Posted 2007-04-15, evaluated by the judges panel

Newcomer Justus Johnston has obscurity cajones the size of small moons (that's no moon... it's a space station!!)... with this ReMix of Perfect Cherry Blossom, a Doujinshi shmup for PC that's also been translated to English, he pretty much earns them in one fell swoop. This title barely meets our own criteria for a submittable game; not just any old demo can be ReMixed, it has to be a game with a significant audience, sold for profit, etc. Justus sent us a veritable tome of information along with his submission, which made it considerably easier to track down what it was we were listening to a ReMix of:

"Perfect Cherry Blossom is the 7th game in the "Touhou" series, AKA Project Shrine Maiden. This series is, for the most part a series of vertical shmups set in Gensokyo, a sort of "far-East wonderland" inhabited by various magical creatures out of Japanese mythology. They are a very particular brand of shmups known as "danmaku", or "curtain fire", where instead of dodging relatively few quick bullets and enemies, you must weave through a tapestry consisting of an insane number of relatively slow bullets."

But wait, if you thought obscure game choice was the only unique thing about this track, you'd be dead wrong. Of the mix itself, he adds:

"I actually threw the notes together last night while taking a break from some paperwork. I impulsively decided to record it after work today (I work at a recording studio, so it wasn't that hard a decision) The arrangement calls for 4 violins. In this case, I just overdubbed myself 4 times, so all 4 are me. They were recorded with a Shure SM-81 mic'd from 2 feet above, off-axis, in our main isolation booth. Everything was recorded and edited in Pro Tools via a DIGI001 (using old-school AMR preamps)... As for the music of the arrangement itself, I'm quite pleased with it. It's been a long time since I've tried anything "classical", so it's kind of nice to discover that I can still do it after all these years. The harmonization is reminiscent of the neo-classical style, a la Prokofiev (or Koichi Sugiyama even, for that matter). Even though many of the actual chords used are the same as in the original, this arrangement manages to feel extremely different from the original.

So, you've got what sounds like a chamber piece of sorts, except the verb is heavy enough that it'd have to be more like a cathedral than a chamber. Perhaps Donald Trump's chamber? At just under two minutes, this is a brief piece, but it's wonderfully mature and conspicuous, sounding like the type of contemporary classical that gets employed in classier Hollywood and foreign period films. As a warning to the treble-sensitive among you, this goes into the upper registers of violin-dom, and with four of those suckers firing at the same time, you get some real altitude. This is the type of arrangement that essentially dictates the instrument(s) involved be played by professional musicians; I shudder to think what four amateur violinists would do to it, or for that matter how much would be lost if even the best of the best sample libraries were employed. In a word, it's beautiful, though... I know I overuse the adjective 'cinematic', but in talking about game scores it has few synonyms that convey similar meaning. This piece is cinematic, especially the section starting at 1'04" - striking, sublime, epic, and moving could all equally apply. This is fantastic, singular work and it's a damn shame many may pass it by due to the unfamiliar source material - I don't care if you have no intentions of ever playing the game or anything remotely like it, you owe it to your ears to check this piece out. Judges had concerns about the amount of substantive arrangement, but while the melody is pretty darn close, the supporting string parts are where JJ has clocked some time on expanding the original. While the piece is brief, it achieves a mood that is absolutely cohesive and emotive. The recording and performance are superb, and as a side note it was interesting to get so much context from the ReMixer, who clearly cared about the game and the series enough to take some time and explain what's up. Shariq said:

"This is nirvana. String work is gorgeous."

Amazing violin work indeed; the layering in particular is very well done - it never feels explicitly like one performer quadrupled over himself. I'd love to see Mr. Johnston lend his violin skills to some collabs - I can see major potential there - but as it stands this solo/ensemble approach is rather unique, and turned out well. Timely posting, too; DC's cherry blossom festival just concluded!



Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2010-04-30 15:35:25

Very well played, produced, and the arrangement was decent too. The harmonies were excellent, and the whole piece just worked so well. I don't think people need my recommendation to check out this mix, but i'm giving it anyways; it's really one-of-a-kind. Don't miss it.

on 2009-12-03 17:04:20

I think the length is perfect for a strings-only piece. You come in, do what you're going to do, and never overstay your welcome. The playing is beautiful, the arrangement is classy (though I haven't heard the original) and in general this is just a solid piece :-) I only have the capacity to listen to solo pieces like this in short bursts (though, in cases like this, I enjoy it immensely while I do) so this satisfied me perfectly :-)

Martin Penwald
on 2007-04-26 03:05:26

While it is true that this one is rather short, I think that it's actually okay that way. The violin skills displayed here are awesome; however, since the songs consists only of strings, making it longer would probably take away some of the magic, or, to put it bland, make it boring.

