Posted 2021-07-13, evaluated by Liontamer
Traditional Japanese elements meet explicit Blade Runner influence for the landscape of this satisfying synthwave collab off of Ōkami: Sounds of Sunrise, by some talented fellas:
Ringleader Roy Batty.... err, Jorito (Jorrith Schaap) writes:
"Howdy! Here's a track I did for the Pixel Mixers Okami album, one of the very few I did in 2020. I'm not super familiar with Okami, but the music always resonated with me because it's very melodic. So when I sat down to browse the open tracks on the album, I stumbled upon "Cherry Blossom Shower" and felt it could use the synthwave treatment. I started out with some Blade Runner-esque basses, just by messing with some arpeggios, the LinnDrums made their appearance, and suddenly I had a decent backdrop going.
I still wanted to keep some of the original ethnic flair in the track, so I opted for an (intentionally) artificial-sounding koto, by layering some real koto samples with a synthesized version. The koto reminded me of the typical 80s rompler shakuhachi samples that made their entrance in a decent amount of 90s songs, so I thought "Shakuhachi, sure, why not?" and wrote a few parts for it. I wasn't quite satisfied with how it sounded with my samples, so I reached out to Gregory, knowing that he has a shakuhachi and was learning how to play it. After a few back and forths, and me transposing the track into a key that is actually playable on the instrument, he recorded the parts. I layered it with a synth flute to make it sound not too realistic and blended it in with a sense of uncanny valley-ness.
From the get-go, I already knew I wanted to include electronic guitar in it. I wrote down some parts, showed it to Juan and asked him if he'd be interested to replace my MIDI noodling with some of his kick-ass guitar playing, and fortunately he agreed. He also wrote a tasty, 80s Whitesnake-inspired guitar solo to bring the track to the next level.
And there you have it, an ethnic-synthwave hybrid track with synths, taiko, shakuhachi, and electric guitar. Something that on paper probably shouldn't quite work but I'm rather pleased with how it came out. Itadakimasu!"
Of course, Blade Runner itself had some Japanese influence/aesthetics (and even some musical cues, like the giant kabuki Coke advertisement), so it's not THAT far-fetched ;) Beyond just a sonic similarity, the actual bassline here is very similar to the running pattern Vangelis made famous, so to folks familiar with that (iconic) soundtrack, this is definitely going to resonate as a dual-homage. Liontamer evaluated:
"Nice work, Jorrith, and great source theme choice! As alluded to in Jorito's comments, the layout of the track is more like a sandwich where the meat of the middle is original soloing and improv while the beginning and ending minutes mostly invoke the source melody. I felt the percussion work could have been more energetic and less dry to start once the piece picked up the build at :24, but the percussion at least sat better in the overall texture once the melody arrived at :47 followed by the guitar at 1:02. Jorrith's easily the community's most prolific and accomplished collaborator, so he really pulled off a nice synnergy between his sequenced parts and the live performances of Greg and Juan, two musicians who add strength, credibility, and polish to anything they're involved in. I always love to see Okami represented in these parts, and definitely encourage everyone to check out Ōkami: Sounds of Sunrise from Pixel Mixers! :-)"
It's fun, it's relatively light, and the Real, Actual Guitar from Juan and brief (but, indeed, rad) shakuhachi licks from Greg do heighten the piece & provide points of interest. Jorrith's taken the strong, Japanese melodic content from the source and synthwaved it up, maintaining enough instrumentation links to still invoke the traditional folk vibe while at the same time joining Deckard as he soars across a dystopian Los Angeles cityscape. Great stuff!
Sources Arranged (1 Song)
- Primary Game:
Okami (Capcom, 2006, PS2)
Music by Akari Kaida, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, JUN, Masami Ueda, Rei Kondoh
- "Cherry Blossom Shower"
- Electric Guitar, Electronic, Shakuhachi, Synth
- Origin > Collaboration
Production > Live Instruments
Regional > Japanese
- 8,704,984 bytes
- Size: 8,704,984 bytes
- MD5 Checksum: f81bc28456cd3ee3ac1daf8ae2c551a3
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