Tag Archives: review

Cutting The Cord: Thoughts On Playstation Vue

I still have faint memories from around age six of the day we first got cable. Mostly because I refused to go outside, watching every game show I could that afternoon on USA network, to the point where I got my television privileges removed for a week.

For about thirty years, I’ve had fairly consistent access to cable TV, even though I tend to not binge watch much of anything, and the onslaught of technological advancements over the last decade (everything from iTunes selling TV shows to streaming solutions like Netflix) have made it easier and easier to just not utilize it.

Three months ago, triggered by the sweet combination of “needing to get rid of the phone line we never use” and “Comcast jerking us around about previous item”, we decided to cut the cable, and try and make due with just streaming solutions. Front and center in this plan was Playstation Vue, Sony’s internet television service. (We already had heavily used Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime accounts.)

Three months later, I have no regrets, and only minor quibbles.

Continue reading Cutting The Cord: Thoughts On Playstation Vue

Bucket Of Tears: A Review Of Dance Dance Revolution The Musical

Buckets Of Tears

It is a strange experience to watch something you once obsessed over – but no longer care for – get bastardized. You can tolerate much of it, perhaps even find some humor in it, because it’s no longer something you care for. But part of you can’t help but recall how strong that obsession once was, and feel that sharp taste of injury in the back of your throat.

I sat for 90 minutes last night in the Ohio Theatre, taking in the third public performance of Dance Dance Revolution, a new musical by Les Freres Corbusier.

For context: I started playing Dance Dance Revolution in September of 2001, and played at an unhealthy clip until the end of 2004, at which point things started to tail off. By this year, I’ve played less than 3 rounds worth of arrow smashing; I have moved on to other games to fulfill my music game addiction. But if I find myself near an empty DDR machine, chances are I will find my way back onto that stage and stomp through a few songs for old times’ sake.

Also: I am not a professional theatre reviewer. I do not frequently go to the theatre proper – I average 2.5 plays/musicals a year. This review should not be taken as anything more than a gamer opining on a show claiming to be inspired by a game he used to play.

Also: I ingested no alcohol or drugs prior to, during, or after the show.

Continue reading Bucket Of Tears: A Review Of Dance Dance Revolution The Musical

Tap’n and Slap’n the Pop’n Music Be-Mouse

When you think of things with which you play video games, you may come back with “joystick”, “game pad”, “light gun”, “keyboard and mouse”, or perhaps even “plastic guitar”.

Over the last seven years, no one company has contributed more to the sheer volume of gaming devices in my possession than Konami. These seven years have seen five dance mats, four beatmania IIDX controllers, one gigantic Pop’n Music controller, one headset, one plastic guitar, and one set of plastic drum pads. Few of these have survived the yearly purge sessions, but the point came across loud and clear: Konami is, in no uncertain terms, the king of the peripherals.

Or at least, they were. Konami hasn’t introduced a new music game peripheral since 2005 with the US flop of beatmania. (Mysteriously, that peripheral – a redesign of the old IIDX controller – was a nearly flawless upgrade.) Three years later, Konami has threatened the world with another damn drum set, the sixth drum peripheral on the market and the third introduced by Konami.

But this post isn’t about that monstrosity. It’s about the Pop’n Be-Mouse, a strange (yet cute!) Japan-only device which combines the shape of a beetle, the functionality of a mouse, and the general purpose and style of a Pop’n Music controller. It’s the newest addition to my gaming controller collection.

pop'n music Be-Mouse

This isn’t Konami’s first foray into PC Bemani – of course, you’d be easy forgiven for forgetting that those previous tries were mostly typing tutors like beatmania Da! Da! Da!. To its credit, the Be-Mouse is true to the ideals of Pop’n Music, it’s just…tinier.

pop'n music Be-Mouse - Opened

Konami has crammed a nine-button Pop’n Controller into a 2.5″ mouse. Each of the nine buttons is about a centimeter in diameter, making them just slightly smaller than my fingertip. The buttons are tucked away under two plastic wings that, when opened, make the thing look not unlike a beetle. The wings are fairly sturdy and don’t give me fears of snapping them off.

