Game Music, Reviews

From Loud 2 Low Too: A “Too” Disc Marvel (Review)

July 8, 2009 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook From Loud 2 Low Too: A “Too” Disc Marvel (Review)on Twitter

From Loud 2 Low may not be a very familiar name to many game music fans, but for Takenobu Mitsuyoshi fans, it is basically the holy grail of his CD releases. From Loud 2 Low was released in November of 2003, and was only released in a very limited number via SEGADirect, Sega’s Japan-only web shop. Because of these circumstances, the album was very obscure and hard to get, and importers had to resort to middleman services in order to get it.

From Loud 2 Low is a collection of Mitsuyoshi’s best works in game music, and contains the main themes for many well-known games such as DAYTONA USA, Shenmue, Virtua Fighter 2 and Burning Rangers. It is a blend of vocal and instrumental works; also, it contains 2 all new originals, “Night in H.A.P.” and “I feel so good…” The CD does a brilliant job showcasing Mitsuyoshi’s talents as a vocalist as well as a composer, and for fans who only are familiar with his work on DAYTONA USA, this is a real eye opener to his actual skills.

Now, six years later, Mitsuyoshi announced he would release From Loud 2 Low Too, a follow-up of his collected works. As more details unfolded, it was revealed to be a two disc release, with the first From Loud 2 Low (excluding a few instrumental tracks) on the first disc. The second CD is a collection of ballads, again revealing a rather underrated side of Mitsuyoshi’s talent.

After the jump, our full review of From Loud 2 Low Too.

The first CD, as mentioned above, contains the first Loud 2 Low, excluding the instrumental Shenmue piece, and with some songs shuffled to the second disc to fit the ballad theme. The CD starts out with the ultra iconic “Let’s Go Away” from DAYTONA USA. The track starts out with the “dudududuruuuuuu” which is now a legendary part of video game music history, and Mitsuyoshi’s shout of DAYTONA leads us into the always enjoyable trademark sounds of the series. Most of the vocals on this track is actually performed by David Leytze, who also arranged and composed music for a few other SEGA games, such as Fighting Vipers. We also get treated to “Dancing Shadows” from the Virtua Fighter 2 Vocal Arrange, “Victory Goal 96” which was composed by Jun Senoue, and Slingshot,” the great vocal track from DAYTONA USA 2, which was originally recorded by Winger, the 80s glam metal band. This version has Mitsuyoshi on vocals instead, and is quite wonderful: a perfect blend of sounds of 80s guitar, and 90s game music.

Most notable with the first disc is the new inclusions not found on the first Loud 2 Low. The tracks are: “THIS IS MY HAPPINESS” from Space Channel 5 Part 2, “Out of the Mirror” from Porori Seishun Meikyoku, “Fairy of ICE” from Sonic Gems Collection, “Rising Pheonix ~Eternal Love~” from Black Jack Hinotori hen and “Road To Win” from Pro Yakyu Team Wo Tsukorou 2. Many of these tracks are from Japan-only games and may sound rather obscure, but a few of them are actually the strongest songs on the two disc set. Most notably of all these tracks is “THIS IS MY HAPPINESS.”

The aforementioned piece was featured in Space Channel 5 Part 2 as an ending track, sung by another singer. For the Space Channel 5 Part 2 Chu CD, a bonus track was made with the song sung by Mitsuyoshi, and is in every possible way a perfect fit and a big improvement over the original song. The song itself is something almost out of a musical, with a bit of a French influence. A lot of trumpets and sax, choir and a passionate love story being told in the lyrics, With its the upbeat feeling of Naofumi Hataya’s composition and the high energy in Mitsuyoshi’s vocals, it quickly became my favorite piece on the CD. With a beat impossible to resist and energy that makes you smile immediately, it just clicks in every way. While some people would bring up the fact that Take-san’s English is not as clear as one might want it to be, I say this adds to the charm of the whole track. It’s like when I was living in the US and mispronouncing half of what I’m saying; sure it’s wrong, but it only make you wanna hug me. (editor’s note: FYI, Audun is Norwegian)

