GE-ON-DAN Rare Trax Ver. 2.0
GE-ON-DAN Rare Trax Ver. 2.0
December 30, 2010
Buy at Official Site
Following the success of their first album, the members of Ge-On-Dan put together another compilation of unused and original themes for Comic Market 79. Featuring many new members of Ge-On-Dan, in addition to some veterans, does it manage to provide the same experience as the first album?
The album opens up with “Dear My Self” by Soyo Oka. This vocal theme features some atmospheric synthesizer and some pop rock accompaniment. It’s definitely a fun theme, with a bit of mystery, and does start off the album on a good foot. In fact, in a way, it mirrors the opening of the first Ge-On-Dan album in terms of atmosphere. Another vocal theme, “Hong Kong Girl,” by Yu Shimoda, is similar to his other Ge-On-Dan contribution on the first album. Featuring vocaloid Haku Mitsune, it’s another Asian rock theme with a bit of a groove to it. I think it’s one of the weaker themes on the soundtrack, in part due to the vocals, but the melody and overall soundscape is at least pretty decent.
One of my favorite tracks is “Shining Through,” by freesscape, whose members include Hiroyuki Muneta and Emi Evans. This theme is a pop style vocal, which represents a bit of a departure from their normal trip-hop style,. It was an audition theme for a Japanese soccer game to be used as a motivational song for the losing team. Fans of Emi Evans’ voice should be glad to know that it is as strong as it was on Nier, although with a bit of a modern touch. The music features some nice pop jazz piano and some ethereal and euphoric electronic accompaniment. The actual lyrics definitely inspire a feeling of motivation and happiness. Without a doubt, my favorite section is definitely the chorus. It is here that the melody, musical accompaniment, and lyrics are the strongest. I can’t help but listen to this song without smiling.
There are also a few themes that don’t necessarily have a defined style, but feature a fusion of sorts. Naoto’s “When the Clock’s Hand Points to the Thunder Cloud,” is probably the least successful of these experiments, but it does have some merits. The piano is reminiscent of something you might hear from one of Masashi Hamauzu’s droning themes and can get a bit boring after a while, but I do enjoy the ethereal choir and acoustic guitar sections. It can, at times, sound like a cacophony of noise, but when it is less jumbled, it’s definitely much more enjoyable, especially when it features a bit of a lounge sound. “east-west-beep,” by Taro Fujikado, is quite an interesting fusion that combines elements of surfer rock, primarily at times during the accompaniment, with elements of retro-sounding electronic music and some lounge jazz music. There is definitely a lot going on in this theme, but I think that Fujikado manages to keep it classy and focused for the most part. He definitely has a unique style and I definitely like what I hear from him.
Of course, when it comes to crazy experiments, I think that Maki Kirioka can be classified as the queen. Recently, her arrangements and original work on the first Ge-On-Dan CD have been quite bizarre, but also quite strong. The trend continues with “Hydra Synapse -Sea Parade Version-.” This theme reminds me of a twisted lullaby, in a way. The innocent vocals have a sort of creepiness to them and, combined with the Middle Eastern sounding jazz elements, it works to create a very haunting atmosphere. Of course, from there, it features a very industrial sound full of heavy industrial effects, cello, and piano. It’s dark and chaotic, but quite enjoyable given the variety of elements featured in the theme. It is probably going to be an opinion splitter for some though.
“Mother Hitton’s Littul Kittons,” by Hiroki Kikuta, definitely brings to mind images of Alphabet Planet. It is a bubbly, upbeat theme that manages to provide a strong melody and harmonies; however, I find the accompaniment to be rather weak, although at times, it can bring to mind images of Secret of Mana. It’s not one of his strongest themes, but there is definitely some enjoyment to be found in the melody. One of the stronger tracks on the album is “Music for Autumn” by Hideaki Kuroda from Procyon Studio. Images of Yasunori Mitsuda are definitely conjured from this theme, as it seems very much influenced by his style. It’s a beautiful acoustic track full of a variety of stringed instruments, all played by Kuroda, and some ethereal woodwind work. I love the peaceful atmosphere, although at times, there is a bit of sensual tones. Based on this theme alone, I would love to see more music by Hideaki Kuroda. Another fantastic track on the album is the closer, “Eris,” by MANYO. While his contribution on the first Ge-On-Dan CD featured vocals, MANYO opts for an instrumental touch with a ton of emotion.