Let’s hold off on the gaming for a moment and talk about it purely as a mouse: surprisingly, it’s not half bad. The mouse feels good in the hand, and the buttons function as one would expect. The scroll wheel has a more “clicky” feel than my Microsoft Intellimouse, which I actually enjoy. The mouse is plug-and-play under OS X, but not so under Windows XP, as you’ll have to install the drivers before it does anything interesting. Of course, the Pop’n software does not work on OS X at all, so Mac users should stay away unless they’ve got Boot Camp or other Windows methods.

pop'n music Be-Mouse - Mouse Pad

While the mouse does come with an adorably weird mouse pad – full of half-broken English like *POP’N MUSIC MAKES YOU HAPPY, PRETTY, LOVELY!* – I don’t recommend using it. It is quite thin and light, making it easy to travel around your desk as you mouse. Worse, the texture it’s made out of causes the mouse to float strangely while you try to use it for regular functions. I went back to my usual mousepad and haven’t had any similar problems.

pop'n music Be-Mouse - Underneath

All things considered, the Be-Mouse is a competent laser mouse. But no one is going to buy this as merely a mouse – they’re looking for some Pop’n insanity. Despite it’s candy-colored exterior and endless supply of cartoon characters, Pop’n is notorious for being among the most difficult of music games.

pop'n music Be-Mouse - Media

After what should be a straightforward install, the Pop’n Be-Mouse software is accessible through the standard Windows methods, or by pressing the middle red button on the mouse’s controller. The game launches almost instantly, and after a quick load, you are off to the Pop’n races.

The game ships with 10 songs, most of which will be familiar if you’ve played at least one Pop’n game before. If you’re coming to Pop’n by way of another Bemani game such as DDR, you might recognize Daikenkai by Des-ROW. Additional songs are available via an in-game store that uses i-revo – but due to patch complications, I was unable to upgrade my install to the version necessary for store access.

Pop’n is a very visual game, so here’s some camera-recorded video of what the experience is like, end-to-end:

Pop’n Music Be-Mouse Demonstration from Dan Dickinson on Vimeo.

While Pop’n Be-Mouse is fun for what it is – *Pop’n Music Lite PC* – it’s important to note what it isn’t.

If you’re looking for extreme Hell course-style difficulty, you may wish to look elsewhere. The game features four difficulty modes; three of which are shared with the traditional Pop’n games (5-Line, 9-Line Normal, 9-Line Hyper). But 9-Line Ex, the peak difficulty level, has been dropped. Instead, users will find a 3-Line version, boiling a song down to a whopping three keys out of the nine available.

Likewise, Poppers familiar with some of the other modes that appear on the Pop’n games should prepare for the minimum possible in presentation. There’s no training mode, no versus or courses, no character select, no unlocks, no COOLs or arcade stage scoring or ojamas. It’s Bemani at the most basic form – pick a song, play, repeat. It will track your clears and best score on each difficulty level, but that’s about it.

Finally, it could potentially be used for a controller for other applications – MAME32 saw it as joystick input – were the red center button not bound to launch the Pop’n app. I think this can be worked around by killing the application in the system tray, but I haven’t verified this yet.

In short: it’s a decent mouse with the neat feature to play a music game as well. Is it worth dropping $70 plus shipping on? Perhaps not, but in the wide array of merchandise that Konami has put out for Bemani players over the years, at least this one is functional *and* fun.

The Pop’n Music Be-Mouse can be imported through Play-Asia.

pop'n music Be-Mouse - Front Box pop'n music Be-Mouse - Back Box pop'n music Be-Mouse - Mouse Pad pop'n music Be-Mouse pop'n music Be-Mouse - Underneath pop'n music Be-Mouse - Opened pop'n music Be-Mouse - Finger On The Button pop'n music Be-Mouse - Media

Thoughts on Southland Tales

It’s been about five hours since I left the screening for Southland Tales.

Southland Tales is the much maligned second film from Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly. It (somewhat famously) was ripped to shreds by critics at Cannes 2006 – Roger Ebert described it as “the most disastrous Cannes press screening since, yes, ‘The Brown Bunny'”. Forced back into the editing room, ST has been cut down slightly, and put into limited release this month to the sound of even more critical shredding. It’s currently holding a polarized 33% on RottenTomatoes.

