Retro-Active Pt. 1 Remixed
Retro-Active Pt. 1 Remixed
June 10, 2015
Buy at Bandcamp
In a follow-up Retro-Active Pt. 1, the Keiji Yamagishi solo album released earlier this year, Brave Wave have released Retro-Active Pt. 1 Remixed, handled by modern chiptune remixers. The original album was mostly a mix of chiptune and modern synths to begin with, and that same sound and energy is carried over into this album, though this is not a mere retread of the tracks. The songs here are for the most part very distinct from their originals, and offer a new take on Yamagishi’s fun and catchy album.
The first track of the album is “Kaleidoscope (Daliesk Remix)” (and was the winner of the remix contest). The remix is an energetic, house-styled arrangement with some added vocal samples. It’s nice that the original melodies are not played entirely in a straightforward manner, but rather are often fragmented in different ways to make the piece fresh but still familiar. It’s a lot of fun, and one of my favourite tracks on the album. The melody makes a more straightforward appearance in the “CRYSTAL BOY Remix” that appears near the end of the album, which starts with a soft piano introduction before a strong buildup into the dance segment. The first bit of this feels rather too similar to the original given that the melody’s synths are the same, but in the latter half of the track is where most of the remixing happens, with the inclusion of a new melody and some chopping up of the original. These remixes are both strong takes on the original, and certainly helped me appreciate the original more as well.
Slowing things down a bit is the “Bounty Hunter (ABSRDST Remix)”. I said in the review of the original album that the melody was a highlight of the original song, but this remix does perfectly fine without it at the forefront. This remix also builds on fragments and uses them with some contemporary R&B influence, though it still is very much an electronic remix with heavy use of synths. The mixture is actually fairly intriguing, and I only wish the remix went on longer (especially since the track ends almost unceremoniously). The other slow remix on the album (and the stylistic outlier) is “First Contact (C-jeff Remix)”, which features a harpsichord throughout alongside other instruments like piano and light synths in an overall quiet arrangement. On first listens, it was almost unrecognizable as a “First Contact” remix, partly because C-jeff isolates and focuses exclusively on figures from the original in separate segments while also adding counterpoint throughout, and it took a few listens for me to identify them. The harpsichord is an interesting antithesis to an otherwise warm arrangement, as it adds a more formal air to things. Overall it’s a very pleasant listen, and one worth paying attention to in order to really appreciate.
Picking up the pace again is the “Memories of T (Shirobon Mix)”, which takes a lot of time before showing off the original melodies. The new parts written for the remix are a bit too repetitive for my tastes, and it’s only when the familiar parts appear that the remix becomes engaging. Better is the following “Starfish Cluster (Chipzel Remix)”, which relies more heavily on chiptune than the other remixes, though there are still contemporary sounds in there too. The melody is considerably faster than the original here, but it works really well for it and it still carries a bubbly-water sound. This busy remix could easily have been a mess, but Chipzel does a great job balancing the parts and filling things out. It’s a great re-imaging of one of the stronger tracks from the original album.
My favourite remix of the album is “Drifting Love (CRYSTAL BOY Remix)”. There is a space-y atmosphere throughout with its many echoing background sounds (which reminds me of some Katamari tracks), though it’s still an upbeat electronic remix at the forefront. The opening is very atmospheric with the original melody hiding in the background, and then it builds up nicely and lets elements of the original shine. It takes some time for the full melody to show itself, but when it does it feels very satisfying, and it goes together very well with the new sounds of the remix. The remix does a great job shifting gears a few times throughout to keep things interesting, and ultimately it’s very fun and perhaps even better than the original.
Retro-Active Pt. 1 Remixed is a solid collection of remixes that makes for a great companion to the original album. Stylistically it’s roughly more of the same, but each track is mostly able to stand on its own, and do even more in some cases. Given Yamaghishi’s strong melodies, it would have been great to hear them in a completely different medium (like in C-jeff’s remix), but what is presented here is still enjoyable. The album has a great mix of modern with retro synths, and overall it’s fun and energetic.
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Posted on July 16, 2015 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on July 16, 2015.