Attention please! We are looking for a new writer!

電波の世界 started in December 2007 and while our passion for the genre has only increased over the years, it's been difficult to find time for new articles and features. That's why we (denpanosekai and mandichan) are looking for an enthusiastic new writer! Here are some typical articles and tasks:

※ album previews and reviews
※ event reports (comiket, M3, live, etc.)
※ artist spotlights and interviews
※ denpa watchlist renewal
※ a new theme would be nice!

Do you want to make a difference and contribute to the original and leading source for English denpa news worldwide? Please contact denpanosekai [at] gmail [dot] com today!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

CD検討: 桃井はるこ - 「Sunday early morning」

Disclaimer: I am aware that momo-i's legion of fanboys/girls are frothing at the mouth if anyone discredits their idol. I want to avoid confrontation; rest assured that if any of my facts are wrong, I am willing to correct this article. My only intentions are to review her music and spread the good word. さあ, 始まる よ!

I recently covered momo-i's Famison series, her tribute to classic anime theme songs remixed as 8bit tracks. This put me in a mood for more of her music, so I was pleased to learn that she just recently released her first major album on March 8, 2008. The release was handled by Avex Entertainment, who also takes care of her anime singles. Not being overly familiar with her discography, I was surprised to read this was her first major album considering this idol has been around for a while, but then I found out that all of her previous albums were single compilations. The truth about this new record is that it only contains a couple of new songs, the others have been remixed and are mostly from 2007 so they are not old news just yet. This reminds me of what MOSAIC.WAV are doing with 「Amusement Pack」. In fact, this whole slapping-together-a-bunch-of-singles-and-calling-it-an-album thing is very popular in Japan. Considering their musical superiority, we're not really in a position to complain, are we?

The cover shows a very quaint momoi sitting peacefully next to her keytar, a quintessential instrument when it comes to denpa. The record comes with a sticker set and of course her famous power glove makes its presence felt... it's so bad! The track list shows 12 tracks, with the last one being a bonus song that will only appear on the initial press. Well if you'll allow me, I'll now rip into all of them; but not before making one special note. Having been a "professional" musician for a number of years, I am prone to setting aside the lyrics when writing reviews. Poetry just isn't my thing, and after glancing at the lyrics sheet, I can assume that I'm not missing out on much anyway. Much hullabaloo was made about the title track's lyrics being entirely written in English, but I'll let you judge for yourself! However, much like Mell's "Red Fraction", you wouldn't be able to tell the lyrics are English until you actually sat down to read them. While you read my review, you might as well enjoy the sounds of said title track.

1. Sunday early morning

The opening track immediately sets the tone: 8bit features will be the norm, color me excited! Co-produced by MISSILE CHEWBACCA, this new song is highly energetic and definitely is a good example of electrodenpa done right. The beat is infectious and Momoi's vocal patterns sound like a virus worth catching. There is something wholly organic about the arrangement, and I can't congratulate the artists enough.

2. Romantic summer -momo-i version-

First things first; as indicated in the title, this is a completely new take on the surfer-style "瀬戸の花嫁" opening theme which was originally sung by Haruko in 2007. But even with that in mind, nothing can prepare you for the insanity of the new version. As with the title track, MISSILE CHEWBACCA had a heavy hand in this remix and I can only thank the stars for that, for I am in musical heaven right now. It opens with a short 8bit prelude that is not without Famison similarities. But then the song shows its true visage as loud drums and scratched-in guitars bring us into the main course. Momoi stoically delivers her lines but that's just her being calm before the storm. Fuzzy keyboard lines and clever guitar licks are omnipresent and would undoubtedly make Franz Ferdinand go green with envy. Special attention was paid to the rhythm section as various syncopation forms were used, none of which failed to surprise me. Unexpectedly, the song breaks into a seriously wicked rendition of "Misirlou", commonly known as Pulp Fiction's theme song, but possibly using the Byzantine scale instead of the regular Arabic one. Yes, I am flat on my ass as well; if I haven't made it painstakingly clear by now, this song is pure musical cocaine and features an ocean of hooks and twists that would normally go unnoticed but that greatly please this reviewer. By far my favorite song, although Sunday Early Morning isn't too far behind.

3. 21世紀

"21st Century" is another new song, but is slightly different from the two previous tracks. It still benefits from a multi-layered arrangement but is just not as busy and noisy. In fact, it is a pretty straight-forward song that works well even though a slight lack of intensity could disappoint some. It runs a bit long at 5:01 as well, given that it consists of the same A-B chorus-bridge pattern from start to finish.


