Cave Voice Bowl -Celebrity Voice Premium Compilation Album-
Cave Voice Bowl -Celebrity Voice Premium Compilation Album-
December 17, 2008
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Cave Voice Bowl – Celebrity Voice Premium Compilation Album was a promotional soundtrack sold at Cave Matsuri. In spite of the name, this two disc release contains the soundtrack to four Cave games. Two of the soundtracks are exclusive and come from puzzle games, namely the Mushihimesama adaptation Puzzle! Mushihimetama and the Uo Poko sequel Himitsu no Hanapoko. The other two soundtracks were previously released in out-of-print albums and come from the shooters Dangun Feveron and DonPachi. How do they each fare?
The album opens with the supposedly humorous and endearing soundtrack to Puzzle! Mushihimetama. The stage themes from the soundtrack are arrangements of well-known compositions, ranging from traditional American songs (“10,000 Feet Up the Alps”) to Japanese classics (“One Weeks”), from Disney favourites (“Pooh’s Forest”) to Israeli folk dances (“Mayim Mayim”). While tracks tend to have memorable melodies as a result, they’re superficialised with candypop instrumentation, much like the Parodius series. It will depend very much on the listener as to whether they find the concept initially quirky and charming or simply downright annoying. Either way, though, the novelty will wear off quickly and most listeners will eventually find the tracks simply too superficial. Furthermore, several of the arrangements are quite weak, such as the cringe-worthy circus parody in “Mayim Mayim” or the poorly synthesized trumpet melodies in “Funiculi Funicula”. The best are probably the surreal “One Week” and organic “10,000 Feet…” yet even these loop within 40 seconds. Most of the remaining compositions are short jingles, though a few exceptions include the clamorous orchestral boss theme, impressionistic map theme, and ending vocal arrangement. While “Reco de Song” isn’t to my personal tastes, due to the girly vocals, the arrangement is half decent. Overall, though, this soundtrack is not one most will want to return to.
The other exclusive soundtrack is for Himitsu no Hanapoko. It also adopts a light instrument pop approach, but using Ryuichi Yabuki’s original compositions rather than popular song arrangements. The result is an extremely weak soundtrack. A few of the tracks, such as “Attack Mode” and “Story Progress Screen”, are quite endearing with their youthful melodies and soft backing. Yet they develop in such trivial ways that it’s likely the composer spent little more than a half an hour on each. More upbeat compositions for the four normal VS Modes range from the unaffecting to irritating, but are certainly not something listeners would choose to listen to. It’s a little concerning none exceeds a minute playtime either. Even the two boss themes bring an overdose of upbeat candypop and reflect zero intensity. The mind-numbing experience is rounded off by the title theme that subjects listeners to some of the most squealy and out-of-tune girly vocals ever recorded. Well, there are a tonne of shorter tracks too and two voice collections, but basically no highlights. I recommend avoiding this one altogether and skipping straight to the second disc where the few highlights of the compilation are.
The best item of this compilation is the Dangun Feveron, but only if listeners have a tolerance to disco music. It’s the first stage theme, “Dancing Bomber”, where the fun begins. This piece gets the rhythms, melodies, instrumentation, and articulation just right for a disco parody. The syncopated backing sets the scene in quirky fashion before a semi-improvised melody takes the lead with wonderful dramatic timing. The sleazy descending keyboard chords from 0:34 just steals the show though. “Hello Mr. Cyborg” for Stage 2 is extremely similar to the music of the Bee Gees instrumentally and rhythmically, but ends up being a fun tribute rather than a copyright infringement. Instead of high-pitched vocals, expect some funky saxophone work instead that sounds better than a significant proportion of today’s synth thanks to some expert sound programming. Meanwhile “Barofever” features a Tijuana-influenced brass band and chicken-scratching rhythm guitar, “Soul Supermarket” tinkers around with electric keyboards against some jubilant beats, and “Disco 999” is even more addictive with its Latin influences. That said, a lot of the remaining compositions, such as the opening, boss, and time attack themes, are mainly generic and repetitive rock-based themes similar in style to other Cave soundtracks. It’s a pretty cute soundtrack overall, but the stage themes are definitely the highlight.
The last item of the compilation is the relatively weak militaristic soundtrack to the shooter DonPachi. While the first stage theme “Silent Outpost Base” is initially compelling with its serious trumpet melody, pounding timpani, and reflective turns, the continued repetition of once welcome heavy drums drowns out the decorative features in both the original and development versions meaning there is a lack of overall colour. A similar problem drowns out the slightly more memorable “The God of Destruction Comes”. Meanwhie the more rhythmically focused “Gale Force” and “Sortie Order” are so repetitive that they soon become predictable and tiresome. Other weak compositions are the boss theme with its repeating derivative crisis motifs or the bonus stage theme, which is little more than fast-paced arpeggios and generic drum beats. Moving towards the climax of the album, the final stage theme “The Battle Intensifies” does nothing new musically with an assembly of generic crisis motifs and orch hits, though creates the appropriate climactic feeling and sustains repetition relatively well. Surprisingly, the last boss theme “Pressure” is much less intense and drags even with its minimal playtime. “Chase the Dark Target!” closes the score with a triumphant assembly of militaristic instrumentation that was unused probably because of its lack of internal rationale.
This album isn’t really intended for those looking for exclusives. The Puzzle! Mushihimetama and Himitsu no Hanapoko on the first disc feature their catchy and cutesy moments on the album, but are very superficial and sparse productions overall. The complete Dangun Feveron and DonPachi soundtracks on the second disc are more significant given they supersede their respective out-of-print soundtrack releases. While DonPachi is a weak score, it is interesting to hear the origins of the series, and Dangun Feveron is a pretty enjoyable disco parody. This album definitely features more bad material than great music, but the simple fact that it compiles four soundtracks into one package — including two much-desired ones — gives it some collector’s value.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.