6 Dec 2014

I think this year has been a lot different.
I've been focusing on lyrics more than ever before. That might be caused by the fact my Japanese got better and I'm able to understand at least the general meaning of a song without using a dictionary.

But even if that's the case I never thought of lyrics too much. For me the important thing was sound in overall, whether it was English (which I could understand before) or Japanese song.
It might have slightly changed.

These are my top 10 albums and top 10 songs of this year (notice I do not mean works released 2014, but things I have discovered this year).



植松伸夫 – A New World: intimate music from FINAL FANTASY

大貫妙子 & 坂本龍一 – UTAU

Hiromi – Alive

IMERUAT – Propelled Life

細野晴臣 – Hosono House

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

神聖かまってちゃん – 8月32日へ

坂本慎太郎 – How To Live With A Phantom

椎名林檎 – 勝訴ストリップ

細野晴臣 – 終わりの季節

くるり – 東京

神聖かまってちゃん – 映画

ザ・フォーク・クルセダーズ – 悲しくてやりきれない

大貫妙子 & 坂本龍 – a life

松たか子 – a piece of life

坂本慎太郎 – 君はそう決めた

神聖かまってちゃん – グロい花

ゆらゆら帝国 – おはようまだやろう

Joy Division – Disorder

28 Feb 2014

Yuja Wang at Barbican Hall in London

The concert was held on 16th February in a
London Symphony Orchestra concert hall at Barbican
After years of anticipation I have finally managed to attend a concert of my beloved Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. I've been a fan of her the very first time she appeared on medici.tv. and I was frankly thrilled to eventually see her in live performance. Young, joyful, beautiful and the most vital of all, incredibly talented.

On February, Yuja played not only few concerts in London, but also led free of charge workshops which I, sadly, was not able to be a participant of.

From all the events only one of them was recital and this is what I decided upon. Piano concertos are great, but if I wanted to listen to her play, there is no better way than solo performance.

Yuja was outstanding that night and there is no doubt about it. Obviously, the audience did not want her to leave soon, and therefore, after a massive applause and standing ovations she gave us 5 encores.
Unfortunately, I cannot recall all of them, but she performed the famous Chopin's Valse Op. 64 No. 2 . Her interpretation of that piece is exceptional and I was always wondering whether I'll be given a chance to listen to it.

Prokofiev Sonata No 3 in A minor, Op 28
Chopin Sonata No 3 in B minor, Op 58
Kapustin Variations for Piano, Op 41
Chopin Nocturne No 1 in C minor, Op 48
Chopin Ballade No 3 In A-Flat Major, Op 47
Stravinsky Petrouchka: Three Movements for Piano

I was not really that familiar with the program, although I love Chopin and I know all of his works to some extent. No much to say, she played his and works and others flawless and also, in my opinion, emotionally balanced.
I really liked the music of Ukrainian contemporary composer Kapustin. Yuja loves jazz and I'm happy she can include that style of music in her concerts making them not entirely classical. Seemed and sounded like a great fun for her and for the gathered people.

All I was able to see from my seat was her face though. I'd have given a lot to see the keyboard and hands flowing around back and forth. I would also gladly exchange few words with her, but there has not been any chance to meet her face to face. No meet and greet at all. Maybe next time.
I'd probably ask her for allowance to touch her hands for a while in order to make sure they are a real thing...

23 Feb 2014

A New World: intimate music from FINAL FANTASY Report

This article will be available on Gamemusic.net from tomorrow

Music from video games is developing and there is no doubt about that. One of the series that helped the industry to move forward was Final Fantasy. Music from this franchise became so popular that nowadays, we experience concert tours of “Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy” all around the globe. But producers promise more and that being said, we had the innovative „Final Symphony” in London last year.
This time, again in the capital of England, “A new World: intimidate music from Final Fantasy” was brought into existence. The event was planned to be given more cameral atmosphere, which supposed to allow listeners to connect with the music in even more emotional way.

