Drag-on Dragoon 2 is the completely orchestrated soundtrack from Yoshiki Aoi. The 22 tracks are a complete attack on the sense’s as an entire orchestra and full-sized choir rampage as much power and tension on you as possible.
“Symphonic Poem Forbidden Prelude” opens the soundtrack is a huge way. Everything is thrown into the mix in this tense and powerful piece. It is perfectly balanced and very well produced losing none of its grandeur at any stage. The timpani, low brass and stabbing strings really bring out panic in the listener and it is honestly one of the best orchestral pieces I have ever listened to.
“Fate” is a classically played piano based piece with sweeping woodwind and strings that then push the piano to the background. This is one of the few tracks which shows grace, pride and empathy and really stands out because of that – along with a beautiful melody for most of the tune.
“Plains of Pity” is a strange one because it uses an orchestral dance paced beat and war chants over a brass tune which gives it a completely unique sound. Once again its full of drama and tension and completely hams it up. “Reminiscence is Madness” follows a similar line of thought and tune but is more string based.
“Old Tombstone” brings in what sounds like ancient Erhu’s and Guzhengs for a maddened piece of out of tune chord progressions and some beautiful piano interludes. It took me a few listens to get this piece but once I got it, it became a favourite for me. Almost like an evil fairground ride theme.
“Valley of Avidya” is a downbeat sorrow filled string piece with what sounds like a guzheng improvisation in the distant background. This track is welcome as a pace slower because all the other tracks really go for it, so this is needed to stop the soundtrack becoming too much for the listener.
“Formidable Enemy” returns to our orchestra and choir who go all guns blazing into this waltz battle theme. Another excellent track. “Vein of Grief” uses a military beat to stand out from the others with waves of strings and discordant wind instruments to create more tension and confusion. While some of the tracks on this soundtrack sound out of tune, it’s never to the point of it being unlistenable – it’s always off kilter for a reason.
“Sadness” is sombre piece as the title suggests but it doesn’t sit still with ambient strings and harps to a mechanical drumloop. “Exhausted ~On the Holy Land~” continues with the harp as a calming instrument for this beautiful piece underscored by piano and later given a voice by flutes and strings. In contrast “Exhausted ~The Broken Past~” has a much sharper tone to it using various themes from before in the soundtrack to reprise and give you what is essentially a main theme now.
“Abysmal Earth” once again cranks things up to the max. If you don’t like pounding over the top orchestration then I suggest you don’t buy this soundtrack because the same premise is then used in “Furious Earth” and gain although much more slower but still overscored “Twilight Hill” (all about the strings here).
“The End of the Conclusion” however gives us guitar and what sounds like a computerised bass! It’s certainly different to the others and it was a wickedly dark melody and is a standout track.
“Impatience” starts off with a furious keyboard and ambience before going into a completely abstract piece equal orchestral ambience (much like Clock Tower music) and random almost comical sections (ala Voodoo Vince) which is an interesting combination. “Exploration” is more of a background track with experimental percussion loops thrown over it – much like a dungeon track actually before “Breakthrough” returns to the all singing all dancing full orchestration for another rousing piece that goes at well over 100 miles an hour with some stunning musical work.
“Unrest” gives us another ambient experiment using that faithful horror movie glass moving noise before “Final Battle” goes percussion mad for its final piece.
The final track on the soundtrack is “Hitori” sung by Mika Nakashima which is a soft jazz song with sultry smooth vocals and a nice tune. Not a personal favourite of my vocal tracks but definitely a good song.
Drag-on Dragoon is all about power and orchestration. While it does do other things the majority of the soundtrack is about pounding out as much as you can as grandly as you can. This does for orchestra’s what The Black Mages did for stadium rock so if you think you can stomach it and are prepared for a tension filled ride – go for it!
To celebrate the fact Sarah Blasko is coming to the UK, this week is see’s Blasko take her turn on the live vault section. The tour dates for the UK are below. I fancy Bush Hall myself – come on pay day!
08.10.11 Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
09.10.11 Louisiana, Bristol
10.10.11 The Duchess, York
11.10.11 Captain’s Rest, Glasgow
12.10.11 Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
13.10.11 Sacred Trinity Church, Manchester
14.10.11 Bush Hall, London
15.10.11 The Green Door Store, Brighton
On ShootThePlayer.com why does no one stop and listen to the beautiful music being played!!! You fools!
