3,295 days ago, I penned a blog post reviewing a newly released Bemani remix CD, “V-Rare 5″. Within the context of that review, I wrote the following to open my discussion of track 6, “Midnite Blaze (SySF Mix)”:
And this will be a really tough sell because I HATE Midnite Blaze.
This may seem to casual observers like an awfully specific and odd sentence in the over 1,500 blog posts to point out. I would agree. Which is why I was left dumbstruck by a tweet I received this evening from @Tim_at_where:
Well, Tim, since you asked…well, wait, I haven’t listened to that particular DDR standard since probably around 2005. For the sake of remembering it, here it is on YouTube:
I hate Midnite Blaze mostly because of the vocals. Scott Dolph‘s rapping was always way down my list of favorite things, and it’s pretty laughable here (“Step by step as I approach / I say to myself I need a coach”). The delivery is way too fast and comes in at really weird pitches. Listen to the second section of his rap – it’s all over the place, like he’s reading the words from the page for the first time and not sure which way his voice should go. And he wrote the lyrics himself, if his RemyWiki page is to be believed. For the record, I never liked Drop The Bomb either.
The refrain comes in at such a high register it gives me a headache, and just as lyrically bizarre. And for what it’s worth, the synth line also feels derivative – it’s a touch too close to Naoki’s Broken My Heart.
For whatever it’s worth: in the 9 years since I wrote that review, the only DDR music that remains in my iTunes library are the 2nd Mix and DDRMAX soundtracks, as well as the BEMANI BEST FOR 10TH ANNIVERSARY compilation and various Diverse System remixes. All the Dancemania albums and V-Rares EPs are gone.
And hey: anyone else has random questions about what I meant a decade ago, don’t be shy! I’m more than happy to elaborate – if I can remember what I was talking about!
On April 2nd 2011, LCD Soundsystem played its final show at Madison Square Garden. LCD frontman James Murphy had made the conscious decision to disband one of the most celebrated and influential bands of its generation at the peak of its popularity, ensuring that the band would go out on top with the biggest and most ambitious concert of its career. The instantly sold out, near four-hour extravaganza did just that, moving the thousands in attendance to tears of joy and grief, with NEW YORK magazine calling the event “a marvel of pure craft” and TIME magazine lamenting “we may never dance again.” SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS is both a narrative film documenting this once in a life time performance and an intimate portrait of James Murphy as he navigates the lead-up to the show, the day after, and the personal and professional ramifications of his decision.
It probably goes without saying that there is no movie I want to see more this year than this one.
“It has almost bankrupted us, almost killed us, and estranged us from family and friends, but we had to do it.” – Dave and Steph Dewaele
If there is a musical project worth your attention this summer, it is Radio Soulwax.
To describe it briefly: Dave and Steph, two of perhaps the most ingenius DJs on the scene today, have opted to not merely release an hour-long mix every week, but also with an appropriate visual accompaniment. There are free apps for iOS and Android allowing for download and streaming, and the web site provides a rotating scheduled stream of the mixes.
Being 13 mixes in, there’s a solid half day of music up already; some quick recommendations:
Introversy – as many song intros as they could jam together in one hour.
(Nothing Worse Than A) Bad Rap – as many horrible late 70s/early 80s rap songs as they could find.
Librarian Girl – library music, as in instrumentals generally licensed for backgrounds in TV or movies.
This Is Belgium Part 2: Cherry Moon On Valium – perhaps my favorite of the mixes thus far, this mix is 20-year old Belgian rave and Hi-NRG songs that have been slowed down from their typical 140-150 BPM down to a “sexy” 115. This would be amazing even if it weren’t for the visual accompaniment of people doing the appropriate rave dances to the music.
New mixes are released roughly every Monday. Enterprising souls might be able to pick apart the mobile versions to reap the rewards of pure MP4 files.
If you’re into electronic music in the slightest, and have a sense of humor, don’t miss this.
After three years of touring, DJ gigs, and holing up in a Laurel Canyon mansion, LCD Soundsystem‘s third (possibly final) LP, This Is Happening, is coming out on May 17th. One could say I am “hyped”, but this would be understating my excitement.
It would appear that he has left the company entirely rather than moving to another international division. As you would expect, there has been no formal confirmation from Konami, so right now this is an unconfirmed rumour – albeit one generated from a pretty reliable source. To date there’s no news yet as to what Yamaoka plans to do next. Since leaving Konami he has been in the States and is now currently in Europe, seemingly on vacation.
Silent Hill fans, who have been lamenting the decline of the series in recent years, should probably consider the series dead at this point. Akira’s scores were one of the most haunting parts of the series, and it’s hard to envision anyone else doing the series justice.
From the Bemani perspective, this is another in a growing line of artists who have left the company in the past few years. Akira Yamaoka joins Taku Sakakibara, Takehiko Fujii, and Reo Nagumo, among others.
In memory of his work within IIDX, a selection of some of my favorite songs:
“12 years too late,” I think to myself as I wait at the intersection of Church and Vesey, fake brass horns and breakbeats burning on my headphones.
“This song shouldn’t have any meaning in 2009,” my inner monologue went on as I waited for the third Lexington express train at Fulton Street as a choir sings portions of “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” over swelling strings.
But as I came up out of the underground by my office, and the same track still playing, my lips could not keep still when the refrain came around once more:
Watch out: hardcore Bemani history lesson follows.
