Cave no Uta Black Label
|Arranged by||corin. / Hiroyuki Togo / Izumi "D・M・X" Miyazaki / Кэнъити Маэямада / Kizakura / Kou Hayashi / Манабу Намики / Matsumoto Hisataakaa / Mica Nozawa / Митиру Яманэ / Рю Умэмото / SAKOSHIN / Shigeyoshi Kawagoe / Сёитиро Хирата / Takane Ohkubo / Yasunari Okano|
|Release type||Game Soundtrack - Official Release|
|Format||2 CD - 18 tracks|
|Release date||May 15, 2010|
Every CAVE game that is released comes with its own image song. Presumably, these image songs are related to the overall backstory, rather than the style of the music, because in some cases, they are entirely different than the soundtrack style. A couple years ago, the Cave no Uta Image Song Compilation album was released featuring the image songs of all the games released thus far, which included up to DoDonPachi Dai-Fukkatsu. Since then, DeathSmiles IIX has come out and, with it, a new image song. Given that CAVE has been arranging quite a few of their original soundtracks, they decided to release an arrange album featuring the image songs remixed by a variety of artists, some popular, such as Michiru Yamane or Manabu Namiki, and lesser known remixers, not necessarily in the field of video game music. How does this album compare to the original?
The opening track, "Reco de Singing (Let's Go Reco Mix)" from Puzzle! Mushihimetama, arranged by Takane Ohkubo, opens up the album with a nice rock sound. Heavy guitar riffs, strange vocal samples, and some electronic additions really help create a sense of energy. Although the vocals are the same as in the original, something that is the case for most of the remixes on the album, they aren't the worst offenders on the album. Strangely enough, the child chorus vocals seem to go pretty well with the hard rock sound Ohkubo creates. Of course, he also throws in a killer electronic/guitar solo section that, although short, adds a bunch more energy to the mix. In the end, I think this is an improvement over the original.
The next theme, from Mushihimesama, "Somewhere in this Forest... (Celtic Sheep Mix)", arranged by Shigeyoshi Kawagoe, is also an improvement over the original. It has a very Celtic pop vibe and I really think that the instrumentation, namely the acoustic guitar, really help add to the vocalist's performance, especially in regards to the chorus. There are a lot of small nuances in this theme, such as some woodblock percussion, marching percussion, and the piano that really help add a lot of texture to the theme. The acoustic guitar solo coupled with the militaristic percussion is definitely a wonderful addition that really helps bring that music to life.
Mika Nozawa's "IBALOVE SONG (micALOVE mix)," originally from PinkSweets, is one of my least favorite arrangements on the album, but it does have some merit to it as I think it is an improvement over the original. I really like the militaristic percussion opening that leads into some bagpipe and piano leads, but at the same time, it really is quite a jarring transition from that to the delicate piano, considering the percussion is dropped entirely. For the early portions of the arrangements, the piano and bagpipe are the only instruments featured, and the bagpipe can get annoying after a while because it is rather static and constant. Eventually some pop drum work is thrown into the mix with some strings work, when the song begins to pick up, and helps a bit. In the end, there are some nice harmonies, but I just don't really enjoy this theme too much. It may be because I'm also not the biggest fan of the source material.
The image song for Mushihimesama Futari, arranged by Izumi Miyazaki, entitled "The Golden Star Fallen During a Short Night (Dub's Early 80's Electro Remix)" is also an improvement over the original. In particular, I think the intro is absolutely killer. Slick electronic beats, angelic piano sections, some vocal distortion, and some sweet spacey electronic synths really help create a wonderful atmosphere that leads into the vocals. The vocals are the weakest link of this arrangement, but I think that the atmosphere, beat, and harmonies aforementioned really help make the theme much more enjoyable throughout the duration of the listen.
"Muchi Porkyu! [Minced Boneless Petitmuchi MIX]," an arrangement by Hiroyuki Togo, comes from Muchi Muchi Pork!, Chris' favorite CAVE soundtrack by far (joking of course). Out of all the remixes, this one is probably my least favorite. I think the vocals are obnoxious — far more obnoxious than the original soundtrack's BGM, which I enjoy — but the arrangement does do some interesting things. It has a very playful atmosphere, as expected, that uses some pretty interesting electronic synth. I will admit that although I'm not a fan of the verses, I think the chorus is beyond catchy. In the end, it's not a terrible arrangement, and is an improvement on the original, but it's another case where I'm not a huge fan of the source material, so I'm not the biggest fan of the arrangement either.
