C94 Roundup

This post is later than usual, mostly because I was waiting for the ShinRa-Bansho announcement. It’s also coincidentally exactly three years since I published my first roundup post. Happy… anniversary to me, I guess?

Putting that aside, we’ve got another official spin off coming too – Touhou 16.5. It’s called Hifuu Nightmare Diary: Violet Detector. It’s another photography game, except Sumireko is taking over Aya and Hatate’s role. Poor Hatate is slowly being phased out of existence…

There’s been a lot of developments on the western side of things, too. (*Inserts shameless plug for my own album, Rosethorn*). Apart from that, Redditaisai 2018 took place on the 28th of July. There were too many wonderful submissions for me to list here, so I highly recommend that you look at the index and see what everyone submitted! A lot of these circles are releasing new music for this event, too, so be sure to follow the artists you like on social media!

It’s a packed event, but I capped my list to 20 albums to save space. Like always, leave a comment and let me know what you’re looking forward to! There’s a bunch of albums I left off (including new releases by FELT, TAMAONSEN, and GET IN THE RING), so feel free to share your thoughts or let me know what you’d like to see!

本リストは好みの順にランキングしていません。
Bear in mind that most title translations aren’t official translations, and are presented for the sake of convenience.


shinra1. ShinRa-Bansho’s “Netaminity” [ネタミニティ]

XFD || Official Site

I was a little worried we wouldn’t get an album, since it looks like kaztora’s hard drive started failing at the last minute. But! Everything worked out! And we have an awesome album to show for it!

The standout track is undoubtedly 無間嫉妬劇場『666』. I can’t wait to get my hands on the booklet when my copy arrives so I can delve right into the world it conjures up. ‘666’ is the number of the beast in most English-speaking countries, so I bet it has a bitter core. Did I mention that ‘The Bridge People No Longer Cross’ is one of my favourite themes from Subterranean Animism?

Apart from that, kaztora received arrangement support from a bunch of people this time including ACTRock, which I think is really cool. We’ve also got a bunch of old and new lyricists, including the return of Seiji!

In other news, ShinRa-Bansho is holding a live concert later in the year called ‘Shinraism,’ featuring of their albums (and yes, that includes their first one released 10 years ago which is technically a Liz Triangle album).


kokyo112. Kokyo Active NEETs’ “Touhou Philharmonic Orchestra 8: SA” [東方フィルハーモニー交響楽団8 地]

XFD || Official Site

After taking two albums to finish MoF, Kokyo Active NEETs is back with a single album covering SA. Unlike last time, the title of the album doesn’t indicate that we’ll get two SA albums, so if you’re a fan of ‘The Bridge People No Longer Cross’ or ‘Hellfire Mantle’ like I am… you’re out of luck (that is, unless we get a SA + SWR album as #9 in the series, which is very possible).

Like usual, the orchestra makes everything sound great, and there are some outstanding arrangements in there. My personal favourite is ‘Lullaby of Deserted Hell.’

If we don’t get SA + SWR as the next album, we are potentially two releases away from a Ten Desires album, which I am incredibly hyped for.

(Tokyo Active NEETs is also releasing a LoLK jazz album).


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3. “Utopia Hides beneath a Starry Night” [星降る夜のユートピア], by TUMENECOx四面楚歌 feat.京都幻想劇団

XFD || Official Site

TUMENECO have transcended reality. Their Sealing Club power has grown so strong it has finally manifested in anime form.

Well, it isn’t actually a real movie. What it is, though, is a fascinating collaboration between TUMENECO, Shimensoka (四面楚歌), and the Kyoto Fantasy Troupe (京都幻想劇団). It includes a 2-disc CD, a short story, and an anime trailer. You’ve got to respect the love and passion that’s gone into this.

If I had a spare month or so I’d love to sink my teeth into this and translate it…


4-6. BUTAOTOME’s C94 collection

XFD || Official Site [少女煉獄4]
XFD || Official Site [大富豪]
XFD || Official Site [東方猫鍵盤16]

BUTAOTOME spoils us with not one, not two, but three new albums!

The first is the long-awaited 4th installment in the 少女煉獄 (Maiden Purgatory) series. In case you missed the others, this series is made up of dark, Japanese-style arrangements. It’s my favourite BUTAOTOME series, so I’m super excited to see it return! I rank the ‘Bibliophile with a Deciphering Eye’ arrangement highly. When Ranko sings together with the piano, it creates a lovely staccato effect.

The second is the sequel to last event’s 大貧民 (Extreme Needy). It’s called 大富豪 (Grand Millionaire), focusing on the other Yorigami sister and the other side of the Japanese card game. It’s a complete tonal shift to the other vocal album they’re releasing at this event, sounding more like one of their original albums. I can still hear the original themes, though, which stops it from being another Animal Path (^_^);

The third album is the 16th (!) installment in the 東方猫鍵盤 (Touhou Keyboard Cat) series. Paprika is here, and she’s doing what she does best. Unlike previous albums, it’s a piano-only album. I prefer the extra touches she adds to the arrangements since there’s so many other piano-only albums out there, but this is fine for a change of pace.


fmt7. Feuille-Morte’s “ゲキノウタ” [The Play’s Song]

XFD || Official Site

And so, RD begins a new song. A new chapter. This one begins with a man awakening with nothing. No memories of who he was. No family. No loved ones.

This is only a short album, but if it’s anything like other short albums by this circle, it’ll be packed with symbolism and musical awesomeness. We’ve even got a new vocalist this time – 頼経 遥 (Haruka Yoritsune). She brings a touch of theatre and opera to things.

The final track is, for me, the most intriguing. It’s called 『劇作家』の独白 (The Playwright’s Soliloquy), and without a sample, it makes me picture Merami talking with some ambient music in the background. Overall, RD does theatre really well, which makes me quite interested in this album.


prologue8. touhoujihen’s “prologue”

XFD || Official Site

“Oh no! It’s a compilation album!”

Well, yeah, but there’s a new track! It sounds sooo gooood! The other tracks appear to be the ones from the 3-single barrage that haven’t made it into any albums yet, along with two Melonbooks tracks.

So, you can kind of understand why this album exists. I didn’t buy the singles, so I can finally own a copy of them! Awesome!


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hnm29-10. Hatsunetsumiko’s C94 Collection

XFD || Official Site [Reunion]
XFD || Official Site [Love, Smile & Blood]

Hatsunetsumiko’s turns 10 this year, so we have two compilation albums to celebrate this milestone! The first, Reunion, features re-recordings of a number of well-known tracks. It also features IN MY LIFE, from Groove Coaster, as a bonus track. The reimaginings are all so fresh and clear.

The second album is a more traditional compilation album. It features all of the vocal tracks released last year and this year. I remember not being quite convinced by some aspects of Twice, so I wonder if the “treatment and mastering” extended to it…

Happy 10th anniversary Hatsunetsumiko’s! May you stick around for many years to come!


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11-12. Cajiva’s Gadget Shop’s “Stray Cats & Nippy Dogs” and AramiTama’s “Poorest Celebrities”

XFD || Official Site [Stray Cats & Nippy Dogs]
XFD || Official Site [Poorest Celebrities]

Cajiva’s Gadget Shop has put together a compilation album of tracks from 2013-2017. It’s 4 discs and 37 tracks of tribal house goodness. You could put the album on and just lose yourself in the circle’s cool, rhythmic world… I’m a bit disappointed that there’s no digital release this time, but there’s not much I can do about that.

AramiTama’s album, as the cover implies, is based on Antinomy of Common Flowers. It’s billed as “Splendid music for the paupers” and it features 4(!) arrangements of Egoistic Flowers! They’re split up into two sets, with each track in the set representing a different sister. The third track features some cool saxophone samples, so I’m fond of it.


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13-16. Pizuya’s Cell’s C94 collection

XFD || Official Site [ユビキタス・グリニッジ]
XFD || Official Site [鏡花あやかしの扉]
XFD || Official Site [非実在性プラネタリウム]
XFD || Official Site [Express Border Tour]

That’s an intimidating list of albums. Let’s go through and dig a bit deeper…

The first album, ユビキタス・グリニッジ (Ubiquitous Greenwich) is the Pizuya x Futoumeido album that you’d expect from this circle. This has more of a rock feel to it. Let’s face it, I could sit here and listen to Futoumeido sing about megastructures all day.

The second album, 鏡花あやかしの扉 (The Door of Kyouka Ayakashi, perhaps a reference to author Kyouka Izumi), is a godwood HSiFS piano album.

The third album, 非実在性プラネタリウム (Unreality Planetarium), is a compilation album of tracks that feature Futoumeido. There’s two discs and 30 tracks of nothing but Futoumeido goodness!

The fourth album, Express Border Tour, is technically brought to us by Piznian. As the name implies, it’s a collaboration between pizuya and hellnian. It features a series of instrumental rock arrangements.

(Pizuya’s Cell is also publishing another TOHO no RAN album, featuring a series of live recordings.)

Did you know? Pizuya’s Cell has an official Youtube channel! Go and show some love and hear official uploads of their albums!!


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17-18. Akatsuki Records’ “Shout It Out Loud!!!” and Inorai’s “ツナガル セツナ” (Connected Moments)

XFD || Official Site [Shout It Out Loud!!!]
XFD || Official Site [ツナガル セツナ]

Whoa, it actually happened. This Akatsuki Records album keeps it in the family, with Stack providing all the lyrics, vocals, and 2 arrangements, and Stack Bros. providing the other arrangements. It has a more rock sound than I’m used to hearing from Stack Bros. but it’s really cool. We get the traditional drama track in ‘Witchcraft Heptagram,’ which I think is really cool. And hey, I don’t know if I mentioned this, but the official English translation of the album’s title track comes courtesy of Robin! Awesome!

ACTRock, on the other hand, has started his own personal circle and taken cheluce with him. It’s also a collaboration album with ShinRa-Bansho! ShinRa… Bansho! I mean, we already knew that ACTRock and kaztora are good friends, since ACTRock contributed a track to M other and Akatsuki Records and Liz Triangle did a collaboration album. This is a really cool album. I mean, you already know how much of a cheluce fan I am, so I can’t say no to more albums featuring her, especially when we get some gorgeous arrangements by kaztora too. The album is basically two friends having a great time, and I’m totally on board with that.


aoc19. ACCORD ON CODES’ “Shade of your reverie”

XFD || Official Site

Some more jazz! It goes without saying that this circle produces polished, quality jazz arrangements. This album has a Sealing Club focus and… it has a Wind of Agartha arrangement! I love that theme!

I like this sort of album more than, say, an explosive jazz album because it’s smooth and subtle. To me, it says more with less.


nierparody20. AkatukinoSizuku’s “VielE:Autoplast 結”

XFD || Official Site

From the people who brought you the Touhou x Kingdom Hearts album, we have… a NieR parody?!

Apparently one of these albums was already released? It must have been quite popular. The circle does a good job of capturing the essence of NieR’s music while still staying true to Touhou. My favourite track is, of course, the True Administrator arrangement.

You can buy their albums on Melonbooks DL too if you’d like.

RTS15 Roundup

Another event has arrived! This year seems like a quieter year, with no new official releases by ZUN. I was hoping for a new Sealing Club album, but not this time…

On the Western side of things, we have:

  • Fearless Desire, an album by Sieudiver that also features a bunch of other artists. Find the official site here!
  • Broken Borders, the final release by Matutinum Miserabilis. You can find it here!
  • WHAT’S GOOD, by Find Your Way. Listen to the demo here.
  • Probably some more albums. If I’ve left you off, leave a comment and I’ll add you here!

I’m skipping this event, unfortunately: I’m trying something new, and it needs a bit more time to be polished up. By an unknown coincidence, Diao ye zong is also skipping this event. RD did write a track from nayuta’s new album, though.

What albums will I be buying from this event? At the moment, it’s looking like my definite purchases are ShinRa-Bansho’s 2 new albums, Iroha-ya’s album, and touhoujihen’s new album. I will also pick up TOHO BOSSA NOVA 7 if it has a digital release. After that, I’m considering Lampcat’s album and Bartender Reimu 4.

本リストは好みの順にランキングしていません。


1. ONSEN PROJECT’s “ORIENTAL-GIRLFRIEND”

XFD || Official Site

i was so sure that sui-ten would be this circle’s only album but it isn’t and whoa whoa i am freaking out right now it sounds so good


synchro22. ShinRa-Bansho’s “Synchro 2” (シンクロ2)

XFD || Official Site

This is the second compilation album of ShinRa-Bansho’s event-limited singles. That’s a pretty loose description, though, since 3 of the tracks are brand new. The demo wasn’t out while I was writing this, so I can’t gush about how good it sounds, but it’s not too big of a deal.

The circle also released its first original album, キラメキ居残り大戦争 (Kirameki Inokori Daisensou). The theme is sport vs. culture, or Ayaponzu* vs. Ayo. Sorry Ayaponzu*, but I’m with team Ayo for this one…

Finally, ShinRa-Bansho covered ‘Share the World’ from One Piece for the Shonen Jump tribute album 週間少年J~友情と努力と勝利のアニメソングトリビュート. The original is one of my least favourite openings, but kaztora makes it sound great and kind of jazzy.


irohaya3. Iroha-ya’s “Iroha-ya Collection”

XFD || Official Site

I discovered this circle a few events ago through their album ‘Nothing is Over.’ I bought it on a whim and it fast became my favourite Old Adam/Dr Latency arrangement album (or should that be the only album…?). The circle is back with another release, and this one is a compilation album of past hits. It’s the perfect album for me since Nothing is Over is the only album by them that I own. It’ll be a great way for me to become familiar with their back catalogue.

If that isn’t enough, the second disc features remixes of Iroha-ya tracks! It’s a star-studded lineup featuring Foxtail Grass Studio, As/Hi, and Cajiva’s Gadget Shop, amongst others.


bossa74. “TOHO BOSSA NOVA 7,” published by ShibayanRecords

XFD || Official Site

7 years. 7 bossa nova albums. Some people may be getting tired of these by this point, but I know I’m certainly not. It’s hard to say what sets this one apart from the others, since each album features a different set of arrangers.

We’ve got 3 vocal tracks, and 2 of them have been arranged by Shibayan. He’s spoiling us this time!


comfort5. touhoujihen’s “ComfortLove”

XFD || Official Site

Only 3 tracks this time, but they sound so cool! The official site calls this album’s sound ‘sweet, sweet love rock.’ I think that’s a pretty accurate description. Even though it’s love rock, it’s not as peppy as ヤサシイウタ (A Kind Song). Instead, it has a tough core, emphasised by track 2, and track 3 feels almost DnB.

Is this a new direction by NSY? If it is, I’m more than happy with it. I want to stay on this train!


ofa6. Lampcat’s “one for all”

XFD || Official Site

It’s a new circle!

At least, I think they’re new. This circle is led by a person called sasakusa, and it features vocalists Norin (のりん) and Ukuna (うくな). The production values are through the roof. The crossfade video is so professionally done, and according to sasakusa’s Twitter, the album has actually been advertised on the street…?

Sound-wise, it’s cute but with a bit of bitterness hidden beneath the surface. I was a little on the fence, but after listening to the demo and ‘autre’ a couple of times, I’m hooked. This circle is now my new obsession.

You can listen to the full version of ‘autre’ here.


