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Demoscene, Doujin, Japanese

favs-of-comiket-fruited-vagabond-review

Favs of Comiket: Fruited Vagabond (Review)

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Every six months, Comiket sweeps Japan, and a boatload of doujin music albums are released (alongside some legitimate game and anime soundtracks, as well).

Generally, it’s just too much for one person to take in. You could easily spend $1000 there and still miss something cool. Especially if you’re down with all things Touhou-related.

Recently, one of our friends at SEMO (Don Kotowski) pointed us in the direction of “Fruited Vagabond.” It’s essentially a demo reel of music made in FL Studio, one track per composer, and the composers being some of Namco’s greatest assets (AJURIKA, Ryo Watanabe, Hiroshi Okubo, etc).

Tomorrow, we’ll have a review of the album newly released “Fruited Vagabond Vol.2″ from Comiket 82. But before that, we have a review of the first album, which is four tracks and runs 24 minutes. After the jump, our review (alongside some soundcloud samples, hurray!).

Okay, so *technically* this first volume wasn’t released at a Comiket, but instead at M3. It was still made available at Comiket 81 (and 82) of course. If you want to look up info on it, its catalog number is PRCD-0002.

Now then, what can be said about this album? For starters, it’s meant to be flavorful: fruity, even. And it goes down smooth, like a fruit smoothie. The opening track, “White Strawberry” by AJURIKA, sounds so good, you can almost taste it. There is something about the audio layers, it’s so textured, it reaches out and grabs all your other senses. AJURIKA, for those who don’t know, is a long-time composer for Namco. His real name is Akitaka Tohyama, and his credits include a variety of Namco series entries: Tekken, Katamari, Soul Calibur, Ridge Racer, and much more. Having an artist of his “calibur” (get it?!) doing fun demo/doujin releases just for people to enjoy the music, that’s really something special. His track, the longest on the album, sets the tone for what’s to come. Really, this is just some brilliant dance/chill electronica.

Next up is a great, upbeat track from Ryo Watanabe, called RISE. Watanabe has been featured on almost every “Nanosweep” album, and has also worked on Ridge Racer 7 and 3D, and Beautiful Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy. There’s a lot of disco-orchestra power behind his music, and he lets it all hang out on Fruited Vagabond. “RISE” maybe the shortest track on the album, but it’s still substantial at 4.5 minutes.

Hiroshi Okubo uses some vocal samples and an insanely fast-tempo drum loop to carry us off to the world of “Sweet-Sour.” This track absolutely belongs in a Ridge Racer game, and considering the experience Okubo-san has in that series, it’s no surprise that this track is as good as, and in many ways far better than, his previous contributions to the franchise. Protip: do NOT listen to this kind of music while actually driving. Unless you like speeding tickets, or you live in Germany and can hop on the Autobahn. Psy-trance your way to 200km/hr and STAY ALIVE!

The last track on Fruited Vagabond (Vol.1) is from a relative newcomer, syatten. Not much is known about syatten (such as his real name). In the last 5 years, he’s done a lot of doujin arrangements, and I guess that was enough for the Namco / nanosweep guys to take notice. Hence, he’s featured for the closer of this fantastic demo album, “Unbraid.” This one plays out like some kind of dance club odyssey, making great use of all sorts of “keyed” instruments (piano, synth keyboards, marimba and xylophone, etc). This track, more than any other on the disc, serves as a walking advertisement for FL Studio. The suggestion in my mind is this: “if the greats of VGM can make beautiful music on it just as well as a doujin-only newcomer, what else are you waiting for?” Considering the “FL” stands for “FruityLoops,” perhaps that’s part of the meaning behind the album title “Fruited Vagabond.”

I myself had toyed with FruityLoops in my college days, but it looks like the software has improved considerably over the last decade. That, or I just sucked at making music. Probably the latter, now that I think about it.

If you want to pick up this album and don’t have any friends attending Comiket or other market events, Pinokiti Records is selling it on their website with a flat 300 yen listed for shipping (I’m not sure if that applies to international orders, but they offer an English-language page and it looks like Paypal is set to process it!). I myself got this album (and Vol.2) from a friend-of-a-friend who attended Comiket, so if anyone wants to be the guinea pig and place a test order, we’d love to know what happens!

In any case, the album is good, especially for fans of psy-trance/psy-bient dance/club electronic music. Check back tomorrow for our review of Vol.2!

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