Ah, the image song for my favorite CAVE soundtrack by Namiki is up next. "Mad Symphony 'Death Smiles' (Apocalypse MIX)," arranged by Kizakura, was also arranged on the Cave no Uta Image Song Compilation Album, but not by Kizakura. This version is absolutely wonderful. It's a nice rock/electronic fusion of the original that features some fantastic harmonies, some killer beats, and of course, an utterly awesome electric guitar solo. It may not alter the nature of the original as much as some of these other themes, but at the same time, the original was quite strong and this only helps reinforce it.
One of my favorite arrangements on the album is "Dodonpachi Dai-Ondo (Chinchirorin MIX)," from DoDonPachi Dai-Fukkatsu, arranged by Kenichi Maeyamada. It opens up with some crickets chirping, some fantastic piano, and electronic elements, before moving into the meat of the arrangement. The playful beginning of the original is emulated by incorporating some slick trance beats. The arrangement, in general, doesn't really vary too much, but it's such a fantastic theme that I don't really mind. Excellent trance elements, beautiful piano accompaniment, some ethnic tinged strings work, and the vocals all come together for a thrilling and intoxicating arrangement.
Another fantastic arrangement is "Cherry Blossom Bonds (Bossakura Mix), by Yasunari Okano, originally from Ketsui. This is my favorite original image song and I really like how the arrangement enhances it without really harming the core of the original. It takes the beautiful original, which focused on a stunning orchestral pop take with sweeping strings and piano, and adds a fantastic bossa nova sound to it that really enhances it. I much prefer this version to the original, mainly due to the fantastic piano and bass work! Of course, the strings also really help add a nice nostalgic sense as well.
Moving onto the second disc, the first remix is easily my favorite on the entire album. From ESPGaluda II, the "A Zillion Awakenings Anniversary (Conqueror of the Three Worlds Remix)" by Shoichiro Hirata, is a stunning electronic mix that is just full of energy, some fantastic harmonies and effects, and an utterly intoxicating beat. The vocals really work in the favor of the remix and really have quite some energy to them as well. It's another arrangement that doesn't really vary too much, but at the same time, I think it's quite strong on its own. The change near the end of the arrangement is also quite fun and adds a nice new texture to the remix.
corin provides another interesting remix, but not one of my favorites. "Boss's Numbers Blues (Number LOVE ROCK'N ROLL MIX)," originally from Medal Mahjong Moukari Bancho is a straightforward rock arrangement. It has a pretty kickass guitar solo in the middle, but as the name suggests, it borrows heavily from "I Love Rock and Roll" by Joan Jett. Because of this, I don't particularly find it original, even though it is fairly entertaining. The next track fuses hip-hop and rock into an interesting remix. "Tons Samba (SAKOSHIN Mix)", remixed by SAKOSHIN, from Medal Gun Shooting Pirate of Gappori, mixes some heavy electric guitar riffs and some slick hip hop beats to create an overall entertaining listen. The vocals are definitely hip-hop inspired in terms of style. In the end, it's an interesting remix, but it's not one of my favorites, although I do really enjoy the keyboard solo towards the end, as it really comes out of nowhere.
The rest of the second disc features remixes by more well-known artists. "Exhilarated Rendezvous (90's Hybrid MIX)," originally from Uha Uha Ooku, is remixed by Michiru Yamane, of Castlevania fame. Of course, those expecting a remix in the style of that series will be disappointed, but I find the arrangement to be quite fantastic, nonetheless. Opening up with some beautiful jazz piano, it really has this rustic atmosphere to it; however, this atmosphere doesn't stick around for too long. In fact, the majority of the remix has a groovy, funky kind of feel. I really think the slowed tempo from the original really helps heighten the overall experience, as I think the duet style vocals, present in the original as well, manage to sound much more emotional. It's definitely one of my favorite arrangements on the second disc.
I'm a huge fan of Kou Hayashi, known for his works for the company Milestone. Unfortunately, the song he was asked to remix was also the worst song on the original. "Awa-Odori with Tako and Kingyo (TBee Groupie REMIX)," originally from Omatsuriyasan Series ~Kingyosukui&Ganso! Takoyaki, doesn't manage to turn crap into gold, but it does manage to make it seem more valuable and more enjoyable. For the most part, Hayashi's remix adds some drum n' bass accompaniment that really manages to work well with the vocals. There is a nice distortion among the accompaniment and it really fits well with the pulsating beats also featured. I don't find myself immediately skipping it to the next track, so that says a lot on what Hayashi managed to accomplish.
