|ANIME HOUSE PROJECT ~Kamikyoku selection vol.2~
|ARM, phoo, Tetsushi, minami, void, Sound CYCLONE, D.watt
A~YA, Rekka Katakiri, Chata, Asana, anporin, Yuko Hirabuki,
Ayumi Nomiya, Witch, Aki Misawa, miko, Ayu
|November 25, 2009
|A~YA, ARM, minami
|2. Cagayake! GIRLS
|Rekka Katakiri, ARM, minami
|4. Dango Daikazoku
|5. Do You Remember Love
|6. Katayoku no Icarus
|7. Motteke Sailor Fuku!
|Yuko Hirabuki, minami
|8. Face of Fact
|Ayumi Nomiya, void
|9. Give a Reason
|witch, Sound CYCLONE
|10. Tsuki no Mayu
|Aki Misawa, D.watt
|11. Super Driver
|miko void, minami
|12. Fuwa Fuwa Time
Tracklist and miscellaneous album information provided by VGMdb.
Review: I enjoy experimentation and heartily endorse efforts to mix and arrange music just to see how another person’s creativity can breathe new life into a musical work. But the ever present danger is the potential for the effort to backfire, resulting in a travesty. While that word is too strong of a term in this instance, there are a few tracks in this ANIME HOUSE PROJECT album that are discordant enough to antagonize my eardrums if I listen for too long.
That IOSYS is inconsistent is nothing new. My experience with them comes from their remixes of Touhou music, and each track in any album will vary in quality. For example, their Touhou Suisuisusu album includes fantastic big band jazz and gothic lolita themes, but those are offset by strange monologues in which the speaker appears to be stuttering or singers who screech horribly. The good generally outweighs the bad, but on the whole, an IOSYS album is like a box of chocolates. You just never know what you’re gonna get.
Unfortunately, we really must have gotten unlucky with our box since ANIME HOUSE PROJECT vol.2 fails to reach the bar that IOSYS’s previous works have set. The main problem lies in the lack of a truly outstanding, memorable track to compensate for all the terrible ones because the better pieces lack the dynamism and creativity that we have seen from the group in the past.
It doesn’t start off too badly though. “TOMARE!’s” jazzy flavor mixed with A~YA’s laid-back vocals showcases ARM’s ability to remix the original’s pop rhythms into something new while retaining the original’s energy. The bass and keyboards that accompany the vocals during the verses and the trumpets that set the tone during the chorus section sculpt out a vibrant atmosphere that makes this arrangement a fun and enjoyable listen.
But immediately, “TOMARE!’s” creativity is offset by “Cagayake! GIRLS’s” sheer awfulness. The background beat is about as bearable as being hit repeatedly by a sledgehammer, leaving one to ponder whether ARM was feeling particularly sadistic when he arranged this piece. Though the vocals themselves aren’t terrible, it’s difficult to fully judge its quality when that pounding beat overshadows anything else in the song that could have been worth mentioning. I knew this arrangement was doomed when it took me five tries to even get through this song.
And just when you thought that “Cagayake! GIRLS” is about as bad as it could possibly get, the album decides to slam “Motteke! Sailor Fuku” in your face. The song’s guitar groove catches your attention, giving you the false hope that minami’s arrangement will be ROCKIN’. Unfortunately, the vocalist, Yuko Hirabuki, comes off sounding like some aging has-been rapper whose deep voice has seen better days. When you keep in mind the shoujo rap origins of the song, this performance is so off-putting that it’s difficult to figure out whether you’re supposed to laugh or cry after listening to this disaster.
Motteke! Sailor Fuku
The other songs are a bit of a mixed batch, but are decent enough. “You’s” arrangement adds a techno beat on top of Chata’s calm vocals, but otherwise, the song doesn’t get a major facelift as the original’s poignant atmosphere is preserved well. On the other hand, “Dango Daikazoku” manages to be a bit more enjoyable than its source and that’s because the techno beat along with a more dominant singer helps carry the song a bit better. Same goes for “Super Driver.” In spite of the weird keyboard opening, I found miko’s voice synthesizer-like vocals to provide an engaging experience since it is better than Aya Hirano’s boring rendition in the original.
Old school shows also get a nod in “Do You Remember Love” and “Tsuki no Mayu.” The former song gets dressed up with a techno beat and through anporin’s singing, the song keeps its solitary feel and subdued, yet passionate feelings. “Tsuki no Mayu’s” arrangement has more of an early presence because of the throbbing beat, but once Misawa’s voice enters, one cannot help but be entranced by the arrangement’s etherealness. The feeling of loneliness is pervasive throughout this piece, bringing to mind a person drifting out in the far reaches of space without having a traveling companion.
Tsuki no Mayu
Lest the good arrangements like “Tsuki no Mayu” lull you into a false sense of security, you can always expect ARM to unleash a bit of silliness at the very end in “Fuwa Fuwa Time.” The opening notes sound like some psychedelic piece from Katamari Damacy as it uses a vast array of synths to grab at your attention along with Ayu’s distorted vocals. Once more, ARM goes overboard with the synth since it obscures the vocals far too often, making it really hard to enjoy the performance. The whimsical nature of the original is retained save for the part where the singer has to speak some lines – that part has been changed to a rap – and though this is not usually my kind of music, I think the execution is amusing enough for it to pass by a razor-thin margin.
Fuwa Fuwa Time
There are a lot of things wrong with this album and I suspect that a part of it is because IOSYS, and ARM in particular, has not been able to draw me in the way the way they used to lately, and this is a problem that plagues this album too. The variety of tracks to be had range from headache-inducing to enjoyable, but none are truly outstanding. If there’s one thing that I’ll praise it for, it’s that none of the tracks are boring. But anyone looking for consistent, quality anime music arrangements are well advised to search elsewhere.