Anyway, I would really love to hear more violin-goodness from Justus in some collabs; then preferably for 4+ minutes plus a solo.

Also, cheezy 80-ish dance music? Bring it on.

on 2007-04-22 16:13:27

Hey Justus. This is some really great music you submitted here, I think it's probably my favourite I've found on this site so far. Very expressive with a great sense of musicality. We need more of these kind of pieces on this site. I'm looking forward to any other ReMixes you may do.

Arek the Absolute
on 2007-04-21 12:43:32
Just compose whatever you want, Justus. I'm sure we'll love it (if it gets through the judges, that is...)

wu oh

here comes the fanboys

once you get those, you know you are gettin famous

dont let it get to your head now

on 2007-04-21 08:03:24
Just compose whatever you want, Justus. I'm sure we'll love it (if it gets through the judges, that is...)

Yeah! I don't know what an MS-2000 is but it sounds cool...

I'll go look it up on wikipedia.

Found it, and I was right, it does look cool.

Oh, and Justus, you can configure your computer to notify you of Private Messages by going to control panel, clicking "Edit Options" and scrolling down to the Private Messaging section.

on 2007-04-20 20:24:55

Just compose whatever you want, Justus. I'm sure we'll love it (if it gets through the judges, that is...)

on 2007-04-20 18:00:20

Arcanum eh? You think? I dunno, I don't think there's really all that much in common other than the instrumentation. Actually, I thought Arcanum's soundtrack was kind of boring, to be honest.

As for piano...well, I suppose there's no particular reason I couldn't. Just the particular wild hair I had at the time happened to be layering myself on the violin, and then I submitted it on a whim. If I threw in a piano, I'd probably want to use no more than two violin parts. Hmm...but I kind of like it the way it is already, too! Besides, I could spend that time working on something new.

Only wish it didn't end so abruptly. This is one of the best pieces I've heard here with strings in it, and this one is entirely strings. Hope to hear more from you soon.

OCRemix: Now WITH strings attached.

Man...I just got an MS-2000, and I really really wanna make some cheesy dance music, but you guys twist my arm enough and I might have to do something else...cinematic.

on 2007-04-20 11:51:49

You could have submitted this as an Arcanum remix and I doubt anyone would be able to tell the difference. It does sound very reminiscient of Arcanum's main/title theme.

This one's very short but I like it very much. For some reason I feel that it needs more icowbell/i piano.

edit- by the way, if any of you out there like something like this, by all means check out Arcanum (one of the best RPGs ever made)'s soundtrack.

on 2007-04-19 01:16:05

Only wish it didn't end so abruptly. This is one of the best pieces I've heard here with strings in it, and this one is entirely strings. Hope to hear more from you soon.

on 2007-04-18 22:15:39

Good song selection to remix! I've always liked music from Perfect Cherry Blossom. However, I felt that though you did a good job in interpreting it, it's just.... too... short. Some piano would be a nice touch.

on 2007-04-18 16:23:32

For those curious, this is the kind of game Perfect Cherry Blossom is:

Madness? THIS. IS. TOUHOU! :D

Absolutely beautiful song, Justus. It's a bit slow and short, but it's very smooth, and the original shines through the arrangement you did to it. Also, you're an insanely talented violinist.

MOAR! :)

on 2007-04-18 01:13:24

I registered on these forums to request a string quartet mix. Four years later...

This was great. I'd love to hear more.

on 2007-04-17 20:32:54

Well, it's about time this got posted! Congrats Justus!

Now all we need to do is wait for to get their domain back and hope someone doesn't steal it from us...

Oh, and save a spot on that remix track for me!

...or not.

The Instrumental Light
on 2007-04-17 17:58:19

@The Lone Ranger: Yeah, I did those weird Lufia mixes forever and ever ago, back when I just used some cheap soundfonts (and vintage dreams, which is still awesome, and which I still use on an E-mu e6400), and didn't really understand what "hardcore" was outside of a few MP3s I had downloaded called "hardcore mix". I know better now. At least I had the good sense never to submit those travesties here.

lol, well anyway, congratulations on your latest song! hope to hear more from you.:wink:

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Touhou Youyoumu: Perfect Cherry Blossom (Team Shanghai Alice , 2003, WIN)
Music by Junya Ota
"Paradise ~ Deep Mountain"

Tags (3)

Time > Duration: Short

File Information

2,962,182 bytes


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