Cave Song -Image Song Premium Compilation Album-
Cave Song -Image Song Premium Compilation Album-
May 16, 2009
Buy Used Copy
Every time that Cave comes out with a new shmup game, it always has an image theme that encompasses the overall sound, or attempts to, of the style of the soundtrack. The Cave Song – Image Song Premium Compilation Album compiles these themes into one single compilation that was sold along with a Cave Shooting History DVD. Featuring a range of youthful vocalists, such as Natsuko Naitou, who also composes the majority of these themes, it may be an instant turn off for those who are not fans of Japanese vocals. Yet how does the overall album come out, in terms of composition and vocals combined?
The album features a few themes featuring Reco as the singer, but all were composed by Natsuko Naitou. “Reco de Singing,” from Puzzle! Mushihimetama, was probably not the wisest theme to start off the album for those weary of Japanese vocals. Featuring a choir of children, it’s a playful militaristic theme full of snare drums and brass that features a pretty fun melody, but it may be traumatizing for those who fear small children. Interestingly enough, Reco is the featured vocalist for the other two Mushihimesama image songs. “Somewhere in this Forest…,” from the original game, is an intoxicating blend of exotic instrumentation and vocals. The vocals are a bit on the kawaii side, but its melody is absolutely beautiful. There is a bit of a Celtic vibe going on, through the use of flute, and it really helps add to the atmosphere. The other theme, from Mushihimesama Futari, entitled “The Golden Star Fallen During a Short Night,” also features Natsuko Naitou on vocals. It’s a playful theme featuring a very merry atmosphere. The idea of a duet is nice, complete with some vocal narration, but it may take a while to grow on most. It’s not one of my favorites on the album, for sure, but it has grown on me a bit.
Daisuke Matsumoto, another Cave Sound Team employee, composes a couple vocal themes as well. From Medal Ganshuu Pirates of Gappori, “Tons Samba” has a very tropical/calypso feel and the vocals, by Chougoukin Daisuke, are quite fitting. It’s definitely a fun theme and one that stands out a bit for its interesting style. The other Matsumoto-composed theme is “Exhilarated Rendezvous” from Ou Poko and is sung by Utako Bon and Daisuke Chogokin. It’s an interesting blend of styles and reminds me of some of the Rhythm Tengoku puzzle themes. A mixture of smokey French atmosphere and more classical Asian stylings, it has a very unique sound and one that manages to be one of my favorites from this album. The chorus is simply intoxicating! The duet actually works wonders here, unlike the lukewarm reception I had towards the one from Mushihimesama Futari. Kizakura, another member of the sound team, also contributes a single vocal theme. It’s entitled “Awa-Odori with Tako and Kingyo” from Omatsuriyasan Series – Kingyo Sukui & Ganzo! Takoyaki Takoyaki and features Natsuko Naitou on vocals. It is, by far, the worst thing I’ve ever heard come out of Cave. Opening with a Jamaican man shouting some random stuff, it quickly degenerates into an Asian inspired theme with some hideous Japanese rap from Naitou. Stay away at all costs!
The rest of the compositions are composed by Natsuko Naitou, and all but one feature her as the vocalist. “Boss’s Numbers Blue,” from Medal Mahjong Moukori Banchou, has a big brass sound and is sung by Isao Sasaki, who some may recognize from his work on Uematsu’s Hanjuku Hero VS 3D. It’ts quite fun and I love Sasaki’s voice. He makes things seem overly dramatic! “Iba Love Song”, from Pink Sweets Ibara features a bubbly vocal melody with some pretty interesting electronica backing. It’s sugary sweet, but oh so mesmerizing. Speaking of bubbly, “Muchi Muchi Porkyu,” which is probably a bane to Chris’ existence, from Muchi Muchi Pork! is an exhilarating theme with some clear rock and pop influences. It’s another fun song with a chorus, that while simplistic, manages to draw me in. This one does come with a heavy diabetes warning though! “A Zillion Awakenings Anniversary” from ESPGaluda II is another bubbly theme with some nice trance and piano backing. It’s probably my favorite of the bubbly themes mentioned thus far. The vocal performance is quite powerful and matches the music quite well.
Perhaps my favorite image song of all time from Cave comes from the image song for Ketsui. Entitled “Kizuna Sakura,” it ditches the normal bubbly and exhilarating themes for a more orchestral pop arrangement. The melody is simply intoxicating, with sweeping string work and beautiful piano work. The simply beautiful chorus manages to really make the track succeed. In a way, it kind of reminds me of a pop rendition of “Canon in D,” but you know, without any resemblance to the original. Another one of my favorite image themes comes from my favorite Cave soundtrack to date, DeathSmiles. Entitled “Mad Symphony ‘DeathSmiles,'” it combines gothic elements, rock, and electronica. It’s deliciously catchy and I love how it encompasses the greatness that is the original soundtrack. I could find myself listening to this one forever as I find its melody to be simply superb.
This album also has an arrangement of the DeathSmiles theme. Arranged by Daisuke Matsumoto and entitled “Mad Symphony ‘DeathSmiles’ (Head-Bang Heaven),” it sounds much more like gothic J-Rock. It’s much edgier, way more powerful, and the inclusion of a guitar solo in the form of “Burning Halloween Town” from the original soundtrack is all the sweeter! “DoDonPachi Dai-Ondo,” from DoDonPachi Dai-Fukkatsu, opens with some traditional Japanese sounds before moving into an interesting electronica fusion. It’s not my favorite vocal theme, but it is quite catchy, particularly the chorus. This song also gets the arrangement treatment. Arranged by Kizakura, “DoDonPachi Dai-Ondo (Super Hornet Mix)” replaces the traditional Japanese sound with some more industrial beats and ethereal electronica before moving into some surreal and funky electronica, rock, and some beautiful string accompaniment. It’s a vast improvement over the original and is much, much better than Kizakura’s original vocal theme on this album. The last song also contains a bunch of silence but hidden at the end is a medley of a few themes. I’m not sure if they come from this album (it doesn’t sound like it), but it’s a pretty decent medley.
In the end, if you are a fan of Japanese vocals and a variety of styles, this album is definitely for you. While there are a few less than stellar themes, for the most part, it’s an entertaining ride full of powerful vocal performances and compositions. This album is truly for the dedicated Cave fan. You’ll have to find it second hand on Yahoo! Japan Auctions now, but if you’ve heard any of the image themes from the various soundtracks or online, and like what you heard, you may want to try to track it down.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.