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7. Cajiva’s Gadget Shop’s “Encounter Xanadu Battle (EXB)”

XFD || Official Site

This is dark. Almost haunting.

This album features arrangements of the extra boss’ themes (and also Desire Drive, because why not). Most of the tracks are remastered versions of past tracks, but there are some new ones in there, too. We’ve got the usual vocal samples, along with the usual tribal house sound, but everything sounds polished and effective. The first track stands out to me, along with the sixth track.

Cajiva’s Gadget Shop just so happens to have a BOOTH shop, where you can pick up digital copies of past releases! Convenient!


8-10. DDBY’s RTS15 collection

All demos available on DDBY’s official YouTube channel

We have three really solid releases from DDBY this time! The one on the left is the third in the ‘Wilderness Pilgrim’ series (荒野の旅人). It’s a Sealing Club album, and all the tracks have a traditional, acoustic feeling to them, though a bunch of different genres are represented. The second track reminds me of something from Xenoblade Chronicles, and since that has one of my favourite soundtracks I’m right on board.

The album on the top right is ‘All the Tracks are Battle Arrangements’ (全曲バトルアレンジ). It’s a very functional title but it’s pretty much a continuation of the ‘Gensokyo Drive’ series, which in my mind is a continuation of the ‘Synth de Touhou’ series. More importantly, it’s a Highly Responsive to Prayers album! How cool is that? Some of the harmonic choices make me feel a bit uneasy so I’m not as fond of this one, but I love the vibe.

Finally, we have Bartender Reimu 4. This is also a Highly Responsive to Prayers arrangement album! It’s a lounge/jazz album, and the demo is very promising. It’s slightly more expensive than the other 3 at 1500 yen, but it also comes with woodwind sheet music for tracks 7 and 8. If you cover it, the circle wants you to send an email with a link to the video and your Twitter handle, and they’ll feature the video on their website.


b11. TUMENECO’s “Re:TMNC Acoustic Collection”

XFD || Official Site

This album features acoustic arrangements of past TUMENECO songs, as well as re-recordings of tracks featured in past albums in the re:TMNC series. Some of them are overlapping: for example, this must be the third time we’ve seen Auld Lang Syne. I love that track, so I could listen to a dozen versions and not get tired, though!

I think there are some new tracks in there, but don’t take my word for it. If Renko x Merry is your thing, you can’t go wrong with this, since even the non-Sealing Club tracks are about the Sealing Club.

That album art is so adorable, too!


xion12. “Fairy Tale” by 彩音 ~xi-on~

XFD || Official Site

I’ve written about some of xi-on’s albums before, but I’ve never really paid close attention to them. I suppose that’s what makes this album stand out for me – the production values are quite high, and each track sounds so refreshing. This one has a country homestead in the hills feel to it. It’s very rollicking. Also, even though track 7 is an arrangement of ‘The Refrain of the Lovely Great War,’ I firmly believe that the arranger had ‘Eternal Spring Dream’ in mind the whole time. Anyway, this is a nice, relaxing album.

(It also helps that I’ve been playing Ni No Kuni II lately and this album gives me similar vibes…)

The most exciting thing is that xi-on now has a BOOTH site where you can purchase digital versions of their back catalogue! The convenience of a digital download is the sort of thing that will make me pick this up someday.


wuju13. wujiu’s “LOVE&CLOWNPEACE”

XFD || Official Site

I just realised I’ve been calling this circle ‘wuju’ all this time. Whoops (^_^);

I like this circle because their music is so… down to earth. It feels like the sort of music you’d listen to at a pub, with smoke drifting through the air. I find myself returning to the 4th track the most. You wouldn’t expect those two themes to sound good together, but they really do. Also, I love the whistling in the last track.


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14-15. Pizuya’s Cell’s “Event Horizon” and “縁に佇む思い出話” (Reminiscent Talk Loitering at the Edge)

[PSYC-0024] XFD || Official Site
[PPPP-0021] XFD || Official Site

I don’t have much to say about Event Horizon, since it’s in the gothic rock style we’ve come to expect from this circle. There’s also no classic legend track…

The piano album is also exactly what we’ve come to expect from godwood. Notably, this album is a compilation album of all the event-limited piano singles. It includes some of my favourite themes like Two Words and Phantom Factory.


speaklow16. Speaklow’s (スピークロウ) “窮境フュージティヴ” (Predicament Fugitive)

XFD || Official Site

This has an intense k-waves lab feel to it, but it’s by a completely different circle (I think). That’s probably enough to give you an idea of what this album is – it’s full of traditional, kind of celtic arrangements. Interestingly, there are some other genres in there, like jazz, which keeps it interesting.

Having said that, I’ve included this album because it features a great arrangement of Eternal Short-Lived Reign. I love that theme.


17-19. BUTAOTOME’s RTS15 collection

(Demos available on official sites)
[Needy] XFD || Official Site
[Wiccan] XFD || Official Site
[Peace] XFD || Official Site

BUTAOTOME is here, with not just 1, but 3 albums! The first one is ‘大貧民’ (Extreme Needy), and it’s a reference to the traditional Japanese card game Daifugō. I don’t have much to say about it, since it’s so similar to what we’ve seen from this circle before.

The second album is ‘Wiccan Music Room’ (魔女たちの音楽室). It’s a collection of smaller singles based on the three witches. It’s kind of like ‘異端審問’ (The Inquisition).

The final album is ‘Touhou Peace.’ It’s a collaboration with COOL&CREATE and TAMAONSEN, which is pretty cool.


hari520. Hari Music’s “飛鳥之憶 ~ あすかのおぼえ” (Recollections of Asuka)

XFD || Official Site

I pointed this circle out a few events ago when they released an album of live recordings of their music. Unfortunately, this album doesn’t feature live recordings, but it’s a Ten Desires album so I’ll cut them some slack. Ten Desires is made for an orchestral soundscape, and I look forward to hearing an eventual live recording from the circle.

There’s so many arrangements featuring True Administrator here! Take notes, other circles!


tsukiyo21. Foxtail-Grass Studio’s “つきよがたり。” (Moonlit Tales.)

XFD || Official Site

I really loved the four season collection this circle made a few years ago, but since then they’ve kind of fallen off my radar. During an event where so many circles are releasing traditional, instrumental albums, what makes a circle stand out? In this case, I like the way percussion is used, including the glockenspiel and the xylophone. It’s an area that’s easy to neglect.


konpeki822. Konpeki Studio’s “SACRIFICE X SOUL”

XFD || Official Site

Like clockwork, Konpeki Studio has produced an album for the next main Touhou game in the series. It’s a Ten Desires album, too!

I’ve kind of paid attention to the last few releases from this circle, but this album seems much more… confident than the others. There are a few different genres in here, ranging from rock to pop, and there’s even a couple of ballads in there for good measure.


glo23. Girls Logic Observatory’s “Spring Spring -Four Seasons Library vol.1-”

XFD || Official Site

Ayaponzu*!

Well, it’s not fair to just mention her. This is a pretty cool album overall! The 4th track in particular is addictive. Track 6 is also so smoooothhh…


mojan24. Moja stick’s “モジャが二人を分かつまで” (Until Moja Do Us Part)

XFD || Official Site

That title is so cool. Just putting that out there.

As for the album itself, it’s a Perfect Cherry Blossom only album, and there’s a mix of both male and female vocals. The tracks have so much… attitude! The album has a gritty, ‘authentic’ feel to it, which I think is really cool.


tohonoran25. TOHO no RAN’s “東方の乱第一戦、演奏音記録” (TOHO no RAN 1st Fight, Live Performance Recordings)

XFD || Official Site

This is exactly what is says on the tin – recordings of live performances. We’ve got Pizuya’s Cell, モノクロ殺人現場写真, 少女理論観測所, and 石鹸屋.

The quality’s not the best, but if you’re a big fan of those circles, it’s worthwhile to look into this album. I think songs always have a different atmosphere when they’re sung live!


IOSYS26. IOSYS’ “天空キャンディ☆スター” (Heavenly Candy☆Star)

XFD || Official Site

Asanaaaaaaaa!

This looks like a kind of collaboration album, featuring vocalists from a bunch of different circles. It’s also a Hidden Star in Four Seasons only album, which is nice.

Still, Asana is here and she’s in charge of Illusionary White Traveler, which is my favourite HSiFS track. I wish she could join ShinRa-Bansho or something…

We’ve also got a new ROCKIN’ON TOUHOU album, but Asana isn’t on there so I didn’t list it here.


That’s it for another event! There’s a bunch of stuff I didn’t cover here, including Akatsuki Records’ new releases, TAMAONSEN’s new release, and FELT’s new release. There’s also a new Hatsunetsumiko’s release, which is sounding awesome. Let me know in the comments section which albums you’re looking forward to!

C93 Roundup

This event is shaping up to be a really busy one, with lots of circles putting out two or more releases. What’s more, Touhou 15.5: Antinomy of Common Flowers is being released! This event will also feature Liz Triangle’s last album, and I’m already getting emotional writing those words and I don’t even know what the album will feature yet.

First up, I’ll do a mini non-Japan circle roundup!

  • I’m releasing two new albums. The first is ‘Voyage‘, my third Len’en arrangement album. The second is ‘For the Travelers‘, a HSiFS arrangement album.
  • Find Your Way is releasing their long-awaited second album, DIFFERENT WAYS!
  • Frozen Starfall is releasing a new album, Mirrored Worlds.
  • Maiden’s Capriccio is releasing an album, Highest Peak of Enlightenment.
  • AXZIEL is releasing a new single.
  • Violet Delta is currently fundraising. Please go and show him some support and help out his music-making!

(If I didn’t find you, please leave a comment and I’ll add you!)

So, without further ado… let’s get to the list! I normally put the albums I really like the sound of at the top of the list before moving on to albums that I want to introduce. You know the drill. Things are a bit more topsy-turvy than usual, though…

本リストは好みの順にランキングしていません。


TRIANGLE1. Liz Triangle’s “Triangle”

XFD || Official Site

And so, we’ve arrived. This is Liz Triangle’s final album, which we knew was coming for a while now.

Watching the crossfade demo emotionally destroyed me. It never really sank in that Liz Triangle was disbanding until I watched it, and read the simple message written in the description:

“Nice to meet you. It’s been a while. Until the day we meet again…
With thanks for the last 9 years.”

(はじめまして、お久しぶりです、また逢う日まで
9年間のありがとうを込めて)

I’m the one who should be thanking them. Every track on this album sounds so stunning, and track five is a masterpiece. If you haven’t listened to the demo yet, listen to it and you’ll know just why it’s a masterpiece.

Thank you, Liz Triangle.


bana12. ShinRa-Bansho’s “Season 4 you”

XFD || Official Site

So, the single ended up being the title track from the new album! I wasn’t expecting a HSiFS-only album, but it’s a pleasant surprise and I’ve just fallen in love with this circle all over again. And, Cheluce is here as a guest vocalist on track 4! I say how much I love her vocal tone all the time, so it’s an absolute joy to hear her sing on a track arranged by kaztora. ticat has taken on the lion’s share of lyric-writing duties this time, so I’m looking forward to reading through them and seeing how her style has developed!

There are still some event-limited CD tracks yet to be released, so I’m making the bold assumption that that will be the focus of their RTS15 album.


rvcdance3. Ringing Volcano’s “Well, Someone Like Me Can Dance in the Human Village, Right?” [まぁこの人里で踊れるのなんて私くらいだしね?]

XFD [Track 6] || Official Site

Ringing Volcano had a really busy year, at least if their Booth page is anything to go by. We’ve got a couple of Aikatsu arrangement albums, that really good Touhou vocal album, a Kemono Friends album, and even some Kosuzu-flavoured blank sheet music! Unfortunately the Touhou albums are the only things that can be bought digitally…

Anyway, what about /this/ album? Well, as you can tell from the title, it’s a collection of Touhou dance music. No, not EDM! We’re looking at more traditional genres like the waltz. Basically, if you want Touhou chamber music, you need to listen to Ringing Volcano! Also listen if you’re a Kosuzu fan, since they’ve provided basically all the arrangements of her theme out there… (^_^);


thjh4. touhoujihen’s “Hopeless Concerto” [絶望的協奏曲 – zetsubouteki concerto]

XFD || Official Site

touhoujihen’s 4th album is here! This one contains a bunch of new arrangements of themes from Perfect Cherry Blossom, along with three previously released tracks: Hopeless Discord (絶望的不協和音)A Kind Song (ヤサシイウタ), and Adrenaline (a remix of a track from NSY’s Sally days). It’s a shame there aren’t any arrangements of tracks from newer games on there, but what can you do. Also, NSY has welcomed a guest arranger into the fold for this album! He went from collaborating with a crocodile (Wani) to… a koala! (こあら王子 – Koala Prince). They bring a more chilled, bossa-nova vibe to the album, and their tracks are really good! They make me feel like I’m in a cafe in Paris…

Alice’s Tea Party just jumps out at me. It’s so quirky and creative! It’s just like Carnival, which was the first track that made me really appreciate IZNA.


tphill7

5. Kokyo Active NEETs’ “Touhou Philharmonic Orchestra 7: MoF Pt. 2” [東方フィルハーモニー交響楽団7 風 第二幕]

XFD || Official Site

This is the ‘flip’ side of their previous album, including the stage or boss theme that they /didn’t/ do from each stage (except stage 6, for some reason). For the most part, I like all of the themes they’re doing this time better, so I’m glad they decided to split the album up! I was a bit worried when I heard their full version of Native Faith, since it seemed to stick a little too close to the original. But, thankfully, the full medley shows that there’s plenty of creativity to be found here!

The standout track for me is Sealed Gods. Somehow, the arranger managed to turn it into a cross-examination theme from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and I love it!


fmts-0003_b6. Feuille-Morte’s “Wanderia” [ワンダリア]

XFD || Official Site

I haven’t been able to fully get into Feuille-Morte’s previous two releases, but after translating both tracks from the previous album, I feel like I ‘get’ what RD’s going for now. I mean, the hashtag on the crossfade’s Souncloud page says it all: #Storytelling. It makes a world of difference when you sit down and really think about what the individual songs are saying, and when you try and turn them into a narrative. I know the tracks are going to be really long, like they always are, but I’m really looking forward to looking closely at the lyrics and working out where each song is going! I guess, rather than ‘songs,’ they’re all ‘stories’…

Also, we’ve got a star-studded list of vocalists, including Merami, Nayuta, Kushi, and Mitsuki Nakae (中恵光城). How can you go wrong with that?!


vampire7. VAMPIRE KISS, by Hatsunetsumiko’s

XFD || Official Site

Well, as acknowledged on the official site, this is more of a Danceness☆miko’s album than anything else. I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, but Hatsunetsumiko’s operates under three (official…?) labels:
-Hatsunetsumiko’s (pop sound)
-Darkness†miko’s (dark sound from Alkaloid)
-Danceness☆miko’s (newest label, what we were getting from them during 2015-2016).