“Fairy of ICE” is an arrangement of “Aurora Icefield,” which appeared on the Sonic Gems Collection for GameCube and PS2. Again arranged by Naofumi Hataya, it seems he knows of Takenobu’s strengths and arranges around that, as it’s a very enjoyable track, though it may not stand out, and the lyrics are a bit complicated and end up coming out mumbled. It has a really nice end section with Mitsuyoshi going into some high vocal ranges. “Rising Pheonix” is a song from the Japan only DS Game Black Jack Hinotori. Apart from “I Just Smile,” this is probably the softest song on Disc 1, and has some REALLY nice synth sounds, which complement Takenobu Mitsuyoshi’s voice beautifully. And finally, “Road To Win,” which from the first stroke on the guitar strings scream Jun Senoue. A song very much in style of his Sonic Adventure songs, it’s also a nice throwback to the Victory Goal work Take and Jun did together in 1996. A real nice melodic rock song, with lyrics being about baseball, and Take as always delivering, with his experience with singing catchy and iconic themes for games. An interesting note on this song is that the lyrics are written by Ted Poley, from Danger Danger, who is a good friend of Senoue.

Now we get to disc 2, the ballad collection. With age, Mitsuyoshi has started to experiment a bit more with ballads, and exploring the different sides to his voice and composition style. When I first heard of this, I was quite pleased; I had discussed with Mitsuyoshi many times my thoughts on his softer works, as I am a big fan of his slower work, as I feel it showcases his talents the best. A ballad collection is a bit of a dangerous gamble, as the songs can easily start sounding a bit alike, and this disc does have some songs that struggles to set themselves apart from the previous songs; but for the most part, the songs do feel distinct enough to save it from becoming entirely blurred. Some specific examples of this are three songs, “Solitude,” “I wanna be with you” and “NRT.”

“Solitude” has for many many years been one of my favorite songs by Take. One of the biggest reasons for this was that at the time this song was released, it was unlike any other Mitsuyoshi song. Very slow, melodic and sad, it was probably the first song that opened my eyes to how good of a singer he really was, and how he could handle itself outside of the high energy material he was so well known for. Still today, it stands out, as it is probably the only ballad on the album with an overtly sad tone to it, with a clear melodic representation of loneliness. It was the ending theme for the Virtua Fighter anime, and it does a great job at that. Hopefully one day, he will get to go back and rearrange it as he always wanted to do.

“I wanna be with you” is another song that sets itself apart from the others, as it is a pure a capella arrangement. It was originally released online on SEGA MOBA’s website in Japanese. As the original relied on live instruments and synth, this as expected is all about Take’s voice, and it is fantastic! Of all the songs on the CD, this song seems to be the most passionate in terms of performance, as it comes clearly through that he is having fun and really loving the task of doing a capella. Despite the lyrics being quite sad, about longing, love and the pain of being apart, I can’t help but smile cause it the performance is just so good.

“NRT,” the last track on the CD, is the only all new original composition, as “NIGHT in H.A.P.” and “I Feel So Good…” were recorded for the first Loud 2 Low. “NRT” is a classic jazz track, and sounds like quite good. I think the only problem is that it comes at the end of a CD full of ballads and love songs, and it might be quickly forgotten in the shuffle. However, that doesn’t mean it’s bad by any means, the solos are really catchy, and it only makes you wish that one day, we will get a chance to hear a complete original album from Mitsuyoshi. Another complaint is the overwhelming presence of Virtua Fighter 2 Vocal Arrange, which makes up for 4 of the total of the 15 tracks on the second disc. This might not sound like a whole lot, but it does feel a bit unwelcome in the end, though this may be related to the issue of the amount of ballads there is to choose from.

So how do you best sum up From Loud 2 Low Too? Well, for me, it’s quite simple. It’s the collected works of one of the best minds in game music, showcasing a talent that can handle anything you throw at him, and make the most butchered English so catchy you start singing along mispronouncing the words on purpose. While the second disc might be a bit indistinctive in a full play through, individually the songs are all great. I could not recommend this cd enough for fans of SEGA’s historic arcade games and game music enthusiasts. You should pick it up at Play Asia.  It’s the ultimate showcase of one of the best, though it probably won’t cure you from singing “DAYTONAAAAA” in the shower…

and we all know you do it, we really do.

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