Monday, March 27, 2006

Anime Toonz Volume 3: Kristine Sa Lemon

Anime Toonz Volume 3: Kristine Sa Lemon
Credits: 2005 Jellybean Recordings, Inc.

Anime Toonz Music
Kristine Sa Music
Kristine Sa Items
Track Listing:
  1. Minna no Kimochi (Every Heart) - Inuyasha
    Jinnai Full Vocal Remix
  2. The Real Folk Blues - Cowboy Bebop
    Jinnai Full Vocal Remix
  3. Urusei Yatsura no Teema - Urusei Yatsura
    Bit Shifter Full Vocal Mix
  4. Find The Way - Gundam Seed
    DJ Jinnai Full Vocal Remix
  5. Dearest - Inuyasha
    DJ Jinnai Full Vocal Remix
  6. Jajauma Sasenaide - Ranma 1/2
    YMCK Dub
  7. Find The Way - Gundam Seed
    Architekt 9 Full Vocal Remix
  8. Minna no Kimochi (Every Heart) - Inuyasha
    Gomi Dub
  9. Jajauma Sasenaide - Ranma 1/2
    DJ Jinnai Full Vocal Remix
  10. The Real Folk Blues - Cowboy Bebop
    Masi & Melo 12' Vocal Club Remix
  11. Minna no Kimochi (Every Heart) - Inuyasha
    John Creamer & Stephane K Dub
Thoroughly Enjoyable >>> by skysenshi co-written with Sean Sanchez
After a long long wait, fans of Kristine Sa can enjoy hearing her once more. She has released not one, but two Anime Toonz CDs. These contain remixes of some of the best and popular songs from well-loved anime like Inuyasha, Cowboy Bebop, Urusei Yatsura, Gundam Seed, and Ranma ½. When you peruse the album cover, you’ll see listings and short blurbs of some US and internationally renowned DJs, with DJ Jinnai leading the helm. Remixes are done by DJ Jinnai, Architekt 9, Bit Shifter, Gomi, John Creamer & Stephane K, Masi & Mello, and YMCK. Of course, a short bio of the beautiful and talented Kristine Sa is featured on the very first page.

We start off with the Anime Toonz 3 Lemon Edition. I call this the yellow CD, which can obviously be identified by the album cover’s color. I must admit, I have never been a fan of remixes. There’s something about original arrangements that make me want to preserve their sacredness, so I had to undergo a huge paradigm shift—even discussing the album with Sean, a friend who’s wild about remixes—weeks before (and after) the CDs arrived at my door.

It didn’t take much effort. As soon as I plopped the CD into the player, I was soothed by Kristine Sa’s soft crooning. Her husky, melodious voice has never failed to fill me with awe. There are actually a total of six songs and these are remixed in several ways by different DJs.

Kristine Sa’s rendition of Every Heart, which was originally sung by Boa Gwon for Inuyasha, is nothing short of amazing. I didn’t set my expectations so high because we all know that Boa Gwon is a superstar in at least three countries, but Ms. Sa managed to surprise me. Her light, feathery approach made these particular remixes easy to listen to. The DJ Jinnai Full Vocal Remix uses a combination of Norman Cook and Strip Down methods. There are vocal distortions, which are characteristic of the strip downs. The beat could’ve been improved further if the Propellerhead method is applied—just to make it livelier. The sound effects are also appropriate. The John Creamer & Stephane K Dub, on the other hand, make use of the Norman Cook method. The very strong beat that livens up the song is normally seen with dub types of music. You’ll notice the loops in the beginning of the chorus and this becomes predominant throughout the music. Speed is just right, although a Flanger type of sound effect can be added in certain sections of the remix. The play of instruments is perfectly combined and it ended with a cut or break.

Okay, The Real Folk Blues (of Cowboy Bebop) is quite difficult to sing as it is a mix of country, folk, blues, jazz and various western influences. That is perfectly understandable. This is where Sa falls a bit short on the vocals. She tends to switch to the nasal register when she hits the high notes. Her voice is fundamentally different from Mai Yamane, who originally performed The Real Folk Blues, so I believe Sa could’ve done better if she attacked the song in a style that was solely hers. The DJ Jinnai Full Vocal Remix uses the Norman Cook method, although the chorus did not have any loops. The song’s speed led to a brand new dance-y sound, while the scratch sound effect was aptly put into place. The remixer could’ve added more effects such as Reverb and Flanger to spice things up a little. As for the removal for of the orchestral part, Sean and I had varying reactions to it. Sean thinks it made this better than the original, while I actually preferred the original because of the orchestra.

The Real Folk Blues Masi & Mello 12” Vocal Club Mix combines the Propellerheads and Norman Cook methods. Sa’s pacing here is a lot slower, but it matches the speed of the music well enough. The timing of the special effects couldn’t have been better, because the female shrieks helped the song tell a rather surreal story. Random instrumental portions within the remix, which have been used to lengthen the piece, are normal characteristics for club mixes. The fading end is very ideal to this type of music.

Dearest, an Inuyasha ending theme, is my personal favorite among the collection. It had always been one of the songs I loved listening to, even when Ayumi Hamasaki was performing it. (For those who aren’t aware of it, I don’t particularly find Hamasaki’s voice appealing. Her high-pitched vocals usually remind me of nails scratching repeatedly on blackboards.) Kristine Sa did well. In fact, I think she sings it better than Ayumi Hamasaki. She made it completely her own, practicing modulation techniques that are not normally present in anime theme songs. This remix, however, has its ups and downs. Norman Cook was applied, although it could’ve been improved had Propellerhead been used as well. Again, Sean and I had different reactions to the a cappella ending; he thinks fading technique would’ve been more appropriate while I actually think it’s perfect as it is. This piece isn’t made for the dance floor, though.

Two other songs I enjoyed were Urusei Yatsura no Teema Bit Shifter Full Vocal Mix and the YMCK Dub of Jajauma ni Sasenaide. I have never seen an episode of Urusei Yatsura, but it was fun hearing Sa adjust her usually husky voice to sound cutesy while the accompaniments made me remember the Nintendo Family Computer days of 8-bit gaming music. Bit Shifter is known for his love of Nintendo so it didn’t come as a shock that he’d come up with GameBoy-inspired themes. Jajauma ni Sasenaide YMCK Dub had the same 8-bit videogame music appeal to it. It didn’t have vocals, but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip back to the 8-Bit Realm.

Overall, I find this CD completely entertaining. That’s already saying a lot, since I have mentioned that I am not fond of remixes. I do wish they could've featured more songs instead of remixing the same songs over and over. Still, it’s great to know that many DJs are becoming more creative in their approaches these days.

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