Category Archives: Album Information

FIGHTING EX LAYER Soundtracks (SRIN-1160)

Many are aware that Shinji Hosoe and the SuperSweep team worked on the Street Fighter EX series, but most probably don’t know just how many different soundtracks this includes. The new FIGHTING EX LAYER Soundtracks collection from SuperSweep Records compiles the arcade and console soundtracks for Fighting EX Layer, Street Fighter EX, Street Fighter EX2, Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha, Street Fighter EX2 Plus, Street Fighter EX3, and Fighting Layer in a single 7-CD collection with a bonus DVD that includes multi-track data for ten fan-favorite tracks. Contributing composers include SuperSweep’s current lineup of Shinji Hosoe, Ayako Saso, Takahiro Eguchi, and Fumihisa Tanaka along with SuperSweep and/or Bandai Namco alums Takayuki Aihara, Yasuhisa Watanabe, and Kazuhiro Kobayashi.

The original Fighting EX Layer soundtrack opens with an eclectic mix of jazz fusion, chugging metal, funk, and lots of rock with plenty of guitar solos characteristic of any fighting game. It sets the stage for what’s to come with the Street Fighter EX soundtracks, which start with the original EX arcade release. The arcade soundtrack has a dated sound compared to the console soundtrack, but most of the themes remain the same. Highlights include the Asian-flavored “Rising Dragoon,” the energetic laser-like “Strange sunset,” the sitar-laden “Arabesque,” and the industrial pumping “Cold Pipe.” “Precious Heart” is an upbeat jazz tune and “Future Objects” incorporates interesting electronic ticks and whirs, both being exclusive to the console version. Street Fighter EX2 also gets both the arcade and console versions presented, with the soaring “The Infinite Earth,” hard-hitting “Passage of Lotus,” and the explosive “Flash Train” all standing out. The console version’s icy “Digital Ignition” and dramatic pop tune, “Irene,” are also highlights. Street Fighter EX3 gets the wild west harmonica-laden “Move,” dace-inducing “Cute Mafia,” the classic rock “Temptation Gun,” the Latin-flavored “BIRI-BIRI Red Heat,” the fusion “Indra Bridge of TA-SO-GA-RE,” and the smooth “Character Edit” bringing the series full circle with the eclectic offerings of the original Fighting EX Layer soundtrack. The closing disc is dedicated to the original Fighting Layer with fast-paced arcade action heard through the explosive opening, lightning-fast character select theme, and blend of pumping rock and electronic sounds.

This is a real treat for fans of Street Fighter, fighting games, or SuperSweep in general. It’s great to hear the arcade and console versions side-by-side for the first time. The discs come housed in a cardboard cade and the booklet includes Japanese commentary from all the composers. The entire set can be imported via CD Japan.

ESP RA.DE. Ψ Drive Waves 2019 (SRIN-1166)

SuperSweep was tapped to provide a remixed BGM mode for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 shmup, ESP Ra.De. Ψ. Given Hosoe-san and SuperSweep’s history with this game genre, you can bet they knew just want to do. The album features two discs, the first of which are in the in-game remixes, and the second of which are extended mixes of ten of the tracks. There’s also a non-stop mix available as a bonus disc for anyone order from the SuperSweep store.

The soundtrack featured original music by Masahiro Kusunoki and Tetsuya Mizoguchi, but the entire SuperSweep team and several friends contribute remixes to the remixed BGM mode. The album opens with the dreamy “ESP Person” before the pumping and fittingly titled “”DESPERATE SCHOOL” and fast-paced “NIGHTMARE” come in. Each artist on the album takes a crack at “RAGING DEICIDE,” a synth-heavy anthem that is featured no less than six times, all by different arrangers. Takahiro Eguchi’s version is drum-heavy and glitchy, Ayako Saso’s applies less emphasis on synths and adds shredding electric guitar and octave-jumping bass, Fumihisa Tanaka’s version is more driving with epic pads and arpeggiated bass, and Atomic’s remix is searing with an increased tempo and layered synths. It’s interesting to hear so many different takes on the same theme. “ACT IN JUDGE” is more bubbly and upbeat while “WANGAN RAPID LINE 2nd” glides with some nice electric piano work. I love the Metroid-esque “FAIRIES FEAR” with guttural bass and sparse percussion, and the three-part sequence starting with the surprisingly chill “RAGE” with dreamy pads and measured drums, which morphs into “WING” with added epic choir, which again morphs into “MADNESS” with added distorted choir and screams and screeching in the background. The closing track, “SNOW ILLUSION,” brings soothing bells and closes out on a reflective note.

