Welcome to another installment of Squidbeats, our series of features on the music made by Splatoon fans! This time around, we'll be listening to Splarrange!, an album by all Japanese artists released in December 2015. Japan, being the game's country of origin, has a considerably more intense Splatoon fandom than in other parts of the world, and this is only the first of several Japanese releases this series will cover.
Splarrange! is an example of “doujin” music, which is the term in Japanese that refers to independently published and distributed works, such as those sold at the famous bi-annual Comic Market (or “Comiket”). While the word “doujin” is typically associated with drawn fan art, especially comics, music is also covered by the term. Certain artists and groups within the scene, such as IOSYS, have gained some recognition outside the Comiket circuit, but most remain quite obscure. The artists covered in this feature are among that number, but this release demonstrates their competence, entertaining as it is from start to finish.
This release has a promising, albeit over-the-top, start with the track “IKA!IKA!EURO!” by nana, a Eurobeat remix of “Shiokara-bushi” (aka Calamari Inkantation). This song wastes hardly any time at all before jumping headlong into bubblegum synth rips and sampled shouts and yells. “Shiokara-bushi” feels like the perfect material for this style of song because its verses already somewhat echo a parapara sensibility. This is a fun and silly track true to the spirit of Eurobeat while capturing Splatoon's own musical signature.
The second track, Signal P's “Shiokara Festa” breaks out the gurgle filter in full force. However, this time, it's to provide a version of “High-Color Evolution” with Japanese lyrics instead of the usual Inkling. It is extremely satisfying to hear this song with lyrics containing semantic content, and it's enjoyable even if you know very little to no Japanese. Another thing which distinguishes this version from the original is that while the backing track feels somewhat brighter and playful, it also dips into some dubstep-esque wobble and even contains a saxophone solo!
Next up, Ych's “noukin gallon” opts for synthesized horns and a buzzy bassline for a unique take on “Splattack!”. The percussion hits hard and sits somewhere between rock and DnB while the horns and piano give the song a more lighthearted, carefree vibe. Dissimilar from the genre of electro swing, this is a sonic quality that is heard often in doujin music, but hardly anywhere else, likely due to both to technical restraints and the creative freedom of self-publication.
For the middle of the track, we have the smooth bossa nova track “Vacation at Mahi Mahi Resort”, performed by Yuzumana and Guuda. It is appropriate to characterize this track as the eye of the storm, the calm center around which swirls the chaos of this release's other offerings. Soothing and soulful, it's a welcome and unique take on the frantic, chaotic original "Kraken Up". In many ways, this track defines this album in comparison to the other fanmade offerings, which focus almost solely on house and trance.
“Fes Punch” by Polyphonix is the next track on this album, a delightful electro house spin on “Sucker Punch”. A cool feature of this track is how it manages to better capture the essence of the original by keeping in the full, rich piano riff in its buildups. What really sets it apart from its source material are its breakdowns, which create a club vibe out of a squishy, squelchy sound palette that actually still feels quite reminiscent of Splatoon's aural aesthetic.
Track 6, “Roller's Attack” by Tracy, is an energetic fusion of Eurobeat and hard trance. In this cover of “Ink Me Up”, the Squid Sisters' vocals are replaced with skippy staccato synth melodies that are more in line with the brisk pace. Meanwhile in the background, the harmony whirrs and winds up and down, helping to drive the song forward as well as create tension. Also audible are backing guitar chords that, alongside pounding bass drums, really give the song just enough hard edges to put it in headbanging territory.
Track 7, “Raver's Area”, also by nana, runs with the bright bubblegum excitement of the previous track, but instead sounds somewhat more like a happy hardcore take on “Friend List”. Like the original, there is an extensive use of chiptune, but, unlike the original, there are no guitars or vocals to speak of. Instead, they are supplanted with trancey, multi-layered synths and a bloopy leading melody, respectively. The moments before each chorus breakdown gives the song a chance to not only breathe, but also to soar optimistically through azure skies, eventually fulfilling its promise to bring us right back to rainbow laser rave territory.
Rounding out the album is a cover of “Shiokara-Bushi” credited to Ych. The electro house bassline to this song is exceptionally dirtier and more distorted than in the original, and there is definitely an untrained quality to the vocals that are nonetheless charming for that very reason. To hear the lyrics enunciated without the filter used for the Squid Sisters' voices is refreshing in some small way. It feels almost as if the singers are there in the room with you!
While it is a short album, Splarrange! still has a lot to offer Splatoon fans and music-lovers alike. Each track is competently made and offers its own distinct variation on the songs we've grown to love. The choice, for instance, to include a jazz cover instead of sticking just to various forms of electronic music as in the case of Splatunes, makes this collection of songs stand out from the other fan-made albums available. On the downside, while all the different covers of “Shiokara-bushi” sound great, it might have served better to cover a larger variety of songs. Still, this is an album worth checking out if you're looking for something to listen to when you're taking a break from splatting other squids.
You can stream the album demo from the embedded Youtube player down below:
You can find the album available for purchase here (Japanese text ahead):
Squidboards now has its own Discord server!
Welcome to SquidBoards, the largest forum dedicated to Splatoon! Over 15,000 Splatoon fans from around the world have come to discuss this fantastic game with over 150,000 posts!
You are currently viewing our boards as a visitor. Click here to sign up right now and start on your path in the Splatoon community!
As of June 3rd you will no longer be able to log in to Squidboards using your Smashboards account. Please take a look at the announcement for additional details
Squidbeats Album Review #2 - Splarrange!