Tekaru Mechanical is the sophomore album by noisycroak's in-house band, TEKARU. Featuring progressive rock renditions of his music from Hideki Sakamoto's works Shin Kamaitachi no Yoru: The 11th Visitor, 428: In a Blockaded Shibuya, Ragnarok Tactics, and the recently released Time Travelers, as well as original tunes, it makes for an interesting listen. How does it compare to their debut album?
The album starts with a bang with "Abnormal Returns," an original tune composed by Yasushi Asada. The whole track is filled with 80s-styled rock influences, boasting synthesizer work reminiscent of The Black Mages and stunning electric guitar writing. From the melodies to the solos to the heavy riffs, the guitar use makes for a very powerful, and at times, chaotic sound. "Scale Formation," an original tune composed by Keisuke Ito, is another anthemic rock album that has clear 80s inspiration. While the majority of the track focuses on wailing guitars, I really like the mellow keyboard sections, as it offers a nice contrast from the more energetic tempo.
My favorite of the original tunes is most certainly "Blast the Blizzard," composed by Hiroyoshi Kato. It offers a very pensive piano opening with some light percussion and a stunning electric guitar lead, before moving into a J-rock inspired sound with plenty of heavy guitar riffs and keyboard work. However, I think what I really enjoy most about this tune, aside from the melody, is the amazing synthesizer and keyboard solos over the guitar riffs. It really gives a nice contrast to the tune overall.
Of course, there are arrangements of noisycroak-published soundtracks. The first, "Shin Kamaitachi no Yoru Nightmare 2011 Mix" takes the lackluster original and really amps it up with this rock rendition. The creepy atmosphere is definitely retained thanks in part to the ominous piano and synthesizer works. The addition of hard rock elements really elevates the track to something with a bit more bite and offers a nice tempo contrast to the overall fast paced album. This would work quite well in a modern Shadow Hearts game, I imagine.
"Eggplant," from 428: In a Blockaded Shibuya, takes the funky original and translates it into a similar atmosphere with a rock focus. I really enjoy this one as well, as it gives it a bit more of a modern sound with that funk influence. The synthesizer and keyboard work are especially of note on this remix. "Zeal Continent," from Ragnarok Tactics, is an amazing rock rendition of the original. It is full of energy and is definitely reminiscent of The Black Mages" harder tracks; however, it does offer some less energetic sections that help offset the energy and offer a nice break from the tension.
The last two themes on the album are both vocal themes. The first is "Dr. Schrödinger, Tell Me Please? -Mikoto's Theme-," from the recently released Time Travelers Original Soundtrack. While the original featured a more pop oriented sound and a female vocalist, this take transforms it into a rock rendition with Hideki Sakamoto on vocals. While it doesn't do anything crazy and stays more faithful to the original in terms of flow, I feel that the change from female to male vocalist gives it a bit more of a masculine touch and it is easier to understand the lyrics, for the most part.
The last tune on the album is an original tune entitled "Sun," composed by Hideki Sakamoto. Unlike the other tunes on the album, this one is quite relaxing and peaceful. The vocals, while fairly simple, really help add a bit of depth to the piece overall. In the end, this is a fantastic way to end the album and helps bring the energy down.
In the end, I think that the sophomore album by noisycroak's TEKARU band is largely more successful than the predecessor. The addition of original tunes helps bring in the creative process of the various band members while the remixes give a varied soundscape to the album as well and are much improved with their addition of solos and overall flow. If you were a fan of the first album, you will most certainly enjoy the second album much more, even if some of Hideki Sakamoto's best-known works aren't represented here. If there's a third album, I'd definitely love to see Zombie Daisuki arranged in a progressive rock style.