Sunday, 23 October 2011

New Vocaloid CDs: Vocalocluster and ハートフルシーケンス

The last of the CDs I've been waiting for finally came in the mail yesterday, so now that I've had a chance to listen to it, I decided to start writing about some of them.

Vocalocluster - compilation

First is the most recent addition: Vocalocluster. It's the latest in the line of compilation CDs that all start with "Vocalo-" and end with some arbitrary English word tacked on to make sure the whole thing makes no sense whatsoever (examples include -genesis, -nexus, -legend, -nation etc). I don't usually buy these general compilation CDs, but this one was an exception. If you've read my previous posts about Miku then you might be able to tell why from the cover art.

the reflected hand is not part of the CD design, believe it or not
It's the usual host of useless free stuff, but this time there was something (the big pad on the right side) that I'm not quite sure about. It has a foam backing, and it's too small to be a mousepad yet too big to be a coaster. It is a mystery.

The CD showcases pretty much every Vocaloid there is, starting out strong with a solid Miku rock song, a lighter song featuring a Luka who was tuned acceptably but no more, and then a catchy Gumi track from cosMo@暴走P. I've said before that I don't care much for this guy, but I do like this song. It's a pleasant change from his Miku work, which all sounds a bit similar to me. Next are a couple of songs by 黒うさP. Not someone I'm familiar with but the songs are well done and very easy to listen to, although they don't particularly stand out. Nem's song brings out some horns and is good apart from the use of Len (just a personal dislike for his voice, not anything to do with the tuning). Neru uses Rin for a rock song next, which turns out to be great. Rin's voice really excels for rock songs, and she doesn't disappoint here. Having said that, the next two songs use Miku to good effect as well, and I can see them growing on me significantly over time.

The second half continues with BadBye featuring a slightly distorted Miku, followed by the twins with possibly my favourite song on the album so far (despite my general dislike of Len). Track 12 is billed as featuring Luka, although it also seems to feature a chorus of others, though I'm not familiar enough with the male vocaloids to pick them out. Speaking of male vocaloids, the next song, by otetsu, features Gakupo. I'd hardly heard him before, but his voice has a very full sound with a good range. This holds for the next track, Arrest Rose, as well - this time featuring the male trio of Gakupo, Kaito and Len. Len has some high parts, but the other two have some nice lines in lower ranges. 夢現 shifts the tone from rock to a fairly light electro track, which stands well on its own but the transition is a little jarring. Meiko is up next, though her voice really is sounding dated. Kaito follows with a very oriental sounding track that doesn't really do it for me, and then the album finishes with a 9 minute trance track by HSP - I like the song, but it doesn't really fit with the rest of the album.

The short version: A good start, with some great rock songs carrying through the bulk of the album, showing off some good producers using a wide range of Vocaloids. The tuning is pretty good overall, and the music itself is solid too. The ending is a little bit weaker, but the album as a whole is a good listen, and one of the stronger compilation albums I've heard. I linked a few of the songs in the track list above, but all the tracks can be found on Nico Nico Douga.

Ok, going to try for less of a wall of text for the next one.

ハートフルシケンス (Heartful Sequence) - EasyPop

The first EasyPop song I heard was ハッピーシンセサイザ (Happy Synthesizer), and I absolutely loved it. This is EasyPop's only album to my knowledge, and it isn't all Vocaloid.

I was surprised when I heard ハッピーシンセサイザ on this album only to find that it wasn't the Gumi and Luka version, but rather sung by a couple of real people. My gut reaction was negative, but my opinion has improved after listening to it a bit, and now I quite like it. A remix of the original Vocaloid version is also on the disc. Most of the songs are sung by Luka, but there are songs by Miku and two human vocalists scattered throughout the track list, and Gumi does a duet with Luka on one of the later tracks.

There's not as much to say on this one because it keeps a pretty consistent tone throughout. As the artist's name suggests, the album is fairly light pop with a very relaxed tone (although the lyrics aren't all as easygoing). The sound stays pretty minimal throughout, with only a few instruments in most songs. Despite the similar tone, the tracks don't come across as too repetitive, although you can definitely tell they're all by the same artist. If you like one you'll probably like them all, and vice versa. Leading on from that, if you haven't heard any EasyPop then listen to this song.

All up, I think this is a great album. The cover art is appealing as well, I always like to see characters depicted differently from the standard anime style.

I still have a few new albums but I'm going to leave it here for this post.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


Today was a slow day. It was a slow week, in fact. It gets like this when there's only a few weeks left in the uni year and holidays are looming just over the horizon. I'm not really having to study too hard at the moment though, so I thought I'd take it easy and spend most of the weekend watching sport.

I couldn't find any pics of Saber in a suit that I liked, so this'll have to do

Well, most people probably wouldn't consider Starcraft a sport. I actually missed most of the first two days of MLG, but managed to catch a few today. None of the games I saw were particularly amazing, and I only saw a bit of Tastosis before getting stuck with Day9 and DJWheat. I doubt I'll wake up early enough to watch any more games tomorrow, so I'll probably just live with whatever highlights I read about afterwards. I'm watching less Starcraft than I used to. It's not that I'm sick of it, but games are played so often that I've become a little burned out on it, and now I only seem to watch the ending stages of the GSLs, and the odd bit of other tournaments.

I also watched a couple of games of rugby union, which is probably the only "normal" sport I care about. This is almost certainly due to my birth and upbringing in New Zealand, which has (pretty objectively) the best team in the world. Tonight's game was the second semi-final of the World Cup, with New Zealand playing Australia. New Zealand won convincingly and, within seconds of the game finishing, my parents called me to discuss the game and generally just be happy about the result. I don't mind at all, it's far better than in summer when they want to talk about the cricket, which is possibly the most boring sport in existence.

I still haven't watched all the first episodes of the shows I'm interested in at the moment, but Fate/Zero is making me want to reread Fate/Stay Night instead of working through these other shows. I haven't read a VN in a while now so I'm fine with that, but I probably shouldn't reread F/SN when there's plenty of titles that I still haven't read once. I've got Symphonic Rain, True Remembrance and Sekien no Inganock sitting on my hard drive waiting to go, so if you want to recommend me one of these (or any other VN) to read instead then I'd appreciate that.

I initially had some big post written up about completely different stuff, but decided I didn't like it and deleted it all. Such is life.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Exam done

It seems to have become the norm that I take a week or two's break from blogging or reading/commenting on other people's blogs pretty much every time I post, and I'm sorry. I did have a reason though: a massive exam today. I believe I mentioned it a while ago, basically it was all practical, with minimal preparation time, and it counted for a quarter of my entire year's mark.

Strangely, I wasn't feeling nervous when I woke up this morning to go and sit it. I get this thing where my mind feels clear and I really don't feel anxious at all, but my hands are shaking and my heart's beating really fast. Obviously I really am terrified, but my mind does a pretty good job of pretending otherwise. It suits me fine though, because although I probably look a wreck to anyone else, I can still speak clearly, which is definitely a plus for these sorts of exams.

The day really didn't get off to a good start - it was pouring with rain so I was soaked when I got to the venue, we were told to arrive at 10am but they were running late so I had to sit there nervously talking to the other people sitting it for about another hour, and then I only got half my allotted perusal time because of - I don't even really know, probably an accidental oversight due to everyone running behind time. The guy in charge of moving people from station to station did give me a Mentos though, which was nice.

It all went pretty quickly after that. Despite the huge amount of my mark it was worth, the exam was only five stations of 10 minutes each. Each station is pass/fail (0% or 5%), and I did great on two of them, decently on another two, and poorly on one - I had to talk to a patient for 6 minutes, come to a diagnosis, and present it. That should've been fine, but the patient was vague and I came up with something stupid. I'm allowed to fail one station and still pass overall though, so that's alright, and I'm cautiously optimistic that I'll pass.

Now I get to look forward to finals in a few weeks! Looks like I won't be taking it easy for a while. At least after that I'll get two months off.

Just so this post isn't entirely just me blogging about my life: what shows are you watching this season?  I haven't seen any myself yet, although I've got the first episodes of Fate/Zero and Persona 4 sitting on my hard disk waiting to be watched. I'm also planning to check out Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai and Mirai Nikki. There's a few others I may be interested in such as Chihayafuru, Guilty Crown and Un-Go, but I might wait to see how well they're received first. I also downloaded all the currently released episodes of Penguindrum. People seem to think it's a decent show, and the OP is sung by Yakushimaru Etsuko, so that makes it worth a watch if you ask me.

I still have a handful of Vocaloid albums I want to blog about, so I might try to get another post up in a few days. I've got a bit of a backlog of blogs to read, so I'm going to go get started on that.