Anyway, I know a lot of people loved the Danceness☆miko’s sound, so I’m sure they’ll be happy with this. I think the instrumental tracks are divine, especially the Mysterious Purification Rod arrangement. Vocal tracks are great as well! I’m still pining for another Darkness†miko’s album, though…


8+9. Diao ye zong’s “Matsuri” [祀] and Shimensoka’s “And Then, I Ended Up Alone – Until Dream Do Us Part” (そして一人だけになった)

XFD || Official Site [Matsuri]
XFD || Official Site [Shimensoka]

RD returns to his roots with an album based on the album he released at Comiket 10 years ago (called Matsuri [祭]). Unlike the other Akyuu albums released in 2017, this contains only one vocal track, unless you include the inevitable bonus track. Instead, it’s mostly chiptune music. I wasn’t that taken with it on my first listen, but listening to the crossfade again makes me appreciate it a lot more! I love the blend between chiptune and more traditional instruments. RD’s always a storyteller, and I bet each of these tracks has a story that’s just as complex as any other vocal track.

The second album contains all of the RD tracks commissioned by Shimensoka for their doujin works, along with RD’s contributions to TUMENECO’s Genmu [現夢] and one of Vita Sexualis’ doujins. When artists release tracks elsewhere it’s hard to keep track of them all so it’s great that these sorts of albums are released!


10 + 11. DDBY’s “Gensokyo Drive 2” [幻想郷ドライブ2] and “Bartender Reimu 3” [バーテンダーレイム3]

XFD || Official Site [Drive]
XFD || Official Site [Bar]

Like usual, DDBY delivers us a dose of quality instrumental music. This time, we’ve got two albums, but since both are Double Dealing Character albums they work well as a set! The first one is part of a new-ish album series that focuses on ‘easy listening’ music. It’s like a continuation of the Synth de Touhou series, which has been on ice for a while now. The second is part of the Bartender Reimu series, which aims to be trendier than other DDBY albums.

I love them both because they contain great arrangements of Magical Storm. I love that theme and it hardly gets any attention… I think it’s a shame that DDBY doesn’t distribute these albums digitally, because I’d pick them up in a heartbeat if they were. Putting that aside, if you’re a DDC fan, a synth fan, or a jazz fan, these albums get a hearty recommendation!


flap+frog12. flap+frog’s “magical star collection 01”

XFD || Official Site

Following directly on from the DDBY albums above, we have flap+frog. I actually almost filed this album under DDBY before I went to link to the official site…

Though this album marks the start of a new series, it’s similar to the typography series that I wrote about before. The arranger classifies their music as EDM and Dance, and this album continues that trend. It’s very chill, and I like the blend of electric piano and regular piano. It’s like icecubes clinking against a glass of water on a hot day.

In terms of themes, we’ve got a couple of arrangements of the new tracks from Heavenly Star in Four Seasons, along with (of course) a couple of arrangements of Marisa’s themes. If you’re picking up one or both of the DDBY albums, consider this one, too! (Or, likewise)


gratefulbeasts13 + 14. EX永遠亭 and 1569 “the Grateful BEASTS” [神獣の宴-the Grateful BEASTS-] and Karento’s (歌恋人) “Curtainless From Beginning to End” [始終幕無]

XFD [Nico Nico] || Official Site [Grateful Beasts]
XFD || Official Site (NSFW?)

The first album is a collaborative album featuring a bunch of different circles including Honey-Pocket and Cajiva’s Gadget Shop. But, the most surprising group…

BUTAOTOME! Not just BUTAOTOME, it’s DJ Comp and MC Paprika…! *faints* A part of my heart has been sad since they stopped releasing the I LOVE albums, so this track makes me feel a bit better. Maybe we’ll get a new installment soon…?

The other album is a Karento-only release. The album art’s a bit too risque to put here, but I guess that’s the sort of image this circle’s going for. They aim for an ‘adult’ sound, I think they absolutely nail it. It reminds me of early toujihen and Automata Girl, but it has its own unique spin. This album’s a Mountain of Faith-only album.


15 + 16. BUTAOTOME’s “Youkai Back Alley” [あやかし横丁] and Touhou Keyboard Cat 15 [東方猫鍵盤15]

XFD || Official Site [YBA]
XFD || Official Site [KC15]

BUTAOTOME finishes off the year with an album that’s similar in tone to Grudgeful Divine Songs (怨言神楽謌) and the Maiden Purgatory (少女煉獄) series. Sachlich was definitely my favourite BUTAOTOME album released this year, but this one might take second place. We’ve got a couple of HSiFS arrangements, and we’ve also got new versions of Lovesickness (恋の病) and Transient (うたかた). All the tracks sound pretty good, though I think 5 and 7 sound the most promising!

On the Paprika side of things, Keyboard Cat 15 (like Diao ye zong’s Kakage) focuses on  spell cards. It was a great concept when RD tackled it, and Paprika similarly does a great job here. I say this every time, but Paprika’s great at evoking atmospheres with her tracks.

See Tiramisu Cowboy for more info!


sixstring517. Hachimitsu Lemon x Aftergrow’s “Touhou Six String 05 – 想 [Idea]”

XFD || Official Site

minekooooooooooo

 

 

 


18. “Touhou Complation CD Suiseisou” [萃星霜], published by Melonbooks

XFD || Official Site

This is a pretty cool compilation CD – every track is based on a season. A lot of my favourite circles are involved, too, including ShinRa-Bansho, Diao ye zong, minimum electric design, and Halozy. Each track comes with some beautiful artwork, so if you like artwork consider picking this one up. They’re even selling a super-deluxe version for 10,000 yen!


19 + 20. TUMENECO’s “Kataritsugumono” [カタリツグモノ] and “Rainbow Season – Under the Rainbow” [ナナイロノキセツ]

XFD [Click the CD on the official site] || Official Site
XFD || Official Site [Rainbow]

The first album here is, like Himitsunagumono [ヒミツナグモノ], a TUMENECO best-of CD. You have the title track (an arrangement of Old Adam Bar) alongside a selection of tracks released during the past 2 years. I don’t remember a lot of TUMENECO albums from that period, so CDs like these are a good chance to stop and look back.

The rainbow CD appears to be the culmination of a series of vocal + instrumental singles released during the year. The project itself is a collaboration between TUMENECO and artist Miwano Rag (美和野 らぐ). It features representative tracks from Touhou 6-11, along with the usual Sealing Club tracks. I’m willing to bet that all of the lyrics are about Renko and Merry, though…


21 + 22. Akatsuki Records’ “Metamorphosis” and “Komano Shout – Doing My Best!!”  [コマノエール -全力貢献中!!]

XFD || Official Site [Metamorphosis]
XFD || Official Site [Komano]

Akatsuki Records, as one would expect, have come charging straight at the new game with a HSiFS-only album! I really respect Stack Bros. and I really like the sound of all of his tracks. I just can’t help but feel that Akatsuki Records is becoming more of a family thing, now that Stack is taking on more of the arranging duties… I mean, not only is Metamophosis a Stack-only album, but ACTRock and Neko☆Manjuu only have one track each. Putting that aside, Robin has already translated the PV track, an arrangement of ‘Crazy Backup Dancers’, so I recommend giving it a look!

The second album is a collaboration album featuring tracks arranged by ACTRock. It’s the second one in the series, and this time we’ve got Ayaponzu* along for the ride for one of the tracks! As a Cheluce fan, I’m glad that she’s featured in two tracks on this album. Her voice has such a great tone to it!


tumblr_static_a97pu8hy048cog40cwkc440k023. “Longing for…” by nayuta and Chata

XFD || Official Site

As a fan of both nayuta and Chata, this album is delightful! It’s a collaboration album between the two singers, and all of the tracks are so calm and soothing. Three of the tracks are duets, and listening to the demos makes me truly appreciate how great they sound together. Now, if only RD would write a song for Chata…


24. Casket and AramiTama’s SSCSB: Secret Sealed Cask: Small Batch

XFD || Official Site

Some things just go well together. Casket and AramiTama are just two of those things. I can’t find a good way to express this, but it feels like the two circles feed off each other and grow stronger by collaborating. AramiTama’s hypnotic beats give Casket’s floating melodies a much darker bite, but those same floating melodies give AramiTama’s style a whole new energy and vibrancy. Apparently their combined circle name is CasMitama [Cas御霊].

If you like this collaboration, I recommend listening to their original album ‘On the floor / the door’, which is available for digital download on Bandcamp.


tumblr_static_him3s912u7swksgoo8o848cw25. Cajiva’s Gadget Shop’s “Nameless Squrad”

XFD || Official Site

This album features the rad Tengu squad (Aya, Momiji, and Hatate), complete with the tribal house sound this circle is renowned for. I’m still disappointed that Hatate doesn’t have her own theme yet, but there’s not much we can do about that. Music-wise, I’m not as much of a fan of the vocal samples as I have been in the past (looking at you, track 5…), but the underlying arrangements are still high-quality. I especially like track 2!


code26. Knife’s “Code”

XFD || Official Site

I know next to nothing about this single. All I know is that, like Story, it’s an original ‘image song’ for the Sealing Club. I think it’s fascinating to see how Wani and NSY have developed since going their separate ways, and I feel like Wani’s found his groove here. Definitely looking forward to hearing a full album someday…

Also, props to the artwork. It’s called ‘code’ and the apples have barcodes on them. AdamKadmon’s releasing a new album at this event, too.


skirt27. Fuling Cat Mark’s “Give Me Skirt Showtime”

XFD || Official Site

This is such a great circle, seriously. Like, their whole aesthetic is just so… cute and charming and soothing. Listening to their music makes you feel so calm and happy!

This time we’ve got some mashups. I love mashups! Especially when they’re based on themes that you wouldn’t expect… which is basically all of them. They’ve got a BOOTH page, so if you want to pick up any of their past albums, head over there!


tumblr_static_37fwsd0mbg2s048sc0koowosg28. GET IN THE RING’s “Aratama” [荒魂]

XFD || Official Site

No, this isn’t a collaboration with AramiTama…

I know I’m reaching the end of my list, but I had to include GET IN THE RING. Again, they’ve decided to tackle the new game’s music head-on, as one would expect. It sounds great, like usual – it’s the usual rock/pop sound we’ve come to expect from them. I know track 6 isn’t based on a new theme, but I really like how it sounds. Also, if anyone was wondering where Seiji (who wrote some lyrics for ShinRa-Bansho) went, he’s here! He wrote the lyrics for track 5. Good to see he’s still around.

Also, if anyone was wondering about the Activity Case series, GCHM confirmed on Twitter that #8 will probably be released next year! Awesome!


shamisen29. Togakisan’s “Touhou Japanese Music Collection 3” [東方邦楽集3]

XFD || Official Site

3 of these were released and I didn’t even know! Anyway, this album is a collection of arrangements done in a traditional Japanese style. That means lots of shamisen, and lots of Japanese percussion. It’s so cool! Especially the arrangement of Crazy Backup Dancers.


jazz1230. Tokyo Active NEETs’ “Touhou Explosive Jazz 12” [東方爆音ジャズ12]

XFD || Official Site

I thought I’d really love the previous album in this series because I love Ten Desires so much, but it didn’t stick with me. I did some thinking and realised that it was because the solos just didn’t resonate with me. With that in mind, I’m reluctant about getting too hyped up for another album from this circle. Still, they’re all really talented musicians, so if you like jazz you can’t go wrong if you choose this circle. Can we all just take a moment and appreciate that they did a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”?

Also, I don’t think I’ll like the full version as much, but the Magical Storm/Illusionary Joururi arrangement sent shivers down my spine.


So… that’s it for another event! This one was more jam-packed with releases than I expected, so I had to cut a couple off to keep the list at 30 albums. Still, please leave a comment and let me know what you’re looking forward to/what you’re planning on buying!

 

C92 Roundup

It’s that time of the year again. The release of the full version of Touhou 16: Hidden Star in Seasons is naturally the highlight of this event, but there are some excellent albums being released, too! Like usual, the top of my list contains the albums that I’m looking forward to in some sort of vague order, and the albums at the bottom of my list are albums that I think deserve an introduction.

Also, the people over at Reddit put together an event recently: Redditaisai 2. It’s intended to be a sort of Western counterpart to the typical conventions you see in Japan – the full list of entries is here. There’s some great stuff there, including one of my albums, so check it out if you have some time! I’m releasing a new album the week after C92 called Petite Symphonie, so please give the demo a listen if you’re interested!

I’ll add a few more albums to this list closer to the release date. Touhou Jihen forgot to submit an application for a booth at C92, so they’re collaborating with another circle [Details yet to be announced]. TAMAONSEN is also releasing a new album, but the details are likewise yet to be announced.

本リストは好みの順にランキングしていません。


jazz11-l1. Tokyo Active NEETs’ “Touhou Explosive Jazz 11” [東方爆音ジャズ11]

XFD || Official Site

If you’ve been following these posts over the past 2 years, you’ll know that I have a very… complicated relationship with Tokyo Active NEETs. They used to be one of my favourite circles, but then I didn’t like the direction they took with the Explosive Jazz series, so I stopped seriously following them…

And then this album happened! I mean, Ten Desires has my favourite soundtrack, and the Toyosats is my favourite character, so it’s only natural that I’d like this album. But there’s something more. The arrangements are more varied, and there’s more… space in general in the album. I think it’s a remarkable step up from the previous albums in this series!

Their arrangement of Rigid Paradise also doubles as a cover of the Snarky Puppy track ‘What About Me?’. How cool is that?!


bana2

2. Shinra-bansho’s “Synchro” [シンクロ]

XFD || Official Site
A PV for the first track is available here.

At last.

This album features all of the songs from the event-limited CDs Shinra-bansho has been releasing over the past couple of months. That’s not all – it also features brand new arrangements of Wonderful Heaven and Shrodinger’s Bakeneko. I wasn’t able to listen to all of the event-limited singles on Youtube, so a few tracks on this album are brand new to me, which makes it even better. I’m looking forward to finally being able to properly listen to these tracks! 10 tracks of Ayaponzu* and Ayo goodness. What more could you ask for?

Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that Liz Triangle was originally going to disband after this event. However, kaztora pushed the date back to C93 because he wants to do what he can to make Liz Triangle’s last release something truly special.


Ringing3. Ringing Volcano’s “The Rest of a Dream” [夢のつづき]

XFD || Official Site

We used to see quite a few vocal tracks from Machikado-Mapoze, but this is surprisingly the first time we’ve seen vocal tracks from Ringing Volcano. I think they’re all spectacular. The vocalists do such a great job, and the accompaniment is so fulfilling.

It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I appreciate the fact that one of the arrangements is of Kosuzu’s theme. That theme needs more love! Hopefully this album will make an appearance on BOOTH so I can buy it and translate each track as soon as possible…


rdwl-00254. Diao ye zong’s “Omoi” [音]

XFD || Official Site

Like usual, RD delivers another high-concept, high-quality album. The theme of this album is ‘forgetfulness.’ I can’t quite decide whether it’s a dark album or a light album. Perhaps it’s a bit of both?

My favourite tracks so far are the second one (I particularly love the wordplay in the title and can’t wait to read the lyrics) and the 10th one. Nayuta always gives it her all when she sings for RD, and I think it’s paying off. That track in particular demands to be listened to.


5. + 6. BUTAOTOME’s “CHILD HOOD’S END” and “Touhou Keyboard Cat 14” [東方猫鍵盤14]

XFD || Official Site
XFD || Official Site

In the end, I wasn’t too fond of the last few BUTAOTOME albums (with sachlich being the exception), but I like the direction CHILD HOOD’S END is taking. The original themes are clearly audible, and each track seems to have its own unique identity. I took a bit of a break from listening to Ranko, and I almost forgot how good of a vocalist she is. There’s really nothing quite like a good BUTAOTOME album.