The album is available for import from CD Japan, and the bonus disc is available from purchasing direct from the SuperSweep shop in Japan only.

NieR Music Concert CD -The Memories of Puppets- (SQEX-10689~90)

Square Enix has held many NieR concerts over the years but one of the first was The Memories of Puppets tour in Japan, which I had the good fortunate to attend. It featured piano, guitar, a string quartet, and vocals by Emi Evans, J’Nique Nicole, and others. I’d previously enjoyed the Blu-ray recording, but this Tokyo Game Show-exclusive CD is the audio version of the concert featuring its intimate acoustic sound with electronic elements programmed in.

The CD kicks off with more slow and measured versions of “City Ruins” featuring J’Nique Nicole’s powerful vocals and “Amusement Park” featuring Emi Evans. “Memories of Dust” places emphasis on the guitar, giving it a strong Western film vibe, while guitar and piano team up with Emi Evans for “Peaceful Sleep,” the beautiful town theme with lovely string harmonies. “Vague Hope,” one of my favorite themes from NieR: Automata, is a piano and guitar duo with Emi’s original vocals, and is a high point on the album. “Song of the Ancients – Atonement” is a duo between Emi and J’Nique that featured lots of programmed elements in the way of drums whereas “Pascal” included a child singer and had the audience clapping along with the cheerful tune and fancy guitar work. “The Sound of the End” gets a minimalistic arrangement that is almost soothing, while “Alien Manifestation” features J’Nique Nicole, who was not the original singer, making for a nice alternate take on the theme. The string quartet shines on it own in “Mourning” while a solo piano before a foray into the original NieR Gestalt/Replicant territory stirring performances of both “Kaine” and “Ashes of Dreams.” The album closes with “Weight of the World / The End of YoRHa,” a full arrangement with programmed synths and Emi starting off before the entire audience joins in. Everyone in the room was crying by the end of it, but fortunately the audience’s wails didn’t make it onto the album.

Having attended the show and loved the Blu-ray recording, I always wanted a CD recording. Unfortunately it was an event exclusive, but the Square Enix North America store has the Blu-ray for sale and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Look for the glint of glasses on the top balcony when it shows the audience and you might just see me!

RXN -RAIJIN- ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK (SRIN-1156)

SuperSweep Records released the soundtrack to the Nintendo Switch anime-flavored shmup RXN -RAIJIN- back in 2018 featuring music mostly by Raito with a main theme by Yuzo Koshiro and remixes by the SuperSweep team. The album features hip and minimalistic electronic music for the most part with Koshiro’s catchy vocal rock track with big band jazz elements to kick things off. The score sports everything from shredding electric guitars and cool piano to funky bass and exotic didgeridoo. There’s lots of shmup-appropriate drum ‘n’ bass, but also rock and even an orchestral fanfare. The second disc includes extended mixes of most of the tracks as well as two remixes by SuperSweep. The packaging features a giant booklet full of credits and interviews in Japanese as well as artwork and a nice cardboard slipcase.

RXN -RAIJIN- is available from CD Japan if you’re interested.