With a title like that, I was expecting something pop-punkish à la The Ramones but I was wrong... except for the time frame. It sounds as though this song was written in the eighties, only to be kept in a safe and brought back to life 20 years later. The chorus is incredibly catchy, but that's to expect from someone like 桃井はるこ!

5. Enter!

Enter! briefly begins with a loud, metal-distorted shotgun blast of guitar to the face, but doesn't fool its listeners for long as it quickly moves into a light-hearted mood. The guitar switches to a mild chorus effect and goes into the ska/reggae picking that is so prevalent in anime theme songs. Unfortunately, the digitized horns sound kind of cheap in comparison to the crystal clear guitar and Haruko's sweet vocals. The lyrics are as cheerful as they get and speak of the joyous world of anime and games. Overall, a solid little denpa song but nothing earth-shattering.

6. いまあなたが好き

Oops, sorry. I don't review ballads. Even when I was a kid and Guns'N'Roses was the hottest shit on earth, I would skip November Rain. I mean, fast-forward, of course. In reality, I tried to listen to this song in hopes that the beat would eventually pick up, but alas it didn't. In fact it reminds of the crappy songs heard in typical Chinatown bootleg DVD stores. Next!

7. Party!

Wow. Not only is the title similar to Enter! but so is the ska picking... are the two songs related or something? Now with a title like Party! you should pretty much expect what the song will sound like, and to a certain point the lyrics, but this is momoi, remember? The lyrics are about forming an RPG party and completing adventures! Think she's a World of Warcraft player? Again, solid little song, but nothing special.

8. ハイ・エナジー -momo-i version-
9. ルミカ

High Energy and Rumika are two heavily synth-driven songs that seemingly attempt to mimic theme songs of the eighties. They are respectively the Ending (featured on the previous video) and Opening themes of Kawaii! JeNny, the Robot-Chicken-meets-Sailor-Moon late-night show that took Japan by storm last year and will most likely invade America by 2009, mark my words! Momoi also provides vocals for Sister B, the show's bad guy (girl in this case), read this article for some behind-the-scenes information!

10. ナイト・で・ないと

I have to say I'm a little lost regarding the origin of this song. The official Avex site says this is an OP for PRISM ARK LOVE² MAXIMUM (erotic game), but as far as I'm concerned, KOTOKO took care of that and did a great job in the form of 「決断のentrance」, the long version of which I need to get my hands on, let me know if you can help! Short version is available here. Back to Night by Night, I have a feeling momoi's version was rejected and/or is a "second" OP featured on a companion CD out there. It could also be the ED for the TV anime series, but I haven't watched those and the Anime News Network listing shows a different theme song. Whatever! The eroge/anime market is just enormous in Japan, it's impossible for a mere mortal such as myself to keep track of it. The song itself is standard denpa fare, that is to say, conveys incredible feelings of happiness! Vocals are of the higher-pitched variety, which is Haruko's trademark of course. The most striking aspect to me is how much room the guitar was given. Its distortion is bitingly sharp, like a chainsaw, the palm-muting is precise and augments the tempo by a large factor. Job well done!

11. Thunder Shot!

If you ever needed proof that 桃井はるこ is one of the most versatile 声優 (seiyuu) in the industry, just give Thunder Shot! a listen. She transforms into a mature rocker and aims to give Olivia Lufkin a run for her money. The music is of the hard rock variety and heavily guitar-driven. But I guess you'll be surprised to learn what prompted this song. Apparently, Momoi is a closet (confessed?) fan of R/C cars and Thunder Shot! was actually written as an homage to a very popular Japanese model that came out in 1987. Personally, the idea just blows me away. Either way, the song works very well and I would actually look forward to an album written entirely this way.

12. Good morning!

If the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle ever needed a theme song, this could be it. The song is straight-up denpa, no doubt about that, but it doesn't require clever syncopation or novel ideas to work. In fact it reminds me of the slower MOSAIC.WAV songs like the recent "科学遣いの弟子" and the oldie-but-sweetie "電気の恋人" (check out that hilarious video) I find it a bit odd that a song called Good Morning is featured last (the next one being a bonus track) as it could have made for a good opener.

13. Get Wild (Bonus track)

Only available on the first press of Sunday Early Morning, this is a cover of TM NETWORK's old-ass City Hunter ED. We're talking 1987 here, I wasn't even... oh wait, I was born, and old enough to watch the show to boot. If you want to check out hilarious hairstyles and puffy clothes, check out this live performance. The cover works pretty well and is true to the source material.