Paprika also put together another Keyboard Cat album for us. This one reimagines Touhou themes as if they were in an RPG. If there’s one thing I really love about this series, it’s the variety of themes and concepts explored in them. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed how much Paprika has grown as an arranger over the years.

By the way! Tiramisu Cowboy is celebrating its 2nd anniversary! It’s a treasure trove of BUTAOTOME information, so please give it a look if you haven’t already.


7. + 8. prestige and wealth’s “image” and minimum electric design’s “Zero-Second Starlet” [0秒の主役]

XFD || Official Site
XFD || Official Site

prestige and wealth (known as paw) is a sister circle of sorts of minimum electric design. They’ve released a single or two before, but this is their first full album. All of the tracks are original compositions, but minimum electric design’s signature sound is still there. I haven’t heard some of the vocalists in there before, but I was quite impressed by all of the tracks. They’re very unique. Let’s face it, all I need to see is ‘ヴォーカル:mineko’ and I’m on board, anyway…

The second release is an instrumental-only album. It features some old tracks, some karaoke tracks, and some new tracks. I can’t help but judge it a little more harshly than their last release, since the tracks feel like they need vocals. Still, listening to these instrumental tracks makes me appreciate just how much work goes in to making your usual med track!


inner9. “INNER VOICES”, by Hatsunetsumiko’s

XFD || Official Site

This album is only 5 tracks long, which is a shame, but those 5 tracks are 5 excellent tracks! This circle has really polished the pop/rock sound they’ve been focusing on over the past two releases. The album art is simply divine, too.

The fifth track in particular stands out for me – it’s a rare arrangement of “She’s in a temper!!”. Ark Brown always delivers such energetic performances. He’s kind of like a Japanese Justin Timberlake.


10. + 11. Cajiva’s Gadget Shop’s “SCHLUCHT” and “HYPERSOMNIA”

XFD || Official Site
XFD || Official Site

Before I start talking about the albums, I need to apologise, because I’ve been calling this circle “Cajiva’s Gadget Workshop” when it’s actually just “Cajiva’s Gadget Shop.”

Putting that aside, there are two releases from this circle. The title of the first one can be roughly translated to “Canyon.” My favourite track is the 4th one. It’s just… so full of hope. The instrumentation combines with the addictive beats, and it all just works. Addictive beats. I might use that phrase again…

The second features contributions from a broad spectrum of arrangers. The thing linking all the tracks together? They’re all arrangements of Doremy’s theme. So if you’re a fan of her theme, like I am, you can’t go wrong with this album. The first track in particular is so haunting and evocative.

The circle also recently opened up a BOOTH shop, where even overseas fans can pick up digital copies of their previous releases! I picked up three albums, and I’m so happy I did.


ARAM-01112. AramiTama’s [荒御霊] “The Sealed God’s Offering” [塞神奉納]

XFD || Official Site

Celebrating Mountain of Faith’s 10th anniversary, AramiTama has put together a MoF ‘Deep Electronic’ album. As a whole, I really like the sound design of this album. The percussion is sharp and pointy, and the other sounds float above it. It’s very futuristic, and very cool. My favourite tracks are the second and the eighth ones (the Suwako tracks).

I found out that this circle has a BOOTH shop, too, but unfortunately you can’t buy digital copies of any of their albums at the moment…


13. Casket’s “Casket IV”

XFD || Official Site

Casket always has interesting stuff on offer. It looks like they had some troubles with their website, so we don’t really know anything about this album, apart from the fact that it exists. I wonder what the tracklist is like? Does it contain arrangements of themes from Old Adam?

Update: I checked their Bandcamp page, and since Casket II was an original album, it stands to reason that Casket IV will also be an original album.


14. + 15. Pizuya’s Cell’s “Liquid & Splash” and “Stand Alone” [スタンドアローン]

XFD || Official Site
XFD || Official Site

I had trouble picking which album I like more, to be honest. Anyway, the first one is a Sealing Club EDM album, featuring a bunch of different vocalists. I was so surprised to look at the last track… and see that Ayaponzu* is in charge of the vocals. She really shows up everywhere, doesn’t she? One day we’ll look at an RD album and see her there. Anyway, EDM isn’t normally my thing, but I really liked the demo. I think the mixing is good. There’s a danger of making the backing track too overwhelming, but that doesn’t happen here. My favourite track is F.A.S.S.

The second album is more of what we’ve come to expect from this circle. It features NOiSE, which you can watch here. Sadly, we don’t have any classic legend tracks. Oh well. Breaking with tradition, we have some English lyrics this time. Interesting…


dfauleiwaaezbkc16. Fuling Cat Mark’s “Starlight One Piece Girl”

XFD || Official Site

I’ve been following this circle on and off for a few events now. They call their style of music ‘Shibuya-style’, which means it’s a bit pop, yet a bit jazz at the same time. I like what I heard in the demo, and we even have an arrangement of “A Midsummer Fairy’s Dream”! How cool is that?

This circle has a BOOTH page, too! If you like the sound of their music, consider getting a digital copy of their albums if you can.


Six17. Hachimitsu Lemon x Aftergrow’s “Touhou Six String 04 – 儚 [Transient]”

XFD || Official Site

“My days spent with you were so transient, so painful, so dear to me…”

After taking a brief trip away from the world of Hifuu, we’re back. Well, having said that, the majority of these tracks aren’t Sealing Club tracks. Would you call that false advertising…?

Anyway, I have a soft spot for Aftergrow and Hiratake’s arrangements, so I’m glad that this album series exists. I think the instrumental tracks are quite moving, and of course the mineko tracks are great, too.


17. + 18. Akatsuki Records’ “Sci-Fi ROMANCE TRAVELER” and LIMITED SINGLES season1

XFD || Official Site
XFD || Official Site

Akatsuki Records had the same idea as Shinra-bansho, except they actually released a new album while also re-releasing their event-limited singles. That’s on top of an event-limited disc, too. It feels weird to say this, but I’m kind of overwhelmed by all the new Akatsuki Records stuff. Where should I even begin?

Well, track 6 on Sci-Fi stands out. It’s another dramatic arrangement, just like the Third Eye one we had a little while ago. Though I’m a Stack fan, I must admit that I’m a bit disappointed cheluce has gone missing for this set of albums.


arisaki19. Arisaki Works’ “Touhou String Ensemble Compilation Vol.2” [東方弦合奏集 Vol.2]

XFD || Official Site

This circle released its first album at C90. For its second release, the circle leader hired enough musicians to form a full string quartet! Overall it sounds much tighter than the first release. Each instrument plays its own role, and it all fits together well. If you love live performances, and love string quartets, I don’t think you’ll find a better circle than this one!


Accord20. Accord on Codes’ “A Night at the Underground”

XFD || Official Site

I haven’t listened to much from this circle, but this album sounds like a real treat! It features a bunch of tracks from Subterranean Animism, but in a smooth jazz style. There’s something about Subterranean Animism that works so well with jazz…

This is the sort of stuff you listen to in front of an open fire during a cold night. It will warm you up.


librabesque21. flap+frog’s “Magical Girls and Fonts 2” [魔法少女と活字2]

XFD || Official Site

Apparently there was a #1 in this series. Anyway, each track is meant to symbolise a font. We’ve even got Eternitylarva italic. Yes, that Eternity Larva.

This is chill-out music, so it complements the above album surprisingly well. I really like the second track. The electric piano is so smooth, and I like how it just unfolds over time, kind of like a minimalist piece.


triangle22. Konpeki Studio’s “TRIANGLE▽SITUATION”

XFD || Official Site

Konpeki Studio is on a mission! Event by event, they’re going to release one album for each integer Touhou game. They’ve actually come quite a long way so far. If pop’s your thing, I recommend giving this circle a try. Personally, I like the 8th track the most. It starts off quite subdued, and then goes into full throttle!


Tabletop23. TenbinTei’s [天秤亭] “Imaginary Space”

XFD || Official Site

Even though this event feels a bit crowded with Sealing Club CDs, there’s always room for one more. This circle makes use of a bunch of different genres. You have pop, a bit of jazz… there’s something in there for everyone. I like the sound of the third track the most (it’s the jazz one).

I swear I heard the phrase “Merry bad end” in one of the tracks…


Hyouketsu24. Frozen Fantasia’s “幻想音風景”

XFD || Official Site

Rounding off my list, we have a charming little album I discovered while looking through Melonbooks’ website. It features live performances, and the instruments used include the piano, the flute, the violin, the cello, and the saxophone. The tracks have a classical feel to them (kind of like Ringing Volcano). The arrangements are simply stunning, but unfortunately the recording quality isn’t very consistent throughout the album. I think it’s an absolute shame since the arrangements are just so good…


And that’s it for another list! Like always, leave a comment and let me know what you’re looking forward to/what you plan to order. I tried out a bit of a different format this time since so many circles are releasing multiple albums. Let me know if it worked out for you!

RTS14 Roundup

This event is shaping up to be yet another one packed with great releases! Of course, the main event this time is the release of the demos of both Touhou 15.5 and Touhou 16. Both are looking very promising, and I know I’m looking forward to hearing new themes in both games and learning more about some new characters!

On the western side of things, we have a new release by Frozen Starfall, VIBRANT DANCEFLOOR. Find Your Way is also releasing another collaboration EP with Shinigiwa Satellite. I’ve also got another album coming, too! It’s called Willowbane, and it’s a DDC arrangement album.

Like usual, the albums at the very top are in some sort of vague preference order, but as we approach the bottom, the focus shifts towards albums that I’d like to introduce to everyone (e.g. albums by new circles). So this doesn’t mean that I like the albums at the bottom the least.

本リストは好みの順にランキングしていません。


25000204222811. Shinra-bansho’s “Mischievous Sensation” [悪戯センセーション]

XFD || Official Site

In the end, I was completely wrong about this album. I thought it was going to be a compilation of all those event-limited CDs… but hey, instead we have 7 new tracks! 7 awesome new tracks! Let’s face it, I could just sit here and hype Shinra-bansho up all day, but I need to actually write something with substance (^_^);

Anyway, among all this kaztora goodness, there are three highlights:
-Mie is here! Her track sounds so good. Powerful and emotional – I can’t wait to translate it!
-The title track features Ayaponzu and Ayo singing a Remilia + Flandre duet. It has that kind of chiptune Liz Triangle sound, but it’s also unmistakeably Shinra-bansho.
-The final track. Ayo + azuki’s lyrics + The Hall of Dreams’ Great Mausoleum. I am in heaven.

Unfortunately, there’s no new Liz Triangle album at this event. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will be one last album at C92, but based on information from Twitter, lily-an hasn’t been doing to well health-wise. Please keep her in your thoughts!

Incidentally, kaztora tweeted that he’s been feeling really good about music-making lately, and that the slump he’s been in for the last 5-6 years is finally lessening. Some of my favourite albums were made during this period, so I can’t wait to hear what’s next for kaztora! It’s always good to feel positive about music-making.


manima2.Diao ye zong’s “Manima'” [随]

XFD || Official Site

So in the end, we ended up getting that Kosuzu album after all. It’s not called 鈴, but I think this title is better. The title means something like ‘at the mercy of/doing as one is told.’ You could simplify it to something like ‘Obey,’ but please let me know if you have any other good ideas!

The album itself pushes all the right buttons for me. Nayuta? Check. Old Adam? Check. Dolls in Pseudo Paradise? Check. The Forbidden Scrollery theme? Check – there’s not one, but three arrangements of it. Just based on the demo alone, I like all the vocal tracks, and I’m really looking forward to translating all of them if I get the chance!

My favourite track is Grasshoppers. No doubt about it. It reminds me very strongly of 葬迎 from Hohuri, which is my favourite Diao ye zong track (I will translate it one day). Grasshoppers is an arrangement of Mamizou’s theme, but I think the two tracks are secretly related. Well, I guess we’ll find out when I translate it!


rvmc-00113. Ringing Volcano’s “Phantasmagoria and Wolf” [Ookami to Gensoukyou – 狼と幻想郷]

XFD || Official Site

Yet another wonderful album from Ringing Volcano. You can probably tell from the title, but this album is a cross between Touhou music and the world of Spice and Wolf. Traditional instruments are used to give the album an authentic middle ages/Renaissance/Celtic sound. I fell in love with it upon listening to the demo since it reminds me a lot of the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles soundtrack.

My favourite track is the last one. Eternal Steam Engine is a criminally underused theme, but the arrangement here is perfect. If you need convincing, just listen to it here.

The album should be available to download from BOOTH, so I’ll add the link here once it’s available.


opt4. Riverside’s “opt”

XFD || Official Site

Riverside has returned after what feels like a really long break! This single strips away the more electronic elements heard in releases like Chateau Bleu and embraces a more traditional sound. There’s only 4 tracks, but I enjoy them all!

By the way, according to vocalist Sara Matsumoto (Twitter), something Riverside related may take place at the end of the year. The details aren’t finalised, but when we hear them we’ll be surprised, or something like that.


med5. minimum electric design’s “PARTICLE”

XFD || Official Site

If you’ve been following my posts for each event, you would have picked up that I’m a big fan of mineko’s voice. There’s lots of mineko on this album, which makes me happy. minimum electric design has kind of flown under my radar for a while, but not anymore!

The album itself features all my favourite Old Adam tracks alongside a healthy selection of Sealing Club standards. I feel like we’re in some sort of Sealing Club renaissance, but I’m not complaining at all.


Jihen6. Touhou Jihen’s [Yasashii Uta – ヤサシイウタ]

XFD || Official Site

This single, for a change of pace, is more laid-back. The theme is summer, and it has more of a pop sound. It just shows how versatile NSY is! As you can tell from the cover art, the single is based on Mountain of Faith, though there’s also a lounge/bossa nova version of irony, which I’ve already translated.

Also, it’s likely that Touhou Jihen won’t be appearing at C92… because NSY forgot to apply for a space there (Twitter). How unfortunate! Hopefully NSY will be able to organise somewhere at the event to distribute past CDs at the very least.


s_ksd_reitai2017_wall7. Kishida Kyoudan and the Akeboshi Rockets’ ANCIENT FLOWER

XFD || Official Site

I was not expecting this.

But yeah, the demo sounds awesome! If you’re a fan of Kishida, get on board the hype train!

The Magus Night arrangement just jumped out and shook me by the eardrums. It sounds so good…!


KOKYO8. Kokyo Active NEETs’ “Touhou Philharmonic Orchestra 6: MoF Pt. 1” [東方フィルハーモニー交響楽団6 風 第一幕]

XFD || Official Site

Kokyo Active NEETs is boldly continuing on with this series. It’s quite exciting to think that, at this rate, they might actually cover the whole Windows series. That would be so awesome! This is part one, but I have a feeling that the next album might be a split between MoF and SWR. Unless they decide to just do all the tracks they didn’t do this time (which is unlikely, given that they didn’t do that with Imperishable Night).

The music itself oozes with the quality that we’ve come to expect from this circle. I’m thankful they included the extra stage theme, which sounds magnificent here.

Also, Tokyo Active NEETs is releasing a jazz album at this Touhou-only event. It features arrangements of themes from our favourite entry in the Touhou series: Kancolle.


Hatsu9. “Beneath the Cherry Blossoms” [Ouka no Shita – 桜花ノ下], by Hastsunetsumiko’s

XFD || Official Site

This album follows on from the pop sound of the previous album. For me, the standout track is the last one. The vocalist (EL.J) has such a wonderful tone!

The other tracks are quite varied, as we’ve come to expect from Hatsunetsumiko’s. If you buy the album, you get a code to download a short story and an instrumental version of the last track.


TOHO BOSSA NOVA 610. TOHO BOSSA NOVA 6, by ShibayanRecords

XFD || Official Site

It wouldn’t be Reitaisai without another volume in this series. I love bossa nova, so these albums are always a pleasure to listen to. There are two vocal tracks this time – the first was arranged by milka, and the second by Shibayan. If I get a chance, I’d love to translate them.

Other than that, there’s not too much else to say – I’m glad this series is still going strong, and I’m glad Shibayan is still keeping in touch with the Touhou scene. I’m always impressed by milka’s arrangements, though. I wonder if she has her own private circle…?


Fucsia11. “Fucsia” by Cajiva’s Gadget Shop

XFD || Official Site

This circle’s productivity continues to amaze me. I mean, I was just writing about a new release by this circle, and here’s another!

This album, as you can tell from the album art, is a Yukari x Reimu album. I say this all the time, but I can’t get over how unique this circle’s music sounds. The vocal samples blend really well with everything going on around, and the guitars add a sort of traditional atmosphere to the tracks. It’s an excellent blend of old and new, demonstrating sheer craftsmanship.

Plus, it features an arrangement of Two Worlds. You can’t go wrong with that theme!


12. Yuuhei Shoujo Active NEETs’ “Act 2, Concerto: Clouds Over the Moon, and Wind Over the Flowers”[第2幕 協奏曲「月に叢雲華に風」]

XFD || Official Site

This album is the second installment in this series, a bizarre and yet incredibly satisfying collaboration between Kokyo Active NEETs, Yuuhei Satellite, and Shoujo Fractal. Like last time, there are two albums, and vocal and instrumental tracks are split evenly between the two. So you need to buy both if you want the full experience. The tracklist is interesting – some standouts include a Pure Furies arrangement and Bad Apple!! (which sounds a lot like the Alstroemeria Records version)

If you get a chance, watch the demo – it showcases the vocalists, and most are decked out in really cool outfits. Watch out for the Pure Furies vocalist.


Buta

13. BUTAOTOME’s “An Introduction to the Pseudo-Family” [Giji-Kazoku Nyuumon – 疑似家族入門]

XFD || Official Site

In the end, I was really anticipating BUTAOTOME’s previous album based on the original tracklist alone, and I ended up disappointed when most of the tracks didn’t really sound like their original themes. This time, it doesn’t look like I’ll have that issue. But who knows. From listening to the demo, the first track impresses me the most. The last one, on the other hand, is basically an original track (^_^);

This album seems to deal with the ‘bonds’ of the main characters, who have spent so much time together. That’s where I think the title comes from – they’re so close they’re a pseudo-family.


Pizuya14. “The Boundary’s Crossgate” [Kyoukai no Kurosugeeto – 境界のクロスゲート] by Pizuya’s Cell

XFD || Official Site

I just want to take this opportunity to express how much I think the mastering of Pizuya’s albums has improved over the last year or so. I’m really particular about that stuff, so it makes me happy to hear vocals that aren’t overpowered by the backing track and audio that isn’t so loud it clips out.

The album itself is a mashup/pairing album, presumably inspired by Touhou 15.5. I prefer Pizuya’s jazz style, but this album is still good. It has more of a rock sound, so if rock’s your thing, check it out!

(Also, I didn’t see a classic legend track on the tracklist, which makes me sad. Hopefully it’s still there in the full album…)


unnamed-file-115. Akatsuki Records’ [Shoujo Kyuusei-Ron – 少女救世論]

XFD || Official Site

I turned away for an event or two, and all of a sudden Stack and Stack Bros. have basically taken over this circle (^_^); Also, following on from KILLOVE FIREPROOF, it seems like they’ve officially dropped the ‘to the beginning’ brand for their albums.

I enjoy Stack’s vocals, so I’m liking the Stack-centric nature of this album. I did enjoy cheluce’s vocals, though, so it’s a shame she couldn’t make an appearance, too. Otherwise, I think it’s a solid release! The third track seems to be one of those programmatic songs, kind of like the Satori one and the Flandre one from previous albums.

Still, I can’t believe how much this circle has changed over the past year or so. I wonder how they’ll develop from here on out?


16 + 17. GET IN THE RING’s RTS14 releases

XFD [1] [2]|| Official Site [1] [2]

Two releases from GET IN THE RING this time – Aria and Activity Case 7.

I didn’t really get on board their last album, but this set of albums sounds great so far. Mie’s voice is great, like usual, and most of the tracks are cool mashups. Like, the second track of Aria contains 5 tracks – that’s so awesome!

Activity Case 7 is the standout for me – the first track is so haunting, and all 3 tracks feature newer, underappreciated themes, which is a bonus. The second track is also a duet featuring Mie and Aki – they sound great together.


TAMA18. TAMAONSEN’s “She Saw”

XFD || Official Site

That album art is stunning! The colour design is so effective.

Other than that, this album is what you’d expect from TAMAONSEN, but it still sounds different from their previous albums. Unfortunately for me, there’s no Yuu Kanade, but I’ll survive.

I like the tracks arranged by Coro the most – ‘Changes’ in particular is one of the best TAMAONSEN tracks I’ve heard in a while (apart from Dreamy Noise sung by Yuu Kanade).


Adam19. AdamKadmon’s “Adam”

XFD || Official Site

I think AdamKadmon has been on an upward streak lately, so I’m looking forward to hearing more from this album. It follows the typical AdamKadmon structure: vocals by Tamari, arrangements by Kamiya Shiro, and a guest arrangement by Wani.

On a related note, monochrome-coat is also releasing a new album, but the details hadn’t been released at the time of writing. Similarly, Wani is officially launching his new circle with a Sealing Club CD. It’s called ‘POOL‘ and it features instrumental arrangements by a bunch of different people. On top of all that, an event-limited CD ‘trip!blue‘ by SOLA is also being distributed. It features a single track composed by Kamiya Shiro and sung by Nao (ナオ).


Dual_Circulation_III20. Crest’s “Dual Circulation III”

XFD || Official Site

This is the third album in the Sealing Club series and, appropriately, it features Sumireko.

There are some really rare themes in here – like, we have a Chinese vocal arrangement of An Everyday Life with Balls. That is so random, but I love it. There’s also an arrangement of Kasen’s theme that sounds a bit like something by Evanescence. And, better yet, Godwood has also contributed to this album! I stopped following Crest for a while, but while I was away it looks like they’ve forged a really strong identity as a multilingual circle, so they have my respect.

Crest is also releasing an album called ‘Crest,’ in which new(?) vocalist Nagisa MK-02 covers some of the circle’s old tracks.


Honey21. Honey Pocket’s “Love Compilation -Chapter 8- pt. 2” [恋綴里-改訂版-]

XFD [Track 4]|| Official Site

Finishing what the previous album started, this album is an Old Adam album. When I say ‘Old Adam album,’ I mean they went through and arranged every track from the album, even the old ones.

We’ve only got one track to listen to, but it has such an earnest, positive vibe. Honey Pocket’s style has remained consistent through the years, though they’ve really improved their recording quality. If you want something positive to listen to, give Honey Pocket a shot!

Also, it seems like they’ve recruited guest guitarists from a lot of different circles, including TUMENECO. I think NSY also makes an appearance!


Carpe22. Karento (歌恋人)’s “Carpe diem”

XFD || Official Site

This circle has really flown under my radar, but I like the sound of this album. I thought they were new, but it looks like this is actually their 10th album (^_^);

If I had to describe this album in a few words… I’d call it dance music. It has a kind of 90’s feel to it. I was about to say ‘Spice Girls,’ but I forgot what their music actually sounds like.


artworks-000220043581-hkbo5f-t500x50023. Konpeki Studio’s “COLOR RING DAYS”

XFD || Official Site

This circle is still quite new – this is only their 4th album. They started with EoSD and have been releasing albums in order. It’s basically a pop rock album, but there’s quite a bit of versatility in there (I’m looking at track 4 in particular).

The title track has a PV which can be watched on Youtube – check it out here and support this new circle!


LSD24. LSD and activity’s “Colourful Note” [カラフルノート]

XFD || Official Site

From looking at the official site, it seems that LSD represents Merry, and activity represents Renko. So it isn’t actually a collaboration between two separate circles.

It’s a Dr. Latency + Old Adam album, and it alternates between two different male vocalists (presumably representing Renko and Merry). It has that kind of indie boy band feel to it. Anyway, this is a must-listen album if you like male vocals.


Cold Sleep25. Cold Sleep Girlfriend’s [Shoukou no Hibi ni Saita Hana – 消光の日々に咲いた花]

XFD || Official Site

And rounding off my list… we have a new circle. Or so I thought. It turns out they’re just releasing their first album after 7 EPs, and they’ve actually been active since 2012. Whoops (^_^);

Anyway, this circle is really versatile. I know that’s one of my favourite adjectives, but it’s actually relevant here! This is an album that features screaming alongside emotional ballads. They themselves note that their album is based in emo, hardcore, metal, punk, and pop music. Wow.


Anyway, that’s it for another event! Please comment if you’re looking forward to any of the albums on the list, if you have any you’d like to recommend, or… well, anything else, really (^_^)

Kyoukai Kara Mieta Keshiki 4 Roundup

We’ve already reached the 4th iteration of Kyoukai Kara Mita Gaikai [境界から視えた外界-至-, Cajiva refers to it in English as ‘Scenery Seen From the Boundary]. 至 (shi) sounds like 四 (shi – four), which explains why it’s included in the title. How clever. I’ve been a bit disappointed that more people haven’t arranged the new themes from Dr. Latency and Old Adam, but thankfully… this event exists. It’s a Hifuu-only event, which makes it the perfect time to arrange all those new themes!

Also, if any of you are following 夢想吟遊詩人 (Musou Gin’yuujin – The Dream Troubadours), they’re apparently distributing a card with the details of their next Sealing Club-inspired CD, 歪曲列島. Cirtus Resuscitation and The Victors’ Space Odyssey were amazing, so I’m awaiting their next release with bated breath…


sachlich1. BUTAOTOME’s “sachlich”

XFD || Official Site

Hot off the heels of their major debut album ‘Fullbokko’ (フルボッコ), BUTAOTOME is releasing another Touhou album…! This time, there’s a twist. There’s 8 tracks in total: 5 instrumental tracks, and 3 vocal tracks. But the vocalist…

Is Ranko’s sister. If you’ve ever watched this video, you’ll know what her voice sounds like, but it turns out she can sing, too! According to the official site, the album is based on the ‘taboos’ one embraces while they are children. It’s a dandy, old-fashioned album. It certainly sounds unique. Ranko’s sister’s voice reminds me of Yuu Kanade from TAMAONSEN, and I think we need more voices like that, so I’m hoping she makes more appearances in future albums.

I love this album because it reminds me of the I LOVE albums. You can almost think of it as I LOVE HIFUU but without rap… This is more jazz-inspired, I suppose. My favourite vocal track is track #5.


Cajiva2. Cajiva’s Gadget Shop’s “Grenze”

XFD || Official Site

Cajiva Gadget Shop is back with another tribal house album. They’re pretty much the only circle who does this, but they do it really well! It feels like there are less vocal samples that on previous albums, but there’s more vocal percussion. If that makes sense…

I think the track selection is quite solid – some rare Ghostly Field Club tracks make an appearance, and two of my favourites (The Barrier of Ame-no-Torifune Shrine and The Darkness Brought in by Swallowstone Naturalis Historia) are also represented. Overall, it sounds promising. This circle is great at dragging you to different places…


artworks-000213723548-065fdx-t500x5003. AramiTama’s [荒御霊] “Cruithne”

XFD || Official Site

“Are you approaching the other side?
…Or are you approaching from the other side?”

I always feel that AramiTama’s albums complement Cajiva’s really well (well, they’re always distributed at the same booth, after all). Cajiva’s music is always so organic and vibrant, whereas AramiTama’s music is much colder and calculated. I… I mean that as a compliment! If I had to draw a comparison to another genre, I’d go with Baroque music (think Bach). The sounds are tight and precise, and its mechanical nature has a charm of its own. This time, the tracks seem to be split into multiple parts, which I think is a nice touch. This time, there are a few rare Sealing Club tracks, too – I particularly appreciate the “Children of the Age of Science” (科学世紀の少年少女) arrangements.

Incidentally, Cruithine is colloquially known as Earth’s second moon. It shares the same orbit around the Earth as the sun.


tumblr_static_ctrrk252wls8sg4040kw0ss4g4. Echollapsar’s “Artificial Eden”

XFD || Official Site

This single marks the debut of a brand new circle! Apparently, it’s a preview track from the circle’s first album, which will be released at a later event (possibly RTS14). This single is being released alongside a cosplay photo album.

The music itself is bittersweet yet soothing. It reminds me a lot of Secret Messenger and QLOCKS, so if there are any fans of those circles out there… give Echollapsar a try! I say this every time a new circle forms, but since it’s such a rare occurrence, throw your support behind them…! The XFD links to their official Youtube channel, and their official Twitter account is here. Overall, I think it’s a very promising debut, and I’m looking forward to listening to (and hopefully translating) their first album when it comes out!


artworks-000211054740-yavomr-t500x5005. Cajiva’s Gadget Shop’s “ARCHIVE545”

XFD || Official Site

This album is a bit out of the ordinary: it’s a compilation album featuring tracks from a variety of different arrangers. The twist is that most of them feature dialogue instead of vocals! I really like that sort of stuff, so I thoroughly enjoyed the demo. The subject matter seems to range from Renko and Merry talking about dreams to… Renko talking about wanting to become a cat? There’s a wide range of subject matter, so it should satisfy anyone (like me) who likes hearing people speak over music.


Curio6. Kijou no Kuusouriron’s [机上の空想理論] “Dream Curiosity” [夢幻のキュリオシティ – ‘Mugen no Kyurioshiti’]

XFD || Official Site

This circle is pretty new as well: this is only their third release. It’s billed as a ‘multigenre arrangement album’ and it certainly delivers. There’s upbeat tracks, guitar tracks, and even a smooth track here and there to balance the mood. All the arrangements are by Chair (ちぇあ), a mysterious figure who I haven’t heard about before.

Track 4, “Jazz Bar Old Adam” is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s so smooth, and so jazzy, and I didn’t even realise I wanted the original theme arranged in that way but I’m so glad it is. Another standout track for me is the final track. It’s chill, and I love how the electric piano transitions into a fuller orchestration.


A-GEAR7. A-GEAR’s “Reminiscent Bricolage” [追憶のブリコラージュ]

XFD || Official Site

Bricolage is a word which here means “constructed from a variety of different things.” You can think of it as a patchwork of sorts.

