01 - Intro...
02 - Just Some Adventures
03 - Interlude...
04 - We Want Candy
05 - Interlude...
06 - Get! Glory!
07 - Interlude...
08 - Fat Praise
09 - Interlude...
10 - TV Knows Everything
11 - Folklore
12 - Outro...
13 - The Couple's Happy End
Here is a completely obscure album that everyone needs some knowledge about. Allow me to provide you with such knowledge.
"Tengai Makyou (Far East of Eden) ~ The Apocalypse IV" is probably one of the most zany and humorous RPGs ever made. That said, it never has come and probably never will come to the United States. It was an RPG for the PlayStation, and it had a fairly awe-inspiring score from Toshiyuki Sasagawa. The plot, while I am not quite familiar with the game, had something to do with Japanese culture vs. consumer American culture. The result was this: all of the game's bosses that had gluttony issues, superiority complexes, addictions to TV, that sort of thing.
In all Tengai Makyou games up to this point, bosses had their own theme songs, even with lyrics (though early TM games didn't have them actually singing it). In Tengai Makyou IV, we are treated to vocal performances from the bosses themselves as they sing their hilarious theme songs.
And that is essentially what the Vocal Selection is. It also contains an opening and ending song sung by Tomo Sakurai (voice actor for the game's female protagonist), as well as 40 second interludes (including the intro and outro) featuring piano solo and some spoken words from Tomo Sakurai. Other than these tracks, the whole album is comprised of songs from the "bad guys."
But let's start with the opening and ending songs from Sakurai. I sampled the opening song, "Just Some Adventures", because it was the sort of fast-paced "adventure ballad" that reminds you squarely of the early Falcom vocals (hint: it's that 80s feel mixed with a bit of disco and lots of synth!). The chorus is also one inspirational bit of music. I love it! Also, at under five minutes, it is the perfect length for a fun and enjoyable opening track.
The ending song, on the other hand, is a whole eight minutes long, and is interspersed with lengthy instrumental sections. I chose not to sample this song because there are so many different musical themes and melodies, no one minute of the song would help to display how the song sounds as a whole. It's really a sort of medley piece, as far as melodies go. Halfway through, there's an incredible instrumental transition on the piano, and then it switches to a straight bossa nova style jazz piece, and the vocalist comes back in. If this song didn't stretch on for a near eternity, it would be phenomenal, but even patient listeners like myself have a limit.
Now to the fun stuff!
In the booklet, there are images for each of these enemies, and they give you an idea of how wild and silly each character is. For example, "Fat Praise" is sung by a giant pig-woman, and "TV Knows Everything" is sung by one of the end bosses: a television with legs! It's scary, trust me. "We Want Candy" is sung by a seductive woman, and "Get! Glory!" is sung by a giant robot man.
First up is "We Want Candy", and this is one of the best on the CD. Musically, it's fantastic: the "surf's up" style guitar sounds great with the lead vocalist, and the background vocals create an atmosphere that is difficult to describe, but perhaps can only be described for what we know it to be: zany Japanese humor. Despite its being a humorous song, it is still quite a treat musically. Be sure to listen to the sample.
"Get! Glory!" is the only male vocal on the album (unless the TV one is male, who knows?). The song is about having the biggest and best of everything, including big muscles, big houses, big cars, and being better than everyone else. The humor level is still there, but as for being a good song, I'm not inclined to say that this is an enjoyable song: there's hard rock guitar, power-rock organ, and horn parts scattered throughout the song. The vocalist really makes this song, however, with the typical "I'm suave and awesome" male vocals dominating over everything else.
"Fat Praise" is definitely my favorite song on the album. Musically, the song is a tango. It is mysterious, it has a beautiful solo violin accompanying the vocalist. The vocalist herself is expressive, dramatic, and loud: everything a pig-woman should be! If you hear the word "Debu" sung in the sample, know that that means "fat" in Japanese. The word is used to break up parts o the song, creating an odd two-measure refrain at the end of each verse and chorus. Halfway through the song there is an instrumental that is outstanding: the violin really does some neat stuff on this song. Humor and talented composition/arrangement merge to make the best song on this album: FAT PRAISE. This is the song that warrants the purchase of the album, I promise.
Nabbing the award for most eccentric song is "TV Knows Everything": why, you ask? For starters, the vocalist sounds ridiculous, like an annoying little TV-man should, and the effects put on the voice during the chorus are so irritating that you have to stop and say "wow, they really made this guy one annoying little boss, and I must destroy him!" Also, Shinji Miyazaki did an amazing job in arranging the music to be one of the most ridiculous background tracks for any vocal, ever. The synthesized percussion is also quite impressive, but not in the "beauty" sense, but rather in the technical "this takes an intelligent composer to put together" sense.
The humor is dropped (or, is only present in the lyrics I don't understand) for the final vocal track, "Folklore." We are treated to latin guitar, dramatic narration at the beginning and the end of the song, and an irregular measure pattern similar to Fat Praise. I really enjoy this song for its musical value: I just think it's a good performance, and it rounds out the album fairly nicely.
So let's see; ridiculous artwork, silly songs, great instrumental composition and arrangement: what's not to love about this album? Well, it is technically only seven real songs, and it comes to only 37 minutes. That's sort of a shame. Other than that, though, it's a lot better than the steaming pile of worthless Japanese vocal albums that don't deserve our attention as VGM lovers. It is a shame that this album has faded into obscurity forever, because it is certainly one of the best vocal albums I've ever had the pleasure of owning.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann