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Sometimes the short road is the best road to take. Brevity is beneficial; less is more. If your friend asks you to go to watch some three hour play that she has a supporting role in and you have no interest but go anyway, and you’re sitting in the theater for what seems like an eternity, checking your watch every four minutes, thinking about all the things you’d rather be doing, struggling to comprehend the play’s drawn-out plot and overabundance of useless fluff, do her a favor and don’t be longwinded when she asks you how it was after the show. Just smile and, for the sake of your friendship, say the play is OK but it’s not really your thing.
One of the ever-elusive titles in the Nanosounds back catalog, Superb! is a lopsided mixed bag of experimental vocal songs, funky electronica, and even a bit of down-tempo trance from a handful of Namco-related composers who have composed many (many, many) superior theme prior to and after the album’s release. So, how is it? Eh. It’s OK. Not really my thing.
I am not a fan of throwaway vocal songs, and (lucky me!) Superb! has them in spades. Are you into cheesy pop/disco tracks with amateur vocal performances? Then Hiroshi Okubo’s “Super Babies” should be right up your alley. The vox, provided by Chizuru Miura (yet another one of her Nanosounds cameos), are shaky and sound almost like she is nervous, and they’re right up front in the mix so there’s no escaping them. As far as undead disposal is concerned, from what I’ve heard you’re supposed to shoot a zombie square in the head from keeping it back to life. Unfortunately, someone missed the mark by a few football fields with Satoru Kousaki’s “Handmade Girl Maid”, which has made a return from the Swinging Circuit album and is dragging its feet along on this disc in a similar arrangement as the song’s first iteration. Ick.
Koji Nakagawa gets points for not writing a completely awful pop song, but “You and I” still falls under the same umbrella as the aforementioned two tracks. It’s a subpar vocal track, and it’s easily skippable. Go ahead, skip over it. Do it. Your life will be just fine without it, I promise. I’m not even going to go into any detail about two of the tracks on the album because I know that this review will be fine without them and your life will be fine without reading about them. See? You and I, we’re working together on this one. High five.
The two remaining vocal-less songs are the strong links on the chain that keep this disc from being completely unnecessary. Tetsukazu Nakanishi’s (credited here as Nakany) “ONE DAY” is slightly reminiscent of some of his Nanosweep work, which in turn is slightly reminiscent of his Ace Combat 3 compositions… which means that the track is slightly awesome. It’s a thicker piece of electronica than his work on AC3, but the development and instrumentation really makes this one stand out. Akitaka Toyama’s “ScratchinSurf” is a sweet downtempo techno outing that shows a darker side of the composer that we rarely get to see: brooding, paced, and introspective. This is a far cry from the Ridge Racer and Katamari tracks he’s produced in the past, but it’s well worth the eight minutes it has on the disc and further asserts his multifaceted abilities as a composer. Although he doesn’t get too much stage time compared to the company’s other composers, Toyama is one of Namco’s brightest lights.
While I was writing this review I periodically stopped to check my watch, thought about all the other album’s I’d rather be listening to and struggled to comprehend how so few awesome themes can be surrounded by so many throwaway tracks. Fortunately, the entire album isn’t a total loss, but my finger has a callus on it from skipping around the tracks so much. In a perfect world, “ONE DAY” and “ScratchinSurf” will be released on a future Nanosweep album so I can ditch this disc once and for all. Until then, it will remain that random friend-of-a-friend in my soundtrack collection, only coming out from the woodwork every once in a while to ask if I’ll go watch some play that it has a supporting role in. And, silly me, I will still go every time, even though I know I won’t enjoy it.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Tommy Ciulla. Last modified on August 1, 2012.