Located in the east part of London, one of the concert hall of London Symphonic Orchestra is actually a church that does not really look prominent neither outside nor inside. Nevertheless, the important thing is what occurred in the center of it.
Without surprise, Arnie Roth was the conductor. Followed by him the performers included pianist Benyamin Nuss, Navarra String Quartet and few other invited artists (guitar, drums, clarinet, flute, contrabass…).
As Arnie Roth said, the choice of musicians is the most important part of creating such event. It is hard not to agree with him and admit that the selection was perfect. The group played at ease, with visible joy on their faces.

The concert started with „One-Winged Angel” (FF VII). No need to explain that to fans, but this track usually That article is available on does not work as a fanfare nor is it an infamous composition (we were promised new arrangements).
Generally, among a huge number of chunks that had never been played live, a few widely recognizable compositions were played. One of them was the aforementioned “One-Winged Angel”, but also “Those Who Fight” (FF VII) or “To Zanarkand” (FF X) that has beautifully enclosed the spectacle.
It is essential to mention that not everything has been composed by Nobuo Uematsu, as the music from Final Fantasy XII or XIII was also in the programme (Hideki Sakamoto, Masashi Hamauzu).

There were solo performances, too. „Eruyt Village” (FF XII) as well as „Those Who Fight” and „Gustaberg” (FF I) were played on the piano by Benyamin Nuss. The tracks contrast between rather romantic “Eruyt Village” and „Gustaberg” and dynamic “Those Who Fight”, but the young pianist showed great skills in both cases.
Another solo instrument was the guitar. “Elia the Maide of Water” (FF III) which was played on it, only ensure us that the choice of instrumentation was ideal.
Besides solo, we also listened to duets. That was “Troia” (FF IV) arranged on guitar and cello as well as “The Promise” and “Blinded By Light” (FF XIII) on piano and violin.

One of the most anticipated moment of the concert was the performance of „Dark World” (FF VI) in which both Nobu Uematsu and Arnie Roth (violin) were announced to participate together.
Easy to spot synthesizer which was placed next to the piano, clearly suggested it was the Japanese who was supposed to play on it. The arrangement was very intriguing and definitely came out as a highlight among all the other works.

There were some humoristic aspects, as „Chocobo’s theme medley” and after intermission „Moogle’s theme medley” were played. Especially the first of them was outstanding. They even used a toy which sound reminded of Chocobo’s squeal. The audience seemed amused.

Majority of arrangements were played ensemble, although some of them were performed by the Navarra String Quartet only. And not only were they flawless, but their performance was literally heart-breaking.
We listened to “Fight with Seymour” (FF X), “A New World” (FF V), “Fragments of Memories” (FF VIII), “Town” (FF I), “The Decisive Battle” (FF VI), “Rebel Army Theme” (FF XI), “The Zanarkand” (FF X) and “Force Your Way” (FF VIII).

“A new World: intimate music from Final Fantasy” is a project that authors can be proud of. To my mind, they managed to achieve the goal. I personally participated in “Distant World” before and I feel the difference between these events. It was not a mass concert. It is not overstating that the audience integrated with artists. Besides, it was again proven how enormous is the library of Final Fantasy music and how much still can be presented live.                                                         
There were CDs and posters (of Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth) available to purchase in the lobby.
The only thing that has left me unfulfilled is that you had to buy a double-prized VIP ticket in order to greet and meat the stars. All in all it is not connected to the music which was truly magical, as if from a “New World”.

At the end, I would like to mention there is a huge possibility of a CD release (According to what Arnie Roth).
However, if you fancy poor quality recordings uploaded on youtube, here you go (although some tracks seem to be missing from that playlist).

31 Oct 2012

Hitotsu Yane no Shita 2 (ひとつ屋根の下 2)

It has been around a week since I finished my, probably favorite, drama of all time.

Hitotsu Yane no Shita is kind of a family drama (I don't really like the description but I assume it fits here), where you can find both sadness and happiness. It's very emotional, though sometimes you sense the exaggeration (nothing new, it's a Japanese drama).

