Welcome to THE RETRO-ACTIVE EXPERIENCE! 29 tracks of genre-defining music. Keiji Yamagishi is a Famicom-era pioneer & composer of beloved gaming franchises like Ninja Gaiden, Tecmo Bowl, Captain Tsubasa & Gitaroo Man.
Manami Matsumae, in collaboration with Tokyo-based music label Brave Wave Productions, unveils her first-ever original solo album THREE MOVEMENTS, which celebrates her thirty years of working as a composer in the video game industry. Matsumae’s career began in 1987 when she graduated from the Osaka University of Arts and joined Capcom’s Sound Production Department that same year. The solo album features Matsumae’s signature catchy and memorable tunes, while showcasing a new side of her that fans rarely get to see. She ventures into chiptunes, trance, orchestral, and ambient soundscapes – woven into a classical narrative that splits this blend of genres into three distinct parts. “By this point, I've created music for a number of video games,” says Matsumae about the album’s diverse lineup of tracks. “These songs come in a variety of genres, and I want everyone to listen to the different styles I've experienced throughout the years, which is why I ended up creating my album in this fashion.”
The solo album will be released on December 17th 2017, thirty years after the release of the original Mega Man. The album is available to pre-order on Bandcamp right now, with four tracks available to stream: the Mega Man-inspired ‘Fight For Peace’, the action packed ‘Aerial Clash’, the gloomy ‘Lost Artifact’, and the melodramatic ‘Elegy’. Matsumae deviates from her signature style at times, opting for unclear melodies and structures like in ‘Lost Artifact’. “This track is indeed different from the melodic songs I'm known for,” explains Matsumae. “I composed the song by relying on changing chords. I previously created the ambient version of the Mighty No. 9 Main Theme using this method. For me, these types of songs aren't at all difficult to create and is actually my favorite compositional method.”
For the album’s visual theme, Manami worked with label director Mohammed Taher and New York-based photographer Bao Ngo to capture the full breadth of her music. “Unlike the typical solo album, this isn’t a genre album,” explains director Taher. “Manami crosses chiptunes with everything from classical piano and SNES-inspired beats to melodically vague soundscapes and orchestral numbers. The music influenced our photography, and we toured around the Swiss Alps looking for the perfect shots.” The front cover was shot by photographer Bao Ngo with a long lens and symbolizes the album’s distinct genre-sweeping style, with the CD and vinyl booklets featuring full-page spreads of Ngo and Taher’s photographic escapade.
Matsumae’s music has touched the hearts of gamers since December 1987, when CAPCOM released the original Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System, ushering in one of that company’s longstanding and most recognizable gaming icons. Since then, Matsumae has worked on dozens of game soundtracks, such as standouts Mega Man 10, Shovel Knight, and Mighty No. 9. She has most recently worked with Brave Wave on original songs and collaborative albums, notably collaborating with Evanescence’s bassist Tim McCord and contemporary chiptune extraordinaire Chipzel, thereby penetrating the borders of her home country of Japan to reach new audiences all around the world. She continues to be an integral part of Brave Wave, and is currently working with label director Taher on the upcoming mega-collaboration album World 1-3 slated for release in 2019, following the #1 album World 1-2, as well as contributing to the ZX Spectrum album Magenta by C-jeff which is planned for January 2018.
After two years of work, musician Keiji Yamagishi and director Mohammed Taher are ready to unveil their year-long project titled THE RETRO-ACTIVE EXPERIENCE under the Brave Wave® label. Keiji Yamagishi is a Famicom-era pioneer and has composed music for some of the most beloved gaming franchises, notably Ninja Gaiden, Tecmo Bowl, Captain Tsubasa and Gitaroo Man. Twenty-five years later and surer of his place in life, Keiji Yamagishi is stepping into the limelight once more to present his first-ever solo project, split into three parts to be released throughout 2015, beginning with Retro-Active Pt. 1 in February. Inspired by his Famicom days and fueled with more passion and focus than ever, Keiji Yamagishi sends us all into a "futuristic and emotional chiptunes world", as he himself has described it.
“I've made many songs and sound effects for Famicom games in the late 80’s and I love Famicom sounds,” Yamagishi says enthusiastically. “With Retro-Active, I created an album with sounds that are inspired from various old soundchips. I feel that my music is different from contemporary pop or game music. There might be some people who are unfamiliar with my songs, and I would be glad to invite them and let them hear for themselves the attraction of modern Famicom-inspired sounds from a Famicom composer.”
In Retro-Active Pt. 1, Keiji Yamagishi infuses his early Famicom roots with modern sounds and production in collaboration with notable audio and visual artists, including Marco Guardia (of Flutlicht, DJ Tatana, Monomirror) as mixing engineer. The mini-album sees Yamagishi dabble in melodic and guitar-driven compositions, including collaborations with Mega Man’s legendary composer Manami Matsumae and eclectic guitarist Stemage (of Metroid Metal). With art by David Hellman (of Braid; Second Quest) and Cory Schmitz (of SoundShapes; Below), director Mohammed Taher works to combine audio and visual into an explosive and exciting comeback.
