As a huge fan of Yuzo Koshiro and his work on ActRaiser in particular, I couldn’t be more excited that his 1991 Synphonic Suite from ACTRAISER got a 2018 update with new arrangements and a new performance by the New Japan BGM Philharmonic Orchestra (NJBP). The concert featured an original opening theme and Koshiro’s music from The Scheme, Streets of Rage, Streets of Rage 2, Etrian Odyssey, and of course, Actrasier. Most are presented as short medleys of a few songs from the game and are fantastic, but the highlight for me is the ActRaiser soundtrack performed in its entirety, re-establishing itself in my mind as Koshiro’s longstanding masterpiece. The CD presents the music as a tidy listening experience without the MC portions. It’s also a treat to watch the concert itself on Blu-ray, featuring an exuberant and enthusiastic concert master and a LOT of talking. There’s actually more talk by play time than music, so if you know Japanese, there’s likely a lot to glean from the MC/conductor and Koshiro’s on-stage discussions. Watching the ActRaiser suite brings a whole new appreciation for breadth and depth of the score and highlights the solo performances that are a part of the new arrangements. As usual, we have SuperSweep to thank for publishing the album which contains both the music CD and Blu-ray disc tucked inside a slipcase with snazzy artwork. As “Archives 1,” I hope there’s more to come from the NJBP in the future.
The NJBP Concert Archives 1 ~ANCIENT FESTIVAL~ album is an exclusive to the SuperSweep store, but it’s worth the trouble to try to get your hands on.
Listeners return to the stage of destiny with SOULCALIBUR VI by the Bandai Namco sound team and guest Yukihiro Jindo, courtesy of SuperSweep Records. Fans of the epic orchestral stylings of the series will feel right at home with four discs of music with Junichi Nakatsuru at the helm. Other Bandai Namco team members contributing are Yoshihito Yano, Rio Hamamoto, Syuri Misaki, and Yu Sugimoto, all of whom collectively provide most of the music from the first disc with Jindo handling the rest of the massive score, including much of the cinematic and story cues. I found myself enjoying the contributions by Nakatsuru and Hamamoto the most, but there’s a lot to like throughout especially with Jindo’s more emotionally varied contributions. Some of my favorites are Nakatsuru’s epic opening “The Brave New Stage of History,” Yano’s decisive and uplifting “Undying Legend” (which gets a lovely contemplative take by Jindo in “Fated Soul”), and Hamamoto’s terrifying and tense “Deadland Call” and searing and guitar-laden “The Evil Flame.” The booklet includes the track list in both English and Japanese, credits for every track including live performers, and commentary from all of the composers (in Japanese only).
The four-disc soundtrack is available via SuperSweep Records and can be imported from CD Japan.
You’re probably like me and don’t know a whole lot about the JRPG series Heracles no Eikou (Glory of Heracles). That’s because the games never left Japan. However, when our colleagues at SuperSweep, in their undying quest to release classic game music to the masses, announced this six-CD set, we definitely wanted to check it out. The box set includes the soundtracks to all four numbered games in the series (the first two on Famicom and the second two on Super Famicom), a Game Boy spin-off, a disc featuring a remastered arrange album and unused music, and a disc of all-new arrangements created just for this set.
Having zero expectations, I found myself impressed with the catchiness of many of the melodies and was particularly drawn to the Glory of Heracles II and IV soundtracks as they have a strong classical flavor not too unlike Dragon Quest, which is fitting given that many note that Glory of Heracles seems heavily inspired by Dragon Quest. How often is it that you get to hear an authentic Famicom or Super Famicom RPG soundtrack for the first time these days? Be on the lookout for “Mountain of the Spiraling Wind” and “The Wings of Pegasus,” among many others. The arrangements, performed by the Data East house band, GAMADELIC include jazz fusion and vocal arrangements. They’re expertly done and left me wanting even more! The included booklet (in Japanese) also has composer breakdowns and commentary from the music and game development team, which is a nice touch.
