Recently I’ve been quite busy. What have I been up to? The answer? Not much.
As I’ve mentioned on Google Plus and Twitter, I purchased a few new albums recently. They’ve all been Japanese albums, too. A great way for me to test the postage systems of the world, I figured.
I would apologise to the UK and US music industry, if they’d released anything exciting or new.
What where these albums, you ask? Well, one was the new album by 東京事変 (Tokyo Jihen. This ranslates as “Tokyo Incidents,” but I prefer Tokyo Jihen) and a “new” band called the Earthbound Papas.
I’ve said that Earthbound Papas are new because they are. Although they formed in March-ish of this year, they’re basically the new version of the Black Mages.
The new album by Tokyo Jihen is called 大発見 (Dai Hakken. This translates to “Great Discovery”) and is, quite simply put: Amazing.
Side note: I keep pronouncing this as Hakken-Den. I haven’t a clear idea as to why, but I think there’s a Japanese TV show or film with “Hakken-Den” in the title. I’ll update you when I figure this one out.
Dai Hakken – Tokyo Jihen
Tokyo Jihen have (almost) always been a J-Rock band. This is because the founding member, 椎名林檎 (Shiina Ringo), is one of the most famous female Rock musicians of the late 90’s and 21st century. Over the years, though, her music has changed; it’s become (for want of a better word) calmer.
Her first few albums were chocked full of Rock songs of different types, however her recent work has been more… How do I put this? Classy? Jazzy? Jlazzy? That’ll do. Jlazzy is how I would describe her recent work. It’s amazing, mind you, but it’s not Rock music.
You can listen to samples of the entire album here: LINK (it should open up in a new window, and it WILL start playing as soon as it’s buffered so watch out). I’ll clue you in, though: The next song on the album, in my opinion, is 恐るべき大人達 (Osorubeki otona-tachi; which Shiina, herself, translates as: Les Adultes Terribles).
Octave Theory – Earthbound Papas
The Blank Mages where a Rock band formed by three composers from Square-Enix: 福井健一郎 (Fukui Ken’ichiro), 関戸 剛 (Sekito Tsuyoshi) and 植松伸夫 (Uematsu Nobuo). They played, mostly, some of the biggest songs from the Final Fantasy song catalogue in a Progressive Rock style. Some of their best songs include: One Winged Angel, JENOVA, At Zanarkand and Matoya’s Cave.
However, when Uemastu left Square-Enix he also left the Black Mages, essentially ending the band. After creating his own record label (Dog Eared Records), he got the band back together – minus the bass player and the drummer – and formed the Earthbound Papas.
The Earthbound Papas are, pretty much, the same as the Black Mages. The key exception being that the Black Mages relied on loud guitar music as Uematsu never seemed that keen to jump into the spotlight with his keyboard playing (anyone who has the first Black Mages Live DVD can attest to this). However, with the Earthbound Papas, he has become more confident; even altering the way he arranges the new (and 1 classic) tunes.
Their version of Liberi Fatali is absolute genius, I feel:
For those interested:
The Tokyo Jihen CD – which shipped straight from Japan – was delivered to my house (in the UK) 6 days after ordering it. I didn’t pay for any specific kind of fast shipping, in fact I think that the shipping was free (I’m a frequent shopper at this particular website and had built up a bit of a discount, I think).
The Earthbound Papas CD however, was delivered to my house a month after I’d ordered it. This was down to the CD having been sent from Japan but via Hong Kong (I didn’t order this from the same website as the Tokyo Jihen CD). Even so, a month isn’t that bad.
I’ve also been on a bit of a book binge. Recently, I re-read “Guards! Guards!” This is so that I can re-familiarise myself with the excellent character of Sam Vimes in time for the release of “Snuff!”
For those who don’t know: Sam Vimes is a member of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch and an amazing Commander of men.
I’m talking about the Discworld; for those who didn’t realise.
This is my plan to prepare for the release of “Snuff!”:
- Avoid any and all plot spoilers – All I know is that it revolves around Sam Vimes
- Re-read EVERY SINGLE Discworld novel that Sam Vimes has been in (in a major role)
- Avoid any and all plot spoilers
- Avoid any and all plot spoilers
That’s, pretty much it.
I’ve also been consuming a large dose of science. I’ve read “Bad Science” (by Ben Goldacre), and have recently started reading “The Physics of the Impossible” by Michio Kaku.
I, also, can’t wait for the release of “Fifty Word Stories: Volume 2”. For those who don’t know, Fifty Word Stories (sometimes shortened to 50WS) is a website run by Tim Sevenhuysen and it contains fictional stories of exactly 50 words in length. The pre-order ends on the 15th of September, according to the website, so I should receive my copy of the book at some point after that (although, the postal service in Canada seems to be quite naff. To quote Graham “LoadingReadyRun” Stark: “It’s quite poopy”).
Those Games I Played
Aside from stealing the name for this section from a regular LoadingReadyRun vidcast, I’ve been playing two very excellent games recently.
I’ve been playing Persona 4 on the Playstation 2, and Super Mario World on the SNES.
Persona 4 is one (of the many) Shin Megami Tensei series of games – in that it takes place in the Megami Tensei universe. The big gimmick with this game is that the main character can “enter the TV” (quite literally). It’s a standard J-RPG as gameplay goes, but it has been lauded as having one of the best character building arch’s of in the whole of video gaming.
And the other game is Super Mario World.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Until next time, as always: have fun,
I remember now. The reason I keep pronouncing Dai Hakken (the new CD by Tokyo Jihen) as Hakken-Den is because that’s part of the full name for the live action version of Grave of the Fireflies. Something which I’ll cover next time.
Wait! That’s still not right, because “Grave of the Fireflies” translates to “Hotaru no Haka”. Where am I getting Hakken-Den from? Weird, ne?