In this post, I'll be taking a look at my favorite albums from that were released in 2015. So that'll include releases from Comiket 87 even though it's technically from December of 2014. I've also included my favorite doujin circles that I've discovered in 2015 as well as some overall thoughts on doujin/touhou music from 2015.
[Foxtail-Grass Studios] Hoshikuzu Atelier - The Subterranean Animism counterpart to Tokikake Aeolia. It's more of the great stuff that I expected from FGS. I really liked track #8, which is a playful arrangement of Hartmann's Youkai Girl. I think it's a pretty fitting arrangement for Koishi, as those who play with her will just forget about her as soon as they take their eyes off her.
[xi-on] Scarlet -スカーレット- - My introduction to xi-on as a jazz circle. Really great stuff and even has live instruments! Sound quality could be a tad better, but I'm not complaining. Check out their previous album, Eyes, if you liked this one. They released another jazz album during C89, which I'll be listening to soon. My favorite goes to #7, an arrangement of Chinese Tea.
[Fox Laboratory] Touhou Gensoukai -Rendai Noyakou no Oto- - It's foxfactory, and I didn't expect any less from him. Contains arrangements from Ghostly Field Club. While I'm less familiar with the tracks from that OST, I still really enjoyed the arrangements. Track #4 is really good in that Yukkie really manages to keep the eerie tone of the original track while adding even more haunting elements of his own.
[Halozy] Viva Evolution - Sort of Halozy's return to making their own albums, and what a great return it was. There's a pretty good variety of arrangements but it leans towards the moe voices (which I don't mind). The best track for me is undoubtedly #10, which is a very strange and unique arrangement of Restrospective Kyoto. Like random noises and cats? Check the the track out.
[ShibayanRecords] Adrastea - Shibayan simply hasn't disappointed when it comes to his non-remix or bossa nova album releases. It marked the return of Tsubaki Ichimatsu, who was Syrufit/Poplica's vocalist before the two circles disbanded in 2012. I was so happy to see her perform again. However, I have to give track #5 my favorite not only because it's a great arrangement, but 3L did such a fantastic job with the vocals here. 5/5
[Foxtail-Grass Studios] Yukidoke Azalea - Continuing on from where Hoshikuzu Atelier left off, Yukidoke Azalea is a Perfect Cherry Blossoms arrangement album. More of the similar stuff from FGS but still really good anyways. My favorite track goes to #2 for being a very fun and upbeat arrangement of Paradise ~ Deep Mountain.
[foxfactory] Touhou Gensoukai -Seirensen no Oto- - Foxfactory's Undefined Fantastic Object arrangement album. I was waiting so long for foxfactory to finally make an arrangement of Emotional Skyscraper ~ Cosmic Mind, and he finally did in this album! The previous track leading to it, Fires of Hokkai, was such an epic lead-in for Emotional Skyscraper. The opening to Emotional Skyscraper was so energetic and the soft piano build up lead to such a grand finale. That being said, obviously the whole album was up to foxfactory's high standards.
[はみ (hami)] my FAVORITE μ's - My first experience with a Love Live arrangement album, before I even knew what Love Live even was. It's an acoustic guitar arrangement album done with live instruments of course. Both the arrangement and sound quality were outstanding! It's hard to pick a favorite track since everything was so good.
[foxfactory] Cafe Hakugyokurou - Foxfactory's 3rd cafe-styled arrangement album of Perfect Cherry Blossoms was a nice album to listen to. The bossa nova styles were pretty evident in this album, and my favorite track ended up being #4. It's an arrangement of one of Alice's themes, The Dollmaker of Bucuresti. I really loved the short piano bridge.
[Demetori] Kijin Shokuaku ~Evil People as the True Object of Salvation~ - Demetori's return to the doujin scene was unexpected, but he shows that he's capable of producing the high quality metal arrangements as he did in the past. Demetori doesn't really do ballad style metal arrangements but he really nailed it with #5, and arrangement of Paradise ~ Deep Mountain . There's so much raw emotion that went into making this track!
[TOMATO GUMMY] JazzLive! -Love Live! Jazz cover- - Another Love Live arrangement that made it onto my favorites for 2015. It was my first time hearing anything by TOMATO GUMMY and I was really pleasantly surprised by their work. Like with my FAVORITE μ's, I have trouble picking out a favorite track on this album.
[Lost Garden] Bayside Dreamer - I stumbled upon Lost Garden when I was just looking through 9tensu's C88 releases. The album art drew me in at first, but the music made me fall in love with Lost Garden. It was really refreshing to finally find a doujin circle that made some electronic music without the typical EDM or dubstep elements. What I got from Bayside Dreamer was some really damn good uplifting trance. My favorite track goes out to #9, Over the Sunset.
[Frozen Fantasia] Andante to a Small Dream - I think this was probably the biggest surprise of the year for doujin music. Frozen Fantasia is a 1-man circle consisting of just David-san, the arranger and pianist. He began with his first album in 2014's C86 (I'd appreciate if someone could find me a download link) and this is only his second album. The arrangements all have live piano played by David-san, and are recorded at an extremely high quality. There is little to no digital amplification used, or any sort of compression. As a result, everything sounds very natural and comes out sounding dynamic and emotional. Aside from the sound quality, the arrangements and piano playing are quite a lot different from other circles. It's hard for me to describe, but I really liked the soft tone of David-san's piano. There's simply no favorite for me on this album as everything is just so good.
[Forest306] caffè pioggia - It's the return of Forest306, one of my favorite doujin circles. Da, the sole arranger/performer, made some really amazing acoustic guitar touhou arrangements in the past. This time around though, he decided to make an original cafe-styled album. There are only four tracks unfortunately, but there are three genres in here. His bossa nova track is reminiscent of his guest arrangements on Shibayan's Bossa Nova albums. His two guitar duo tracks remind me of his past works, but especially on his previous album, STEREOTALK. His jazz track was the star however, as it was something that I've never heard from F306 before. It's definitely something that I'd love to relax to in a cafe or at home with a nice cup of coffee or tea.
Favorite circles discovered
So in addition to listening to the albums of the old circles that I'm familiar with, I usually go out of the way to discover new circles. These are the favorite ones that I've discovered this year.
Release Hallucination - I found out about them when I listened to their C89 album crossfade. I got hooked immediately and listened to all their other work. It's a small doujin circle with just Kaorin as the guitarist and emi as the vocalist. If you like progressive metal and Sepia Recollections, then definitely check out Release Hallucination's works.
Lost Garden - Well I already mentioned their album earlier but PLAMISSIONE is my favorite album by them. Some of my blog readers pointed out two similar doujin cicles called Light Notes Recordings and en;Dolphin records. Check those out if you liked Lost Garden.
Dust_Box_49 & N-tone - Two really old circles that worked on albums together. It's hard to give them a specific genre. They're kind of like t=node in that they have a special sound that no other circle really makes. It's pretty much all instrumental/folk mixed in with some electronic notes here and there. Their whole discography is available on their website as the 10th anniversary box.
Frozen Fantasia - I already mentioned them, but I would really love to hear more music from David-san in the future.
Tomato Gummy - Their C88 was really damn good. I haven't listened to much of their other albums but I hope to hear some touhou arrangements from them in the future.
はみ (hami) - Hami filled in the void that forest306 left when he took a long break. It's pretty rare to hear acoustic guitar arrangements, but hami is one person who does them! I wish to hear either some touhou arrangements or some original compositions in the future.
Overall, this year was pretty good in terms of doujin music for me. It would be pretty hard to pick a single favorite out of the ones that I listed. But if I really had to choose, it would probably be Andante to a Small Dream. Foxfactory and Foxtail-Grass Studios have been releasing consistently great albums, so props to them for that. Although Halozy's albums usually end up being hit or misses, it's always nice to have an alternative to the usual electronic music circles. I was really happy to finally see F306 back in action once again. Apparently he released another album in October but I only found out about it yesterday. If anyone could find it for me, I'd greatly appreciate it. It's also good to see that Kimino-Museum is alive as well. Although their album didn't make it onto my favorites list for the year, they'll have an opportunity to perform well in 2016. Lastly, demetori's return made a pretty big splash with a very successful album in Kijin Shokuaku.
Now for the bad stuff? Alstroemeria Records really disappointed this year. After hearing a decent album in CLOUD 9, I was really hoping that they would start producing something similar to that. But instead, they released FLASHLIGHT and then Pop Culture 1-4 (and now 5). ALR seems to have lost its touch a while ago and the current circle is just a husk of what it used to be. I'm tired of hearing the same song structure in nomico and Ayame's tracks. I'm sick of the dubstep and EDM that's been so prevalent. Even top tier vocalists like Mei Ayakura, Nachi Sakaue, and mican* can't save a song when the arrangement or lyrics are so boring or re-used.
CROW'SCLAW released a couple of albums this year, but none of them made it onto my favorites. I'm not a big fan of his non-vocal metal work (except Resonance of the Nickel Strings) so it wasn't any surprise to me that I didn't end up enjoying his albums that much. Out of the three albums that he released, Indigo Blue And Stout Black is probably my favorite out of them. I haven't really listened to kit much outside of my first time though.
I wanted to see more from ShibayanRecords this year, but having Adrastea is good enough. While TOHO BOSSA NOVA 4 was decent, it wasn't quite as good as the first two in the series. Shibayan's arrangement in ETHEREAL DIVIDE by signum ii was very good though! It features Shibayan's trademark style along with vocals by Tsubaki Ichimatsu. I was hoping that Sedecim would have some better remixes, but quite frankly, only the first remix by Nhato was any good. And of course, Shibayan doesn't have anything for C89, so that's disappointing.
Anyways, that's about it for this post! I'd love to hear what you guys found to be your favorite albums, and what the biggest disappointments were from 2015.
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is a full time otaku & audiophile who enjoys listening to Touhou music, playing doujin games, and reading visual novels. For more information, visit the About page.