Bookending with “Senza”, we get all three versions of Janine interspaced throughout the concert with the third being an absolute riot with drums and burping going on. The vocal beatboxing is something that needs to be heard to be believed! Simply mind-boggling.
What is interesting is her renditions of songs from her debut album which is more traditional in its instrumentation. Taking her vocal stylings “Les Sac De Filles” is almost freeform vocal jazz, “1,2,3″ sounds like she’s going completely bonkers and “Les Ex” is just hilarious with all the silly noises and Camille going into extremely high register to playfully sing along.
Of course most of Le Fil is present here too with personal favourites “Au Port”, “Ta Douleur”, “Pour Que L’Amour Me Quitte” and “Pale Septembre” all in very fine form. It really is a masterclass of entertainment.
You know exactly what you’re getting with Camille, a kooky and complex vocal pix and mix of musical styles but very few can hold such a unique stage presence as this fine lady who captivates the audience throughout. If you are not captivated with Janine 3 – you need to check yourself into a clinic!
The very first of many hopefully ~ feedback positive or constructive is most welcome in this new feature:
Puzzle games have match 3, match 4, match 5, match colours… “Lucid” decides to match all! “Lucid” tasks you to match at least two of the same colour together to remove them from the grid. You can remove as many gems as you like of the same colour as long as they have connecting sides to eachother. So far, so easy. The crux is that you must be able to draw a line through the collection of gems you’re removing without crossing or double backing on yourself. This means if you look at the picture above you could remove the five pinks in the bottom left and the squiggle of greens in the bottom left part of the screen. However if you look at the four yellows stacked up on the bottom, should the turquoise gem also be yellow then you couldn’t remove it because you can’t double back on yourself.
What starts off very gently starts to become quite complex after the first 20 of the 55 levels. You’re quickly then tasked with finding specific colours and gem amounts to remove. Each consecutive correct removal increases your multiplier and thus boosts your score. The other game changer is a Lucid Gem which if you use it, gives you a fresh new set of gems but ends your multiplier. If you don’t use them, each one gives you a bonus at the end of the level.
~Great twist on tried concept
~Perfect learning curve
~No multiplayer mode
Lucid is strictly one player and all about the leaderboards. Great fun, relatively easy to concept to grasp and a gentle learning curve that gets trickier over time. Highly rated by us!
Brendan Perry announced today that he and Lisa Gerrard will reform Dead Can Dance for a new album and world tour in 2012! We’ve been hoping for years it’ll happen and seems like it was almost on the cards after their tour in 2005 but finally now it’s come to fruition. Watch the press conference here.
The fourth and probaby final single from Let England Shake is the title track itself. Normally I only do one video vault per week but the Punch and Judy segment in this track is comedy gold.
Time to reveal a new Bjork song from upcoming album Biophilia which is coming out 26/09/11. This track is called Cosmogony and is brassy! The intrumental is the video below but the vocal version can be streamed in full here before it’s iTunes release tomorrow. Can’t wait for the album – enjoy! Awesome video too.
As Higher Plain Games, our gaming section of this website continues to grow rapidly I’m looking at adding on video reviews for games onto the YouTube channel. This however will require a fair bit of time from me to complete so I’d like to know if people prefer video reviews over written ones or as well as, or aren’t fussed at all. Thanks in advance for your replies, posts and e-mails! I may well end up doing these anyway but the feedback will determine its priority!
Self explanatory really but the full playthrough of the PS2 version of Hasbro Family Game Night is now available on our youtube channel! Shame I couldn’t beat all the AI really
Sometimes I want to love a game even if it’s against my better judgement or logic. “Pole Position 2010″ is absolutely dire. You know you’re in trouble when the keyboard isn’t even mapped right for the game. When you press Y a Z is typed! The text is translated from German by something like Google Translate which makes things laughable and the game is full of aggravating bugs like crashing to desktop when you try to save a game. Is it better than the previous version Kalypso released? Barely.
Pole Position 2010 is an F1 Management Sim. It’s completely unofficial so all the teams and drives names are changed. Thankfully a trusty editor is available to change them to what you’d like. Inside the game you can build your cars, parts, liveries and buildings. You can hire staff and drivers. You can negotiate with sponsors for a better budget. This part of the game is ran in a fairly streamlined menu system that’s quite intuitive and you’re never more than 3 button clicks away from where you want to go. The race screen itself shows a semi 3D map that you can rotate with the mouse and the cars are shown by team markers. This screen is more cluttered and less simple to navigate through.
