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Monday, April 03, 2006
A series of RPG battles

This is a video by Japanese band YMCK , who, if I had to put on my music-critic hat, I would describe as being like Cibo Matto as produced by Koji Kondo. They seem to play hacked soundchips from 8-bit systems accompanied by jazzy girl-group vocals. I really like the show description here:
The coolest part of the show was that they brought on stage guests from each of the previous bands for a series of "battles", displayed on screen as old RPG fights (ever happy, no one's HP ever went down! :)).Blasterhead, Aprils' Imai-kun and Ram Rider in turn added their touch to a YMCK song. In the case of Aprils, we got a YMCK version of "Twinkle Stars, Little Stars, Shining Stars" (Aprils song co-produced by YMCK), which was really great!

It works way better than it has any right to, coming off much more like a continuation of an abandoned musical tradition than a retro joke. The fact that they produce tracks for other acts is certainly encouraging; you can find a sample of said song on this page, and you might want to check out "pan-da" while you're there, it's great. (That band, the Aprils, have apparently recorded with one of the folks from Plus-Tech Squeeze Box, who are also really awesome.) They do a nice job of taking the cheery harshness of 8-bit sounds and using that to offset the softness and slight melancholy in their songwriting to produce something that's somehow even brighter and shinier--instead of sounding kind of backgroundy like that kind of music can, these new distinctive elements give it a kind of energy it wouldn't normally have. They're remarkably good, and they have an album out called Family Music, which you can listen to samples from here.

ADDENDUM: Speaking of Nintendo...