I cannot begin to describe the plot. The best approximation would be to read the film’s keywords listing from IMDB, which I will reproduce here:

alternative timeline, anti conformity, apocalypse, apocalyptic, big corporation, blackmail, conspiracy, doppelganger, dream like, dystopic future, ensemble, fourth of july, friendly fire, future noir, government corruption, heat wave, ice cream truck, kidnapping, marxism, metaphysics, near future, nuclear weapons, political, porn star, riot, satire, split personality, surveillance, time travel, zeppelin

My initial impression, upon the credits rolling, was that it is the most gloriously incomprehensible movie to come from someone not named David Lynch I have ever seen. And I’d like to stick by that, if you don’t mind – it feels like a Lynch film, certainly more parts Mulholland Drive than parts Eraserhead.

I’ve certainly found RottenTomatoes to be wrong before, but I’ll be honest: there exists a significant chance that you could hate this movie. It is, as many reviewers on both sides of the fence pointed out, a mess. There exists a significant chance you’ll dislike it. It’s not mainstream, and possibly not even acceptable enough for the “underground”.

But, to remain honest, I did love it. Even amongst the mess, I found reasons to laugh, to be afraid, to cringe, and to smile. Within the busy backgrounds and near sensory overload lay extra jokes, bits of story lines, and small details for those paying attention. It is a movie that, in some small way, rewards NADD.

To tweak a line from the Boston Globe, it is a messy movie for our messy times. And for that, I recommend Southland Tales.

Piyotama: Hands On

Sony, in what may be either a stroke of brilliance or a moment of blindness (or possibly both), allows Playstation 3 owners to create PSN accounts in any country they so desire. And by making these accounts, you can get into stores for other countries. Freebies like *Mainichi Issuo* are easily downloaded and marveled at from American shores.

Purchasing from foreign stores, though, requires a credit card in that country or a prepaid value card.

As luck would have it, I have a connection who was willing to buy me a few cards. After buying PS1 hits like *Silent Bomber* and the amazing *Bishi Bashi Special*, I was left with 800 yen – just enough to buy today’s new Japanese-only PSN release, *Piyotama*.

Of course, my XMB is now a mess with betas, PSN games, foreign PS1 games, and some random demos. But it’s worth it in the name of science. I love having weird, obscure shit on my console.

Anyhow, Piyotama.

Like most puzzle games, I can’t say Piyotama has much plot – and if it does, my inability to read Japanese isn’t helping my understanding of it. (The on-screen interface, thankfully, is in English.) But there seems to be some benevolent chicken named Mama, who sit on some sort of log and lays eggs that look like fruit – and your job is to get rid of them.

Gameplay wise, I can’t say I’ve really played another puzzle game exactly like it before. So you have a hexagon-ish grid with the round egg pieces, and the goal is to get 4 of the same color in a row. But rather than drop pieces (ala Columns) or rotate them (ala Hexic), you move them from side to side. Three pieces sit off the game field, which you can rotate the order of, and then you push it back in and pop the three on the opposite side off. I can only think to describe this movement as “threading”.

When you get four in a row (occasionally horizontally, mostly diagonally), the pieces highlight, but they don’t disappear immediately – you have a bit of time to keep threading back and forth and try and match more rows up, which leads to a bigger combo and thus more points. Eventually, all the matched pieces turn to eggs and hatch into fruit birds.

That’s right. Fruit birds. Adorable little buggers. The graphics in the game are certainly a delight – rich colors, well drawn backgrounds, and nice animation. The birds collect around the screen as you release them, and I’ve caught a few of them napping when I was having trouble making a chain.

There are also a couple of special pieces that allow you to clear all of one color at a time (which you can chain against multiple colors to clear the board), as well as a “heavy egg” that blocks you from moving that row. These up the challenge a bit. There’s also a slight degree of Sixaxis integration, allowing you to nudge the table to fill in gaps, as well as force matched eggs to hatch if you’re running out of time and space.

While the game is certainly easy to pick up and play, and it allows you to zone out and continue to do well (like so many other great puzzle games), Piyotama is missing that extra ounce of addiction that would make it crack-like, where I’d be begging to play just one more round.

Part of the problem: it’s a bit lacking in modes. You have “Limited”, which gives you a short time limit; “Endless”, with no time limit; and “2P Battle”, which is local play only multiplayer. And that’s it, really – unless you consider watching demo movies or checking the online rankings a mode.

It’s a shame the multiplayer is local only, because like many color-matching puzzle games, it has some promise. It’s neat to watch the birds fly back and forth as you match pieces.

At least the game does have Internet Ranking, I guess.

Ultimately, you’re left with a charming puzzle game with lots of personality, but lacking in modes. Ironically, this is the exact opposite of the recently released Go! Puzzle, which is mode-rich but without charm or an identity. I can only dream of the sort of offspring you could get by merging both games.

While I realize most people reading this aren’t going to have the ability to buy it, I can recommend it for people looking for a unique puzzler that doesn’t necessarily have a lot of replay value. Otherwise, you should probably look elsewhere.

Some Thoughts on Gordon Ramsay at The London

I will readily admit that when it comes to fine dining, I am often out of touch. If you take all the places I’ve eaten since moving to the city over three years ago, and compare that list to the Michelin Guide NYC 2006, I have all of one star of dining experience. Granted, I did eat there twice – but it’s still the same star. I tend towards cheaper fare, but my eye drifts from time to time. Problem: I don’t like to fight for tables.

When the opportunity arose to eat at the new NYC restaurant of a [familiar chef](http://fox.com/hellskitchen/) who has eight Michelin stars under his belt, I thought, “Maybe it’s time to give this a shot.”

So two months ago to the day, I called up and made reservations for [Gordon Ramsay at The London](http://www.gordonramsay.com/internationalrestaurants/newyork/) for tonight, Katie’s 27th birthday. The restaurant, as of our visit, is just about 4 weeks old.

As I sit here, I realize it’s hard to do the meal justice without sounding like I’m gloating. I don’t want to gloat, and it’s certainly not my intent here – I want everyone to be able to experience food like this at one point or another in their lives. Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life – so many of my favorite memories revolve around eating and drinking with friends. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity, should it arise, to have a truly great meal.

My dinner consisted of:

* A glass of 1985 Veuve Clicquot Rose (quite refreshing, lovely color, nice rounded taste that wasn’t easily classified)
* Amuse Bouche: Gordon’s signature white bean cappuccino, flavored with mushrooms and black truffle (I broke my “no mushrooms” rule for this one, and it was worth it.)
* Lobster ravioli, poached in its own bouillon with celery root cream, shellfish vinaigrette and chervil velout̩ (The velout̩ was actually what made this dish Рit added just the right balance to the lobster.)
* A bottle of 2004 Schaetzel Gewurztraminer. (Yes, I drink Gewurztraminer with just about anything, and this is probably the best bottle I’ve ever had. Lovely gold color, just the right level of sweet, good viscosity – drank more than I probably should have.)
* Roast cannon of lamb with confit shoulder, candied onions, Imam Bayildi and marjoram jus (I was not crazy about the Imam Bayildi. I was extremely crazy about the rest, particularly the confit shoulder.)
* Palette cleanser: Roasted pineapple with vanilla yogurt and crystallized cilantro (was hoping to have this, and if there’s any complaint, it’s that I finished it too quickly.)
* Valrhona chocolate fondant with milk ice cream (to be honest, this was the most disappointing course – it wasn’t bad, but everything before it was excellent, so since this only came in at “good”.)
* Treats off the bon bon cart (at this point, my stomach was swearing at me, even after sedating it with a lime-vanilla marshmallow).
Katie’s dinner replaced the ravioli with a “mosaic of fruit de mer”, the lamb with a pigeon and foie gras dish, and the added bonus of a birthday scoop of strawberry-pomegranate sorbet.

I wasn’t surprised the food was excellent – the real test was going to be the service. As a frequent Eater reader, I had seen all the reports coming in – things about two hour seating time limits, inconsistencies, photo bans, and so on. I regularly have to deal with less than stellar service, so I lowered my expectations a smidge.

Turns out, that wasn’t necessary. All of the wait staff was attentive, pleasant, and polite; pretty much everything I want out of wait staff. When a small photo crew showed up to take some press shots, our server gently asked us if it was okay. (As a quasi-photoblogger, who am I to object?) My only complaint was that one of the wait staff had such a thick french accent, I often had a hard time understanding him.

