Noisycroak, the Japanese sound studio headed by Hideki Sakamoto, has always done great work. In fact, we wrote about their live band, TEKARU, just some months ago. What caught my attention with their latest release, however, was the collaboration of a number of prominent composers for Kakuriyo no Mon, a very cute web-based MMORPG with ancient Japanese influences. While Masakatsu Tamura is responsible for most of the shamisen and shakuhachi-heavy soundtrack that offers soothing soundscapes along with traditional Japanese and rock blends, tracks by Saori Kobayashi, Hiroki Kikuta, Yoshitaka Hirota, Masaharu Iwata, Kumi Tanioka, Kenji Ito, Yoko Shimomura and others are also featured.
Kenji Ito is strong on the rock front, of course, while Saori Kobayashi delivers her signature sound in a track that’s decisive and cool. Tanioka channels tension, Hirota goes for exotic and dangerous, and Iwata goes for ethereal and horrific. Sakamoto himself steps in with a militaristic number, while composers I wasn’t too familiar with, including Takatsugu Wakabayashi and Rei Ishizuka, both offer explosive fusions of rock and traditional Japanese instruments that are impressive to behold.
While the soundtrack is only available on iTunes Japan at this time, I’m hoping it gets a worldwide release so fans of these composers can get in on the action as well.
Maybe you haven’t heard of Tekaru, but I can tell you it’s one of the best videogame cover bands around. Founded by the team at noisycroak (headed by the extremely talented composer Hideki Sakamoto), the band rocks out with the standard rock ensemble plus rock organ and sometimes even vocals, the latter two of which are provided by Sakamoto himself. Tekaru Hectopascal marks the band’s third album release, and while the titles performed aren’t well known outside of Japan with the exception of Xevious and Toukiden, this music is all good. The performances are all spot on with arrangements that vary from quirky to heavy.
The album opens with Ken Woodman’s “Mexican Flyer,” which some may recognize from Space Channel 5 or Samba de Amigo. It’s an interesting choice (I had to look up the history of the track), but the synth and rock organ additions to the rock melody are a great introduction to anyone who’s experiencing Tekaru for the first time. My favorites here are the Xevious track which is entirely infectious and upbeat and the pop-laden arrangements from Shoumetsu Toshi featuring piano that tugs at the heartstrings. One of the Shoumetsu Toshi tracks even venture into electronic territory with some vocaloid vocal sections. The Juusei to Diamond track rocks out hard, and is probably my favorite track in this style, sounding almost like the recent SaGa battle arrange albums, while the Toukiden tracks are mostly serious in approach as well. “Theme from Thousand Memories” is a more contemplative track that features organ quite prominently, and is another highlight.
How I’d love to see Tekaru perform at MAGFest. That will likely never happen given the obscurity of most of the material they perform (there are some fantastic echochrome performances on their previous albums). While you’re waiting for that to happen, though, pick up all three of their albums. The artwork for all three are also great, with Hectopascal being amazingly strange and lovely all the same.
Tekaru Hectopascal is available from SuperSweep Records.
CD Japan is still offering Tekaru Mechnical and Tekaru Technical.