There is one big problem though. The game doesn not give you a vague bit of help or pointer at all as to what you’re meant to do!
Each area of the team can be ran by staff which do little to affect the overall gameplay. The car designs themselves show no real difference in how to improve them and worst of all the car set up screens do not give you any feedback on the car setup themselves. You literally have to play completely blind and when you hit the track only the tyres and wing settings are adjustable. It’s absolutely unforgivable when you think 16 years ago Grand Prix Manager games were able to give you pointers and something to go on. As a result its nigh on impossible to work out exactly what to do next.
Basic rules are not even in play such refueling, the knockout qualifying letting the last 16 drivers through to Q3 and tyre changes when the weather changes. It’s a complete and utter mess. Dare not try to save the game as it’ll crash to desktop.
Yet why did I find myself grinding on? Maybe it’s because its to see how awful the rest of the game is – but I did. I found myself trying to find out why I was a second off everyone else. I had no clue where to look but I still looked. I guess the game as the confusing factor to keep you playing.
~Most current F1 Management Sim on the market
~Hard to complete
~Graphical slowdown in the menus
~Full to high heaven with game crashing bugs
~No help or hint system makes everything a complete guess
~Not even faithful to the sport it pretends to be
Get Grand Prix Manager 1 and 2, Grand Prix World and Software 2000′s F1 Manager over this anyday – hell even F1 Manager from EA is better. Bottom of the pile tripe. Avoid.
Congrats on the new album Smokin’. it has a really distinctive sound and vibe. Now it’s done, how do you feel looking back on the journey making it?
One of my favorite activities in life is producing music, and I excel at it even though I would attribute the further enhancement of the music featured on the disc to its rhythm section – one comprised of bassist Cliff Starbuck from the Ohio-based jam band Ekoostik Hookah and former Doobie Brothers drummer Chet McCracken. Both can be considered classic rockers, and they immediately understood the direction of the music I was writing at the time.
Tracking the horn section was difficult because the musicians seemed somewhat uncomfortable in what critics may classify as unfamiliar musical terrain. Production expertise comes into play at such times, though, and there is musical merit in the results that were ultimately captured. In reflection, Smokin’ is a by-product of discipline, dedication, and patience – as well as actual talent regarding everyone involved.
Has any music or genre in particular influenced your style?
Early on, I consciously sounded like the Rolling Stones because I tried to write songs that I thought were Stones soundalikes. In particular, I always enjoyed Mick Taylor’s guitar playing, and I would spend hours learning his riffs from albums he appeared on such as Sticky Fingers. Later, I started listening to Led Zeppelin and spent years contemplating Jimmy Page’s production techniques. Presence, in particular, is one of my favorite albums. I cite Sly Stone and the band Chicago’s guitarist, Terry Kath, as influential also.
When you’re writing a song do you have a particular writing process or do they just come and when?
I try to get into the head of the “average listener,” as the tunes that stick within society’s collective memory, regarding commercial appeal and popularity, impact everyone on a personal level and not just a single demographic. I write lyrics and music separately and match them up once the frameworks for each are complete. Afterwards, I’ll stop work on it and return to it later. If I can play it through, at that time, without referring to the written notation, I keep it. The lone exception on Smokin’ is “Psychedelic People,” which was composed in fifteen minutes, total, as a challenge to myself to break free from my own self-established conventions.
How did you come across the fantastic vocal production that’s used on the album?
The result stems more from experience than from fortune, as each vocalist brought a unique set of experiences to the table cultivated long before this particular project was conceived. Female vocalist Renee Yalley has previously performed on the Chicago blues scene, and Vincent Unto is notable for being the lead singer of the popular 1970s R&B group “Executive Suite.”
My main vocal influence is Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, although I also enjoy listening to Marvin Gaye, Jim Morrison, and jazz singer Arthur Prysock, whose name rests in relative obscurity today.
Do you have any plans to play live and tour the album at all?
The CD release party was held at the Viper Room in Los Angeles on the same day that Smokin’ was released, and I’m returning to the club in August. I’d love to play in the UK, though, as UK audiences can relate to music inspired by the greats of classic rock – many of whom hailed from that geographic area of the world.
If you could jam with any other musical artist from any time who would you choose to rock out with and why?