Retro-Active Pt. 1 is available to pre-order now, following a Polygon.com feature about Yamagishi and his Famicom work. The album contains 9 tracks and will release on February 5th, 2015 with remixes by Brave Wave’s Takahiro Izutani (of Metal Gear Solid 4, Bayonetta) and newcomer Smoke Thief, as well as Riki Arai, Yamagishi’s longtime friend from their Famicom days.
Memories of T (feat. Stemage)
Kaleidoscope (feat. Manami Matsumae)
First Contact (Takahiro Izutani Remix)
First Contact (Riki Arai Remix)
Bounty Hunter (Smoke Thief Remix)
Yamagishi is currently working on composing the second part of the Retro-Active project as well as designing the 2-disc physical release (details TBA) with director Taher and designers Hellman and Schmitz to be released later this year. Simultaneously he is composing music for video game Exile's End by Marvelous.
“My music is not only based on nostalgia,” Yamagishi emphasizes. “With Retro-Active Pt. 1, we employed heavy guitars, dance beats, Vocaloid, and other modern techniques. My aim was to create a futuristic and emotional chiptunes world. Welcome to my world!”
After a hiatus of 7 years, Saori Kobayashi (of Panzer Dragoon) and Yumiko Takahashi (of Suikoden) are finally back with their musical ensemble AKANE. Journey features new original music inspired by the Panzer Dragoon series of games, compositions from Crimson Dragon, Crimson Dragon: Side Story, and a special appearance by legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu (of Final Fantasy).
AKANE was formed by Saori Kobayashi and Yumiko Takahashi. The band’s rich and majestic signature sound incorporates Japanese folk vocals, synthesizers and traditional instruments. "I am particularly fond of making music that blends elements from Japanese folklore with Takahashi-san's powerful voice, combined with a unique soundscape," says Saori Kobayashi. "This has given us some very exciting and profound experiences, making us even more enthusiastic about creating new music."
After composing the music for Microsoft's Crimson Dragon (Xbox One) and meeting Brave Wave's president Mohammed Taher, Kobayashi decided to revive AKANE in the form of a second album titled Journey. "Before encountering the series, I didn't focus on a specific type of music, but composing for Panzer Dragoon Saga and Panzer Dragoon Orta and experiencing these games made me interested in working with similar musical elements. A big part of AKANE is inspired by the Panzer Dragoon series."
Brave Wave teamed up with Berlin based designer Natalie Hanke to create a beautiful CD package, with imagery and packaging designed exclusively for the physical release. This worldwide collaboration continues with two remixes for the album, one by Helsinki based composer KOZILEK (Nuclear Throne; Luftrausers) and another by Tokyo based composer Takahiro Izutani (Metal Gear Solid 4; Bayonetta), further exploring the dynamic and rich sound of AKANE with new styles of music.
AKANE's Journey is available to buy from Brave Wave's online store, and is also available on iTunes and Spotify starting September 29th.
Rainblocks is a new iOS puzzle game by Japan-based Eric Koziol, first debuted at BitSummit MMXIV earlier this year. We helped in producing the game by bringing German artist Dominik Johann to make the (gorgeous) pixel art, with music and sound effects by Brave Wave's Manami Matsumae. Check it out!
November 15th marks our 1st anniversary as a music label, so we decided to release a name-your-price EP to thank the fans and show our gratitude. There's no catch: head over to Bandcamp, set the price to $0 and you'll get it. However! *drumrolls* Any amount we get from you will be donated to UNICEF, in order to help the victims of the awful typhoon Haiyan that struck our brothers and sisters in Philippines.
If you bought an album from us before, you'll recognize the list of musicians in this track list:
- Court Date, a beautiful song by ABSRDST
- Carus, a carnival-ish tune from Eirik Suhrke
- Sunrise Montage, a minimalistic number from halc
- Insert Rupee, Get Music, a funky-fun piece by Insert Rupee, which is a two-guys band of halc & Benjamin Briggs
- Dj Cutman & ABSRDST's amazing remix of Benjamin Briggs' Driving Upwards (which appeared in our 1st album)
- Manami Matsumae's sombre remix of the 1st track, Court Date
The beautiful art was drawn and illustrated by German artist Dominik Johann, who will also be designing one of our t-shirts, as well as painting our cats and possibly more.
Thank you so much for the outpouring of love and support. You are enabling us to make good music and let our favorite artists do the work they enjoy the most in life. Consider donating some money when buying the album — let's try to make something humanitarian and good to the people of the Philippines who were unfortunate to experience an awful typhoon.