If you rewind back to the end of 1997, Konami was beginning to lay the groundwork for rhythm gaming – the very first beatmania title was hitting the market. One of the founding musicians of the series would be found under multiple aliases – n.a.r.d., dj nagureo, Jam Master ’73, tiger YAMATO – and that was Reo Nagumo.
What Naoki Maeda was to Dance Dance Revolution, Reo was to beatmania. Notable songs credited to him include 20, November (leading to it being worshipped as some sort of “Bemani day”, when it is in fact his birthday), u gotta groove (the traditional song everyone starts with when first playing 5-key beatmania), 5.1.1 (the traditional song everyone starts with when first playing 7-key IIDX), g.m.d. (which taught us all that “Konami” rhymes with “trigonometry”), and R5 (which to this day remains my favorite IIDX note chart). His work stretched across all three beatmania platforms, and well into Pop’n Music’s song lists as well.
After beatmania IIDX 10th Style saw a release in 2004, Reo would only have one more song appear on a IIDX release (2007′s DistorteD), which he claimed in the Song Production Info would be his “final opus that will erase [his] past” and identified a sushi restaurant in the US as the reason for his retirement:
Oh, baby, I decided to retire with this track.
Um, I’m going to emigrate to America.
The reason is simple, I’ve found my calling,
Someone left me a sushi place. It’s getting big in America~
I got a fan letter that said:
“The first time I heard R3, I was in middle school.” Thank you. The kids have become adults.
The time for my retirement draws near. The old men should slowly fade away, so the young ones can take over.
You know, even on the eve of the 21st century, I was
Making you guys a track. It’s crazy.
Even when I busted up my Y31, I took out my sadness by making songs.
Thank you, everyone!
I guess I eventually got kinda cool. *tears*
The world really does revolve around you.
Well, it was fun.
But as I discovered today thanks to an inbound link from Finger Gaming, Reo is still doing what he’s always been doing – not running a sushi restaurant but instead a game company, called Yudo Ltd.. Yudo was actually established in March of 2003 according to their press release, and the company statement isn’t shy about Reo’s role in the founding of some Bemani titles:
Yudo created a trend in music-based games with titles such as beatmania and pop’n music, with experience that runs deep into the management level. Yudo was founded, and is currently helmed by, Reo Nagumo, who worked as a DJ under the moniker dj nagureo. The company continues to develop and produce games and music.
With a unique planning expertise, Yudo aims to offer revolutionarily new services and games throughout the world.
But of course, my admiration of Reo is for his musical output, and that’s where the Aero Series comes in. Much like the cartoon hierarchy is cat, mouse, dog, so too is the music game hierarchy: guitar, drum, synthesizer. Having heard through the grapevine that the guitar and drum versions were a bit crap, I splurged the $3 for Aero Synth Evolution. (I am unclear what the difference is between the Evolution version and the non-Evolution version.)
And immediately, the $3 was worth it: the first song on the Free mode song list is OBAMA by SUPER tiger YAMATO. (If nearly eight years of Bemani obsession has taught me anything, it’s to not question the strange capitalization of song titles or artists.)
Here’s a video of me playing it on Normal difficulty. I apologize in advance about the quality – it’s difficult to play a touch-based game while holding a camera:
(I should also point out that while Yudo has done an excellent job providing English interfaces into their software, it does suffer from the occasional Engrish – such as the “Dairy Rankings“.)
My expectations of most iPhone music games have been terribly low, so this came as a somewhat pleasant surprise. You can tap the notes anywhere along the same general horizontal plane as they are, so long as you hit it with the right timing – thus allowing you to avoid most issues with hand blockage. There’s also chords which will take some getting used to for me to be able to read them properly.
AeroSynth does hold the distinction of being the only iPhone rhythm game I’ve played that seems to really maintain it’s timing window (unlike DDR-S Lite) and not suffer from the occasional bouts of frame dropping (unlike Tap Tap Revolution).
The experience on a whole is not terribly deep – 2 modes, 6 songs, and 9 courses means it’s no DJ Max Technika – but for $3, I have no complaints. For those of you who don’t want to splurge, there’s a free version with a single song.
It gets better: when the Kermit-like nature of the vocals were brought up a few months ago, James Murphy responded with this:
the “kermitness” in the vocal was totally intentional. in fact, had the song sung, and went back, saying “it needs to be more like kermit”. i know this sounds like i’m taking the piss here, but it’s 100% fact.
Taking the piss or not, it’s a great video, and it’s put a smile on my face. So kudos to those involved.
the reason it’s getting pulled down is basically that it was just a fun thing a guy was doing, and we ran into each other in a bar and i went and shot with him for less than an hour… it was just a fin thing! but then it got very widespread… and, uh, kermit is sort of now owned by disney… and, uh… they scare me.
It feels like it’s about five or six years late to the game – well after MTV crowbarred “music” from their offerings to the youth of the nation – but MTVMusic.com is pure awesome as a repository of legitimate, often ancient, music videos.
Dan Dickinson is a 32 year old living in Jersey City, New Jersey. By day, he works at the intersection of collaborative technologies, education, web development, and medicine. By night, he's a soccer journalist. He loves nostalgia, minutiae, and introspection. This has been his primary (vivid) weblog since February of 2000.