Saturday, 7 May 2011

例大祭8 roundup: Innocent Key, IOSYS, 天然ジェミニ, Siestail

We've done roundups for M3-2011春, M3-2010秋, M3-2010春 Comiket 79 and hell, even 東方紅楼夢6. But nothing on Reitaisai, the grande messe of Touhou? Originally, we were planning on helping you build your shopping list back in early March, but the event was postponed to May 8th 2011 because of y'all-know-what. Of course you could always visit doujinongaku for the complete list of participating circles, but we've hand-picked some of the best (denpa-related DUH) albums which are coming out this weekend.

Note that many of these may already be available in stores, but they still deserve coverage nonetheless!

Let's start this round-up with Innocent Key... how often does that happen? Well, this is actually the first time in four years that we're taking a good long look at an Innocent Key album! We did select a song from 2010's superb「ココボク」as a "top denpa song of the year 2010" but of course the main draw was ココ and her awesome voice. Still, thanks to that album and now 「東方スクール」 (a full-on denpa album), it's finally time to give Innocent Key credit where credit is due.

The titular track dictates the pace and tone, playful and cheery tunes abound! Only "transmigration" takes a more serious turn, but it still somehow fits in just well. ココ is featured on most songs of course but dare we say this is yohine's most focused album? 溝口ゆうま also did a fantastic job arranging timeless Touhou themes with flair and panache. Somehow Lord ARM makes a welcome guest composer appearance. It also helps that most of the male vocals are downright hilarious! While 「リリーの花粉最前線!」 may just be the strongest song on the album on all accounts, you just have to LOVE Innocent Key parodying ULTRA-PRISM with 「収穫イモ娘」... really clever cover which we're sure put a smile on aniki's stern face!

Can somebody please tell ForestPireo that 「Party Pochecan mean "boring party" in French? In certain parts of the world, at least. Regardless, this is not a boring party by any stretch of the imagination... especially when it has girls like ななひら, なゆ and ココ!!! This wild trio will light up any social gathering, but the other girls aren't exactly Debbie Downers either. Not to mention we have a couple of ikemen in さつき が てんこもり and Innocent Key's 溝口ゆうま. For once, we have a ForestPireo album that is mostly upbeat so... pretty awesome shindig after all!

Comiket 79 saw the release of the IOSYS mega-denpa-album "Touhou Unfufufu" which, among other highlights, had Queen とろ美 singing the opening track composed by Lord ARM. The dream duo is back for more, just as IOSYS have gone back to a more variety-oriented album format. Regardless, 「東方メレンゲ少女夜行」 is another worthy offering and still features tons of crazy denpa songs to sink your teeth in. Next to 「エンドレス・てゐマパーク」, miko's 「少女さとりのさとりったー」 is the album's other heavyweight. あゆ and her friends t+pazolite and Coda contributed a new ACT track which frankly is not as memorable as the material from their first single, but still highly entertaining. Speaking of ACT, they will release a full album at C80!

Lord ARM's remix album 「リ:キャンディッド! ARM東方リミックス」was the other big IOSYS release just a couple months ago. They've announced a few new ones since then, but this is still fresh hotness as far as we're concerned! This one remixes eight different songs from various IOSYS "eras", including some pretty old stuff. Any attempt to describe the album's genre is futile. After many coffee pots and a couple Red Bulls, Lord ARM let himself loose in his studio, kicked a bunch of computers+keyboards around and this is the result. It is not as "focused" as his own album 「ワァオ!ハイパー電波チャン -ARM商業作品集-」 in fact it's quite the opposite. "Fucked up" comes to mind but the real descriptor should be "incredible variety". This feels like a love letter to his fans so if you want to support Lord ARM, speak with your wallet.

monoROSETTA's 「GREATEST HITS(予定) Vol.1」 is one of the many albums that weren't available for the original Reitaisai 8, rather it was announced in mid-April 2011. Despite the "greatest hits", don't be fooled. It's more of a "retro" kind of joke (if that makes any sense), which honestly is in line with some of the music. These are all brand new songs, with only a few already published (?). Once again, there is a lot of variety at hand, from borderline disco (妖怪ディスコウサギのテーマ) to straight-up denpa (危ないカリスマ☆恋のスカーレット! and a couple others) and even some good-old fashioned Ramones-esque kind of anthemic punk.

This new unit consists of two DearStage girls on vocals (夢眠ねむ (also a DenpaGumi member) and レナ) as well as VOID and a couple other IOSYS dudes writing songs and lyrics. Yours truly was lucky enough to see these girls perform live at the MegaPeer event in early January 2011 and judging from the crowd reaction at such an embryonic stage of their career, they surely have a number of years ahead of them. But since all songs here are high quality arrangements of Touhou classics, the real test will come in the form of an original album.

Although 天然ジェミニ (tenjemini) consists of 愛原千尋 and 愛原佑季 at its "core", they change their voices so much and bring in so many guest vocalists that it can be kind of hard to tell them apart from other similar units. But when one of these vocalists is ゆきまめ... it's time to party! Along with yet another guest (愛空アキハ) she sings the first song 「可愛いなんて言わせない!」which does a great job of setting up the new album 「東方マジカル☆コミカル」. We love Yukimame and hope she appears on more circles, but she needs her own album like Nanahira!

Compared to the former album 「東方女乱演舞」which had a couple of snoozer tracks, this new effort is overall quite pleasing to the ear. The two tracks from KANZAKI (yes, one of the TAMUSIC dudes) are extremely well-crafted but the real standout here is Loser Kashiwagi's delightful 「にとりときゅうりと謎の技術!」 which almost sounds like it was composed with real Genesis/MegaDrive hardware. It's good to see/hear one of denpa's OGs still kicking it old-school!

Rounding out today's roundup is Siestail with「ザ・ベストちぇん」their second Best Of album in two years; the first being 2010's 「ザ・ベストてゐ」. Now you might be thinking "two best-ofs in two years? that's fucking nuts!"... well, you're right. The thing is, Siestail's circle-master Spelunker is not human; it is a Touhou Arrange Machine From Hell (TAMFH). But at least, it has the decency of selecting fantastic vocalists for its admittedly uniques remixes. We're talking リズナ, 小宮真央, ココ, ℃iel, haru*nya, papico and a bevy of other awesome girls with awesome voices. Oh, you haven't heard of papico? We secretly posted her picture in a previous post, so there's a late Easter Egg Hunt for you.

No but really, Spelunker is doing its fans a major service by doing these compilation albums on a yearly basis. You see, between the original release of 「ザ・ベストちぇん」 (early March) and today, SEVENTEEN new songs were published on four different singles which we won't discuss today, despite being packed to brim with the great singers listed above. There's always next year... until then, do give this double-CD a chance. Surely one of the 32 tracks will do it for you, and as good as she sounds with t+pazolite, it's good to hear Miss リズナ under a different producer once in a while!

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