The strange highlight of the evening was hinted at early on, when our first server mentioned casually in conversation that tours of the kitchen were available. (I can’t imagine this is the case on busier nights, but this was a Monday.) After dessert, Katie asked if it would be possible, and a few minutes later, we were back in the kitchen. The kitchen is fairly massive, as one that supports two restaurants + room service should be. We got to meet Neil Ferguson, the Chef de Cuisine, as well as Gordon himself (who I should note, for the sake of those who have only seen Hell’s Kitchen, was both polite and very sweet). There’s also a nice large private table where they serve a nine-course chef’s choice menu for six to eight.

Quick word about the decor – the restaurant has around twelve tables, and the space is balanced nicely between too intimate (read: crowded) and too sparse. The look is suitably modern yet tasteful.

Given how fickle the NYC dining scene is, I have no idea how Gordon will do here in the city – but as far as my unrefined palette goes, I was extremely happy, and plan on making a trip back sometime next year.

P.S. Long time readers may remember that when I used to do restaurant recommendation lists, I [referred to Aureole](http://vjarmy.com/archives/2004/07/top_10_nyc_rest.php) (the source of my single Michelin star above) as crossing the “costs more than the top of the line iPod” line. Taking into account Apple’s current pricing levels and the amount of wine at the meal, this meal also crossed that line – but I can safely say that a meal at Gordon Ramsay doesn’t necessarily have to break that threshold.

Sidekick 3: Hands On

Around the turn of the century, consumerism took an interesting turn: cultism became favorable. No longer was there just the mass market and a void, but small niche markets became common, sought after, marketed at. (No blog post along these lines would be complete without shouting “LONG TAIL!” at the top of the author’s lungs, and I will not break the trend.) I belong to a number of shopping cults: my memberships in [the cult of Apple](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/19415606/) and [the cult of Bemani](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/1573382/) are well documented.

Today, I realized that I had a third major cult membership: the cult of the Sidekick.

Don’t get me wrong – I was fully willing to admit my Sidekick addiction for the two and a half years I’ve owned one. It is nearly inseparable from my hand to the point where it often feels like a body part rather than a cell phone. It is difficult for me to survive without one: it manages all of my email, the majority of my IM conversations, serves as my primary syndicated feed reader, and acts as my notepad for random nuggets of information.

But this morning, I stood in line with what I would estimate as roughly 500 people on 41st and Madison, waiting patiently for our chance to purchase a Sidekick 3. Again: these were not giveaways, these were people waiting in line to *buy a cell phone*. Again: **cult**.

With that said: while there are a number of professional reviews available about the Sidekick 3, very few go into the technical aspects and random questions that tech wonks like myself have. This post is my best attempt to answer the questions I had before I got my hands on one. I hope you find this useful.

Continue reading Sidekick 3: Hands On

Inside DJ Shadow’s ‘Public Works’

After getting dicked over on the 1st by the Kid Robot staff, today I returned to the store and found that they, in fact, still had [the DJ Shadow box set](http://www.obeydjshadow.com) I was [previously lusting after](http://vjarmy.com/archives/2005/08/public_works.php) still in stock – and even in my size, to boot. After getting it home, I promptly shot the hell out of it and bring you the hot hot details.

The box is adorned with [cool artwork](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/46247879/) and a [number on the back](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/46247398/). Opening the box finds all the contents neatly wrapped in a [paper holder with a “flamable materials” sticker](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/46247664/). When you unpack it, you’ll find…

Five t-shirts, the [“Post No Bills” book](http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1584230932/), the [Funky Skunk mix CD](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/46249166/), and a manilla envelope [full of stickers and buttons](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/46249389/).

Public Works: Shirt #1 Public Works: Shirt #2 Public Works: Shirt #3 Public Works: Shirt #4 Public Works: Shirt #5

A quick judging of the t-shirt designs (and I’m making most of these names up): I’m not crazy about [“Portrait”](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/46248475/), but [Crane](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/46248591/), [Take Action](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/46248705/), and [Molotov](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/46248809/) are quite nice and I can see myself wearing them in public. The [Grim Reaper World Tour](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/46248952/) shirt – which I should note, is not available outside of the box set (unlike the rest) – is particularly remarkable in that it takes what is already an amazing box set and just makes it approximately forty-six times better. (That’s rounding down, mind you.) All the shirts have nothing printed on the back, are high quality cotton, and have a small Public Works logo thing on one arm.

