ReMix: Katamari Damacy "Prelude, Fugue, and Groove"

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Katamari Damacy

This is our FIRST Katamari Damacy ReMix?? How is that even possible? I know, right?!

Regardless of the bizarre & perplexing circumstances that allowed us to go this long without one, the illustrious Gamer Symphony Orchestra are here to set things right. This is actually a combination of two recordings from their concerts, one of which (Spring 2009) Larry & I had the pleasure of attending in person. It was truly inspiring to see a new generation of student musicians honoring VGM in such a coordinated, formal, and impressive setting - it's the type of thing that would have seemed like a pipe dream back when I was a freshman in 199X, and it was a poignant, positive experience to see just how much things have changed. The GSO will even be performing at the Smithsonian's The Art of Video Games exhibit in DC on April 29th @ 3PM, so mad props to them for continuing to break new ground!

But we did mention some Katamari Damacy, did we not? Previously this arrangement was too long to post without butchering the sound quality, but our recent sanity check & standards revision have untied our hands a bit in that regard. This orchestral arrangement prominently features choir vocals, which definitely helps retain the zany vibe of the original material. GSO PR Director Ting Liu sets the stage:

"Using a magic ball called a "katamari," the player must roll up various objects in order to recreate the stars, which have been destroyed accidentally by the King of All Cosmos during a night of drunken debauchery."

If you've somehow never played the game, that's about right... so you probably should ;) GSO president Rob Garner explains the origins of this particular ReMix/recording:

"We've used the prelude from spring 2009. Fugue and groove come from Spring 2010. In the "Groove," the soloists are Jeff Nickerson and Sasha Petersen."

Good stuff; when patching together recordings like this, which were a year apart, the primary concern is going to be mismatched acoustics & levels, but honestly, this sounds pretty consistent to me, so things worked out. While anyone expecting fidelity of performance or recording quality to match the Warsaw Philharmonic or ASMF needs a reality check, this is still some great stuff, and what really makes the GSO special is the collective, combined energy & enthusiasm of ALL the performers, and their love of VGM, which I think comes through in the recording. For lack of a more erudite, sophisticated adjective... it's just really COOL. Arranger extraordinaire Greg Cox writes:

"Katamari Damacy boasts some of the catchiest and most diverse music of any video game, to say nothing of its quirky premise and art design. Despite its overall silly atmosphere, the game maintains a sense of sincerity and artistry throughout. This suite, consisting of a Prelude, Fugue, and "Groove," intends to capture both of these aspects of Katamari's personality.

I. Prelude: In the tradition of Baroque suites, the opening movement begins slowly before jumping into a more active second section. Here, an eerie, celestial introduction (drawn from "Lovely Angel") gives way to a buoyant march ("Katamari March Damacy").

II. Fugue: A fugue for the King of All Cosmos, grandiose and bumbling. Although "Fugue #7777" from Yu Miyake's original soundtrack did have aspects of imitative counterpoint, it did not actually employ the techniques of Baroque fugue writing. With that in mind, I took the liberty of writing a true fugue based on the subject (the first measure) of the original "Fugue #7777."

III. Groove: A rendition of the game's main theme, with the boundless energy of a rolling katamari."

Greg's good people, and he knows his stuff - great to get the background on his thoughts/approach in arranging this rather epic Katamari opus. I'm personally proud to be posting yet another GSO arrangement, and glad to see that they're doing awesome & continuing to realize their vision. Mixes like this offer something different on OCR, a peek into an ongoing experience that's part of a larger culture shift in attitudes towards VGM, and more specifically its relationship with formal/classical musical traditions. If you're local to the DC area or can make it into town this April 29th, be sure to catch them live!


Discussion: Latest 8 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2013-05-05 16:31:33

The music is good. Would be nice to have a cleaner recording of it.

on 2013-05-01 09:33:29

I have to say that I agree that this sounds like a two song set, but since both the first and second half sound amazing, I see no problem here. I enjoyed the second half much more though. It really goes to another level after 5:40, but the entire ensemble was impressive. Loved the female vocalist's voice and I can really roll down the road to this one.

on 2012-07-04 18:01:36

I got to see the GSO perform this at the Smithsonian American Art Museum about two months back - this is a nice medley, although the playing is not perfect in this recording. It's enjoyable to listen to for something different IMO.

on 2012-02-28 13:38:00

This song.... it's two songs.

You could easily break it up at the 5:40ish mark where the sound drops off. Nobody would know the difference.

Otherwise, this is a great mix.

Skyline Drop
on 2012-02-28 12:09:49

I'm really glad to see this arrangement getting posted. I was a member of GSO in 2010 when the second and third parts for this particular version were recorded. I had a blast being a part of this, and it makes me wish I had more time so I could go back and be a part of more :-(

Brandon Strader
on 2012-02-28 08:35:44

I disagree, I think the difference in volume between the two sections is extremely jarring. The first older recording is so quiet I had to crank the volume up to max, yet it has some explosively loud cymbal work in it. The second part is still quiet but is at a more reasonable volume. Apart from that it's a great song and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Cool performance, nice choir vocals. Some of the levels -- like on the aforementioned cymbals -- were just way too harsh whereas everything else was too quiet.

on 2012-02-28 00:49:51

This track is absolutley awesome. I'm really impressed and happy that such a large group of talented musicians have devoted time to playing video game compositions. Pure awesomeness aside, the arrangement of the track was very well thought out, and the fugue section sounded super, super tight in my opinion. Glad to see large ensemble recordings on OC!

on 2012-02-27 22:19:27

What did you think? Post your opinion of this ReMix.