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Enigma Decoded: A Katawa Shoujo Remix EP
So, I found these tracks hiding in the depths of my hard drive around about the time the game had it’s one year anniversary, and so I figured I should gather them up, give a quick once over before release, and put them out the world. I was going to hold off even longer as the text file in the download would note, but I’ve realized I have so many instrumentals in my back-catalog that I can put out an EP like this a month.
I think I might.
I do tend to write so much stuff that unless I make a point to render it out of Reason and stick in a playlist for future release, I will forget that I had it done. One such example is my latest little freebie EP release, Trillicon Chip:
Basically, I’d written a bunch Chiptunes meets Trap with Dubstep wobble back in 2010 while taking the ferry over to Victoria to visit Nursehella while she was finishing her university degree. Since it was never really intended as anything other instrumental music, I probably banked the five tracks I’d hashed out, figuring I’d eventually get back to them as part of a bigger electronic release. However, it’s hit me that for a lot of what I’m writing, it makes no sense to hang on to it while I write more material, and so when I find something like these tracks in my archives, I don’t see the point in hanging on to them any more. Might as well put them out for the world to enjoy.
In fact, I think I want to stick to regular EPs in future, at least for my instrumental stuff. Check back in regularly through out the year, because this is just the tip of the stuff that I’ve been holding back.
For starters, the first paragraph undermines the author’s whole premise as he concedes out of the gate that American invented rave culture, just that the US didn’t nurture it the way the rest of the world did. Taken at face value this is already a pretty screwed up statement in many ways. Yes, we had a number of seminal electronic artists spring from our cities (it wasn’t called Detroit Techno and Chicago House to be cute, it’s where the genres started.) Yes, outside of occasional flirtation with mainstream breakthroughs such the mid-90s hype around the Prodigy, the Chemical Brothers and the Crystal Method (oh, who were from Las Vegas, Nevada, and whose music seemed to be in every other film and video game for much of the late 90s, even in the US,) the US has tended toward a more underground position for electronic music and rave culture as a whole until really the past two years. Though, to be fair, a lot of other one and two hit wonders existed on the electronic music front like LaBouche, Technotronic and all the Miami Bass acts too through out the 90s, so it wasn’t a real anomaly, and it was all over ads and movies. However, there was a lot of give and take been the US and Europe, and you belittle the fact that folks like Juan Atkins loved acts Kraftwerk. Electronic music in general has been a global development, the US included, and the article does an awful job of capturing that. Beyond that, this doesn’t mean that just because a generation of Americans (that was largely born after the mentions acts had their moment of US radio play) is now getting to EDM (and yes, EDM – Salsa, Soca, Polka and many other genres are dance music, but they aren’t electronic, now are they?) that you get to basically insult a scene that as the author admits, created much of the basis the world now enjoys.
Essentially, to try say that previously the US was all “‘Euro-fag’-hating teenagers” before Skrillex is the most willfully dense nonsense I’ve heard since 20/20 screamed “Stop The Raves” about the US rave scene nearly two decades before this article was written (which should say something about the roots and scale of the US rave scene itself. It made TV news magazines regularly, and beyond that ecstasy and it’s ephedra-laden knock off cousin herbal ecstasy were part of panicked news reports too.) Every major city in the US could boast an active electronic music scene since the mid-90s at the very latest. Those nascent scenes were anything but small as massive multi-thousand person events existed from coast to coast from the mid-90s onward, and they weren’t just filled with import talent, as countless new US acts made their name in those scenes. Pendulum snagged their drummer, KJ Sawka, from Seattle. I recall reading articles in Mixmag UK (which by the way, was in almost bookstore magazine section in any major US city starting in the mid-90s, I bought it on the regular and made collages with the photos for art class) that lauded the Crystal Method for helping to make Big Beat a commercial genre in Europe. All the teens and twenty somethings who I chatted with on local area rave email lists and online bulletin boards back in the 1990s would probably be pretty miffed at the accusation that we didn’t care about rave culture and electronic music the way Europe did. In fact, I DJ’ed many of high school’s dances during the late 90s and early 00s, and even then, as much as they wanted to hear Britney Spears, they didn’t bat an eyelash at Daft Punk, The Prodigy, even Aphrodite and Cornelius. The one dance I went to at another school during high school, they’d literally hired a bunch of trance and breakbeat DJs. That was maybe a bit much at the time, but a lot of people loved it.