Pick up the album on CD Japan if you’re interested in giving it a spin.
Many fans were looking forward to getting the Protect Me Knight 2 (Gotta Protectors) soundtrack, and after SuperSweep released a collection of music from the game dubbed Volume 1, it was only a matter of time before Volume 2 surfaced.
This album is best thought of as an accompaniment album with alternate versions of many of the songs. You’ll find the adventurous beat-’em-up main theme, militaristic marches, comical battle themes, spooky atmospheres, and tons of tunes to pump you up courtesy of Yuzo Koshiro and the SuperSweep sound team. Included are up-tempo versions, long versions, then a smattering of FM (most of disc 1), MKIII, Famicom, Game Boy, and OPN versions of various themes from the game. There’s also a full production remix that brings in a cheesy big band and male vocals sounding like something from a variety show.
It’s available at CD Japan if you want to give it a spin.
SuperSweep is at it again, publishing obscure music that you won’t hear anywhere else. This time it’s the PlayStation Vita title, Omega Labyrinth featuring Daisuke Nakajima as the primary composer with a number of vocal anime-style themes thrown into the mix. The game itself is a challenging roguelike dungeon crawler with a story centered around the protagonist seeking out a grail in order to request a wish to increase her breast size.
In terms of the music, it follows the upbeat anime formula. The opening vocal theme, “Brave Heart,” offers sticky sweep pop rock with female vocals that are silly and energetic, followed by another vocal track that is more acoustic and folksy in nature. There’s everything here from cool ninja rock with shakuhachi and shamisen to classic J-rock with impressive guitar solos. You’ll find the usual suspects for this type of game: tense dungeons, epic boss battles with explosive rock, and a lovely sweeping orchestral pop tune to close out the game.
The album is available at CD Japan if you’re interested.
SuperSweep Records is at it again, bringing music you wouldn’t expect out on CD with the release of the soundtracks to the PlayStation Vita games Bullet Girls 1&2. The album features an eclectic selection of electronic, orchestral, and pop music composed by Masanori Hikichi, including the catchy J-rock title themes, “Faith” (Bullet Girls 1) and “One’s Bullet” (Bullet Girls 2), both featuring vocalist Tifan.
Between military marches, smooth synth pop, funk, and pop rock, there’s something for everyone with this release. There’s sweeping orchestral, spooky trip hop, and even dance music. It’s all wonderfully produced, and even some of the darker tracks maintain an upbeat atmosphere. They also include a number of jingles from the game and the instrumental versions of the vocal tracks.
Bullet Girls 1&2 Soundtrack can be imported from CD Japan if you’re interested.
This one may have slid by your radar earlier this year, but you’ll want to check it out. SuperSweep Records looks back at this PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita title offering a cool blend of electronic music with traditional Japanese instruments by Patapon and LocoRoco composer Kemmei Adachi.
You’re in store for some really amazing atmospheres, starting out of the gate with the opening track, which features pumping electronics and the addition of Japanese koto, shakuhachi, and vocals. There’s plenty of funk throughout, tense stealth espionage cues, a hauntingly beautiful ambient piece with sound effects and siren-like female vocals, a lounge track with flamenco-like guitar and koto, what I’m calling ninja dance music with bumpin’ bass, crunchy and glitchy electronic offerings, and an amazing 90s dance track that will get the nostalgia flowing.
Pick Ukiyo no Shishi/Ukiyo no Roushi up on CD Japan if you want to try something different. There’s not a whole lot of music like this out there.
More Tekken! SuperSweep is at it again, with both Tekken 7 and Tekken Revolution having recently been released. Expect more dubstep and electronic action from the Bandai Namco team and friends, including tracks from SuperSweep’s own Shinji Hosoe and Ayako Saso in addition to Yuu Miyake, Nobuyoshi Sano, and the rest of the gang. Taku Inoue handles the bulk of the music this time around, and as such, there’s a little pop mixed in with this dubstep.