That's it for the review, I hope you enjoyed reading and let me know if I missed anything or got one of my facts wrong. I do have one huge regret, I wish the lyrics to the title track weren't just random English words. Musically, it has the potential to be her breakout American single, but that kind of "creativity" just won't fly here. "Romantic Summer" is superior in every way, but too hectic for the US market. Here's to hoping an updated version with actual lyrics will be released someday. Feel free to state your opinion in the comments!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Full details on MOSAIC.WAV's 「Amusement Pack」

Took them long enough, but Lantis Records finally spilled the beans on their website. The major anisong studio first worked with MOSAIC.WAV in 2006 when they released 「キュン・キュン・パニック」 and then released their subsequent anime singles. With all of the positive buzz surrounding their self-released albums and singles, it was obvious another collaboration was in the making. While first announced as a "Best Album", it was eventually announced that new songs would be added and that others would be remixed and/or re-recorded. The final release date is March 26 2008. Here is the complete track listing, as well as handy remarks on each song.

Drama. 「Meeting and involvement」

2.アキバ in ワンダーランド
Remake. First appeared on 「切情!佰火繚乱」

Drama. 「365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds」

Remake. First appeared on 「 片道きゃっちぼーる」 (Katamichi Catchball) aka Potemayo OP.

5.Nursery Time
New song.

Drama. 「The Perfect Harem」

7.三つ巴-motion~triangular fight
Remake. Unknown origins!

Drama. 「Theme of Sweet Whispers」

Remake. First appeared on 「最強○×計画」 aka Sumomomo mo momo OP1.

Remake. First appeared on 「切情!佰火繚乱」 aka Sumomomo mo momo OP2.

Drama. 「This car isn't stir-fried」 (たすけてください!)

12.Pain Paint Car
New song. Hilarious title.

Remake. First appeared on 「まもって!ロリポップ」 aka Mamotte ED.

Drama. 「The Traveling Bands」

15.We Love “AKIBA-POP”!! [NEW TAKE]
Remake. First appeared on 「Future-Fiction:AKIBA-POP」

Drama. 「Attraction Delivery」

17.Amusement Pack
New song. Hilarious title #2.

Drama. 「40 pages invitation」

New song. 「Finale」

As I'm sure you've realized by now, this is quite the interesting dénouement and not the "Best Of" we were lured into imagining. Except for "We Love “AKIBA-POP”!!", all of the older songs come from singles released by Lantis Records. On one hand this is a brilliant, almost novel idea and I am extremely looking forward to the numerous dramas. If they are anything like the short-but-sweet bonus track on 「電脳合戦×うじゅの陣!」 then I am all over it. According to MI*KO*2 BLOG, the plays/dramas are hilarious and feature "insane BGM". On the other hand, this would have been a perfect time to introduce the rest of the world to the MOSAIC.WAV that I know and love. I'm talking about their ability to grab the best elements from a variety of genres (don't tell me LoveCheat! isn't punk-as-fuck!) and bring them all under the Akiba-Pop banner. Either way, considering this major album, the recently released 5th single and another anime theme song to be released in April, 2008 is a promising year for MOSAIC.WAV!

One of the most striking aspects of this album is the unintentional Engrish right on the cover. It is QUITE OBVIOUS that the intended title was "Amusement Park", but since park is written as "パーク" in katakana form, the direct romanization would be paaku -> pack. Why, oh why, did they not contact me, their #1 fan this side of the pacific, for a spell check? Unless of course, they intended to name their album in honor of the true "amusement packs" of this world:

and last but not least...

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

WARNING! A huge time waster is approaching fast

If you get the reference from my title, then you're gold. Otherwise, you're still cool (you're reading this blog and all) All this to say that I caved in and bought Super Smash Bros. Brawl today and that I have a feeling it's going to take away all of my free time for the next couple of weeks. I am aware that new MOSAIC.WAV album information is available out there and I will report on it very soon. Rest assured that this blog is not going down anytime soon despite the lack of updates. I have a lot planned and I hope to have a new article up this weekend.

Monday, 3 March 2008

MOSAIC.WAV's 「Best Album」 delayed

The "best album" has recently been delayed from March 12 to March 26 2008. Lantis Records have updated their website with a partial track listing. No surprises on the announced tracks, but at least we have a confirmation that it will include at least one new song! The cover art is still unavailable, but I am personally hoping for a return to form by Akio WATANABE. Finally, this is pure speculation, but will this record mark the renewal of the Masaya KOIKE and MOSAIC.WAV union? Recent posts on his blog seem to point toward the possibility. We'll know for sure in a short while!