Just posted another update with 5 albums, and new pictures added to the collection page!
My Game Music Collection
Thanks for reading! See you again soon!
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Friday, March 08, 2013
I managed to get this amazing album from Surugaya-a-too at the Rakuten Market! That place has become my destination for rare and hard to find Doujin Albums. "Flourish" is presented by Ebox/DustStar with contributions from 11 musicians, and features 12 tracks arranged in various styles from, but not limited to, orchestral, jazz, piano, and even a little hip hop.
The artists involved have done a superb job of staying true to the melodies of composer Hiroki Kikuta while expanding greatly upon the lush tapestry of sound he created.
The length of the album, released in 2004, is approximately 48:30.
I've listened to this album several times now, and it's so well done, I have to dissect it track by track.
1. Sweet Memories (By Ebox) 3:24
Piano, orchestration, and new age ethereality. I was shocked by the beauty! The best way to describe this is to compare it to a painting. It starts with a few very subtle notes, or brush strokes, but soon after you're fully transported into the canvas that is the World of Mana. Run on, with no boundaries, that's what I get from this. Absolutely wonderful, and somewhat reminiscent of Falcom's Legend of Heroes IV Electric Orchestra album.
Listen to "Sweet Memories"!
2. Tell a Strange Tale (By Gimlet) 4:19
Very soothing. The tempo is slowed down somewhat from the game version, and you'll relax to the sounds of flutes, drums, and more sweeping orchestrations. I'd prefer it to be a little faster, but that's really kind of nitpicking, it's still fantastic.
3. Meridian Dance (By Dynastess) 3:43
Changing things up a little bit from the previous two tracks, with a little tech-infused Celtic flair!
That might sound like a weird combination, but it really works here. I like this version more than the original, I think, because of the variety in instruments.
4. The Boy Aims for Wild Fields (By ミュー) 3:28
First of all, the original music is downright legendary. Mr. Kikuta absolutely nailed the feeling of traversing through lush fields and forests. Here on the Flourish Album, it's one of the few that really sticks closely to the sound of the original. They're pretty identical in many respects, but that's not a bad thing! The sound quality is greatly improved, the flute is captivating, and there's a little added percussion. PERFECT.
Listen to "The Boy Aims for Wild Fields"!
5. Danger (By Snow) 1:58
The main boss theme of the game is here! It begins sounding a little like a midi, then just keeps getting better as it goes on. It's pretty intense, and even a somewhat frightening at the 45 second mark! When the main chorus kicks in, it becomes heroic, just like the original! After the chorus, the song takes a turn to the retro, and you realize there's a lot of levels to this arrangement, it's quite amazing! It gets pretty quiet towards the end with a some bass, and it closes out rather abruptly. I wish it looped, though that's only a minor complaint. At a length of 1:58, it's the shortest track on the album.
6. Roses and Spirits (By 草原翼) 4:17
This has to be my favorite on the album, due to it's unique arrangement. The track opens on a very subtle note with just a few drum beats, and continues on a calmly enough. At around 1:34 this thing becomes a new creature altogether when a late 80's or early 90's style hip hop drum sample kicks in. It adds such a new dimension to this piece! I never thought I would hear something like this! It's phenomenal!
"Listen to Roses and Spirits"!
7. Prophecy (By Supply) 4:15
This is one of those arrangements that takes a drastically different approach and calms things down quite a bit. Light piano and orchestrations are aided by a much slower tempo, resulting in something that resembles a completely new piece rather than the "Prophecy" you know and love. It's almost unrecognizable, but undenyingly beautiful.
8. Spirit of the Night (By AD794) 5:49
Taking the sad, melodic theme of "realizing you just pulled a sword from the water, made a monumental mistake, and now you gotta fix it," and turning it into a ballad. That's exactly what this feels like. Now that I think about it, the original piece does sound like a ballad too! Only here a guitar solo throughout really brings it home. I remember the moment from the game fondly, being upset at getting kicked out of the village and this extremely sad music playing. The original fit the scene perfectly, and this version by AD794 intensifies the feeling of isolation caused by curiosity. I love it!
9. What the Forest Taught Me (By Ebox) 2:29
Kikuta's original piece presented a somewhat playful melody, and it's amplified here in the form of a jazzfest, and nicely done! The sax isn't all that realistic, but it doesn't need to be really. It still sounds great, and doesn't diminish the interpretation in the least. It closes out sounding more like a lullaby than anything else.
10. Give Love it's Rightful Time (By 大臣) 4:22
Combining "Steel and Snare" along with it, we have a nice medley here that echoes the jazz brought in by the previous track, only merged together with a touch of tech. The bass is awesome, as are the drums. It really captures the essence of being on a grand adventure, and I really like the trumpet, which brings a Latin vibe to the piece.
11. Did you See the Sea (By 矢鴇つかさ) 3:58
I absolutely love this! New Age, Subterranean, Techno, Fusion, it's all here and it's fantastic! It's hard to describe, it just works so well.
12. Meridian Dance (By RIO) 6:19
The track list says Meridian Dance, but it's more than that. Not at all the same as the arrangement as track 3. Peppered throughout you'll hear the main theme of Seiken Densetsu 2/Secret of Mana, "Fear of the Heavens." There's a lot of weight here, you get the feeling the fate of the world really is at stake. It's a strong interpretation, and epic. Sound-wise, it's more techno-infused orchestrations, and man, do I love that sound. It reminds me heavily of Growlanser I - IV. If you listen close you can hear a hint of "Whisper and Mantra," from the Water Palace area in the game. The arrangement closes out with the game over theme "I closed My Eyes," done acoustic style.