He opens with the grungy rock/electronic “New World Order” with anthemic male vocals, and moves into industrial with “Blood, Sweat, and Fists.” There are laser-like synths in “Everlasting Heaven” and a distorted and searing soundscape present in “Self Destruct.” Yuu Miyake delivers “El Condor,” a trippy electronic track with an ethereal atmosphere and lots of reverb. There’s the dancey “Lunar fringe theory,” the pumping “Chopper” with its crazy slap bass, and even some flamenco flavor in “Bassamenco” and “Françoise’s Bassline.” Vocoder vocals are found in “Brasil evolution,” clean acoustic guitar in “lost in a station,” and Inoue’s uplifting rock in “Night rises” and “Kodama Starship,” the latter of which almost sounds like something out of Katamari Damacy with its vocal work.
Tekken Revolution is published by SuperSweep Records and is available for import from CD Japan if you’re interested.
If you’re a fan of Yoko Shimomura (you are), then you’ll likely want to check out the V.D. -VANISHMENT DAY- SOUNDTRACK. The game is a mobile/web strategy RPG with anime-inspired visuals, and the soundtrack offers up classic Yoko Shimomura with elegant orchestral and piano work over an upbeat action-oriented electronic foundation. SuperSweep Records has published the soundtrack, which features a number of great moments.
From the opening notes of “Departure,” you’ll think you’re listening to Shimomura’s counterpart to Hitoshi Sakimoto’s Valkyria Chronicles score with its militaristic march that seemingly prepares you for battle. From there, though, there’s nothing too serious. All of the combat tracks are tinged with a playfulness that ensures an upbeat listening experience. Both “Built a Fire” and “Sortie!” sport cool and sleek electronic backings, with “Sortie!” bringing in a nice woodwind melody. “Rock on the Heavens” brings in explosive drum ‘n’ bass percussion with a big orchestral sound and romantic piano sections that are classic Shimomura. There’s the tense and ominous “Just Beat That Which Lies Ahead of the Road,” the tragic “con fuoco,” the beautiful sweeping “At Night Where Scarlet Flowers Bloom,” the pumping and driving “Nervous Vision,” the chaotic “The Tempest” with its melancholy breaks, the decisive “The Brave Force,” the triumphant “Our Truth,” the tense and mysterious “Instability,” and the heartbreaking piano and strings closer, “No One Knows the Answer,” which hints at something dark and unsettling.
In all, this is solid work from Shimomura, and there aren’t any duds to be found across the album’s 40+ minutes. It’s available at CD Japan for only $20 USD if you’re interested.
While I’m pretty terrible at fighting games, Tekken is the only franchise I attempt to play. I’ve been with it since the first game, a launch title for the original PlayStation, and while I’ve been out of the game for a while, I’ve kept up with the music. SuperSweep has published a number of recent Tekken albums, and Tekken 7 is no different, bringing a selection of well-produced electronic music from Bandai Namco’s usual cast of composers.
This time around, each stage gets two variations. There’s lots of dubstep to be heard throughout, and the second variation of each stage tends be be heavier. Fans can look forward to the searing opening theme, “Heat Haze Shadow” with its hard-hitting electronics and robotic vocals. For stage themes, the Japanese flavored “Dojo” should be an immediate hit, along with the dancey “Equator Line,” the chilly “Arctic Snowfall,” the mysterious and melodic “The day before the glass matrix,” the epic choir and electric guitar of “Volcano,” and the grungy electronic-rock hybrid of “Devil Kazumi.” The album ends with a lovely vocal duet that combines acoustic guitar and glitchy dubstep in “The Long Goodbye.”
Tekken fans will want to give this album a spin. It’s available on CD Japan, and in typical SuperSweep fashion, buying directly from SuperSweep Records snags you a bonus DJ mix disc full of music from Tekken 7 and other Tekken titles, and CD Japan also has you covered there for an additional cost.