Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Foreground Eclipse: a look through their releases

I'm sure those who have been closely following this circle for a while have heard of their announcement to disband way back in August last year (!). With their last album released last Comiket, we haven't heard any final farewell announcement from their website - but through their subsequent announcements it seems the decision was final.

ADDENDUM: It is final.


With their latest album released, let's take a brief walk through their previous releases shall we?

Missing, Loving... and Suffering EP

With their first EP, Foreground Eclipse set a template that is to be followed with their subsequent releases: a filler instrumental introduction track, followed with a track preceded by screaming vocal, the addition of original composition tracks near the end of the album and topped off with a humorous-if-not-nonsensical short track. It's a simple formula that appears to work, I'd say.

Admittedly this release generate a rather lukewarm response when I first gave it a listening (this was after I have listened to their third and second release): I was more used to their scream and angst ridden songs that I didn't immediately clicked with the more mellow song (see Love Poem [恋詠] and their two original songs for way of example). The other two heavy songs also weren't really up to their standard - though given that this is their first EP release, I'd say that is to be expected.

Surprisingly, after much more listening it's really those mellow tracks which are my favourite off this album. It really shows that they are actually much more melodic than much people might have acknowledge them.

Notable tracks: Love Poem, Throve Keys, White Wind 

Outtake track:  short cute vocal mixed with heavy guitar riffing and drumming

Wishes Hidden In The Foreground Noises

Surprisingly, the following track to the introduction track features no screaming vocal. One would be tempted to think track 3 would make a better choice given the arrangement of songs in other releases...

This is personally my favourite release off them, despite (or maybe because?) of the lack of heavier songs. The intro would be the last for them to feature guitar instrumental, interestingly enough. Vermillion Halo is what I would consider a rock guitarist play-along friendly song - though I don't see as much people picking up this song despite its accessibility. An overlooked song to rock out indeed - guitarist out there, take note!

The Hina arrangement feature a kick-ass breakdown - probable their heaviest piece in the album - and a surprising Alice In Wonderland arrangement is just... surprising (with clean vocal inter-spaced with clean and heavy guitar tone). My favourite track,  In A Night When Her Sorrow Resounds Around, prove to be a love-it-or-hate-it song among others, as they weave a melodic arrangement (complete with piano!) with heavier moments and screaming vocal: it really is a piece that prove how melodic they actually are... or for some, they might take it as a mess.

Forget Me Not is a nice melodic original piece, and THE DISTANT JOURNEY TO YOU is perhaps one of their track that saw a generous response among guitarist (although not as much as the next release would do...)

Notable tracks: I'm The Seeker (Maybe Each Your Word Calls For It), In A Night When Her Sorrow Resounds Around, Forget Me Not 

Outtake track: Muk~yuuuuu 

Tears Will Become Melodies Tonight

As mentioned in the last few paragraphs, this is the album in which they remove the guitar instrumental and have started to add their electronica influence in their introduction track. They really manage to create a good buildup on this one (as well as subsequent releases).

I know a lot of people might feel that this is their definite release: after all, two of the tracks - 
Flames Within These Black Feathers; and Calm Eyes Fixed On Me, Screaming - are a big hit among guitarist (have a go and search the covers for these two on Youtube or Niconico), and it's not hard to see why: both are equally heavy with catchy riffs and breakdown. Flames Within These Black Feathers was among the few of their songs which I have tried to play on the guitar - great fun.

This album somewhat showcase their more humorous side, in my opinion: Angels, Monsters, The Secret Lyrics (very much like Truths, Ironies, The Secret Lyrics off their last release) saw them penning out humorous lyrics such as:

But I say fuck you to all those listening to this song
on youtube or nicovideo (oh that's me!)
Except for who lives overseas 
and is not able to buy Doujin CDs

and  Perchance To Dream: Aye, There's The Rub (what does that even mean, I keep wondering) have that one memorable lyric:

Sleep is for the fucking dead! 

Teto is a pretty funny guy, yeah?

Interestly enough we don't see any original composition this time around. The non-screaming-vocal off Iris (penned by Merami, it seems) was a nice surprise, something that won't he seeing in their subsequent Touhou arrangement in further releases.

Notable tracks: Flames Within These Black Feathers, Perchance To Dream: Aye, There's The Rub, Calm Eyes Fixed On Me, Screaming 

Outtake track:  Chen-guru beru, Chen-guru beru, nyannyannyan, nyannyannnnn 

Each And Every Word Leaves Me Here Alone

Between this release and the last, their guitarist/bassist Suzuori have decided to part ways with the circle. This movement is perhaps best reflected in their decidedly heavier and less melodic approach to their song: all of their Touhou arrangement from start to finish doesn't really give you any room to sit down and relax. Those songs are really the moshing and headbanging material, and I can't help but imagine that an imaginary bind has been released for them... either that, or the aggression is something of a release.

Whatever the case is, the tracks could really get you stomping around. This record is really what I would feel a definitive moment for this circle: if you've stayed around with them for a while, you'll probably gonna love what they do. And if you're still uneasy about their intermingling of melodic and heavy sound... you might want to jog on.

I like the first four tracks, they are so headbanging friendly (and would be fun to play on the guitar). The proceeding two tracks was rather so-so for me, but the Higurashi arrangement which follows is pretty good. Their original composition is pretty okay, although I've really started to appreciate Suzuori melodic approach to these kind of songs in previous works are greatly missed.

Notable tracks: Obstruction! Color It All Out,  I Bet You'll Forget That Even If You Noticed That, Noble

Outtake track: A somewhat cohesive song, with a killer bass riff.

Seated With Liquor

A collaboration album between Foreground Eclipse and Draw The Emotional. Both get three of their tracks in here, with one of FE's song - Escapes - covered by the lad from DTE (and in turn, Merami does the vocal for DTE's We Cannot Get Out Of Here Forever)

Unfortunately I can only say that I haven't given the latter of the two much listening outside of this album, so there hasn't been much that I could say on this album in general...however, since this post warrant a look at FE, let's just go with their work off the album: two original composition and an arrange of Lost Place. The guitar solo on When Innocence Is Just A Mask is pretty great, and it made me realize how they don't really do much guitar solos in their work. 

Also, apparently they did some arrangement for the True Adminstrator arrange as well, which is cool.

Stories That Last Through The Sleepless Nights

As with following their last release, 'melodic' is not how I would describe this release. Their electronica influence is notably stronger on this one too: check out the humorously titled  (I Don't Need Any Titles To This Song!) as way of example.

They have decided to include two release off their earlier work:  Wandering, Never Wondering (There Exists A Shade) saw them giving a much more dynamic arrangement to the song - as well as swapping out the original Engrish lyrics: It is definitely a great improvement. The same is done to the humorous Truths, Ironies, The Secret Lyrics, although I somewhat wonder their decision to re-release this track again, as it was fine the way it is. Perhaps they feel it'd make a great inclusion in their last album?

Their original composition is somewhat more melodic than the ones off Each And Every Word Leaves Me Here Alone, quite a surprise.

Anyone else felt the album title is rather fitting?

Notable tracks: Wandering, Never Wondering (There Exists A Shade), Truths, Ironies, The Secret Lyrics, (I Don't Need Any Titles To This Song!)

Outtake track: A seemingly nonsensical start - what sound like a Christmas song at one point, but later turning out to be a Suwako influenced track - followed with some heaving playing: complete with Teto breaking in, coughing at mid-scream... and a guitar solo! 

It is as if they're ending the album on a high note with the outtake track.

Misc: songs not featured in their albums

Off the album 東方夏空翔 [C78]

Off the album Panoram a Note [C78]

It has been a thrilling ride with them, and I'm curious to see which direction the remaining members would pursue. I hope there are plans to release works in the same veins as what they have been doing - I somewhat can't find other circles to excel at this kind of style as they do.

I'm sure a lot of bedroom guitarist - with an affinity for Touhou music - might remember these guys for providing accessible-and-rocking songs which they are able to rock their six strings with (I know I am one). And for that, I'd like to say: thank you for bestowing upon songs for us fledgling guitarist to rock out to.

Good luck in any future endavour, and godspeed.

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