The book contains a variety of pictures from Shepard Fairey’s [OBEY](http://www.obeygiant.com/) project; locations around the world where the pastes are up, some action shots as they go up. Very nice art book, perfect for a coffee table.

The CD – well, I haven’t had much of a chance to listen to it much yet, but it sounds like a very well done mix with lots of obscure hip-hop source material. It’s 66 minutes long, and the CD looks remarkably similar to the artwork on the front of the box/the Take Action shirt.

The envelope contents include buttons for the first four t-shirts, stickers for them, some Obey project stickers, and some advertising for the Public Works set.
All in all? I’d say it’s definitely worth it, if you’re a DJ Shadow fan.

(If you’d just like to browse all the linked pictures, check out [my photos tagged with “publicworks”](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/tags/publicworks/).)

Review: m-flo’s Beat Space Nine

There are few things that can make me turn into a giddy music nerd as quickly as a new m-flo album.

*Beat Space Nine* is the fourth full-length album from the Japanese hip-hop collective known as [m-flo](http://www.m-flo.com/), and their second in the line of dance-flavored cameo-filled albums. With Verbal doing the MC work and Taku doing the production, m-flo brings infectious hooks, smooth rhymes that switch between English and Japanese seemlessly, and above all else a very polished and fun take on hip-hop. Anyone who has an ounce of rhythm in their body have a good chance of liking at least a few of their tracks, if not their whole back catalog.

Songs will be rated on the traditional MP3 rating scale of 1-100; over 80 indicates love, over 60 indicates like, 50 indicates the thin line between positive and negative feelings. I am listening to most of these songs for the first time, so forgive me for not grasping nuances or whatever.

### BEAT

m-flo traditionally has a handful of filler tracks on their albums, and I normally skip them. But for once, the opening filler has an actual musical hook, drum beats, and sets the album going on a high note. I’m actually sitting here wishing this was a full-length track, but since it’s not, **60**.

### Taste Your Stuff (m-flo loves BENNIE K)

I actually got my hands on this track a week or two ago, and was warned it was more dance pop than hip hop. I shrugged off this warning, and put it on – who was I to let a little warning get in the way of my musical cravings?
I now extend this warning to you: this thing will get stuck in your head. If you put this on your MP3 player, there’s a good chance you will bounce along to it. It will lodge itself in your brain and will not leave. Why can’t American pop songs be this good? **90**.

### Loop In My Heart (m-flo loves EMYLI & YOSHIKA)

A bit of a back and forth over some very nice disco beats. I actually think Verbal is a little overpowering here, and I’d much rather here Emyli and Yoshika shining with their very nice melodies over Verbals spitting out a lot of responses. Still, decent track. **60**.

### SO EXCLUSIVE (m-flo loves Sowelu)

Again with the disco beats (although with a bit more funk), this time we get a lot of focus on the female vocals. Verbal is just right here, not overpowering the vocalists with his stuff. The funk is definitely prevalent here, with the whole backbeat claps and everything. The track has clicked for me – not the sort of thing I want to listen to 24/7, but a track I wouldn’t turn off if it came on. **70**.

### I’M DA 1 (m-flo loves WHEE SUNG)

I’m not really sure what’s going on here. I mean, sure, Verbal is going rap crazy, but I’m totally baffled with the music underneath. It’s a little drum’n’bass, which doesn’t fit in with some of the refrain harmonizing…I think I’ll be passing on this one. **40**.

### ONE DAY (m-flo loves Miriya Katou)

Slow start, probably a good choice after doing four up-beat songs. I’m not sure why, but this is sort of reminding me of a few tracks by The Streets (*It’s Too Late*, mostly) – I may not know what exactly is being said, but it feels rather reminiscent, sort of sorrowful. Not quite on the level of *Come Back To Me* off the first m-flo album, but it’s good. **62**.

