milestone -dj TAKA-
milestone / milestone -Re Edition-
June 29, 2007 (August 21, 2009)
Buy at Play-Asia
milestone is the first album by veteran trance music producer Takayuki Ishikawa, who has created numerous tracks for the beatmania IIDX series under his dj TAKA alias. It is also the first of a series of two-disc artist albums on the beatnation records label. As with other albums of the series, the first disc features extended or re-recorded versions of BEMANI game songs, while the second disc of remixes from other BEMANI artists. The album was later re-issued with the subtitle -Re Edition-, with one of the remixes substituted for a new remix.
The first disc features extended versions of a good variety of Ishikawa’s more popular songs. Highlights include the quirky techno track “Quickening” and the hyperactive pop-flavored “One More Lovely -after hours-”. In both of these tracks, dj TAKA demonstrates his ability to combine catchy hooks and beats with cutting-edge stylings, resulting in an accessible and distinctive EDM sound. Another personal favorite is the “snow storm”, which soon deviates from its anthemic trance basis to incorporate a gorgeous piano melody, sonorous string countermelodies, and an incredible romantic interlude. Also enjoyable is the soulful house number “thunder”, which blends Ishikawa’s signature sound with satisfying vocal parts. In all cases, the sampling is fantastic and the quality of the production is on par with many of the electronic albums being pumped out by major labels.
While the original compositions are generally enjoyable, the versions featured in this album aren’t always improvements. Many of the extensions in “thunder” and “One More Lovely -after hours-” are quite redundant, with little to no new material, causing the songs to now drag unnecessarily. The tracks are still enjoyable, but the extensions don’t bring anything new to tracks that were already great in their IIDX 8 and 10 originals. Some of the new elements are a bit better, particularly the vocal-focused tracks which at least have the novelty of a new verse or a new translation. “INORI” is as dark and hypnotizing as it ever was, while the fluffy vocalist in “Tomorrow Perfume” brings a lot to the melody. That said, the poor English of Erica Mochizuki’s new “pandora” is likely to divide listeners and a low-point on an otherwise well-produced album.
Some songs on the first disc are completely new versions, or are new compositions. wac returns to work with Ishikawa on a new version of “Votum Stellarum”. This new version gets a new melodic focus in the second half, and is generally a bit more techno heavy. “Absolute” gets a trance backdrop, through the forefront is still the same familiar pipes and melody. “V” is now closer to Vivaldi’s “Winter I” by bringing in the solo violin to replace the piano, though this is actually a detriment to Ishikawa’s interpretation since it loses much what made “V” distinct in its instrumental choices (namely the piano). These self-remixed tracks are thus adequate, but there is nothing particularly groundbreaking or essential. The only completely new track is “Blue Rain”, a collaboration with Ryu☆ with vocals by AiMEE and later included in IIDX 15. It can be a bit overlong, but the heavier rhythmic elements give an interesting contrast to the lighter vocals and synths, and it is by no means as cheesy as one might have expected from a collaboration between the dj TAKA and Ryu☆ aliases.
The second disc is much more interesting, as fourteen different remixers take on Ishikawa’s tracks and apply their own styles to them. At times the chosen styles are not surprising, and this can have varying results for the tracks. L.E.D.’s “spiral galaxy” remix is expectedly a slightly harsher retread of the original, but it now has enough edge to cement it is a great track. TOMOSUKE’s jazz house remix of “Kocchi wo Muiteyo” feels like a realization of what the track should have been, infectious and more exotic. Shounen Radio’s “A” remix is a great re-imaging of the original, now with a spacey feel and an extension of the exciting ending half of the original song. There are a few duds, namely the kors k “Don’t Stop” remix and good-cool’s “memories” which feel like very generic remixes in the artists’ own respective styles.
A few surprises are present in the second disc, the first being Akira Yamaoka’s remix of “MOON” which features heavily pitched-down vocals and a reduction of the backing elements to little more than a steady beat. It now comes off as a darker funky dance number, at times perplexing given the original but always engaging. It’s a bit of a shame that the vocals weren’t simply redone by an English speaker, but the remix is still great. Osamu Kubota doesn’t go for an epic orchestra sound with his take on “Nageki no Ki Arbre triste”, but instead sticks with a small jazz ensemble. Naoki sidesteps his generic styles and turns “Tangerine Stream” into a more ambient meditative work with echoing synths and vocals. Although subtitled “-the catastrophe-“, it is clearly more about the haunting aftermath. TaQ’s take on “Colors” which features his signature percussive work, but also works in emotive string work to go with the original vocals that all come together as an intriguing yet still moving piece. These standout remixes highlight the best of the original works but also the uniqueness of each remixer to great results, and really save the album.
In the first edition of the album, DJ YOSHITAKA remixes “I’m In Love Again” rather generically and unimpressively. In the -Re Edition- this remix is replaced by SLAKE’s take on “16 Year Old Boss in an Air Barrage” is suitably quirky like the original, if not a bit heightened by SLAKE’s naturally quirky style, but the piece is still not very substantial, amounting to another simply adequate track. As a result, it should not matter too much whether you go for the first or second editions of the album.
Takayuki Ishikawa’s first album is a decent effort, although disappointing in some respects. The first disc of his own material features much of his stronger songs, but many of them feature pointless extensions and don’t cover much new ground. The new song and the few self-remixes are good, but by no means make the album an essential purchase. The second disc is much more interesting, where other BEMANI artists bring their own unique take to Ishikawa’s pieces. These remixes range from alright to very good, with a few standouts that are more novel and interpretative. Any fan of Takayuki’s BEMANI work should be able to find enough to like in this package, but though not much more can be said for others.
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Posted on November 16, 2014 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on December 26, 2014.