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OSV’s Top 5 Doujin / Arrangement Albums Of 2009

February 11, 2010 | | 14 Comments Share thison Facebook OSV’s Top 5 Doujin / Arrangement Albums Of 2009on Twitter

2009 was a pretty varied year for game music in general. You can look at the official releases and see that we had retro releases such as Alex Kidd Complete Album, Let’s Go Away The Video Game DAYTONA USA Anniversary Box or all new blockbusters like BAYONETTA Original Soundtrack and MADWORLD Official Soundtrack. For the doujin and arrangement communities it was no different, and it was an overall productive year, with some of the greatest releases so far in terms of quality and production values.

After some intense days of going through my massive collection from this year alone, I could finally pin down my top 5 must-haves from last year. This is a follow-up to our 2009 OSVOSTOTY Awards that we posted about last week, but unfortunately nobody at OSV really follows the doujin scene as closely as I do.  It was no easy task, but that is only a testament to the amazing creativity that’s bubbling in the talented individuals who’re part of these circles. Now many refer to doujin as anyone who arranges game music in Japan. This is not entirely correct, as doujin merely refers to self produced albums, which often has videogame material on them. But for the sake of clarity, this list might have some albums with no game music on them, but are heavily inspired or the artist has a deep background in doing arrangements.

Alright, ready? So am I, let’s look at the list after the jump!

5. 8BiTouhou 3 – Bizen
What the hell am I doing listing anything Touhou related on my list?! Well it’s only a testament to Bizen’s great skills as an arranger and musician. Releasing music under his circle DDBY, Bizen has quickly become a new favorite of many who follow the scene with his super productive nature and good spirited music. 8BiTouhou 3 is part of his series of albums arranging the music of Touhou games down to Famicom fashion, and it couldn’t sound any better. It seems with each release Bizen just keeps on getting better, and I am constantly excited for what he announces next.

4. DEATH CHARGE – YAMAGEN
YAMAGEN released a game music arrangement album some years ago which blew me away, arranging classics like Chrono Trigger, Seiken Densetsu 2 and Final Fantasy VI into flawless melodic death metal, which often can be hit or miss depending on his approach. His style is quite unique and the many layers of melodies he uses blend together wonderfully. He showcased the talent of his original writing with his instrumental original debut Working Class Hero in 2008, and in 2009 he returned once again, this time with vocals. Luckily for most, his English is pretty clean, and he continues to be nothing but impressive. He’s one artist that I prefer sticking with originals since he is absolutely awesome at it.

3. Vivid Colors -KEY tribute album- – MintJam
People who already know me well enough saw this one coming miles away, and honestly, I love this band enough that I could spend the rest of the article just talking about their brilliance, but I’ll keep it to a paragraph for now, so consider yourself lucky. Vivid Colors -KEY tribute album- is an arrangement album of many Key games, like Kanon, AIR, CLANNAD, Tomoyo After and Little Busters!, which are fan favorites in Japan. As expected by MintJam, they exceed the original songs 10x times over and even the people who dislike TERRA, the vocalist, had to admit that on this album, he was completely on his game. The amazing guitar work by a2c and solid production from setzer round up the whole package into one of the best arrangement albums of 2009.

2. Bacon EP – The Smash Bros.
This album was conveniently released on the 1st of January, 2009, and it’s fitting that it did as it kick started the year with one of the best outings you can find. The band is lead by Jake Kaufman and includes the incredible talents of Midee, Ailsean, Prozax and Norg, and this EP is a fine example of good minds and talent getting together. You’ll have a hard time finding a better arrangement of Castlevania 3 and Actraiser, which they combined into the song “Actraiservania,” and I’ll be damned if you don’t pop a smile and a boner during “Missile Ride” from Contra 4. Recently the CD went out of production, and they were nice enough to offer the whole CD for free online with a new bonus track, so there is no excuse not to get this album.

1. Varia Suite – Metroid Metal

Metroid is such an epic and special beast, and there are few game series that are as cherished and revered world over. For me, my greatest memories as a child playing Metroid was it’s music, not only because it was so different and utterly amazing, but because I was too dumb to figure what the hell to do, and pretty much ended up using the game as a jukebox. Metroid Metal is a project started by the ever amazing Grant Henry, where he would arrange Metroid music and release on his site. It eventually got so popular and the arrangements were of such high quality that a live band seemed to be the next step, and performing these complicated songs live would be no easy feat. It’s therefor even more impressive to hear Dan Behrens, Mike Molnar, Kevin Lawrence, Dan Taylor and Henry himself blast through these songs like they were making tender love to a mature woman. The CD will remain one of the greatest arrangement albums ever, and it will be a hard one to knock off the throne. Be proud gentlemen, be proud.

Honorable mentions: RETURN OF THE ATTACK OF THE LEGEND OF PIZZOR, Zannen!! Watashi no CD wa Kore de Owatte Shimatta!!, Folktale Recollection, Low-tech Son with High-Tech Chan!!

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