Tag Archives: Pop

Review: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 25TH ANNIVERSARY SELECTION

It’s hard to believe Sonic is over 25 years old. There have been good times, and there have been bad times, but one thing that’s always been particularly great about the series is the music. SEGA put together a two-disc “best of” compilation album of tracks from across the entire franchise and released them this past summer. The album features a more upbeat and poppy “Blue” disc and a darker and grittier “Black” disc.

The blue disc features classics such as the classic FM synthesis pop tune that started it all, “Green Hill Zone,” and the high-flying and majestic “Sky Sanctuary Zone” from Sonic & Knuckles. There’s the carnvial-like atmosphere of “Palmtree Panic” with its cheering crowds, the tribal “Mt. Red: A Symbol of Thrill,” and the dance tune, “Join Us 4 Happy Time.” We then get into the upbeat, inspirational rock that modern Sonic has come to be known for. “That’s the way I like it” gives us ska, “Neo Green Hill” combines 8-bit sounds with crunched down modern ones, and “Wave Ocean” is a cool fast-paced rock track with lightning-fast percussion. There’s the pumping “Theme of Metal City,” the adventurous and mariachi-flavored “A New Venture,” DNB and strings in “Windmill Isle,” and spacey synths in “Reach for the Stars.” One of my favorites, “Escape from the City,” appears in its Sonic Generations remix form, while “Beyond the Speed of…” is a super catchy pop-infused rock track from Sonic Runners, which we previously reviewed.

The black disc is heavier on the metal and synth syide. “Chemical Plant Zone” from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is not only one of the greatest tracks from the series, but one of the most unique with its super funky layered bass. There’s chugging electronics in “Death Egg Zone Act 1” from Sonic & Knuckles, spunky rock in “Skydeck A Go! Go!,” and danger and grit in “Vengeance is Mine.” “For True Story” goes trip hop, “Rain Canyon” brings in octave-jumping slap bass and rock organ, and “Theme of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)” sports big strings and rock, creating a cool hybrid. The ascending strings, orchestral hits, and buzzing bass in “Crisis City” stand out, as does the ominous and brooding synth sweeps and desolate sound of “Un-gravify.” Majestic and epic are good words to describe “Super Sonic vs. Perfect Dark Gaia,” while “Planet Wisp” sports a lovely piano ballad on top of funky bass and energetic percussion.

As somebody who owns many Sonic soundtracks, I still appreciated this collection as a historical look at the series. It’s changed direction a lot over the years, but they’ve always done a great job emphasizing speed with super catchy music, whether in synth pop or rock styles. Pick it up on CD Japan if you’re interested.

Review: Sonic Runners Complete Soundtrack

I’d heard great things about the Sonic Runners soundtrack, although I’ve yet to play it. The album cover is pretty snazzy to be sure, and I’ve been a fan of Tomoya Ohtani’s Sonic material for some time. As it turns out, though, Sonic Runners may be my favorite Sonic soundtrack since Sonic Generations and Unleashed. Ohtani provides a memorable blend of pop rock that sounds right at home in the Sonic universe, and thankfully omits the vocals, which can yield high rewards but are always a risk in my opinion. This does lead to a few tracks feeling like they are just waiting for vocals to be inserted, but I’ll take a great instrumental over a poorly executed vocal any day.

The album opens with the uplifting rock track, “Beyond the Speed Of…” with its doubled-up piano and guitar and an incredibly catchy melody that’s used elsewhere, including in my favorite track, “Going my Way,” which uses electronic filtering effects to great result. “Spring Emotions,” another favorite, is typical J-rock with beautiful strings and and the use of accordion throughout the chorus section, while “End of Summer” features pop piano, fluttering electric guitar, and a sweet atmosphere. From there, “Fly Away” sports some concerto-like piano work, “Power Ride” introduces shredding metal and pumping percussion, “Theory of Attack” offers some spunk, “Where to Today?” is a whimsical march, “Go Quickly!” is a lightning-fast flight with a carnival vibe, “Fiery Passion” is funky with rock organ and crazy rhythm guitar, “Strange Parade” is a dancey electronic track, and “Magical Snow Day” is a frosty tune with jingle bells and a jolly bass line.

There isn’t a ton of material here. Thirteen tracks, over 40 minutes of music, but it’s all fantastic. This is how Sonic music should be! Even better, this gem is only $12.50 on CD Japan. Get on it!

Review: WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY Original Soundtrack

I haven’t been keeping close tabs on World of Final Fantasy as a game, but I have been greatly looking forward to the soundtrack, particularly after learning Final Fantasy XIII composer Masashi Hamauzu would be at the helm and after hearing the samples from the Tokyo Game Show sampler this year. The album doesn’t disappoint. There are wonderful melodies throughout, fantastic arrangements of songs from across the Final Fantasy series, and great production values.