I highly recommend tracking down this album if you can find it. Even though it comes on a CD-R, don't be fooled by that, it's phenomenal, and a breath of fresh air. If you were let down that the latest official Seiken Densetsu 2 Arrange Album wasn't really arranged at all, but instead just somewhat improved, this is the Arrange Album you've wanted. I only wish more material was covered (Star of Darkness next time please). I always check out the shops at the Rakuten Market where I found it, and a lot of albums I see there sell out and pop up again later. If I come across it again I'll be sure to tweet about it and send out links on where it is. I would love to hear a follow up album from the same crew, they have truly created something special with this album.
Friday, February 15, 2013
My experience in getting the album signed by both of it's composers is something I wanted to write about for a long time.
Out of all the soundtracks I was fortunate to get autographed, the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance OST was probably the hardest to get done. The music for the game was created by Nobuo Uematsu and Hitoshi Sakimoto, and the two men haven't appeared together at any of the concerts I've attended. I think Uematsu has appeared in the U.S. far more than any other Japanese composer currently residing in Japan. I was able to meet with Mr. Uematsu several times over the many concerts I've enjoyed, but only met Mr. Sakimoto once.
One more thing, I'm an extremely shy person. Being so shy it takes a lot for me to meet composers, I always feel like I've made a fool of myself. Fortunately all of the composers I had the chance to meet with are very gracious, humble people. That still doesn't make it any easier for me. Sheesh, I totally can't handle it.
In 2006 I was following the Play! A Video Game Symphony tour around the U.S. and in Detroit Mr. Sakimoto and Ms. Yoko Shimomura were the guests. Among the soundtracks I bought for Mr. Sakimoto to sign was the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance OST. At the time, I never imagined I would meet Mr. Uematsu again, so I was happy just getting Mr. Sakimoto to sign it. I also had my Breath of Fire V, Kingdom Hearts I & II and Final Fantasy XII soundtracks with me.
I have a habit of trying to get the CD's and the liner notes signed whenever the opportunity presented itself, and I felt very lucky, even though the line was long, Mr. Sakimoto did it for me for the FF Tactics Advance OST. He was great, and even thanked me for getting the limited edition of the FF XII Soundtrack. I think at the time his English was not as sharp as it is today, so I didn't get to have much of a conversation with him.
I had actually run into Mr. Uematsu again at the Toronto Play! Concert in the Fall of 2006. This was a very rushed autograph session, not much time for anything. I got the FF VII OST signed for my brother, and a couple more that I can't recall.
Fast forward to the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds Inaugural Concert in Chicago, December 2009.
Mr. Uematsu asked "why are you shaking?." I nearly died laughing! That was actually good for breaking the ice, and I felt much more comfortable then. When I presented him with the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance OST, Mr. Uematsu immediately noticed Mr. Sakimoto's signature. Then he said something which I'll never forget: "Oh, Sakimoto-San, he's my friend, we were very drunk."
That was one of the best times of my life!
Thursday, February 07, 2013
Captain America #193 was the issue Jack Kirby returned not only to Marvel, but to writing and drawing the hero he created along with Joe Simon. The cover, inked by John Romita, was an experiment in creating a 3D effect. The gimmick didn't work out as planned, according to what I've read, but we were still presented with one of the most dynamic comic book covers ever created. It's definitely my favorite cover of all time.
I managed to get a copy of the book several years ago at Anime Weekend Atlanta, and always had it hanging on the wall. The cover is just so inspiring to me. In early 2012 I decided to try remaking the cover with Megaman. If you know me at all, you know I love drawing Megaman! Shortly after I penciled it, my computer crashed and was unable to be repaired. At the time, the funds to get a new one just weren't available to me until December.
By the time I got new system, I had amassed quite a collection of unfinished pencil artwork I'd done during those lonely 8 months without a computer. I figured if I wanted to do this recreation the way I imagined, I would need one.
With everything back in order, I went straight for the pencils I made and began inking away. By the time I was done, I really liked the way it came out. The colors were done with a mouse, but I didn't use my normal color mapping technique, so the inks were preserved. I don't currently use a tablet, which is why I usually map my colors out with a pen. The results of my color mapping often render the original art useless, unless I do them from a photocopy. This cover has been in my Deviant Art gallery for a little while now, but I really wanted to tell the story about it here. I hope you enjoy seeing the stages and the finished product! Here are the pencil, ink and color stages with a few notes:
|The original pencils were done on 8 1/2 X 11 typing paper. Here is a photo of the pencils alongside the actual comic book.|
|Here are the inks! I traded Falcon for Protoman, and replaced all of the angry mob with Robot Masters. Can you name all of them? The little Megaman in the upper left was eventually redrawn and digitally resized to fit with the other text and images.|
Sunday, January 20, 2013
I'm not gone, but I was for most of 2012. I didn't have a computer most of last year. I'll make it up by creating a lot more content this year! The collection page was updated today with all new pictures of the music I got. If you would like to take a look, click the link below. See you soon!