I mean, I could keep going on what all this guy gets wrong (how lots of old line electronic dance acts from the UK use live drums and instruments being a huge one, and how there are plenty of straight edge dance music acts being another,) but let’s end on the two tritest points in the article: the elitist little jab about UK politicians using Underworld in campaigns, and the last minute save by trying to bring kinship with your fellow man into it. On first point, it’s sign of just how stogy electronic music had perhaps become in Europe when political campaigns use it. It’s so mainstream and palatable that you can use it to back your brand. If that’s not a negative, then lets remember that Bank of America was using Aphex Twin’s “Boy/Girl Song” to flog loans in the US back 1998, and even Gap stores in every shopping mall in America included Air’s Moon Safari in the playlist, so again, we’ve had a similar acceptance of the music from a “using it to sell your brand/self”-thing. It’s a non-point. Meanwhile, if he really wants some kinship, don’t be a rude skeptic right as electronic music finally finds a wide embrace in the US roughly 2 decades after the Summer of Love in UK. Let the scene grow naturally, and embrace that fact global electronic music culture is finally mainstream in a global sense too, at least in most developed countries now.
TL;DR: I will not get off your front lawn. It was never yours only to begin with, and you need glasses so you can see all the variety and beauty that’s always been in front of you.
That was a nice vent.
So, after over decade of existence and a change of ownership and name, Anime Kingdom/Anime Raku, the anime store that was critical not only to my development as an anime fan, but as a human being as I made a lot of life long friends there, went out of business in October 2012. I only found out this past weekend when I was running some errands while visiting the US. I was pretty shocked by it.
Truthfully, it was probably a pretty inevitable thing. Niche retail doesn’t survive gentrification, and hobby-oriented shops are niche pretty much no matter the hobby is. It doesn’t help that anime and manga as a physical retail medium as opposed to streamed and downloaded content has essentially been the end game for that market even while the physical market boomed from 2000-2007, but given all of the stores selling figurines and plushies up here in Canada, I have to think it wasn’t just the content being sold that was the problem. A lot of the pieces of downtown Bellevue have changed radically over the past decade or so, and the financial crisis and the dot com bust were always ever only going to be speed bumps in Bellevue’s eventual growth from bedroom suburb to high-rise condos and such. The buildings that sat half-finished during the years where I made it downtown every Friday to pick up a stack of new manga and DVDs, and to hang out with the friends that probably kept me from being a hapless shut-in were all finished years ago. Therefore, it only makes sense that some of the last 1-2 and story retail spots in that area would eventually succumb to the bulldozer. That’s not to say the building itself has been flattened yet, but apparently it will be.
It also wasn’t all great memories in the long term either. Friendships that seemed at the time to be immutable were felled so rapidly it hardly seemed possible. People grew up, got married and simply disappeared from the social circle not out of malice, but maturity. Even I’m part of that – I hadn’t bought anything from the store in years, not because I wasn’t a fan, but because I couldn’t reasonably be spending big money on school and anime at the same time. My purchases have narrowed into very specific releases, and are pre-ordered from Amazon. I’m sure other folks from those days have made the same kinds of trade offs.
Still, I’ll always reflect fondly on those days. They provided a lot of fodder for my blog posts, and while some of them are coated in the most embarrassing fanboyism (not that this post isn’t, and not that I won’t probably regret this meta-aside a decade from now looking back,) I will always cherish the memories themselves. Yeah, it’s bland and banal as all get out to fondly remember taking the bus down from Bellevue Community College, walking in the winter cold down the alleyways, and going in the back entrance to Anime Kingdom to see a group of good friends talking about the latest episodes of the newest shows. It’s plebian to cherish walking out that back entrance across the alley to the Starbucks attached to the Barnes and Noble (whose manga selection sucked back then, and who didn’t have 10% pre-order discount,) and buying a venti peppermint mocha and a slice of lemon pound cake or a chocolate croissant with your friends, then walking back to that store and talking geek stuff until the store closed at 7. I know many other people’s early 20′s are way more exciting than mine. However, they were mine, and I will always look on them fondly.
Rather, I loved that chapter of my nerd life, and there can no be question that it is closed.
Someone dug up a remix I’d even forgotten about making, and a cut nice slideshow to the song. It’s a remix of a song from the Katawa Shoujo OST, and I have to say, it got me thinking that if I do Trap/Moomba/EDM concept EP after I finish the other projects on my plate, I should probably wrap my long standing idea of a Katawa Shoujo Remix/Concept EP into it.
I don’t think I want to do more than an EP’s worth of original material at the moment anyway. Yeah, I have tons of tracks in the back catalog that might be wrapped into a different release, but I think those should be held on to for later for now. I mean, I could easily drop a two or three LP-length beat tapes tomorrow if I wanted to, plus an electronic album. The songs just need titles. However, I figure I should be responsible though first, and see if I can get MCs/vocalists on them first (or maybe even take a crack at vocals myself,) so doing a focused concept EP of fresh material seem like the best next step once I get other projects put to bed. I also think I should try to work more conceptually, at least sometimes.