August 14, 2016
Buy at Diverse Direct
Diverse System is a record label that publishes original albums during the Comic Market and M3 events held twice a year in Japan. The albums themselves are primarily electronic in nature and feature a range of musical styles. Some of the albums focus on a particular style, such as trance, or on a particular instrument, such as piano, and typically feature both commissioned pieces from game composers and independent artists, as well as pieces that were submitted by artists when an open audition for a particular album was publicized on the Diverse System website. Released during Comic Market 90, Ultra Badass features music that is very bass oriented, such as dubstep, trap, drum n’ bass, and future house, among others. How does this original album turn out?
The album kicks off with Jerico’s “Tribal Law,” a hip hop/trap tune that opens with powerful brass hits and deep bass beats. As the tune progresses, intricate rhythms are introduced as well as some orchestral sections that help break up some of the heaviness of the tune. It’s certainly one of the more unique tunes on the album and starts off the album on a high note. Following that is “Strang/e Evil,” by sky_delta, one of the winners of the Challenger Wanted submission audition. Classified as hybrid twerk, it blends heavy beats with synth melodies, vocal samples, and lots of bass. However, I felt that it didn’t particular stand out. Similarly, “Galian Beast,” by Blacklolita, is a dubstep/trap tune, but comes off as fairly generic. Ocelot’s “Sushi Powder” is a trap tune that is fairly catchy despite its predictable flow. However, it’s tendency to rely on the same vocal samples repeated over and over does tend to lose its punch after a while.
Another winner in the audition is Tanchiky with “Erratic Drivin’,” a dubstep/trap tune that blends together chiptune samples, vocal samples, intricate rhythms, and lots of bass. In addition, there is a bit of a dark tone to the overall tune as well. It certainly isn’t run of the mill and is quite engaging overall. “Recoil,” by Lapix, is another dubstep/trap tune that manages to succeed. Bright synths, glitchy drops, and a progression that becomes more trap in style over time combine to create an engaging listen, culminating with an Indian influenced melody to close the tune. DJ Noriken’s “Sledge” is a combination of trap and hard dance and features some nice melodic sections featuring piano and synth. The incorporation of the trap and hard dance beats is also something the tune has going for it.
Another fairly generic tune is Primal Beast’s “Goodass,” a drum n’ bass tune that doesn’t really do much in its progression and thus, overstays its welcome. NECROSiS’ “SWAG,” the last of the audition winners, is a hybrid trap tune featuring catchy beats; however, it does feature a rap track that, while fitting with the style of the tune, might not be fore everyone. On a more positive note, the piano featured in the tune adds some brightness to the overall feel of the tune. “Overwatch,” by Massive New Krew, is a trap tune that features some dubstep influence. It has its glitchy moments and its softer moments, thanks to the synth and piano, but does tend to be a bit over reliant on the vocal sample front. USAO’s “Kiss my ass,” an EDM/Bass House tune, is another successful tune with a ton of energy, in my opinion. With its catchy melody line, fun drop, and progression, it certainly serves as one of the highlights of the album.
Both KaSa and Ryunosuke Kudo provide future house tunes with “WHAT” and “M.A.Z.A.I,” respectively. The former is a bright and fun piece featuring woodwinds and piano, but suffers a bit due to the lackluster vocal samples, whereas the latter is a fun, upbeat, and catchy tune, especially the hook, and would work great in any club setting. Following that, “Strong,” by Masayoshi Iimori, and “Various Artists,” by MYTK, both trap tunes with the latter also having a hip hop influence, are certainly the worst offenders on the album, with the former’s focus on providing trap beats under various vocal samples that don’t really provide any real hook to the listener and the latter suffering similar issues, although with a slightly more memorable melody, vocal samples aside. The album ends with Hommarju’s “Love Theme of BADASS,” a punk/hardcore electronic tune featuring heavy electronic beats, plenty of rock riffs, and vocals, both spoken and sung. The melody itself is nice and the rock and electronic components work quite well with one another, but it might not be a tune for everyone.
Ultra Badass is a mixed bag in terms of reception. While there are plenty of engaging tunes, there are also plenty of tunes that make for an unsatisfying listen. For those who really like bass heavy tunes, there is certainly something here for you to enjoy, especially given the variety of electronic styles present on the album; however, some of the tunes come off as a bit generic without providing anything truly unique. The end result is a rollercoaster with many highs and lows, but certainly not the worst ride I’ve ever been on.
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Posted on October 5, 2016 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on October 21, 2016.