I totally loved the first season, thus it really saddened me there were no subtitles for the second one. Back then I've decided I'll watch it after my Japanese will be good enough to understand what's going on.
However, I changed my mind and decided to do it much, much sooner. I've already started studying Japanese at the University, true, but it doesn't change the fact that I wasn't able to understand much of what the characters were talking about. Knowing the first season I could guess some things.
Besides there is always an overall image - although my Japanese is weak, I had a feeling I know what more or else is going on.

I had been literally swallowing the series - every episode felt like 5 minutes or even less. I just didn't want it to end so soon - I don't really remember having such situation with any other series.
At first I was worried whether I won't be bored! (no English subtitles)
It may sound a bit abstractive to say this (language barrier after all), but the second season appeared for me to be a bit worse. Maybe not worse, but you it was too depressing sometimes - no much fun as in the first season.
But mind me - it's not that there was none! Furthermore... I couldn't understand many gags which surely were going on out there.
What is a VERY important fact, a new main character (not from the family) appeared in the series (actually there were two - Kuroda Yuki as Hayakawa Masumi) - Matsu Takako as Mochizuki Miki. An amazing actress. I never had a favorite one not did I even pay attention, but now I guess she is in.

Finishing the series gave a me an enormous feeling of nostalgia. As always, it's sad to end something you've been really attached to by such a long time. When I watched the first season, I know there is still a one more behind me. But now? I'm just done with it.

About the music... Opening is really amusing and you will probably like it after few times as it is the main theme of the drama.
There actually is an original soundtrack - There are tracks I like (my favorites - "Like a rainstorm", "After the rain", "Going home", "Wait for you", "When you love me", "Faith") , but there are songs I don't (for example Nicki Richards - Good for you... Ble).

At the end... Please, listen to the opening song. At first it may sound very silly to you, though...

I don't spoil. If you want to talk about the plot message me somehow.

20 Oct 2012

Glory to Takeshi Kitano

Just a little reflection after watching the last (though "Outrage 2" is coming soon) movie by Beat Takeshi, still the greatest contemporary Japanese director in my opinion.

Unfortunately, I haven't been watching the movies chronologically and thus, the "watched yesterday" movie is "Kantoku Banzai" instead of "Outrage". Accidentally that was the best way to "pause" my journey with Kitano's movies what is obviously related to the story of this really amusing film.
Takeshi Kitano, a director, actor, painter, stepping dancer and so and so on... (it's easier to find something he cannot do)...plays himself, or so I interpret it.
It's a film about creating a new story for a movie, or rather attempting to write a new story. So we actually see many plots, whereas most of them are really short ones - Throughout the movie Beat Takeshi thinks about all kinds of story-lines he might produce - comedy, horror, yakuza, drama...
All I can it is a fantastic comedy and I have been laughing really loudly.

The upcoming Takeshi's movie is Outrage 2, what doesn't really make me feel excited - Outrage was quite an ok movie, but nothing special. I expect the second part to be of similar kind. While I keep waiting for that one, I also hope Kitano-san will give as something else in the future - again, something outstanding, what I could entitle as one of the best movie I have ever seen (like it was with "Dolls" for example). He is not young anymore, but as for director, it is still fair enough.

I would like to end my short speech with a link to one of the best yt (which is not on yt anymore, ekhm) clip ever. Hope you have not seen it before. Kitano Takeshi banzai!

12 Nov 2011

22nd International Festival of Comics and Games in Łódź - Akira Yamaoka

English version

The posters for the festival were very nice made. You can see "Akira YAMAOKA & Cool Kids of Death" below on both of them.

Yes... Akira Yamaoka and his music on the 22th Festival of Comics and Games in Łódź. Really?

When I saw the news of Akira Yamaoka coming to Poland, I just knew I had to see him. Even though I'm not a big fan of his works, it was an another famous Japanese composer of video games music industry in my country.