Ravi Shankar – the consummate musician, performer, and teacher – as he could very well be the best musician who ever lived. As someone who improvises a significant amount, onstage, I have always appreciated Shankar’s virtuosity in the area of theoretical knowledge.
Another player on that list is Lolly Vegas, the founder of the first Indian rock band, Redbone. Fortunately, I was able to make contact with him before he passed on, but many of their albums – especially Message From a Drum – are legendary for being filled with great examples of “outside-the-box” guitar playing that I’d recommend to anyone interested in such music. From Smokin’, “Meditate” is a tribute to him as I perform the sitar line on guitar just like he used to on tracks like “Come and Get Your Love.”
I was largely influenced by my mother, a Native American and female fan of both of these artists.
If you could magically learn a new instrument overnight, which one would you choose and why?
I’d play the saxophone because of the instrument’s wide range of colorful, far-reaching tones. Players such as John Coltrane and Charlie Parker created the blueprint for modern music with their use of indiscriminate power phrasing over atypical chord charts that may or may not utilize a particular time signature. In rock music, groups like the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, and Phish were the result of such musical innovations.
I recall writing, back in third grade, an essay on the complexity of Brubeck’s extended composition “Two-Part Contention,” stating that my goal, at the time, was to rearrange the track for audiences in a manner similar the psychedelic rock groups that incorporated jazz-based explorations into their music, Perhaps I will revisit that concept again but, regarding Brubeck, “Take Five” became his “signature tune” but was written by Paul Desmond on saxophone. The track is still considered a standard today, whereas most of Brubeck’s own compositions are long forgotten. This helps prove the theory that the saxophone is one of the most important melodic instruments.
Other sax players I admire include Alto Reed, Bobby Keys, Clarence Clemons, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Jr. Walker, and Edgar Winter, who performs slippery sax lines on one of my favorite tunes, “Tell Me in a Whisper,” which was later covered by Sergio Mendes. Check it out.
What’s coming up in the pipeline for Marcus Singletary?
My next studio project will take the form of a concept album inspired by projects such as The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Tommy, and records by ELO including Out of the Blue – classic discs containing a wealth of material lush in orchestral variance that manages to give the fans the most for their money as the respective groups’ individual styles are expanded and reshaped by the addition of artistic flourishes and theatrics. Stay tuned.
How are you going to unwind after the release whirlwind is over?
Robert Fripp once said, “Discipline is a vehicle for joy.” Consistent discipline and motivation are the keys to finding success in life, as stagnation can easily kill a career. I prefer staying busy and limiting my “rest and relaxation” periods. Regardless of what I am doing, though, I am always giving one-hundred percent of my attention to it as my audience deserves nothing less.
We’d like to thank Marcus for taking part in a very insightful interview. Smokin’ is available from CDBaby for a physical copy, or on iTunes and Amazon for the digital release.
I’ve stumbled across this fantastic quiz for Final Fantasy music fan lovers. How many did you score? ( I got 35/38)
Melodies Of Life is the vocal track to Final Fantasy IX. On the single there are 3 versions of the song. The first is in Japanese; the second in English and the third is an instrumental version. Also included on the single is Galway Sky, a completely new song for the CD.
Melodies Of Life is a straightforward love song about feeling alive with love. Many accused the song of being a bit too laid back, but I don’t find that the case. After a soft beginning, it gradually builds up for the chorus’, which are fairly powerful. If you found the song too laid back, then it’s probably due to the rest of the soundtrack being a bit more low key compared to say Final Fantasy VIII. Instead of going military, this is Final Fantasy returning to its roots, and the song would not be out of place in say the Pray CD. Of the two vocal versions of the song, the Japanese version is better, because it follows with the music easier, and sometimes the English vocal arrives a little too late for piece’s and fluctuates in tone a little too much. The Japanese version is what Melodies Of Life was written for, and that’s why it stands out more. The Instrumental version is a bonus, and can be used for Karaoke purposes since it has no synth voice.
Galway Sky is the new song and is absolutely astonishing! Emiko’s vocals shimmer here with the uptempo chorus’ and the excellent bridges. It doesn’t borrow from any song from the Final Fantasy IX OST and come across like a breath of fresh air. Galway Sky has a distinct Japanese feel, from the vocals to the instruments used, and for the first time in a long while, a male and female vocal track actually works! The end of the song shows the vocalists playing off eachother to great effect and Galway Sky is reason enough to buy this single.
