01 - Blue Sky Course -Sky Cruisers-_#01kagenui_m01_OP_90ver_1
02 - AMATERASU_#02kamiyo_CD_m04_map_nichijyou_2mix1
03 - The Whole Ancient School_#03kamiyo_CD_m09_koukou_2mix1
04 - Abyss_#04kamiyo_CD_m10_kamiyochou_2mix1
05 - Ectoplasm_#05kamiyo_CD_m12_youmasyutugen_2mix1
06 - Domination_#06kamiyo_CD_m13_pinch_2mix1
07 - Battle Rubicante_#07kamiyo_CD_m15_sentou_2mix_take2
08 - Good Job(^-^)_#08kamiyo_CD_m25_levelup_2mix1
09 - TSUKUYOMI_#09kamiyo_CD_m05_map_yoru_2mix1
10 - Noize Net_#10kamiyo_CD_m11_noizenet_2mix1
11 - Little Sister_#11kamiyo_CD_m30p_rui_2mix6
12 - Masak Mavadiel (First)_#12kamiyo_CD_m02_title_bpm136_2mix1
13 - Darkness Dweller_#13kamiyo_CD_m18_yaminosumibito_2mix1
14 - Imperial Capital Protection_#14kamiyo_CD_m08_toukyo_2mix1
15 - Awakening Malleblanche_#15kamiyo_CD_m19_kakusei_2mix1
16 - Masak Mavadiel (Strange)_#16kamiyo_CD_m03title2_bpm168_2mix2
17 - Demon Thorn_#17kamiyo_CD_m29p_mashinki_2mix1
18 - Kurunugia_#18kamiyo_CD_m07_chaos_2mix1
19 - ...orz_#19kamiyo_CD_m24_gameover_2mix1
20 - Right Hand_#20kamiyo_CD_m14_senritu_2mix1
21 - Twilight Show (without miqui)_#21kamiyo_CD_m06_taisyou_bpm170_oke_2mix1
22 - Paradiso_#22kamiyo_CD_m16_battle2taisyou_2mix1
23 - Tears in leaven_#23kamiyo_CD_m17_kanashimi_2mix1
24 - Twilight of the Gods_#24kamiyo_CD_m22_kamigami_2mix1
25 - Entschuldigung -Faust-_#25kamiyo_CD_m20_faust_2mix1
26 - Hunting_#26kamiyo_CD_m21_kari_2mix1
27 - Kamiyori_#27kamiyo_CD_m27p_kamiyori_2mix1
28 - Illusory Light_#28kamiyo_CD_m28p_ougi_bpm134_2mix1
29 - Touristeninformation -Gute Reise!-_#29kamiyo_CD_m23_lastboss_2mix2
30 - Ex Machina_#30kamiyo_CD_m31p_exmachina_2mix3
31 - Savaran of Time_#31kamiyo_CD_m26ED_pm136_Master2mix2
32 - Blue Sky Course -Sky Cruisers-_#32kagenui_m01_OP_full_forOST160
33 - Twilight Show_#33kamiyo_CD_m06_taisyou_vox_Full_2mix1
Note: the tracklist looks ridiculous, right? Well that's the way it is: track title, track number, a smaller "code name," and some mix/tempo information. There's also some German mixed in there...
The sequel to Tenshou Gakuen Gekkouroku (which is, itself, a Gaiden to the Tokyo Majin Gakuen series), Kamiyo Gakuen Makorouku Kurunugia has a soundtrack composed by Yuki Sugiura and performed by his band, Heinrich Von Ofterdingen. Sugiura and crew last worked with Idea Factory on the Spectral Gene OST. Now they're trying to fill the shoes of the venerable Motoi Sakuraba, who had done the soundtrack to Tenshou Gakuen Gekkouroku.
For the Japanese (or Romaji) impaired, "Gakuen" = School (usually, High School). Tokyo Majin Gakuen = Tokyo Demon High School. Tenshou Gakuen Gekkouroku = Reincarnation School Moonlight Record. And finally, Kamiyo Gakuen Kamiyo Gakuen Makorouku = Ancient School Momentary Illusion. We at RPGFan have no idea what "Kurunugia" (broken out as "Kuru Nu Gi A") is supposed to mean, but it's written in Katakana. There's your Japanese lesson for today's soundtrack review.
This genre-blending game (Graphic Adventure, Sim, and RPG rolled into one, similar to Sakura Taisen) features two types of music. At one point, we still have Heinrich Von Ofterdingen's all-too-familiar Japanese power-rock. Whether it comes with vocals or not, there's still plenty of ultra-distorted grunge guitar, in-your-face drums, and super-fast looped synth samples. I would expect nothing less from the group. But Sugiura himself informed me that, alongside this typical style of music, he has attempted to include music that reflects the Taishou (early 1900s Japan) era. Instrumentally, he hit the target. But many songs are still too contemporary in composition to be considered "Taishou." For example, track 3 sounds more like something from the Gust Sound Team than a traditional 1900s Asian composition. Other pieces, like track 11, combine artificial synths, beautiful minimalism, xylophones, and a Lydian modal scale. The piece reminds me of something from Yasunori Mitsuda's "Hako no Niwa," and in a strange sense, I can see how this fits Sugiura's vision of the Taishou era. The xylophone part, after all, plays mostly fourths and fifths across a Pentatonic scale (which merges well with the Lydian mode, since you get to skip the fourth note in a traditional scale).
So there is an "influence" of Taishou music, but it usually gets blended with the modern trappings of techno and/or industrial music, mostly all of it being synthesized. That's not to say there's something wrong; I'm rather glad I'm not listening to a straight Taishou-style album. The musical style that Sugiura creates outside of the Ofterdingen grunge rock is some of my favorite music in the last few years of VGM.
There were a couple surprise tracks that really threw me off my game. Sugiura added some jazz tracks to the album. One of them, "Twilight Show" (track 21), is a simple, light-hearted, bouncy piece that is only enhanced by the inclusion of a recurring sound effect that suggests you're listening to an old vinyl recording. This is a good track to listen to with headphones on to hear the full depth of the artificially old sound. Track 21 is found again, in its entirety, on track 33, but in this version, a female vocalist (Miqui, the female member of HVO) sings a song alongside the xylophone's melody. Be sure to check out the audio sample!
Take a listen to track 29, the final battle music. The piano part that runs alonside the vocals sounds something like Gust meet Masashi Hamauzu. Then, moments after the introduction, we're thrown into a whirlwind of a hard-rock fest. Then the scratchy, non-melodic male vocalist joins the crowd, and the female choir comes back in to resolve the noise. This loop is nearly perfect: the ebb and flow of the chaos is made so clear and it's all so intense. I love this song!
The opening vocal track is something special as well, but the "game size" version (track 1) is not nearly as good as the full version (track 32). There's just a lot more happening musically in this 4 minute version. It would be a worthwhile single release, in my opinion. But I'm happy to have it on the full OST!
There's a lot of clever, interesting music to be found on this soundtrack. I love when a band takes on the task of composing vocal and instrumental music for a game (as Motoo Fujiwara and "Bump of Chicken" once did for Tales of the Abyss). I'm not sure, between this and Spectral Gene, which soundtrack I prefer. But I will tell you this: between this album and Sakuraba's Tenshou Gakuen, I quickly choose this soundtrack as the superior. Of course, some of that is because the VGM community has had too much exposure to Sakuraba, whereas Sugiura is relatively new to the field. Regardless, Sugiura's compositions are fresh, Ofterdingen's performances are well-produced, and this is definitely an interesting album for J-rock and VGM collectors to hunt down!
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann