Game Music Revue: Toy Music – Dancing Super Mario Brothers

  • Credited Performer: Akihabara Electric Circus
  • Released September 15, 1988
  • Label: Eastworld/Toshiba
  • VGMdb Information Page

In 1988 a group by the name of Akiharbara Electric Circus released two arranged game music albums. One featured nothing but reworked version of music from Super Mario Bros. 3. It’s a weird record.

The other is this, Toy Music: Dancing Super Mario Bros.

It’s fucking batshit. Continue reading

A Year Ended, Let’s Make Some Lists

I usually don’t do year end lists. For one, I don’t like lists. I think they’re lazy. Give me a 2,000 word essay on the state of music in 2016. Don’t give me a list of albums you thought were neat.

But I relented this year, for a few reasons. One, I bought a shitload of new music this year, which is something I really haven’t done since I moved to Japan three years ago. And a lot of it was really, really good.

Additionally, a lot of it was either Japanese or, for other reasons, the kind of stuff that flies under the radar for most people. And I’m not under the illusion that my taste in music is somehow better or more important because so much of what I like isn’t popular, it’s just different. And since none of the year end lists or articles I read mentioned damn near any of these albums (save for one obvious exception) I thought I’d go ahead and write up my own for a change.

But I didn’t stop there. Like any other year, I bought a lot of old music too, much of which in the form of reissues. And again, a lot of them where fantastic. So, in addition to “Best New Music,” I’m also including a list of “Best Reissues.” Because the old shit is always better.

So let’s get down to it. The first list is numbered, the second is not. Continue reading

My Weirdest Record: Score Yourself…Sexual I.Q. Test

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In the late-60s and early-70s there was a brief fad of sex manuals. No doubt born out of the attention from sex researchers like Masters and Johnson, these books were made with the mass market in mind, designed as educational materials for couples looking for advice on how to get down and dirty. The Joy of Sex and Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex* (But Were Afraid To Ask) are the all-stars of the genre to this day I think.

Sex records were also a thing around this time, although to a much lesser extent. I occasionally see these record stores. They often that feature dirty stories, “documentary” style interviews about sex, or just straight-up recordings of people doing it. Due to the fact that many of these records were mail-order only (and illegal) when they first came out, they’re pretty hard to find these days.

This LP, however, is the only one I’ve ever seen that combines both the sex record and the instructional sex book into one handy combo. Score Yourself…The Sexual I.Q. Test is exactly what it sounds like, an interactive test designed to gauge the listener’s carnal knowledge.

It’s really stupid. Continue reading

The Biggest Guide to Tokyo Record Stores on the Internet

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This all started because my boyfriend gave me his old MiniDisc player.

We were watching Techmoan on YouTube, some video about an obsolete tape format, and I mentioned how I wished he would do an episode on MiniDiscs, because they always interested me. Then, my boyfriend told me that he actually had a MiniDisc player (that he never used) and would give to me. It was a wonderful gift from my wonderful little man, but unfortunately he didn’t have any discs for it.

I went to my regular record store haunts scoping the back shelves for used MiniDiscs, but to no avail. After that, I decided to branch out and search some lesser known shops. Still turning up empty-handed, I reached out even further, doing research online to dig up as many record stores as possible, figuring that at least one would have used MiniDiscs somewhere.

It was at this point I realized that I had probably been to at least half of the record stores in and around Tokyo so I figured what would be the harm in hunting down the other half.

So if you find this useful and want to thank someone, thank my boyfriend. It’s all his fault.

And in case you’re wondering, no, I never did find a damn MiniDisc. Continue reading

Game Music Revue: Ghost In The Shell Megatech Body Co. Ltd (Playstation Game Soundtrack)

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For all its acclaim as an anime action epic, the original Ghost In The Shell film is actually a pretty quiet affair, peppered with only a scant few minutes of solid action. The majority of the film is a drama, that alternates between police procedural and meditative discussions on technology and what it means to be alive in a world where humanity and machine seem to be one in the same. The whole thing climaxes not with a giant battle, but with a conversation between a robot and a cyborg, discussing if life has a point without mortality.

Accompanying all of this is a legendary score by Kenji Kawai, which combines modern technology and traditional Japanese instrumentation with an end result that resembles something that Philip Glass or Dead Can Dance might compose. Just like the film itself, the score to Ghost In The Shell is haunting and beautiful, a work of art that is nearly unrivaled.

Got all that? Good. Because the Ghost In The Shell game that appeared on the PS1 is a third-person shooter where you take control of a tank and blow shit up real good. And the soundtrack is non-stop pulse-pounding techno, all of which has the subtlety and nuance of a jackhammer. Continue reading

Trials Of The Blood Dragon Review (And Narrative Analysis)

 

When a game is announced at the giant gaming convention known as E3, its release date is usually months, if not years away. But Ubisoft bucked the trend this year with Trials Of The Blood Dragon, which was announced at the press conference last week and then immediately released following its conclusion.

An odd release strategy for sure, but it is by far not the oddest thing about the game, a strange amalgamation of the Far Cry: Blood Dragon franchise and the long-running and extremely popular Trials motorbike game series. By taking the VHS B-movie aesthetic of the Blood Dragon universe and combining it with the always off-kilter Trials sense of humor and style, the creators of Trials Of The Blood Dragon have made an interesting thing, even if it whole doesn’t match the sum of its parts.

Oh, and also the game might just be a stark social commentary and allegory for America’s war on terror, criticizing how the media twists the will of the people to fit the machinations of an evil and uncaring military-industrial complex.

Or maybe that’s just me seeing that. But we’ll get there. Continue reading

About Guns.

Last month, an up-and-coming Japanese pop idol, Mayu Tomita, was attacked by a stalker, who managed to stab her more than 20 times. She was rushed to the hospital with severe injuries, but apparently she will live.

Two weeks ago, singer Christina Grimmie was attacked by a stalker. He shot her in the head. She died.

Even before the horrifying mass shooting in Orlando just a few days after this terrible attack, I felt as if these two events perfectly illustrated the effectiveness of strict gun control laws.  Continue reading

Boom Boom Satellites Push Eject

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It’s August 31st, 1999, just hours before my 20th birthday and I’m in St. Andrews Hall in Detroit, waiting for Moby to take the stage. Play, his soon-to-be-defining album, had just been released earlier that year, and buzz was starting to build around him.

But before Moby would perform a set that would end up blowing my mind, another group would appear on stage, some weird Japanese act called Boom Boom Satellites, delivering a blistering set of uninterrupted insanity composed of electronic beats, frenetic drumming and a pair of hyper-intense frontmen who obviously knew how to shred on guitar. Continue reading

The Ghostbusters Trailer Is Horrible

Have you seen the trailer for Ghostbusters? It’s exceptionally bad in nearly every way imaginable. The jokes fall flat, the pacing is strange, and it feels like that it spoils large portions of the film all for the sake of fitting as many flashy things as possible into a two minute sizzle reel! It’s a real shitshow.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a look.

 

Yeah, I’m really clever, I know. Continue reading

The Wonders of Japanese Movie Programs

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There are a lot of differences between going to the movies in Japan and going in the United States. For starters, tickets cost a heck of a lot more, usually upwards of $20, and the seats are assigned. Many theaters also have deluxe seats that offer anything from increased leg room to full-on private suites. The theater near me even has a private waiting area for premium members where champagne and chocolate are served. It all combines to create a feeling that turns going to the movies into more of an event, much like going to a live stage show or a concert.

And just like a live event, in Japan, movies often get their own specially made programs.

And they’re dope. Continue reading

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