“honeyed lip (ver. 2001),” by Seiko Kobuchi, is a lounge jazz theme with some wispy vocal work. It’s quite similar to her work on the first Ge-On-Dan album. Compared to “flirt,” her theme from the first album, it falls a bit short, but I do enjoy the overall atmosphere of the theme. It just doesn’t really develop much and ends up sounding like something you’d hear in an elevator. A big improvement from first album to second album is Kazuaki Miyaji. His “FUNK 382” manages to be a fully fleshed theme, rather than a spontaneous jam session, and it really creates a vibrant atmosphere. The funk and groove of the theme is quite excellent and I do like the lounge jazz elements that the keyboard brings into the mix. Overall, it’s a wonderful theme that focuses on Miyaji’s strengths as a guitarist/composer and also brings about a soulful touch to the album.
“Rondo of Scarlet,” by Akari Kaida, has a very romantic and mysterious sound to it. It’s a beautiful piano melody and I like how portions of the theme sound as if they are being played by a phonograph. I only wish it were a bit longer and perhaps had some strings to it. However, for what it is, it’s a very strong track. “Lamentos,” by Riichiro Kuwabara, focuses on dramatic strings work. While the first section of the track is pretty standard and doesn’t really do much besides develop atmosphere, I do enjoy the latter half of the track considerably more. The haunting children’s choir really adds a depth of emotion to the piece and a real sense of sadness to the overall atmosphere. “Uruboros,” by Takuya Hanaoka, is a dark orchestral piece with some industrial influence. I really enjoy the atmosphere of the orchestral sections as it provides a very suspenseful atmosphere with a strong melody. However, I find the addition of the industrial/electronic accompaniment to be a bit of a mismatch to the orchestra lead.
Norihiro Furukawa contributes “CHARIOT,” which is an adventurous orchestral theme that definitely features tones of heroism. The atmosphere and overall tone of the piece is quite strong, particularly the brass and strings sections, but I find overall theme a bit mediocre. I think there are much stronger orchestral themes by Furukawa on his recent solo album Memories of the Throne. Yoko Shimomura’s “Struldbruggs,” on the other hand, is quite strong. It definitely gives off an aura of battle. Sinister organ and strings, intense percussion, some haunting choral tones, dramatic piano, and brass tones dominate the atmosphere of the piece. The melody isn’t as strong as some of her battle themes, but it definitely makes up for it with its tone. The violin, piano, and woodwind harmonies heard throughout are a testament to this.
Of course, there are also some electronic themes on the album as well. “Plug-in,” by Kohta Takahashi, unfortunately, is one of the weaker ones. It features some nice beats and a nice sense of euphoria, but at the same time, the progression of the track may come off as a bit monotonous to some. It reminds me of Ridge Racer 7 in terms of overall progression, but it manages to have some areas that are well-crafted. “APOLLO,” by Keishi Yonao, sounds like a very heroic, futuristic space theme with a nice 80’s touch. The melody is pretty nice, but it doesn’t develop too much. It’s definitely one of the more fun themes on the album though. “BGM008 -Short Version-,” by Hideaki Kobayashi, sounds as if it is from a beatmania game. It features some groovy, soulful vocals and instrumentation. In a way, it reminds me of Ryo Watanabe’s NanoSweep contributions. It’s another fun track, but at the same time, I don’t find myself going back to it too often.
One of my favorite electronic tracks on the album is “H.U.D.01” by Ryutaro Nakahara. My only complaint with this track is that it is too short. It’s a fantastic club theme with intense beats and fun vocal samples. The second half which features some chiptune and trance renditions of the melody really provide a nice atmosphere and combined with the beats featured in the first half of the track make for an excellent mix. I really could listen to this for much more than 2 minutes… TECHNOuchi’s contribution, “Un Parc Pluvieux,” features a very mellow electronic atmosphere. It has a very dreamy atmosphere to it and, while it doesn’t focus much on a driving rhythm, it succeeds in providing a serene soundscape for the listener. When I hear it, for some reason, I imagine a rainy day. Lastly, Hirokazu Koshio of ZUNTATA contributes “NightVision4 -Central Line 0:0.” Like TECHNOuchi, there is definitely a focus on more serene soundscapes, but at the same time, there are also some pretty sweet house beats. This is definitely one of those themes that really manage to make it seem like time stops. It’s another euphoric sounding composition and one of my favorites on the album.
In the end, I don’t think that the second volume of GE-ON-DAN’s rare tracks is as successful as the first volume. However, there are definitely some gems hidden amongst the tracks. When it comes to these sort of original compilations, especially those featuring unused music, you don’t know what to expect. While the first volume featured a ton of solid themes, I think the second volume provides a nice listening experience, but not necessarily a must-have listen experience. It’s still worth getting though if you are a fan of these artists and like their musical styles.
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.