Game Music, Reviews

An Extra Hyper Affair: Extra -Official Compilation- (Review)

April 19, 2010 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook An Extra Hyper Affair: Extra -Official Compilation- (Review)on Twitter

While I never got to see one of the EXTRA events live, I’ve always been intrigued by the so-called “Hyper Game Music Event” in Japan. You may recall Justin Pfeiffer’s lengthy impressions of the EXTRA event in 2008, and our interview with the event’s organizer and 5pb Records producer Masatoshi Nakamura, but 2007 marked the launch of the concert series, and with it came a number of album releases that are worth taking a look at.

The first album that was released after the 2007 concert was the EXTRA -Official Compilation- album, which, while not a live recording, did feature a number of remixes and live performances that were pieced together to represent what the show was all about. A strange approach for sure, but it does work, and a number of the tracks from the DJ side were actually played at the show, so in that sense, it is a piece of the event in your home. The album features arrangements from Rally-X, Dragon Spirit, some of the Basiscape composers’ early works, and Norihiko Hibino, with a taste of both electronic music and live performance.

Join us as we take a look back at the Extra -Official Compilation- album after the jump!

The album starts the “DJ Side,” which are mainly electronic remixes of classic gaming franchises. I’ve found that a lot of DJ sets even at live events are just mp3s pumped through the speakers, so a number of the tracks presented here probably represent what was actually heard at the event. The opening track is “That’s RALLY-X (NEW RALLY X-REMIX),” a fun, pumping techno remix from RALLY-X provided by Namco Bandai’s Hiroshi Okubo. The highlight of this track is the use of the game’s sound effects and the fast-paced phrases voiced by Jeremy Clark and Junko Ozawa, “drive it, turn it, steal it, burn it, watch that fuel gauge, don’t slow done!” There are lots of fun little lines like this that I thought were pretty cool, even if others around me thought it was annoying.

BETTA FLASH is next with a track from Raycrisis titled “.BLUE -the day you live on the earth-,” an electronic bossa nova-esque track with some dreamy vocals. The track picks up some electronic percussion towards the end, creating a cool hybrid. Next up is one of my favorites, “Dragon Spirit -first groover-” by Shinji Hosoe. I loved this game as a kid, even if I was never able to beat it, and while Hosoe’s remix takes a good 3 minutes to get going (it’s 7 minutes in length), the pumping trance version of the first stage’s theme really hits the spot.

A trio of remixes from Basiscape composers is next. Masaharu Iwata and Hitoshi Sakimoto both travel back to their roots, with Iwata providing the highly retro and synthesizer-heavy “Turnover Horizon” from Over Horizon and Sakimoto going for a grungy, distorted, and mechanical sound with “On a Satellite’s Orbit -CD Extra Mix-” from Soukyuugurentai that really shows where his killer electronic sound in Gradius V came from. Next, Manabu Namiki’s “A Thousand Flying Bullets” from dodonpachi DAI-OU-JOU is an intense trance track.

Then it’s on to Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka with an original composition titled “Saffron ’97,” and it’s certainly an odd one. Tanaka released this under the name “Tanaka Hirokazu Extra,” and it’s a very minimalistic chip track that makes music out of chirping sound effects with drum loops and droning pads. It sounds very much like something from Mother series: experimental and chaotic. It’s still a very interesting track that I enjoy listening to.

It’s then on to the “Live Side,” starting with a track from Kenji Ito’s score for Culdacept Saga titled “THE PHOENIXION -Extra Mix-.” It features exotic vocals from Kyoko Kishikawa and ethnic guitar work by Hironobu Tanabe. Given the ethnic flair, if I had been told this was from the Suikoden series, I’d have been inclined to believe them! Yuzo Koshiro provides another of my favorites, “Subarashiki Shin Sekai Early Instrumental Version” from “Namco x Capcom,” a traditional techno track with some beautiful piano and belltone work, sounding like a techno remix of a pop ballad. Kimitaka Mutsumae’s “Star Soldier ~ Hector (Organic Mix)” is probably the only track on the album that I regularly skip as it’s basically the original chiptune tracks with heavy progressive rock percussion laid over the top, making for a cacophony of sound that goes on for nearly 8 minutes.

“Kimi wa Hoehoe Musume (EXTRA Version) [SE Included]” from Idol Hakkenden is a track that I know most people will hate. It features artist momo-i with arranger Takeshi Abo with a super cheery, sticky-sweet Japanese vocals layered over a sweet chiptune piece that is incredibly catchy. While the vocals are meant to be ridiculously cute, they don’t quite cross the line into annoying in my book, so I like the track. We get a few originals from Motoaki Furukawa and Norihiko Hibino next, both of which are excellent. Furkawa’s “3975” is a lovely space rock tune with live electric guitar and some amazing synth work, while Hibino’s “Out of Nowhere” is a haunting orchestral piece featuring harario’s English vocals. The last track is “AFTER BURNER Live at 2004 JAMMA SHOW,” which, while quite old even by the time this CD was released, was still an awesome inclusion. The SEGA in-house band, H., rock us out on a good note.

While this album could be seen as misleading to some, I think it stands on its own as a representation of what the EXTRA events are all about. There are some arrangements and original tracks here that can’t be found anywhere else, and with a few exceptions, nearly every track on this album is great. Regarding the packaging, the booklet features information about the event along with composer profiles and commentary on every track, and the transparent red plastic disc tray and metallic pink disc are unique and are a nice touch. It’s still available at both CD Japan and Play-Asia.

What do you think about the premise of this album? Did you happen to pick it up back when it was released and have any thoughts about it looking back?

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