Combining ambience, basslines to kill for and some mega foot stomping drum loops, the soundtrack weaves its way through a manic mental path to hedonism of the dancing senses. I’m not usually one to get madly to grips with such genres however the way its patched together makes for very interesting listening on occasion.
The opener “Lighthouse” melds the ambience and bass lines together to cause some kind of panic fury which never really explodes into a full-blown attack but clearly goes into a bedlam mode. A very clever way to skip around going for the normal route of things. “Ruthless” follows then really does explode into a huge drum n bass number with not much in the melodic department but all trousers in the drums. The percussive elements throughout the album are something to admire.
“Theme From Battery” is a beautiful yet haunting ambience piece, something I could see a band like Cocteau Twins almost doing – very surreal and dreamy. “Kokubo Sosho Stealth” continues the whole ambience theme with broken down drum loops and echoing vocals but is not as successful as creating a timeless space as the previous track. “El Cargo” is completely reliant on its funky basslines and echoes of an almost gospel sounding choir. “Displaced” is full of discord from the word go. Random little quirks of instrumentation are set to an uptempo drum beat which is interesting but not entirely listenable too unless you’re into the genre!
“Ruthless (Reprise)” is much better in this version that the previous one. Almost low-fi in presence, it just has so much more structure and poise to it! “Kukubo Susho Battle” too is better than its similar predecessor just but having a rhythm to its madness and getting on with it! There’s some mean parts to it in places with some electric guitar fits and starts too. “Hokkaido” sadly doesn’t get going, a bit like a lost and best forgotten Silent Hill gone techno track. “The Clean Up” rounds off the album with a bit of everything that had gone before it and makes for a very good track indeed! Some superb use is made of orchestration and drum montages too.
This album is such a hard one to judge. It is technically unique in its sound (Sudeki cross Silent Hill cross Metal Gear Solid prehaps?) however it doesn’t always hit the spots required to say that it should have a standout place in the VGM World. If you’re after something that’s very eclectic and electronic – you could do much worse than this album, or if you should see it cheap then I’d recommend it. It certainly will gain a foothold in your audio mindscape and maybe over time and many listens will grow on you . However a melding of many different genres does not necessarily mean it will please any of the follows of them.
St Vincent returns for her third album entitled “Strange Mercy”. Apparently going to a more rockier instrumentation she will be banging out the tunes on the guitar and taking away all the swish production. The tracklisting is below and its out on 12th September.
01 Chloe In The Afternoon
05 Northern Lights
06 Strange Mercy
07 Neutered Fruit
08 Champagne Year
10 Hysterical Strength
11 Year Of The Tiger
Sheri Miller popped onto my radar a few weeks back and I had to grab her latest EP “Winning Hand” to hear more. With a delightful blend of catchy rock but with hidden depths beneath the outwardly mainstream veneer, it’s a great collection of tracks to treasure.
“Spoons” is adorable. A country uptempo jig with a sweet vocal ad-lib bridge, Sheri’s vocals show a great diversity and range from powerful rock to cute girl band chorus as she sings “we fit just like spoons”. The ukulele is whimsy and it’s just a cute sweet track. “Winning Hand” swings out to the country side of Sheri’s vocals as things go for middle-of-the-road country rock. The guitars all mesh together beautifully and the production is very slick.
“Satellite” is possibly my favourite from the EP with some real outback chugging acoustic guitars and a catchy chorus. There’s a real fluidity to the guitars and vocals and its more punchy than the previous two tracks. “Everybody Feels This Way Sometimes” shows Sheri’s attention to diverting from the traditional rock formulae with use of different samples and noises for muted verses before breaking into anthemic choruses. It showcases the ease at which Miller can transition between different moods and it makes for interesting music throughout. “Hungry For the Truth” closes the EP with a great anthem which show a darker side with a lot of non bright happy chords and reversed guitar samples and some fantastic lyrics.
What “Winning Hand” does is let Sheri Miller touch base at several different styles around the same alt-country rock genre yet the songs all stand out as different. That’s a testimony to the production which is top-notch and the songwriting abilities of our singer/songwriter. Higher Plain Music will certainly be looking out for a full album release to see what other surprises Sheri has in store for you can’t help but feel she’s just scratching the surface with this moreish morsel.
Heapsong2 is released and entitled “Propeller Seeds”. More experimental than Lifeline but equally as beautiful and featuring a great bubble music video, there’s only one Imogen Heap!