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NieR Night: SQ Party LEVEL2 Impressions

October 28, 2011 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook NieR Night: SQ Party LEVEL2 Impressionson Twitter

While Kai was able to provide an amazing writeup of the SQ Party LEVEL1 concert that took place less than a month ago, he unfortunately wasn’t able to attend the NieR night follow-up performance that took place this morning, so I’m filling in based on watching the live stream on Ustream. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s the best we’re going to get!

So, what was performed, who was there, and will you regret not tuning in?

Hit the jump for our impressions.

While waiting for the show to get started (a bit late, I might add), the 2,000 or so people tuning into the 2.5D venue Ustream channel were treated to streaming tracks from NieR Tribute Album –echo-. It wasn’t long, however, before Nobuyoshi Sano took to the stage in a cool green suit to give a brief introduction and get the crowd worked up with his yelling and prompting with a microphone.

He opened with “The Incomplete Stone,” his arrangement from the aforementioned NieR Tribute Album –echo-. It was impressive watching him turn on and off the layers and effects in the song, although the highlight was his silly antics as he swayed, danced, made up lyrics for the songs, and laughed maniacally throughout his entre set.   I actually thought his craziness in the Noisycroak Composer Panel was mainly due to the influences of alcohol, but it looks as though this kind of behavior may be his norm!  A few of his lines in English were, “Are you ready for drums?!,” and “Does everyone know Roland? Everything Roland!”

This was followed by his chopped up sounds from Dragon-On Dragoon. His vocal theme from the game, “Route B Staff Roll” was performed with additional beefy bass and percussion to give it a club sound. He then whipped out his KORG M01 software on the DSi and performed another arrangement of “The Incomplete Stone.” He took votes from the crowd, which included people wearing creepy NieR masks, as to which layer to add first. Bass won out. The piece itself was incredibly repetitive given the limitations of the software, but it was lots of fun as he added and subtracted layers and improvised on the chaos pad. Sano departed from the stage waving his copy of the KORG M01 software in the air, acting as a bit of a promotional stunt.

After a short break, an unassuming Go-qualia took to the stage in hoodie, giving a professional top-notch performance. He opened with dreamy layers of Emi Evans’s voice along with glitchy synth work and percussion before moving into a similarly styled “Emil.” Gameplay footage was shown in the background as Go-qualia manipulated both his laptop and mixing board to perfect his unique IDM creation that seamlessly flowed from one piece to another. The arrangement of “Emil” in particular had its vocal section deconstructed and put back together as an amalgamation with pads and percussion that seemed to follow no time structure to create a truly otherworldly experience that was amazing to watch and hear on the stream. I know, however, that the people in attendance were experiencing a transcendent moment in that room that I would have easily dropped the money on airfare to experience if travel time wasn’t an issue.

“Wretched Automatons” came in next, building slowly layer by layer, but with a heavy bassy presence with droning bass notes sitting under the mix (am I the only person who swears they hear words in English in this song and tries to sing along in their head?). This continued into the “Kaine” section which was highly abstract, but equally amazing with its deep house bass line and synthesizer flourishes that appeared with the track’s contemplative piano melody and Emi Evans’s voice in the background. A dreamy “Snow in Summer” transitioned into “Ashes of Dreams” as his “Suite of NieR” track from the echo album was completed, closing out his set. Quite honestly, his performance was perfect. Square Enix could easily have taken a recording from his mixing board, put it on CD, and sold it. I’d happily buy it!

A hip looking DE DE MOUSE with super long bangs in his face took to the stage next, bringing with him multiple synthesizers that he played throughout his set. Interestingly, DE DE MOUSE was not featured on the NieR Tribute Album (he contributed a track to Love SQ), and it showed! That’s not to say that he isn’t capable of putting together some unique NieR arrangements, but aside from a brief cameo by “Snow in Summer” at the beginning of his set, the drum ‘n’ bass performance was pretty much NieR-less with the exception of the game footage spliced with psychedelic visuals in the background. Oh, and there was a weird section featuring “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The last performer of the evening was the one that many were looking forward to the most, world’s end girlfriend, featuring visuals by Masato TSUTSUI (the group wasn’t actually shown on the feed once the performance started). The set had a cinematic quality about it, opening with the sound of wind, the flipping of pages, and the voices of children in the background before strings and choir voiced an angelic melody, giving way to a reflective harp progression that eventually led into a solemn “Snow in Summer” as heard on the NieR Tribute Album, complete with the terrifying dissonant meshing of vocal elements and gurgling screams that closed out the album. This was followed by a brief piano solo arrangement of “Ashes of Dreams” before the set came to a rather sudden close.

I honestly know nothing about world’s end girlfriend other than people were excited when it was announced that they were working on the NieR Tribute Album. They’ve apparently done some film work and toured the world, but I have to say after hearing the track on the album and their short set that I don’t really get the hype. It’s a nice blend of orchestral and electronic elements, but I didn’t feel the set was engaging enough without seeing the group or even long enough to keep my interest, and the chaotic screaming and noise is really hard to listen to.

Given that we were watching the video feed provided by the Masato TSUTSUI instead of the live feed at this point, I wasn’t able to see the fan reaction during the performance or after the concert was over, which was a shame.  There was a note from Square Enix after it was over saying “SQ Party LEVEL3 coming soon…?,” so we’ll have to watch for that. The feed went back to streaming the tribute album while zooming in and out on the album cover as fans approached the camera and lifted up their NieR masks and other items.

Overall, it was a pretty amazing show. I have to say that the first half, including a rousing performance by Nobuyoshi Sano and a perfect one by Go-qualia were the highlights, while the second half was somewhat of a letdown, but I still think it was worth waking up at 4:30 AM for!

What do you think of what was performed? Can you tell me why people care so much about world’s end girlfriend and do you have predictions as to what kind of music the next SQ Party may feature?

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