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Japanator review: 8bit Prophet

10:50 PM on 05.30.2009

The made up singing-idol-in-a-box known as Hatsune Miku has long been a subject of great interest around these parts, not to mention just about all of Japan. Her influence has spread across all genres, even spawning several new versions and like-minded characters.

TM Network began its life in the early '80s, making synth-pop and upbeat rock songs. After taking a bit of a break in the '90s, they managed to get back together just before the turn of the century.

Chiptunes, those delightfully nostalgic songs made from the sound systems embedded in retro gaming devices, have always been popular, at least among a certain crowd.

Now, all three of these great tastes are smooshed together into one awesome collection from VORC Records. Titled 8bit Prophet: TM Network Tribute - Generated by Chiptuine & Vocaloid, the album consists of eleven songs from a wide range of chiptune producers, wrapped into one incredibly beautiful package (illustrated by TOKIYA.) Follow me across the jump for a full review and sound clips!

First off, you certainly don't need to be at all familiar with the original TM Network material, though you'll undoubtedly get an additional layer of enjoyment out of it if you are. The songs stand strong all on their own. As does the album as a whole.

It all starts off on a surprisingly soft note with K->'s mix of "Electric Prophet." Like many of the tracks, it's all 8bit, but this one is instrumental. From the starting Gameboy power-on chime, the sentimental tune is like a gentle three-tone sunrise over a rolling 8bit ocean. It's the perfect lead-in to the next track, "Rainbow Rainbow." This one features Miku on vocals, along with a few friends singing backup. It's a wickedly catchy song (as are most of the songs on the album, naturally). Again, K-> doesn't fool around with any flashy tricks or sounds. It's all strictly 8bit waves with noise channel "drums" and a very limited number of layers. Exactly what fans of the real chiptune classics will love. The opening K-> trifecta is wrapped up on "Be Together." It's a bit of a step away from the traditional 8bit sounds, being more of a straight-up pop song, albeit a decidedly blippy one.

Miku's vocals really shine on the Tanikugu remix of "Telephone Line." Her wide range is put through the test on the gentle, breezy track. "Kiss You" will put you in the fighting spirit with its funky bassline and jaunty beat. Kyonomori's mix of "Time Passed Me By" features a chorus of Mikus singing in harmony over the song's dreamy melody. "Come On Everybody" is another stomping instrumental from K->, evoking visions of space Marines blasting hordes of rabid aliens. K->'s final mix of "Self Control" is probably the album's stand-out track. Its peppy tempo and rapid-fire Miku vocals are intense while at the same time retaining the album's overall mellow feel.

Another track the really breaks the mold is the final song from Saitone, "Get Wild." This one is much more modern in feel, with cut-up, non 8bit beats and actual human vocals from AsianDynasty. It stands in rather stark contrast to the rest of the much more traditionally 8bit tunes, but it's also a nice pallet cleanser.

Fans of both the classic 8bit sound, as well as those of the more modern trends from Hatsune Miku will both find a lot to love on 8bit Prophet. You can get the full MP3 album on June 3rd, as well as three advance dual single releases, all from can also get the CD package (reminder, beautiful!) from VORC Records. Do it!

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