This album is constructed around a trio featuring piano, bass, and drums. The jazz influences can be clearly heard, as well. It’s a smoother jazz than something you’d hear from Tokyo Active NEETs, which I appreciate. They do some great things with the melodies of the original themes, especially Dr. Latency’s Sleepless Eyes. They make jazz out of themes I didn’t really think of as being very jazzy…


Bassy8. Glassy:oceaN’s “Clear Expedition” [明晰エクスペディション – ‘Meiseki Ekusupedishon’]

XFD || Official Site

This… is a very curious album. It’s based in electronic music, but each track has a different genre: French House, Future Bass, etc. It reminds me a lot of Cajiva and AramiTama, but it has its own unique style. The main theme is ‘exploration’ and, let’s face it, the Sealing Club is made for this kind of stuff.

The track that impressed me the most was the third one, a Future Bass arrangement of G Free. It has a kind of chiptune style that I really enjoy. Does all Future Bass sound like that…? I feel like there’s a whole ocean of music out there waiting for me now…


artworks-000210890026-7q60v7-t500x5009. ATMOSPHERIC’s “電腦祕封EP -DEN NO HIHU EP-

XFD || Official Site

I thought this was their first album, but it looks like they released a bunch classified under the ‘Touhou Dreamscapes’ collection [東方夢景色]. It’s a collection of synth arrangements, and you know what? It reminds me a little of the Synth de Touhou series by DDBY.

The first track has that ‘opening’ feel to it, and I really enjoyed the short snippet in the demo. Overall, if you like synthesizers, this album is definitely worth a listen!


UNION10. Sound Refil’s “UNION II”

XFD || Official Site

It looks as though the first UNION album was released in 2013, so there’s been a fair gap between installments…

Like the majority of albums released at this event, it’s more electronic in style, but it sounds completely different when compared to the other electronic albums. (Let’s face it – I really don’t know much about electronic music…). Actually, scrap all that because the 3rd last track is an orchestral style arrangement, and the one after that adds in an… erhu? This is a true multigenre album.

If my ears don’t deceive me, there’s an arrangement of Adventurer’s Tavern of the Old World in there that also mixes in Oriental Dark Flight. That’s a unique combination! I really like the second last track (the one with the erhu). It soothes my soul.


Parallel11. Girl’s Logic Observatory’s [少女理論観測所] “ParallelEnd Observer”

XFD || Official Site

This is an old album, but I missed it the first time and it features Ayaponzu*.

C91 Roundup

We’ve reached the end of another year, and you know what that means – Winter Comiket is here again!

I’m releasing two albums this time – Side Effect (an Old Adam album) and Welcome to the Satellite (an updated version of my first album). If you’re interested, please check them out! On the Western side of things, there are also new albums out by Frozen Starfall, Solair Echoes, and Orange★Jam. Check them out and support Western artists!

There were a few more albums I wanted to add to my list, but it’s long enough already. Some honourable mentions include ANSWER//TALKER [Konpeki Studio], Wild Sweetheart [A-GEAR], and SYNCHRONICITY (Eternal Melody).


jake1. Shinra-Bansho’s “The Happy Egoist” [シアワセエゴイスト]

XFD || Official Site

Shinra…

BANSHO!

Woo, two albums in one year! I feel so lucky! This album features a new vocalist – Ayo (あよ). She sings in tracks 3 and 5, and both are absolutely divine. Mie is also back with an English-language track. Sadly, azuki only wrote the lyrics for one track. Instead, we have more kaztora lyrics, and more ticat lyrics.

Anyway, it features a great selection of themes, like usual.


tsutae2. Diao ye zong’s “Tsutae” [伝]

XFD || Official Site

The theme of this album seems to be ‘communication.’ More specifically, it follows the structure of a traditional Noh play, mixing vocal performances with non-vocal performances. Like usual, the concept is neat.

This album’s crossfade drew me in more than the crossfades for recent Diao ye zong albums. I guess it’s because there are so many themes in there that we haven’t seen RD arrange before? I’m talking about The Lost Emotion, Pristine Beat, Kasen’s theme, and (of course) Pure Furies. It also features some excellent ‘character’ singing from Merami, which I’ve missed.

Of course, now that Kosuzu finally has a theme related to her, I’m looking forward to seeing what RD can do with it. Perhaps his next album will be called Suzu (鈴)…

[I’m tempted to translate the title as ‘Legend,’ since that seems to be another major theme of the album. I’ll have a better understanding when I get to look at the lyrics, I guess…]


pavilion3. Liz Triangle’s “Secret Pavilion” [ヒミツパビリオン]

XFD || Official Site

Two more events to go now. I wonder if there will be new albums at both of those events… Well, I guess there will have to be something new at C92, since it will be Liz Triangle’s last event. Maybe they’ll release a complete collection or something like that…

Anyway, this is a Sealing Club album, which is unusual for Liz Triangle. It features 5 new arrangements, and 5 old ones. And of course, World of Electrolytes is included! It’s a shame there aren’t any Dr. Latency or Old Adam tracks, but still, it’s kaztora, so the arrangements sound great anyway.


tpk5_l4. Kokyo Active NEETs’ “Touhou Philharmonic Orchestra 5: PoFV” [東方フィルハーモニー交響楽団5 花]

XFD || Official Site

I was really, really looking forward to this album last time… but it was postponed in favour of another Kancolle orchestral album. But, based on a tweet by Akai Ryuusei, this album is coming out at this event! Woo!

I was hoping to see Medicine’s theme on this album, but it isn’t there. Instead, we have Cirno’s theme, which they skipped over when they did EoSD.

Either way, I’m glad to see that this series is still progressing. I think we’ll have two Mountain of Faith albums, except one will be a crossover with Scarlet Weather Rhapsody. Unless they fit Shoot the Bullet in there somewhere…


jacket_big5. BUTAOTOME’s “Paradise Lost” [ぱらだいすろすと – ‘Neko no Anmin DISC’]

XFD || Official Site

Another solid album from BUTAOTOME. It follows their ‘usual’ style, but it draws from an interesting selection of themes (including Satellite TORIFUNE! Finally!). The surprising standout track for me is the third track, an arrangement of Adventurer’s Tavern of the Old World. I say ‘surprising’ because it’s a rare example of a ZUN track I don’t like, and BUTAOTOME makes me like it more. Track 6 is great, too – it’s orchestral, and it gives off strong ‘The Creation God Protects‘ vibes. It’s good to see Paprika experimenting with some new styles! Overall, I’m looking forward to reading and translating the lyrics, like usual.

Oh yeah, in case you missed out on the news, BUTAOTOME are having their major debut next March! Exciting news!


paradox6. Touhou Jihen’s “Boundary Paradox” [限界パラドックス – ‘Genkai Paradokkusu’]

Demo (‘Paranoia’) || Official Site

So, after releasing three singles this year, Touhou Jihen finishes it up with an album. I was expecting it to be the three singles put together in a single album, but it looks like there’s a good amount of new content in here! Only the three title tracks were taken from the singles, so we have 6 new tracks. Exciting!

This album is also full of little surprises. There’s a guest arranger this time! It’s MiYAMO from Conagusuri (こなぐすり). Apparently, they give the album “the coolest EDM vibes.” I’ll take them at their word. IZNA’s also singing a duet with ヒロキ (Hiroki, @higakurerecords). Finally, NSY is contributing death vocals to a track. Why not.

There’s also a special limited event-only single. It’s called ‘錬-len-,’ and it features Chata and lyrics by shuriken. It looks like NSY will incorporate it in a future album as well, so keep your fingers crossed because we’ll never hear it otherwise…


ringing7. Ringing Volcano’s “My Scarlet Devil Mansion” [私の紅魔館 – ‘Watashi no Koumakan’]

XFD || Official Site

This album is focused on the Scarlet Devil Mansion crew, which I wasn’t too thrilled about. But come on, the album sounds amazing anyway. ‘Mercury’ in particular is like something from another dimension. It’s simply stunning. I talked about wanting RD to arrange Kosuzu’s theme, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what Ringing Volcano will do with it. After all, Kosuzu is basically this circle’s mascot!

Also, I just want to stress that a downloadable version of this album is available to download now! It’s being sold through Ringing Volcano’s BOOTH page. I can’t express just how happy that makes me, and I really wish more circles would do that.


memories8. Ringing Volcano’s “Memories From This Year -2016-” [今年の思い出 -2016- ‘Kotoshi no Omoide -2016-‘]

XFD || Official Site

Another Ringing Volcano album, and this one is also available on BOOTH. It’s basically a ‘best of’ album, with generous selections from each album. I didn’t really need to pick it up, since I have all of Ringing Volcano’s albums, but I decided to get it anyway. The last 4 tracks are from singles that were released throughout the year, so they’re kind of rare, so it’s worth getting this compilation just for those tracks alone.

Plus, how can I not support a circle who’s so willing to put their stuff up for digital purchase? I’d be so poor if more circles did that…


halozy-room9. Halozy’s “A Constellation of Dog-and-Cat-Like Electronic Songs” [犬猫的電子座曲]

XFD || Official Site

I have no idea what that title’s supposed to mean, or even if I’ve interpreted it correctly.

Anyway, this album is a 14-track bonanza of the greatest macaroom tracks featured in Halozy’s past albums. I’ve already translated quite a few of them. As a compilation album alone, it’s worth buying, but 4 of those 14 tracks are new! And…

One of them features IZNA as a vocalist. That’s right, if I’ve read Asahi’s Twitter updates correctly, Touhou Jihen’s IZNA is singing a track by Asahi. Just thinking about it makes me excited!


cloud10. Floating Cloud’s “Touhou Irish 8”

XFD || Official Site

It feels like it’s been so long since Touhou Irish 7. But Floating Cloud is back!

This time, they have a vocal track. And… it’s Wind of Agartha. Oh my gosh. I nearly fell out of my seat when I heard that familiar melody. It feels like an eternity since I’ve heard that theme arranged, and this arrangement is simply stunning.

Anyway, it’s Touhou. It’s Irish-style. It’s excellent.


mameya11. Mameya’s “Secret Sealing Club Piano Arrangements: 雪音終永” [秘封倶楽部ピアノアレンジ「雪音終永」]

XFD || Official Site

I’ve never really paid much attention to this circle before, so I was surprised by the quality of these piano arrangements. The album’s focused on Dateless Bar “Old Adam,” too, which is a bonus! As was the case with BUTAOTOME, this circle’s arrangement of Adventurer’s Tavern of the Old World makes me dislike the original theme less. How strange.

The album has a bit of a classical feel to it, but the liberal improvisation on the original themes keeps it fresh and interesting. It’s kind of like you’re listening to someone writing a poem.


twice12. “TWICE,” by Hatsunetsumiko’s

XFD || Official Site

After what feels like 3 years of dance tracks, Hatsunetsumiko’s has returned to its original(?) pop-ish style. Following on from this, the dance side of Hatsunetsumiko’s has been christened ‘Danceness☆miko’s,’ contrasting with Alkaloid’s ‘Darkness†miko’s.’ To be honest, I’m just surprised to hear Japanese lyrics in Hatsunetsumiko’s again. I really like the vibe of all of the tracks, but I have a soft spot for Sunshine in the Rain. It’s just so peppy and positive!


artworks-000199813485-7m1i1f-t500x50013. Akatsuki Records’ “KILLOVE FIREPROOF”

XFD || Official Site

Stack Bros. is my idol. And this album is pretty much all Stack Bros.

I didn’t even know I wanted a track like DANGO ON FIRE, but it’s here, and I love it. The other tracks are great, too – track 5 is like that haunted castle track we saw before, with strong Tim Burton vibes.

If that’s not enough, Stack herself gave arranging a go, and was in charge of track 7. Considering it’s her first time arranging, she did a pretty good job. I’m looking forward to seeing how her style develops.


cat14. BUTAOTOME’s “Touhou Keyboard Cat 13″ [東方猫鍵盤12 – ‘Touhou Nekokenban 13’]

XFD || Official Site

Somewhere along the line, these albums stopped being purely about the piano, and turned into broader ‘instrumental’ albums. I’m quite happy with this change, and you can really tell how Paprika has evolved as an arranger. This time, each track is based on a particular region of the world. My favourite tracks so far are the third one (Old Yuanxian), and track 8 (a lovely Spanish version of Flower Land). It’s a diverse album, and there’s definitely something in there for every listener!


xion15. xi-on’s “GROOVY MOON”

XFD || Official Site

The official site describes this album as a ‘jazz/funk/fusion’ album, and it certainly lives up to that description. Each track is so groovy! It’s also a LoLK-only album, featuring favourites of mine like Eternal Spring Dream and The Reversed Wheel of Fortune. I like the balance of this album – not every track is loud and in-your-face, and the more subdued tracks, like ‘September Pumpkin,’ give you time to breathe. If only they had a real brass section – they’d probably top Tokyo Active NEETs if they did that.


tama16. TAMAONSEN’s “STILLING”

XFD || Official Site

TAMAONSEN appears to have settled back into a regular stream of releases. This album lacks the grittiness of Another Line, which I’m a bit disappointed about, but the typical TAMAONSEN quality is there. I quite like track 4 – Dream Land arrangements are so rare. The vocalist kind of reminds me of Paprika.

I’m still waiting for Comp and Paprika’s Imperishable Night rap album…


yuuhei-neets17. Yuuhei Shoujo Active NEETs’ “Act 1, Concerto: Even the Blossoming Flowers Will Eventually Scatter”[第1幕 協奏曲「色は匂へど散りぬるを」 SIDE A]

XFD || Official Site

This is a collaboration between Yuuhei Satellite/Shoujo Fractal and Kokyo Active NEETs. Yes, you read that correctly, some of Yuuhei Satellite/Shoujo Fractal’s greatest hits are being performed by the crew behind the Touhou Philharmonic Orchestra albums. It alternates between vocal tracks and orchestral-only tracks. The demo hadn’t been released while I was writing this, so it’s at #13 based on anticipation alone. Side B is also being released, featuring an ‘opposite’ tracklist to SIDE A (vocal instead of orchestral, and vice versa). I wonder if you have to buy both CDs separately…?

Funny story – I saw 森羅万象に触れて in the description of one of Yuuhei Satellite’s C91 albums, and I got pretty excited because I thought it was a collaboration with Shinra-Bansho (森羅万象). It isn’t.


pz

18. Pizuya’s Cell’s “Intersecting Distortion” [交錯ディストーション – Kousaku Distortion]

XFD || Official Site

This album didn’t leave a strong first impression on me, but having listened to the demo a second time, I think I’ll actually like it. I think I’ll like it quite a bit. I mean, personally, I don’t think it’s possible to release a better album than The Maze of Time Paradoxia, but this is pretty good. I like the first track – it reminds me of Capgras Syndrome, which is still one of my favourite Pizuya tracks.


kosuzu19. AramiTama’s “Inkstone Noises: Frequency Scroll” (硯音 Frequency Scroll)

XFD || Official Site

“The sounds and melodies of the maidens who might someday become youkai…”

Hot off the heels of Dateless Steam Visions, released during Kouroumu 12, AramiTama is back with another full-sized album! As you can tell by the cover art, it features several arrangements of Kosuzu’s/FS’ theme, along with a few other themes. I’m surprised Arami managed to get them out so quickly…

The album as a whole pretty much sticks to the usual formula (synthesised sounds and heavy percussion), which is a winning formula, so that’s fine by me. Apart from the Kosuzu tracks, I really like the sound of tracks 4 and 6. Listening to the demo makes me want to work on an FM-synth inspired album of my own…


tribal20. Cajiva’s Gadget Shop’s “TRIBAL TUNING MECHANISM”

XFD || Official Site

This album seems to be some sort of ‘best of’ collection, featuring arrangements by Cajiva that have appeared on the CDs of other circles. The official site finally answered one of my longstanding questions – yes, Cajiva actually does use a real vocalist. Her name is Atori, from As/Hi.

