Game Music, Reviews

Extra EXTRA: Hyper Game Music Event 2007 The Live Album Vol. 1 (Review)

May 7, 2010 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook Extra EXTRA: Hyper Game Music Event 2007 The Live Album Vol. 1 (Review)on Twitter

Man, where is EXTRA 2010 already? If you don’t know what the EXTRA – Hyper Game Music Event series is, you should! It’s only one of the most amazing gatherings of videogame music composers in Japan, where they perform live in front of thousands of fans. We reviewed the EXTRA –official compilation- album just last month, and Justin provided extensive coverage from the 2008 event. In 2009 the series was swallowed up by Video Games Live, and I have no idea what’s going on for 2010.

This album, however, is a partial archive of the 2007 event. You notice from the title, it was released as Volume 1, and while Volume 2 and a live DVD were planned, they never materialized, likely due to copyright issues. We do, however, have this fragment of history, featuring 7 different sets spanning 2 discs. They’ve captured some of the best performances of the evening, as well as some of the most… well, strange.

Find out what made the cut in our Hyper Game Music Event 2007 EXTRA The Live Album Vol. 1 review (whew, that’s a long one) after the jump!

So, about strange. While the album opens with a 30-second electronic anthem titled “EXTRA OPENING THEME,” it’s right into ultra high-pitched Japanese vocals from the squealy momo-i. An easy way to turn off a lot of Western fans, for sure, and if it wasn’t for the incredibly catchy chiptune backings for both of her tracks (“You Are The Hoehoe Girl,” which was featured on the official compilation album, and “Go Go Bokosuka” from Bokosuka Wars), I’d definitely skip these each and every time. What makes matters worse is that they’ve included a good 2 or so minutes of momo-i talking after her first piece, which is crammed full of girlish giggling, screaming, and cute-speak that made me want to nail screw drivers into my ears. Okay, maybe it’s not THAT bad…

Fortunately, we’re quickly on to one of the best performances on this album by Norihiko Hibino and Akira Yamaoka, who start with what they’ve cleverly titled “Free Jam” before getting into some Silent Hill and Metal Gear Solid. We get a lovely rendition of “Theme of Laura” from Silent Hill 2, which sounds surprisingly good with Hibino’s sax calling out in response to Yamaoka’s guitar, giving the piece a seductive edge. Singer Yuki Koyanagi joins the duo for the oh-so-smooth “Snake Eater,” and sticks around for an original track titled “Prelude to Suicide,” a dark electro-jazz-rock tune with an amazing chorus.

The first disc closes with another strong set by BETTA FLASH. They open with a dreamy “Capcom Medley,” which features music from a number of titles I’m not familiar with, including Sonson, Exed Exes, Dai Makaimura, and a number of others, all of which sound awesome in typical Capcom fashion. Afterward, we get my favorite track on the album, the 10-minute long “Ray Remix,” featuring music from across the series. You can tell the fans really dug this set, as there are constantly cheers coming from the crowd, especially for my two favorite pieces from Ray Storm, “Geometric City” and “Intolerance.” Ray series fans have to hear this track. “Blue” from Ray Crisis gets its own moment in the spotlight next, complete with dreamy English vocals. The track has a soothing bossa nova vibe about it, and you may recall it also appeared on the compilation album. They close with the similarly themed “Beyond,” which sounds like it would be right at home in the Ray series.

The second disc greets us with a 4-track set from H., transversing SEGA classics such as After Burner, Quartet, Hang On, and DAYTONA USA. Mitsuyoshi’s voice gets the crowd riled up before the band launches into a slow, electronified version of their After Burner medley. I love the swing they put on this arrangement, and the slower tempo gives it a more laid back feel. Quartet (or “Qualtet,” as it’s listed) gets funky with electric piano, deep basslines, and some excellent synth work, while “Hang On –Theme of Love-“ is appropriately rockin’ with a thick layer of reverb on the belltones, giving the track a dreamy vibe. “Let’s Go Away” is of course a fan favorite as they clap and yell along with the track. It’s good hearing this one again after being burnt out on it with the Let’s Go Away Anniversary Box. Mitsuyoshi really put it all out there in this performance, which is fun to hear.

It’s then on to a quirky electronic track titled “Matsu Kimi Rumba” from Kimitaka Matsumae, which would be right at home alongside Hip Tanaka’s weird electronic music on the DJ stage, but this one does have a certain catchiness about it. I’m not at all surprised by this track, coming from a guy who’s worked on both Mother and Katamari Damacy. VOYAGER provides “Ultra☆7,” a dreamy rock track which is cool, but doesn’t really stand out among the other tracks. Kenji Ito closes out the album with two tracks from Culdacept Saga, “The Road to SAGA” and “The Phoenixion -Extra Mix-,” each with a fresh Latin flavor. The rhythmic bongos get the fans clapping along, and the rhythmic guitars and Ito’s piano work matches well with the ethnic vocals. I have to say that “The Phoenixion” sounded better on the official compilation album, but I’m sure it was an experience to hear live.

The booklet included features profiles of each of the performers on the album, and the included “special photo book” contains pictures from each of the sets. It’s a nice bonus, especially for those who couldn’t be there in person (which is nearly all of us, right?). While this album only captures a fragment of the awesomeness that was EXTRA – Hyper Game Music Event 2007, at least we have this. It’s a shame that Volume 2 and the DVD never came to be, but the Yamaoka x Hibino x Koyanagi, BETTA FLASH, and H. sets are definitely worth checking out this album for alone. The album, released by 5pb Records in Japan, is surprisingly still available from both CD Japan and Play-Asia if you’re interested in catching up on a piece of videogame music history.

Any thoughts as to the performances that made the cut onto Volume 1? Anything in particular that you would have loved to have heard on Volume 2, or seen live on the DVD?

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