Saturday, 26 January 2013

Top 3 most underrated and overlooked denpa albums of 2012

About the same time last year, we took at look at three fantastic albums which seemed to have flown right under everyone's radar. But what exactly makes these albums "underrated" or "overlooked"? Pure personal opinion. I can't exactly walk into every denpa fan's home and inspect their CD library to see what they're missing out on. Rather, I came up with this "top 3" based on personal introspection and some degree of extrapolation. I am, after all, privy to certain information such as site searches, retweet popularity and personal queries, all of which helped me establish the following as niche-in-niche.

It's no secret that I fucking love KuKuDoDo and everything that this crazy genius comes up with. I've been following Holic Service and Birdtune ever since both labels started and haven't skipped a single album. One of my personal highlights of 2012 was an interview with this legendary composer. Four years down the line... one might wonder why they aren't "bigger" after releasing so many albums. Live concerts are few and far between and both labels often seem to go on hiatus or information blackout. Some dark rumours on the internets probably aren't helping, also it's pretty obvious that the whole New Wave-cross-denpa style isn't for everyone. The fact that most of their new songs are Touhou arranges suggests that their few original albums didn't fly off the shelves (or M3 tables).

The ridiculously-titled 「妹達のお尻が臭かったので、戦わせることにした!」 is one of 2012's most powerful Touhou denpa albums, but it didn't seem to light up the interwebs with red-hot hype. It's packed with quality vocalists, some all-star guest arrangers and it features the very best of KuKuDoDo this far. As far as I'm concerned, 2009's Holy Grail 「エネルギー冷麺 お受験せんそ→☆」 has been surpassed and that was no small feat. However, I just don't see that many people ranting about the new album and its crazy songs. I mean, weren't we all waiting for lyrics about SQL love injection?

Of course, this doesn't mean that their albums don't sell at all; we wouldn't be getting new Holic Service and Birdtune releases if they were produced at a loss. In fact, I feel that they have a very dedicated fanbase that does not necessarily grow with every passing year, else we'd be getting nanano-flavoured lollipops at 7-eleven. At least loyal listeners have been rewarded with the promise of a solo KuKuDoDo album sometime in 2013, as well as some "exciting" stuff for the next M3. So I'll just take what I get and keep doing my best to spread the good word, hopefully getting them new fans in the process.

cello (of beatlogic records) released a heck of a solo single in August 2012. This is denpa for the punk rockers out there. Fast as fuck, crazy as hell. Probably too weird for the masses, but exactly what yours truly expects from wacky Japan. In 12:22 minutes, cello delivers 10 furious tunes (you work out the average length). Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but many tracks seem to be above 250BPM, which is some speedcore-level shit. Most song structures indicate that cello is probably a fan of old NYHC bands (heavy guitars, relentless drums, circle pit parts) so he gets infinite respect points on that one.

The other, not-guitar-driven category of songs clearly shows his love for MOSAIC.WAV and respect for other contemporary composer peers. I'm sure Kayapi would appreciate the ultra-silly 「擬音祭」 and title track 「eLekSoNicRusHeRRRRRR!!!」 would definitely get a stamp of approval from t+pazolite. This single is definitely hardcore for the hardcore, whether you're into punk or electronica (or both). Not a single sleeper here, much less stinker. And get a load of that cover!

Did I mention that the vocals are all 初音ミク? No, that's because for once I'm not bothered at all that a real human isn't singing. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what Lord Tenkomori and Master Katahotori can produce, but I much prefer cute girls giving it their best shot. In fact I would still like to see what cello could accomplish with real vocals, but as far as vocaloids are concerned, this is some of the most extreme usage I've ever heard. The guy's a hard worker, check out his new label "No Touch Records" if you're really into off-the-wall vocaloid stuff.

For all these reasons and more, it's pretty sad that his skills aren't being recognized. When I asked him over on twitter if there would be a second volume of his first compilation album 「シュミックトリガ! -New wave of A-POP-」 he seemed to indicate that he'd have to burn through remaining copies first. I've done my part and really hope to hear more from this creative composer in the near future, so consider doing yours if you like what you hear!

MilliRobo.beta got together in early 2011 and released their first album 「ミニロボベータ!」 almost two years later, in December 2012. Since it was released just a month ago, does it really qualify for this top 3? Sure, because I'm afraid it will be overlooked in the long run. It was announced just four days before C83 so few people reported the news, much less knew about it when they made their shopping list final. Because we all know you don't wanna go to Comiket without a plan. So, it feels to me as though there's very little hype around one of the most original releases of 2012.

Now I don't know if their ambitions are doujin-only, but packaged properly, this duo has what it takes to make it as big as アーバンギャルド on an international level. There's lots of people out there who prefer dark and twisted music, you just have to reach their ears. The dual male/female vocals make for great (and disturbing) dialogue situations. Unlike their contemporary squeaky clean peers SHAKING PINK, MilliRobo.beta aren't likely to get eroge OP offers with their dissonant and cacophonous style, nor is that something they would necessarily pursue. Live performances will also be few and far between if they happen at all.

But, along with distinctive art, one thing they already got right and that they should keep doing is pushing out videos. So far they have three of them out there, which is likely how most of their listeners to this day got to know them. If you haven't already, spend some time watching the deliciously tortuous 家想要塞メルヘン (animated!), 恋人サンディは明後日笑う and トテモトモタチ. Other than that, they'll have to rely on random buzz and word of mouth, which is what this fan hopes to accomplish with this article.

Everyone, spread the word about KuKuDoDo, beatlogic and MilliRobo.beta!


Anonymous said...

Hi... Do you know any shop that sells Millirobo.beta s cd? I have been looking for it, but can't find any that ships to Finland...?

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can buy it in this planet. Well, in Japan. Or you can find a proxy that will ship it for you. It's sold in Toranoana but they don't ship overseas.

Also MilliRobo.beta STRONG

電波の世界 said...

What I would recommend for you guys is to get in touch with for your toranoana purchases. He's totally legit.