### A.D.D.P. (m-flo loves Monday Michiru)

Recent m-flo fans will remember the brilliance of *Way U Move* off last year’s Astromantic; where a Dragon Ash ballad was suddenly twisted into a Daft Punk-lite dance floor burner. If you take the dance floor portion, stick on some very classic house/rave piano, throw in some disco strings, and layer some Monday Michiru harmonizing in, you get A.D.D.P. Hello, dream track. **95**.

### tO yOUR bEAT (m-flo loves YOSHIKA)

We slow down again for some more Yoshika loving. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this track, but it’s not standing out in any way over what we’ve heard thus far. **55**.


Filler track #2. Unfortunately, this is the traditional m-flo filler track, with some weird Japanese speech sample over top of a little beat. Passing, hardcore. **20**.

### DOPEMAN? (m-flo loves EMYLI & Diggy-MO’)

A number of months ago, when the singles that would make up this album were starting to get released as EPs, there was a wonderfully crazy track called *Dopamine*, featuring EMYLI and Diggy-MO. I really, really got into it, and it had a fun video too.
*DOPEMAN?* is essentially a rework of this track – slightly different vocals, somewhat different backing music. While it’s a decent little remix, the original version really blows this away. Those that have the original single would do well to hang onto it. **50**.

### COZMO-NAUGHTY (m-flo loves Kahimi Karie)

Best song title ever. The disco funk returns with a vengance, and brings along some slinky vocals with it. Very experimental in parts, it’s got a definite lounge feel. The whispered rapping is a little weird – never mind the very Orange Lounge flairs – but there’s something very appealing about the track as a whole. **74**

### The Other Side Of Love (m-flo loves EMYLI)

Saving me the trouble of listening to this all the way through, I’ve actually owned the Let Go EP for a few months, which had this as a B-side. With some minimal bass paired with a light guitar, Emyli provides some nice melodies over the occasional breakbeat rhythms. I certainly enjoyed this enough when I initially heard it, so let’s not ruin a good thing. **75**

### Float’n Flow (m-flo loves Rie Fu)

Please, please tell me this isn’t island reggae. Please please please…okay, it’s not quite reggae, but it’s definitely got a tropical feel, and that’s really throwing me off during a sci-fi themed album. Don’t get me wrong – if there’s any band I enjoy going on musical tangents, it’s m-flo. I loved *Life Is Beautiful* and *Vanessa* off the last album, both with a very obvious jazz direction. But I don’t go for this style of music, any time. **39**, just to keep it off all my playlists.

### HEY! (m-flo loves Akiko Wada)

Wow, this is…okay, let’s see, the rhythm and backing samples are totally motown soul. The instruments on top of that are sort of psychedelic rock. This is a hell of a hybridization of a few genres; I can only think to describe this as modern soul. This is the sort of musical tangent I like. **66**.

### let go (m-flo loves YOSHIKA)

Obviously the track from the previously mentioned Let Go EP, this starts slow and languid with very pretty vocals from Yoshika and nice string ensemble work. There’s a hell of a bridge near the middle, with some well timed rapping; it all mixes together great. **78**

### TRIPOD BABY (m-flo loves LISA)

This track strikes me as funny, in a way. Originally, m-flo was a three person unit, with Verbal, Taku, and Lisa. Lisa, after two albums, decided she wanted to go off and start a solo career. And so here we are, a few years after the band split, with all three of the members back together giving us one more track.

But, strangely enough, it’s also a symbolic track. Lisa’s solo portions are very much typical of the old m-flo; single melody, not a terribly complicated rhythm, and her voice shines well. The Verbal portions are typical of new m-flo; experimental, branching into new genres – here I’d say we’re delving into dancehall. The refrains bridge these different styles, and it works fairly well.

It’s not the strongest track off the album musically, so the rating won’t be terribly high (although it’s certainly listenable). But *Tripod Baby* signifies the transitions the band has made over the last three years, and it’s worth noting just for that. **60**

### NINE

The closer filler track; exactly the same as the first track on their first album, *Planet Shining*. I don’t even want to try and figure out the significance of this. As it’s filler, and not really musically interesting filler, it pulls a **20**.

## In Closing

While it’s not quite as obviously great as Astromantic (where I had two tracks pegged at 100), this is a solid album, and anyone who’s ever liked m-flo will likely not be disappointed.