Like usual, Cajiva offers his unique tribal house style. This means that the tracks get quite gritty and dirty, and they have a lot of character. The bass is quite strong, too, and at some points it doesn’t quite match up with what’s going on in the melody, which makes you feel uneasy.


pianism21. SOUND HOLIC’s “TOHO PIANISM III”

XFD || Official Site

Thankfully, the wait between II and III was much shorter this time. As the title suggests, this series features piano-only arrangements of your favourite Touhou themes. Is it just me, or are we seeing more and more of them lately…? Putting that aside, the tracklist looks pretty good. My eyes immediately stopped on The Lost Emotion, Faraway 380,000-Kilometer Voyage, and Desire Drive. Like the above album, there’s no demo yet, but this should be a quality release.


22. Touhou PARTYBOX03, presented by Melonbooks

XFD (Disc 1) (Disc 2) || Official Site

Melonbooks has taken up Toranoana’s mantle, and has another Partybox album for us this time. I’m only looking out for the BUTA, Shinra-Bansho, and RD tracks. So… that’s pretty much 4 tracks. Interestingly, though, the third disc contains old tracks from some circles… and they’ve actually been rearranged! Wow!

I’m quite excited for the Shinra-Bansho track, though – it’s a Bucuresti arrangement, and the vocalist is Ayaponzu*. She’s quickly becoming Shinra-Bansho’s main vocalist…

Which reminds me, I’m still hurting because Shinra-Bansho’s last release was that event-limited CD I’ll never be able to listen to…


ddby23. DDBY’s “Two Travelers in the Wilderness 2: Trojan Green Asteroid” [荒野の旅人2 鳥船遺跡 ~ Trojan Green Asteroid]

XFD || Official Site

This is an instrumental album, featuring arrangements of themes from Trojan Green Asteroid in a variety of different genres. Trojan Green Asteroid is my favourite Sealing Club Album, so I’m glad to see it get some more love! I like track 3 the most – the vibe suits Trojan Asteroid Jungle really well, and I like the swells in the melodic instruments. I can’t say no to track 6, either.

Maybe next time we’ll get Synth de Touhou 3? That would be nice…


logical24. logical emotion’s “Touhou Project: acoustic arranged instruments 3”

XFD || Official Site

This album seems to focus mainly on Shoot the Bullet, though the LoLK rabbits are well-represented, too. It’s quite chilled-out, stripped back to just piano, bass, and/or percussion. I’m looking forward to hearing the September Pumpkin arrangement.

Listening to stuff like this makes me want to make a stripped-back album of my own.


25 + 26. Nanagen Straße’s (七幻シュトラーセ) “DESTINY” and “VISION”

XFD (Destiny) (Vision) || Official Site (Destiny) (Vision)

This circle is an offshoot of Rokugen Alice that started up earlier this year. Based on the demos for both albums, it seems as though this circle’s signature style involves bombastic orchestral/trance arrangements, accompanied by a stern, dramatic reading of a text. DESTINY is an Old Adam album, and VISION is a PoFV album. The demos make you feel like the world is ending around you. They have that sort of apocalyptic charm. Is charm even the right word…?

I’m not entirely sold on the female vocals, but I have a feeling that they’ll grow on me. Overall, though, I’m afraid that I’ll be sick of the dramatic verse-reading thing after listening to two albums of it. But then again, I love it when people talk over music (see Pizuya’s classic legend tracks), so that’s unlikely. Once I’m more familiar with this circle, they might jump up my lists pretty quickly – I have high hopes for them!


pz227. Pizuya’s Cell’s “Irony Juuhachi Bancha” [アイロニー十八番茶]

XFD || Official Site

Another Godwood piano album. This time, the tracks covered come from Impossible Spell Card. It also features a cool, jazzy arrangement of Eternal Short-Lived Reign.

I’m… not quite sure what else to say.


fluster-escape28. FELT’s “Fluster Escape”

XFD || Official Site

FELT continues to puzzle me, yet soothe my soul at the same time. To start off with, ‘Different Kind of Love’ is amazing, and might possibly become one of my favourite FELT tracks. The last two tracks are beautiful, too.

Putting that aside, though, there is a massive elephant in the room. And that elephant is how loud the first two tracks on the demo are. I’m hoping that it’s just a glitch in the demo, because they’re… almost painful to listen to. Maybe it’s just me…?


Shinigiwa Satellite is also releasing their 3rd album.

Plugins, VSTs and Things

I thought I’d put together a list of the main programs and plugins I use to make music, accompanied by a brief comment/review! If there’s anyone out there looking to make their own music, I hope this list comes in handy. I’ll add to list in the future to include other things, but feel free to leave a comment if you’d like me to go into more detail about anything.

_ _ _ _ _

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) – FL Studio

Official Site

Basically, this is the program I use to make the backing tracks to all of my recordings (I then export the backing track and record my live performances into Audacity, a free program). I use the Fruity Edition, which is the cheapest version. It’s missing a few features, such as audio editing and the Soundfont Player (which you have to buy separately, unless you want to go with a free version), but it has enough features to do what it needs to do.

It also comes with a generous free trial – you can use everything for an unlimited period of time, but you can’t open up projects after you save them. Before I bought it, I actually would use the free trial and finish off all my backing tracks in a single go…

_ _ _ _ _

Free VSTs

  • Old Music Box [DSK]

Official Site

As the name implies, this is an old music box. It has one job, and it does that job well, adding atmosphere to any track. It doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles you’d find in other plugins, but that makes it simple to use. I used it in Clockwork Mermaid, as well as in a couple of other tracks.

  • Redtron [Artifake Labs]

Official Site

This is a synthesised Mellotron, a type of old keyboardy type of instrument. It has a very distinctive sound. If you’ve listened to the Beatles, particularly Strawberry Fields Forever, you’d recognise its sound. It’s pretty easy to use, and it comes with a bunch of different sounds as well, including violins, flutes, (I think) a choir, and more. Like the above instrument, it’s quite atmospheric. I used it in Forgotten to add in a bit of spookiness…

  • Firebird [Tone2]

Official Site

Formerly a paid VST, the developers have made this one free since it’s now ‘vintage.’ It’s a type of synthesiser, but it has a bit of a different sound to regular synthesisers. It has a bunch of different customisation options, allowing you to create the type of sound that you really want to hear. I didn’t really end up using it much, but it could be the perfect VST for someone out there.

  • Asian DreamZ [DSK]

Official Site

This is by the same people who made the Old Music Box. As the name suggests, it includes a bunch of Asian instruments including the erhu(!). The sound quality is quite good for a free instrument, and it even has a few customisation options. I had a lot of fun using its percussion and erhu in Spellbound Stone.

  • Super Spook Keys [Simple-Media]

Official Site

This is a recreation of the theremin, an electronic instrument used a lot in sci-fi movies and TV shows. It’s quite cool, and has a lot of different customisation options, so it’s worth a look if you’d like to work on something futuristic. I haven’t used it much yet, but maybe I will someday…?

  • Nintendo VST [Matt Montag]

Official Site

I was out looking for a proper NES/chiptune VST the other week, and I stumbled across this one. It’s easy to use, and simulates the traditional triangle and square waves. You also get a rich range of customisation options. A recent experiment with it is I Can Be Your (Hero).

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Premium VSTs

  • Friedlander Violin and Blakus Cello [Embertone]

Official Site

These are some of my most favourite paid virtual instruments. Basically, the people at Embertone meticulously sampled 4 stringed instruments and put them together into 4 separate bundles. I only have 2 at the moment. The instruments themselves sound great when used as a regular solo instrument, but they absolutely shine when it comes to the extra effects like pizzicato and tremolo. They do a lot of the heavy lifting in my arrangements, and were the stars of my 4th album, Mastermind.They’re quite difficult to program, which is one of the reasons why I love the extra sounds so much, but it seems like they’re quite easy to use if you have a keyboard plugged in (which I don’t…)

The staff are really friendly, and they offer a generous education discount, too – just email them a copy of your student card. As a side note, their instruments require either the full version of Kontakt (quite pricey) or the free Kontakt Player. I think all of the strings can be used with the free Kontakt Player, so there’s nothing to worry about!

  • The Steinway Walnut Grand [Imperfect Samples]

Official Site

This is another heavy lifter in my collection. Unlike other virtual pianos, this one captures the rawness of the piano sound, rather than focusing on getting a pristine sound. I think that gives it a lot of charm, and I like it a lot! It comes with its own free player, but can also be used with the full version of Kontakt if I remember correctly. It has a lot of different settings, too, and changes completely depending on the velocity of the note. Kind of like a real piano…

My only complaint is that sometimes the sound gets a bit muffled and choppy if you have too many notes playing at the same time. Other than that, it’s a great virtual piano, especially if you’ve previously stuck with generic soundfont pianos like me. I used it a lot in Mastermind (the track, as well as the album), as well as in Barrier Breaker (the track).

  • AAS Session Bundle [Applied Acoustics Systems]

Official Site

I found out about this bundle when I was out looking for a proper virtual synthesiser. I actually had a look on RD’s website and saw that he uses it, so I decided to give it a go! This bundle includes three instruments: the Lounge Lizard electric piano, the Strum Session guitar, and (most importantly) the Ultra Analog Session synthesiser. They’re all really easy to use, and they give you a lot of different customisation options. I haven’t used them much yet, but that will all change when I release my next album…! They’re quite cheap, and you get a lot of value for your money.

_ _ _ _ _

That’s all for now. I probably sound too positive, but I’m honestly really happy with my current range of virtual instruments, and haven’t really encountered any problems with any of them.

Second Anniversary – My Top 10 Composers

And so, my blog has reached the ripe old age of 2 years. I had a pretty busy year offline, and managed to finish my final year of postgraduate study, which involved writing a really, really long minor thesis. As a result, I wasn’t able to translate as much as I wanted to, but I still got some stuff done. I also released more albums, including the first Len’en arrangement album, and there are more albums to come…!

Like last time, I want to take this opportunity to say thanks to all the people who have supported me throughout the last year. That includes everyone who has requested translations, commented on my posts/videos, downloaded my albums, and inspired me to do my best. There’s too many people to list fully here, but you know who you are! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Now, back to business – last year I wrote a list talking about my top 10 Touhou circles. I was thinking about how to follow on from that, and I decided to go for an unconventional list completely unrelated to Touhou. Since I am, after all, a music student at heart, I thought I’d put together a list of my favourite composers, along with one or two pieces by them. Most don’t fit under the label of ‘classical music,’ but under the broader category of ‘art music.’ There are a lot of hidden gems out there, so I want to try and share them around! Each has a little blurb talking about how I first encountered the composer/piece, and perhaps some interesting facts about the composer/piece. I’ve also attached videos, taken from a variety of different artists.

Like always, leave a comment if you like them or have your own favourite composer you’d like to share – I’m always on the lookout for more good music to listen to!

_ _ _ _ _

10. Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

a) Arabesque no. 1, from Deux arabesques (1888-1891)

Performed by: Stephen Malinowski

I was first introduced to this piece in my final year of high school, during a music class. We were discussing the different ways in which you can write about how music affects you, and a guest teacher played this for us on the piano in a variety of different styles. I remember the majority of the class said that it made them think of the ocean, and fair enough, it has that sort of a feel to it. I thought about it and realised that this piece makes me think of an oasis. It’s as if someone’s travelling through a desert, seeking a mirage in the distance that they’ll never reach. It’s a bit of a dark interpretation…

b) La fille aux cheveux de lin [The Girl With the Flaxen Hair] (1910)

Performed by: Lang Lang

When I was studying music at university, a friend of mine chose this piece as one of their end-of-year recital pieces, so it has a special place in my heart. The first few notes of the melody, which if I recall correctly spell out a major 7th chord, are captivating, and they draw you right in. I feel like it has an innocent, almost childlike quality to it; I guess that’s appropriate, given the title.

The version I’ve got here is performed by Lang Lang, who’s basically a superstar in the piano world.

_ _ _ _ _

9. Erik Satie (1866-1925)

a) Lent et douloureux from Gymnopédies (1888-)

Performed by: Daniel Varsano

This piece has an especially important place in my heart, since it formed the basis of my first mashup, which is really the source of everything I’m doing now. I don’t think that I’d be exaggerating if I said that this is Satie’s most popular work – you can find it in a whole lot of places, even in video games!

I found out the other day that I’ve been pronouncing the title incorrectly my whole life. It’s meant to be pronounced ‘gym-nop-eddy.’ I’ve been pronoincing it ‘gym-no-pea-d’ this whole time…

_ _ _ _ _

8. Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)

a) Étude Op. 10, No. 3 [‘Tristesse’] (1832)

Performed by: Valentina Lisitsa

I won’t lie – I was first introduced to the music of Chopin through a certain game called Eternal Sonata, released in 2007. The main character is Chopin, and it’s basically a JRPG with historical facts about Chopin thrown in there for good measure. I enjoyed the game, but it was Chopin’s music that really stood out.

The common name of this particular piece means ‘sadness,’ but I can sense a few moments of hope throughout. I almost feel like it’s more nostalgic that anything else – you’re looking back over the past, and that’s the reason why you’re sad.

[Writing this makes me realise that it’s been almost 10 years since I played Eternal Sonata. Perhaps I should go back and replay it…]

b) Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 [‘Heroic] (1842)

Performed by: Evgeny Kissin

I first heard this in Eternal Sonata, too. The name was given to it by Chopin’s lover, George Sand/Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, and it really lives up to it. It always makes me feel a little more inspired and motivated each time I listen to it. This piece is a polonaise, which is a Polish dance with its own distinctive rhythmic pattern. I’d love to arrange a Touhou theme in that style one day…! On an unrelated note, I’m also fond of Chopin because he was Polish, and I also have Polish ancestry (even though I can’t speak the language and haven’t been there before…).

_ _ _ _ _

7. Percy Grainger (1882-1961)

a) Lincolnshire Posy – I. Lisbon (1937)

Performed by: The North Texas Wind Symphony

Unlike the other composers I have on this list, Grainger is Australian. I’ve been exposed to his music through playing it with the concert band I’m a member of. He wrote great music for concert bands! In particular, he likes to split the band up into brass and woodwinds, and make one get louder while the other gets softer. It’s quite unique. He also hated Italian terms, so most of his scores have English performance markings – it’s not odd to see stuff like ‘clingingly,’ and ‘to the fore’ written on your part.