It’s hard to call out just a handful of songs, but I’ll do my best here. The opening theme, “Innocent²,” is a beautiful vocal ballad with strong Celtic and pop vibes, reminding me of the infectiously upbeat Genki Rockets. It’s actually by Ryo Yamazaki, and it’s incredibly well done. “World of Beauty,” one of my favorite tracks, sports swelling strings and contemplative piano before moving into a triumphant and uplifting section that screams adventure. There’s Hamauzu’s signature strings and piano throughout with the playful “Lann’s Melody,” the glitchy futuristic electronic track “World of Nine Wood Hills” which sounds like an IMERUAT song complete with vocals presumably by Mina, and an upbeat orchestral rock tune with chugging bass and dancing piano called “World of Battle” which was previewed on the aforementioned TGS sampler. Other favorites include the dreamy lullaby, “Refreshing Melody,” the mesmerizing “Labyrinth of Dragons” with its repetitive layers, twirling piano, and Mina’s voice once again, the slow night variation of the main theme, “Moonlight Melody,” the tense espionage music in “Confrontation Melody,” the upbeat and folksy “World of Sunshine,” the spooky and ethereal “Labyrinth of Trees,” and the closing vocal track, “World Parade.”

And those arrangements I mentioned? They’re many in number, and some of my favorites include “Snow -F,” a very contemplative and slowed down version of the iconic Final Fantasy XIII theme, a lovely regal strings and harpsichord version of “Castle Cornelia” and a killer rock performance of “The Scene of Battle” from the original Final Fantasy, a super hero version of “Edgar” from Final Fantasy VI with rockin’ guitar, string stabs, and big brass, “Don’t be Afraid” from Final Fantasy VIII with a heavy electronic bass and surfer rock guitar, and “The Sending” from Final Fantasy X with its Japanese instrumentation worked in with glitchy electronics.

In all, this is one of the best Final Fantasy albums I’ve heard in some time. Hamauzu and team have done a wonderful job with the original tunes and the arrangements alike. I could even go for some arrangements of the original themes! Piano Collections, anyone?

Pick it up at CD Japan if you’re interested.

Review: TREE of SAVIOR ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK Vol.1

As a huge fan of SoundTeMP’s work on Ragnarok Online and the varied contributors to Granado Espada, I’ve had my eye on Tree of Savior for a long time. From IMC Games, it’s been touted as the spiritual successor to Ragnarok Onliine, which is apparent in the visual presentation and the musical talent assembled for the game. It features audio lead Sevin (S.F.A) along with new contributions from SoundTeMP and Questrosound (aka Nikacha, formerly of SoundTeMP), and artist Kevin. In all, the music is amazingly well-produced, and I’d describe it as a happy medium between the poppy sound of Ragnarok Online and the classical/trance sounds of Granado Espada. There are many great moments throughout, and I’m definitely curious to hear this music in the context of the game.

It all starts with the Celtic-inspired main theme, “Tree of Savior,” which also gets a piano and live version on the album. Some of my favorite contributions include S.F.A’s “Due Solo” which combines orchestral and electronic elements into a classy and somewhat desperate soundscape, Questrosound’s “Forest of Shadows” with its dangerously dark strings and funky bass line, and SoundTeMP’s “Red and the Sun” with its gothic rock elements that makes it feel like a poppy version of Castlevania. There’s also Questrosound’s “Moonlight Walk” with its huge strings and brass that make it epic yet cool, SoundTeMP’s “Topaz” with its slow somber take on trance (one of my favorites on the album), and S.F.A’s “Pristinee” that stands out for its melancholy female vocals added to an electronic backing. SoundTeMP’s interestingly-named “Woman Peeling Potatoes” is the most metal of the tracks, with a great galloping rhythm, and their nine-minute-long “Angelus” features spooky electronics and piano. Finally, S.F.A’s grungy rock “Tori March” closes out with attitude.

Many of the other tracks here are equally brilliant, but I don’t want to spoil all of it. The set spans two discs, containing 33 tracks, and comes housed in a nice DVD-sized package with a magnetic latch to keep it closed. Unfortunately it’s only been distributed as a promotional item at events in Korea, but I imagine the music will make its way out into the world someday, and given that this is Volume 1, I’m sure there will be more. In the meantime, head over to the SoundCloud channels for both DESTRUCTOID and GamesRadar for some exclusive samples.

Review: Kaku-San-Sei Million Arthur Original Soundtrack

Last week we looked at Kenji Ito’s battle themes from the Million Arthur series. I referred to producer Hyadain’s original soundtrack, which we’ll take a look at now. The mysterious Hyadain had made a name for himself in the doujin scene producing excellent music and arrangements, and was later revealed to be artist Kenichi Maeyamada. His production values come through strongly in this album, featuring a blend of pop, rock, and fantasy goodness.