Blastrave Compilation -Burst Rave- (SRIN-1169)

Like SuperSweep? Like rave music? SuperSweep’s Blastrave Compilation -Burst Rave- is an album of original electronic music by SuperSweep and friends. While it’s all original music, it’s not to unlike their electronic game soundtracks. It all begins with pumping trance in the title track, “BLASTRAVE,” before the catchy “Blast the 90’s” jumps in with dance-y piano, poppy synth work, and English pop vocals. Next up is the explosive “Tear It,” the dreamy electronic-rock mix “Over Power” with some incredible guitar solos, and the bubbly “Start Running” with Japanese pop vocals. “Enter the Rave” combines pounding drum ‘n’ bass with vocal pop segments, “Kick Harassment” goes hardcore, and “Blast Off” gets a glittery and adventure-infused sound. There’s the glitchy “Back to the 90s,” the exotic rhythmic excursion “Barking night” by Shinji Hosoe himself, the dreamy and warm “Summer Line #GadgetSwitch” by Nobuyoshi Sano, and a very unsettling hardcore track titled “Gemini” with weird distressing spoken segments, pumping bass, and screeching synths. The album closes with the catchy trance tune, “BLASTRAVE 2020,” by Ayako Saso. The second disc includes a non-stop megamix of the album.

It’s great to see SuperSweep publishing some of their original works, and inviting friends both known and lesser-known to the party. If you’re looking for a hip electronic music album, you can import Blastrave Compilation -Burst Rave- on CD Japan.

Piramirise (SRIN-1163)

SuperSweep Records is always full of surprises. These usually come in the form of long-lost videogame soundtracks released for the first time, but this time, it comes in the form of an original Japanese pop/rock album with SuperSweep artists on production duties recorded at MONACA STUDIO, home of the team behind the soundtrack of NieR. It’s quite a combination, although the album is strictly pop music.

Piramirise serves up a variety of styles, from the jubilant rock anthem, “JUMP!” and the hip foot-tapper, “For the Future,” to the sweet and bouncy “Dead or futarikiri” and the funky and uplifting “Flying High!” There’s the sweet “Maybe Maybee Maybe,” a beautiful acoustic guitar and piano ballad in “Kanji,” and the incredibly futuristic and cool “Secrets makes shapes of life.” EDM makes an appearance in “Ageha” and “Perfect Place,” whereas “Sainposuto” takes a turn for the dramatic, and “Emotion” closes things out with a sweeping string and brass arrangement.

There’s something here for everyone, and it’s a lot of fun to see SuperSweep artists take a crack at various pop styles. This is a rather unusual release from SuperSweep as it doesn’t feature any videogame music, but fans of the SuperSweep team may want to give it a spin. The album can be imported via CD Japan.

R4 -THE 20TH ANNIV. SOUNDS- (SRNS-2004)

Can you believe it’s been over 20 years since Ridge Racer 4 was released? The soundtrack holds up remarkably well, combining sleek electronic, funk, and RNB sounds, which is why it’s wonderful to have a fully remastered version released by SuperSweep Records to celebrate this momentous occasion. The highlight of the R4 -THE 20TH ANNIV. SOUNDS- album, however, is the first disc, which features 16 brand new remixes. An all-star cast tackle the arrangements, including Ridge Racer alums Hiroshi Okubo, Shinji Hosoe, Ayako Saso, Kohta Takahashi, Ryo Watanabe, Nobuyoshi Sano, Tetsukazu Nakanishi, Takayuki Aihara, Jinbae “ESTi” Park, and many more, making for a wonderful reunion of sorts. The remixes are quite remarkable, fleshing out the original songs with additional instrumentation and upgraded production, liberated in a way without having to worry about infringing on the in-game action. Those who purchases this album on the SuperSweep store will also earn a special disc of extended-play mixes crafted by Okubo and Hosoe. The set comes with a cardboard slipcase and is adorned with the lovely yellow stylings and aesthetic of the original, including commentary (in Japanese) by some of the sound team and a sticker sheet. This is a collection any Ridge Racer fan will want to get their hands on. It’s available to import via CD Japan.

NJBP Concert Archives 1 ~ANCIENT FESTIVAL~ (SRVD-5001)

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.

SOULCALIBUR VI ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK (SRIN-1161)

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.

GLORY OF HERACLES SOUND CHRONICLE (SRIN-1119)

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.