This particular piece is the first movement of a series of folk songs that he arranged. A ‘posy’ is a bunch of wildflowers, which is an apt description for the work.

b) Irish Tune from County Derry (1911)

Performed by: The Dallas Wind Symphony

I played this piece with my concert band, too. Grainger wrote some really good music for concert band, and his main instrument was the saxophone. Like the other piece, this is based on a folk song – in this case, it’s ‘Danny Boy.’ Grainger was an early pioneer of music recording (bear in mind that he was alive over 100 years ago). He had a recording machine, and he liked to go around and record people singing folk songs into these little cylinders. He’d write them out, and apparently he’d write them out exactly as he heard them. So if someone coughed, he’d simulate that in the music. Likewise, if they sang out of time, the arrangement would also have weird time signatures. You don’t really see that in this one, though…

_ _ _ _ _

6. Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

a) Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity, from ‘The Planets’ (1914)

Performed by: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra

I don’t remember how I first came across this, but I guess ‘The Planets’ is pretty well-known. ‘Mars’ in particular gets used in a lot of films and TV shows… Either way, I like Jupiter the most. Like the next piece, it has an adventurous feel to it, but it also feels noble. I guess that’s only appropriate, since Jupiter’s the largest planet in the solar system. I don’t think Holst ended up writing a movement for Pluto, and this was written before Pluto was demoted. Poor Pluto, always being left out of things…

b) St Paul’s Suite, I. Jig (1913)

Performed by: The City of London Sinfonia

I don’t have a sentimental story this time. I think I had to analyse this piece for an assignment at university, but I ended up really enjoying it. The first movement has such an adventurous spirit to it! I feel like I’m about to set off on a really important voyage!

_ _ _ _ _

5. Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

a) Mephisto Waltz No. 1 (1862)

Performed by: André Laplante

This piece is an example of program music – it’s intended to describe a short section of ‘Faust’ by Nikolaus Lenau. He wrote a few different versions, but this piano arrangement sounds quite challenging. Well, Liszt was renowned for writing a lot of really hard music for the piano. He also played all of his works in public, and was quite the rock star – he was known for leaving behind a trail of broken pianos, and some of his fans fainted while they were watching him. Ironically enough, it was performers like Liszt who helped piano makers further refine the instrument, making it stronger and contributing to the pianos we use today.

b) Liebesträume (Dreams of Love) No. 3

Performed by: Daniel Barenboim

If you’re a fan of Pandora’s Tower, you’ll recognise this piece – it’s used as the game’s main musical theme. Unlike with Chopin, I discovered this piece before I played the game. I think it was played at a lecture or something like that…

Anyway, the melody is beautifully crafted. It’s nostalgic, poignant, full of melancholy at times… it has a bit of everything, really. It also demonstrates Liszt’s versatility when listened to alongside the above piece.

_ _ _ _ _

4. Luciano Berio (1925-2003)

a) Sinfonia, Mvt. 3 (1968)

Performed by: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Berio is one of the more recent composers on my list – he only died in 2003. Either way, his works are renowned for their experimental nature. He was particularly involved in electronic music, too. The piece I’ve chosen here is one that I heard at a lecture whilst studying music, and it defies all explanation. Movement 3 is my favourite. Basically, it’s a mishmash of (1968) pop culture references, references to well-known pieces, and random talking. Come on, how can you not love a piece in which the singers themselves are instructed to tell the orchestra to “keep going!”? I love the craftsmanship that went into this.

_ _ _ _ _

3. Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

a) Symphony #5 (1937)

Performed by: The New York Philharmonic Orchestra

I was introduced to this work in my final year of high school – we had to talk about a small section of it as preparation for our final exam. Shostakovich ended up writing a lot of symphonies: last time I checked, he managed to write about 15 of them. This one stands out, probably because it was the first one I listened to, but it’s also really dramatic. The opening is probably one of the best openings to any piece of music I’ve ever heard.

This is the sort of piece you have to sit down and actively listen to. It’s quite the experience.

b) Piano Sonata #1 – 24 Preludes, #18 (1933)

Performed by: Evgeny Soifertis

This is only short, but it’s so charming! I had to arrange this for a small ensemble during my music studies, and it was a lot of fun. I managed to get quite a high mark on it, too! Shostakovich wrote a lot of music for piano, mainly preludes and fugues, so they’re worth looking into if you like piano music. Most of them are quite dark, but there are some lighter ones scattered in there, too.

_ _ _ _ _

2. Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

a) The Firebird – Infernal Dance of King Kastchei (1910)

Performed by: The Vienna Philharmonic

This ballet is basically the work that pushed Stravinsky into fame and fortune. It helped him transition from relative obscurity to a globally renowned superstar – perhaps the last composer to truly define an era. It also marked his first time collaborating with the Ballets Russes, a ballet company who would collaborate with him for later works including The Rite of Spring.

The movement I chose from this, as its name implies, is the theme of the ballet’s ‘bad guy.’ It certainly has that final boss feeling to it, and probably wouldn’t sound out of place in a modern video game. When he gets creative, Stravinsky does all sorts of weird things with time signatures, which is one of the things I like the most about his works. It’s particularly evident in the Rite of Spring, which I highly recommend, too!

If you’re interested in what this section looks like in the original ballet, feel free to check out this video (performed by the Kirov Ballet).

b) ‘Chinese March’ from ‘The Nightingale’ (1914)

Performed by: The Philharmonia Orchestra

This is a section from ‘The Nightingale,’ a lesser-known opera by Stravinsky. As a whole, the plot deals with themes such as nature vs. machinery. The titular nightingale is captured and made to sing for an imperial emperor, but it loses its position in favour of a mechanical bird. Humans aren’t the only ones losing their jobs because of machines…

This particular section was composed with the intention of making it as ‘Chinese’ as possible, a style of music called ‘chinoiserie.’ It ends up being a bit cliché as a result – like, come on, pentatonic scales can be used to refer to any country in that region, including Japan and Korea. Either way, I think it’s charming. The rest of the opera is quite nice, too – the ‘Song of the Nightingale’ is particularly haunting and beautiful.

_ _ _ _ _

1. Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Putting together this list made me realise that most of my favourite composers belong to the Romantic period… This brings me to Sergei Rachmaninoff who, in my opinion, is the king of Romantic music.

a) Piano Concerto #2 (1901)

Performed by: Nobuyuki Tsujii, an amazing Japanese pianist, at the BBC Proms

I don’t have any words to express how much I love this piece, and how much it means to me. I first learned about it when I watched Nodame Cantabile in 2010, but since then I’ve tracked down a bunch of different recordings, played it during some significant points in my life, and it’s taken on a life of its own for me. I was actually lucky enough to hear a student at my university play this whole thing live during a recital preparation class. Their performance was so passionate they managed to break a string on the piano…

Anyway, for me, this piece is a prime example of the word ‘romance’ in all of its various meanings. It takes you on a journey. For some reason, I think of a desert whenever I listen to this. Like… you’re struggling on through a desert, and every now and then there are just these oases of musical goodness. I guess it’s a fitting piece to end this list – the first one reminded me of a desert, too. Maybe I just associate music with deserts and oases too much… >_>

_ _ _ _ _

And that’s it for another list! If you read this far, thank you. Here’s to another year of translations and music! I wonder if I’ll make another list next year…

Kouroumu 12 + Autumn Reitaisai 3 Roundup

This time around, I’m covering two events: Kouroumu 12 [K12, held on the 9th of October, 2016] and Autumn Reitaisai 3 [ARTS3, held on the 16th of October, 2016]. I don’t understand why they’re held so close together, but both events are too small to have their own pages, which is why I combined them.

Oh yeah, this isn’t related to the events, but according to Wani’s Twitter banner, he’s starting a new project in 2017. He hasn’t revealed any information yet, but it’s likely to have something to do with the single he released with monochrome-coat at C90. The official site is registered under ‘Knife,’ which will probably be the name of his new circle. It’s old-ish news, but I know there are some Sally fans out there who might be interested in a quick status update.


jihen-arts1. Touhou Jihen’s “Redemption” [贖 – ‘Aganai’]

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

I predicted last time that the last single in the Touhou Jihen 3-single project would be a Subterranean Animism single, but it looks like I was wrong.

But still, we finally get to hear NSY arrange some themes from Imperishable Night! I was really looking forward to the Sally Imperishable Night series, so this single kind of makes up for it. All three tracks are new, and they’re great. It also features Mooned Insect, which makes me happy.

A postcard featuring artwork from the three singles is also being distributed with this one, and it says that a new album is coming soon. I wonder what themes the album will showcase? Will it just be a compilation of the three singles that were released this year…? Or… could it be a Subterranean Animism album?


shinraeventonly2. Shinra-Bansho’s “The Milky Way’s Super Dream Gravity Star” [銀河超夢重力エトワール – ‘Ginga Chou-Yume Juuryoku Etowaaru’]

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

I’m always happy to see more Shinra-Bansho stuff. This single features an arrangement of Marisa’s theme along with an arrangement of ‘The Centennial Festival for Magical Girls.’ They sound great, but… it’s an event-limited CD. In other words, it’s not being sold at stores, so I’ll probably never get a chance to listen to it. It’s like the Liz Triangle single that was released around the same time last year.

Either way, I’ll translate the lyrics if kaztora posts them on Twitter, and I’ll keep replaying the crossfade demo until he decides to put these tracks on another CD…


cat-krm3. BUTAOTOME’s “The Cat’s Quiet Sleep Disc” [猫の安眠DISC – ‘Neko no Anmin DISC’]

[K12] XFD || Official Site

This is a piano-only album by Paprika. The songs on it were selected from a poll that was conducted a month or so ago. It features tracks from BUTAOTOME’s first 12 albums. It’s being advertised as an album to help you sleep, but… I don’t think that ‘To Death in Love’ [恋死に] will help you sleep. ‘Y’ is pretty up-tempo, too…

I voted in the poll, and my favourites [‘Pitch-Black Snow’ (真っ黒な雪) and ‘Y’] made it in, so I’m happy. I’m looking forward to the next volume of this collection, and I’m also looking forward to the next Comp x Paprika rap album! I was kind of expecting that to be released this year, but it looks like we won’t be seeing it until next year…


another-line4. TAMAONSEN’s “ANOTHER LINE EP”

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

This is a Chen album, and the second track is called ‘Chen Reaction.’ I… can’t believe nobody’s used that name before.

I don’t quite know how to describe it, but this EP has a different feel to it. The tracks seem… ‘dirtier’ than normal? Like, the album has a darker sound to it. I think it’s because it’s missing ill.bell. Anyway, there are only 6 tracks, but they’re 6 quality tracks.


casket25. Casket’s “Fest noz: reter 3”

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

It feels like Casket has been off the scene for a while, but they’re back with not one, but two new albums! It seems like both will have an Irish sound to them.

I can’t really judge the two albums since the crossfade demos haven’t been released yet, but I put this one above the other one because it features an arrangement of ‘Starry Sky of Small Desires,’ which nobody wants to arrange anymore.

Thanks, Casket.


casket16. Casket’s “Pribuskers 2”

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

The second Casket album. This one doesn’t have ‘Starry Sky of Small Desires’ on it, but it does feature arrangements of the Perfect Memento in Strict Sense tracks. If you’re an Akyuu fan, it seems like it will be worth a listen.

Hopefully Casket will arrange some tracks from Old Adam soon. I think their style would really suit it.


orchestra7. Takuan’s “Takuan Vol.2 feat. Touhou Project”

[ARTS3] XFD || Official Site

This is a relatively new group, specialising in orchestral arrangements of video game music. Their first album was a Kancolle album, but now we have a Touhou album. It mostly contains old favourites like Septette and UN Owen, but I like their sound. It’s refreshing to hear another live orchestral group, and it makes the wait for the next KOKYO album more bearable…

If you’d like to hear more from them, check out their Youtube channel!


hana8. [※論理について。] About Logic’s “Sensitivity to Flowers” [花のあはれ – ‘Hana no Aware’]

[K12] XFD || Official Site

I’ve never heard of this circle before, but I was quite impressed by the album’s demo. According to the official site, they haven’t released a Touhou album in a while, and this album just contains re-recordings of past tracks. They justify it by saying that the original album didn’t sell well, so there are probably lots of people who haven’t heard these songs before.

It features smooth male vocals, and it has sort of a Satellite Himawari-ish guitar sound. If you’re a fan of male vocals, it’s worth a listen.


aki9. GET IN THE RING’s “Aki -秋-” [‘Autumn’]

[K12] XFD || Official Site

Another GET IN THE RING album, another ‘A’ title. We’ve seen a few experiments in heavier genres like rock in the past, but this one sticks to what we’ve come to expect from GET IN THE RING.

It kind of reminds me of AQ, but I like the original themes used in AQ more, so I don’t think this is quite as good. Still, Mie sounds great, like usual.


dateless-steam-visions10. AramiTama’s “DATELESS STEAM VISIONS”

[K12] XFD || Official Site

“Though the abandoned machines no longer move, they continue to let off smoke in the illusory threshold.”

Well, that’s what the Soundcloud page says. Just from listening to the demo, I can see the image they’re trying to create – this album has a very electronic, dirty sound to it. Listening to it makes me understand even more what ZUN was saying about trying to make Old Adam ‘hard to listen to.’ If I’m not mistaken, this is the only album on my list featuring themes from Old Adam. Hopefully we’ll see more arrangements at the next event…


nina11. Shounen Vivid’s “Images of Nina” [ニナの群像 – ‘Nina no Gunzou’]

[K12] XFD || Official Site

This appears to be a collaborative album between Shounen Vivid and Tengu no Mai [天狗ノ舞], but… both circles are new to me.

This features more male vocals. Is it just me, or are there more CDs featuring male vocals this time around? Maybe I just haven’t paid enough attention to them in the past…

As a whole, I think I like the Tengu no Mai tracks more. Track 3 (‘thistle’) is my favourite from this album.


no-way

12. Akatsuki Records’ “No Way -Gravity-”

[K12] XFD || Official Site

After a bunch of consecutive album releases, Akatsuki Records tones things down a bit with a single. I’ve found myself liking Akatsuki Records less and less as time goes by, but this single isn’t bad. The three tracks aren’t related in any way, but this single feels more focused than previous releases; even though the three Akatsuki arrangers [ACTRock, Stack Bros. and Neko Manjuu] contributed one track each, it feels… more cohesive than usual.

The third track is my favourite so far, which is a surprise since I don’t normally like Neko Majuu’s arrangements. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for Akatsuki Records!


godwoodfairy13. Pizuya’s Cell’s “Pretty Little Wars” [プリティリトルウォーズ]

[K12] XFD || Official Site

Another Godwood piano album. This time, the tracks covered come from Fairy Wars.

 

 

I’m… not quite sure what else to say.


chiptune14. Francois’s yomogi farm’s “Witches in Chiptune Wonderland”

[K12] XFD || Official Site

Just like the title says, the witches are in chiptune wonderland. In other words, it features chiptune arrangements of Alice, Patchouli, and Marisa’s themes. There’s also a random arrangement of AN ORDEAL FROM GOD, which nobody ever aranges.

Thanks, Francois’s yomogi farm.


sisters315. Ganemes’ “sister’s♯3”

[K12] XFD || Official Site

Rounding off my list, we have an album featuring nothing but arrangements of ‘Romantic Fall’ and ‘Because Princess Inada is Scolding me.’

So, if you can’t get enough of the Aki sisters, this is the album for you. I never realised the two themes could be arranged in so many different ways.


And with that, we’ve reached the end of another list. Yuuhei Satellite, Shoujo Fractal, Hachimitsu-Lemon, and IRON ATTACK are also releasing new albums, so if you’re a fan of any of those circles, seek them out!