The last two remixes on the album come from the recently released Deathsmiles IIX. The first remix, by Manabu Namiki, is entitled "*Death Xmails* (XtalXmas MIX)," and is the image song for the game. This version is a nice take on the original and definitely features that Namiki sound. It manages to retain the Christmas flavor of the original and, through subtle nuances in the accompaniment, always provides something that my ears pick up on subsequent listens. Of particular note are the beautiful Christmas-inspired instrumental bridges as well as the intoxicating bass line groove.
The second remix, by Ryu Umemoto, from Deathsmiles IIX is entitled "Christmas Angel (Sangerknaben Mix)," and is the ending theme for the arcade version of the game. This is an absolutely stunning remix. Umemoto employs the use of a boys' choir sample to give the original a more celestial sound that serves as a beautiful accompaniment to the original vocal samples. In addition, he adds a fantastic beat that has some awesome groove and funk soundscapes. Gone are the orchestral flourishes heard in the original, replaced with slick, crystalline synth accompaniments to really emphasize the Christmas spirit. It is, without a doubt, the best arrangement on the entire album as I really think that Umemoto manages to create an intoxicating blend of synths that really complement the singer and the original quite well.
There are also two megamixes on the album as well. The first, "CAVE 15th Anniversary (Limitation MIX)," by Kizakura, is a megamix featuring the original image songs transformed into a medley. Likewise, "CAVE MEGAMIX," by Matsumoto Hisataakaa, is a medley of the remixes featured on the album. These are nice additions, but they might be hard to get through for some people given their length (25-28 each!). There is also a hidden original image song, entitled "Oh My Castle Building Life," from Shirotsuku, composed by Daisuke Matsumoto. It's a bubbly, upbeat theme with a very playful atmosphere. It's a nice bonus and manages to fit well with the overall style of the album.
In the end, this remix album is pretty interesting. It features remixes of the original image songs for the various CAVE games and all manage to improve upon the original. In the end, it's an extremely entertaining listen with a variety of styles ranging from rock, jazz, and electronica. It features a lot of unknown names, but at the same time, some more popular names. Regardless, each arranger, for the most part, manages to instill their own styles into the remixes and make them much more enjoyable. If you are a fan of the originals, you might want to check this out.
Arrangers & Remixers / Game Origins
1-01 Takane Ohkubo / Puzzle! Mushihimetama
1-02 Shigeyoshi Kawagoe / Mushihimesama
1-03 Mica Nozawa (野澤美香) / PinkSweets ~Ibara Sorekara~
1-04 Izumi "D・M・X" Miyazaki / Mushihimesama Futari
1-05 Hiroyuki Togo / Much Much Pork!
1-06 Kizakura / Deathsmiles
1-07 Kenichi Maeyamada (前山田健一) / DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu
1-08 Yasunari Okano (岡野泰也) / Ketsui ~Kizunajigokutachi~
2-01 Shoichiro Hirata / ESPGaluda II
2-02 corin. / Medal Mahjong Moukari Bancho
2-03 SAKOSHIN / Medal Gun Shooting Pirate of Gappori
2-04 Michiru Yamane / Uha Uha Ooku
2-05 Kou Hayashi / Omatsuriyasan Series ~Kingyosukui&Ganso! Takoyaki
2-06 Manabu Namiki / Deathsmiles II ~Makai no Merry Christmas~
2-07 Ryu Umemoto / Deathsmiles II ~Makai no Merry Christmas~
2-08 Matsumoto Hisataakaa
2-09 Daisuke Matsumoto / Shirotsuku
Reco de Singing [Let's Go Reco MIX]
Somewhere in this Forest... [Celtic Sheep Mix]
IBALOVE☆SONG [micALOVE mix]
The Golden Star Fallen During a Short Night [Dub's early 80's electro Remix]
Muchi Porkyu! [Minced Boneless Petitmuchi MIX]
Mad Symphony "Death Smiles" [Apocalypse MIX]
Dodonpachi Dai-ondo [Chinchirorin MIX]
Cherry Blossom Bonds [Bossakura mix]
"CAVE 15th anniversary" limitation MIX