The first track, “Faction Selection” starts right in with some wonderfully produced J-rock and a descending bell tone melody that offers something unique. “Footsteps to Fortune” is a laid back overworld-esque theme that starts off strictly fantasy before introducing electronic elements and percussion to lend the track a cool edge. “Round Table Congregation,” one of my favorite tracks, opts for intense militaristic electronics, percussion, and strings, while “Welcome Back, Lord Arthur!” is a super cute and upbeat pop tune with Rhodes and strings that sounds like it ought to have vocals. I also love the octave-jumping bass in “Faerie Sighted!,” the ominous dungeon-sounding theme, “Wait, Could it be?,” the dark and sinister “D-O-U-B-T,” the regal and beautiful “God Save the King” with its melancholy harpsichord, swelling strings, and bell tolls, and the silly “Pumpkin Soup” with wood block and chip tones. “Sadness Shall Someday Fade” is the obligatory sad theme, “Morgan Fay” offers catchy gothic rock, and “Won’t Say Goodbye” is a glitchy upbeat electronic outro that ends on a positive note.

Hyadain didn’t disappoint, and I’d love to hear more collaborations between the artist and Square Enix in the future. If you want to pick up the soundtrack, it’s available on CD Japan.

Review: Schoolgirl Strikers Original Soundtrack

What an unexpected surprise! Square Enix put out this unassuming soundtrack to their recent iOS/Android title, School Strikers, with music by Mitsuto Suzuki and Kengo Tokusashi. Upbeat melodies, great electronic atmospheres, and some great productive values all make this an enjoyable and surprising listening experience.

Let’s jump in! Continue reading Review: Schoolgirl Strikers Original Soundtrack

Special Order: Winter’s Hedgehog by Tellement

We have a special release just in time for the winter season. Scarlet Moon Artists’s own Goomin “Nauts’ Nam started recording with a Korean indie pop/rock band called Tellement, who celebrated the release of their debut album, Winter’s Hedgehog, in early 2014. You can read reviews of the album on Higher Plain Music and VGM Online. The album features catchy melodies and a slow winter’s pace that is perfect for the holidays and beyond, but it’s been hard to get a hold of outside of Korea.

Scarlet Moon Records is pleased to announce that we’re now taking special orders for Tellement’s Winter’s Hedgehog. Ordering will be simple, with payment handled through PayPal. Email jayson[at]scarletmoonproductions.com for instructions and order total (international shipping rates will apply).

As an added bonus, we’ll be including special authentic Bar Oasis coasters with each order. For those who are unfamiliar, Bar Oasis is a popular iOS drink-making simulation title by Corners Studio with music by Goomin Nam. The game and soundtrack are definitely worth your attention, so check them out, and enjoy a free heavy-duty coaster with your order of Winter’s Hedgehog.

Silent Horror Original Soundtrack by Dale North (SMRC-1005)

After our inaugural release, Dragon Fantasy Book II OST by Dale North, he’s back with more, this time with his much-requested soundtrack to the 2005 X-Strike Studios film, Silent Horror. As the name would suggest, the film pays tribute to popular survival horror videogames, and while North was known primarily for his pop ballads and vocal arrangements of videogame classics at the time, the Silent Horror Original Soundtrack captures the essence of horror with its dark atmospheres and unsettling soundscapes. North’s knack for melody also shines throughout the score’s emotional character themes.

The soundtrack and a remix by long-time friend and producer Mustin are now available on iTunes and Amazon MP3, as well as on Loudr and Bandcamp for just $7 USD.

Click below to hear the main theme. Continue reading Silent Horror Original Soundtrack by Dale North (SMRC-1005)

Monarch: Heroes of a New Age Arrangements & Variations (SMRC-1002)

As mentioned, this arrangement album is one not to be missed. Containing alternate versions of many of the tracks from the Original Soundtrack, there are also all-new arrangements created by Goomin Nam including a moving Korean vocal version of “Forgotten Archduchess,” pop ballad covers by Goomin Nam of “Peaceful Macdallena” and by Dale North of “Seaside Village,” a dark take on “Wandering Woods” by Joshua Morse, and a beautiful piano and saxophone improvisation by Norihiko Hibino and AYAKI (GENTLE LOVE).

The album features 15 tracks, including variations, arrangements, and a bonus trailer from the game’s announcement.

A limited-print physical version is available on Bandcamp, while the two albums are being bundled together at a discounted price exclusively on Loudr. You can also pick it up on iTunes and Amazon MP3.

Hear a sample and view the beautiful physical packaging along with album credits below. Continue reading Monarch: Heroes of a New Age Arrangements & Variations (SMRC-1002)