fruity drink. Maybe like something described on this fine website.

AJURIKA comes in with the next track, “Loma Lighthouse.” Now, I’m not sure which Loma he’s referring to, but I don’t imagine any of them having lighthouses. So I’m taking this piece of music with a grain of salt, and with the idea of paradox — opposed ideas held in tension — at the forefront of my mind. The track starts out sounding like something out of a horror game (or film), lots of creepy banshee-esque pitch-bending going on. But man, as soon as the beat drops (about 30 seconds in), the sense of dread is washed away by the sound of a sweet, sweet party. I shouldn’t use the word “sweet” here so much, as this is definitely the least sugary of the five tracks on FV Vol.2. Once the foundation is laid and pretty well-established in the listener’s mind, AJURIKA starts inserting new melodic strains and catchy patterns. It takes about 3 minutes before the song really hits its stride, but it’s worth the wait. The drum loop is pulled out and replaced with a pulsating bass for a solid 32 bars before the loop is allowed back in. Then, for the final two minutes of this seven minute tune, a whole string of different melodic ideas are thrown in, but never does it sound messy. AJURIKA knows how to use decorations sparingly, so they matter when you hear them.

Okubo-san decided, for his Vol.2 contribution, to throw subtlety out the window and go for a straight-up dubstep track. Modulated bass is everywhere, there’s no escaping it. The track title, “TIME TO GROOVE,” lets you know Okubo means business. Hey, maybe a Western game developer can use this track in a game trailer? They’d be blessed to have it, because while this is certainly in the realm of crunchy, choppy dubstep, it still has Okubo’s signature blends of treble-oriented synths as well to balance out all the warbles. And the drum fills! There are some fantastic drum fills on this track: every time I hear one, I want to become the drummer and lay down a sweet fill. Sadly, I can’t play drums (hands are coordinated; feet, not so much).

Track 4 has an even newer newcomer, Haruka Tamasaki. Her track for FV2 is entitled “Conflict,” which has a somewhat different tone compared to the other artists’ submissions. There are a lot of retro / lo-fi synths used on this one, and a lot of different percussion / “beats” used as well. It’s not my favorite track on the album, but it is a refreshing change of pace.

Finally, they saved Watanabe for last. Like on Vol.1, he has the shortest track on the album (under five minutes?! It can’t be!). It seems to serve as a counter-track to “RISE” from vol.1, as it is entitled “FALLEN.” It’s a darker track, with some minor-key elements to it, but it has a “lime-in-the-coconut” kind of fruit flavor to it as well, what with the high-pitch percussion and syncopated rhythm. I think I prefer “RISE,” but this is still a good track. And, while Watanabe might not have as strong a presence on this album, I will say that as a whole, Vol.2 is slightly more appealing to me on a gut level, mostly because of the first two tracks. AJURIKA and syatten really made some beautiful stuff for this disc.

While Vol.1 was and is distributed directly via the new label “Pinokiti Records,” Vol.2 is being sold through Sweep Record Shop, which (if I recall correctly) will not ship internationally. So, make friends with a Japanese person (if you don’t already have a good contact), or use Shopping Mall Japan, and this album can be yours!

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