Saturday, 5 May 2012

Lost in the Music ~ Erutan

     “Strong men also cry Mr Lebowski. Strong men also cry...” Jeffery Lebowski

     I have stated before that music is a powerful medium when dealing with emotions. While visual imagery can stimulate a wide range of emotions, there is a much more powerful connection with music. To me, music is a much more expressive medium. With video, you are presented with the imagery, leaving little to the imagination. Now this itself can work on occasion. The scene with Jack and Rose after the Titanic sank, aside from the sound of the water, not a musical note could be heard. That is a powerful scene, emphasizing the loneliness and finality of Jack and Rose and how they were not meant to be together.

     I am not that emotional of a guy. There are times when my feelings do come out, but most of the time I do keep them bottled away. However, when listening to music, especially video game music, I find myself letting my emotions run a bit more. The people who make these songs are so incredibly talented and I find it almost unfair that I will be devoting a single article on one of them. However, this young woman's work is worth it. While I am not usually fond of putting lyrics to game soundtracks I do make exceptions.

     As I stated in my Final Fantasy IX article, I came across this familiar artist through Paw Dugan's Top 9 New VG music list. I find myself more often listening to her work more so then anyone else as she is consistently good. While most artists falter on a couple of songs, I don't think I have ever come across one of her song's that I would skip. So instead of the usual top 5, I am upping the ante. This time I am going for not a top five but top ten list. This is my personal list so you may not agree with me. If you are interested, you can find her Youtube page here and can buy her CD Raindancer here.

     Starting off this list is Bonds of Sea and Fire from the Xenogears Soundtrack. Much like some of her other work, she has added lyrics to the song which really helps sell this piece. The lyrics, according to the description on the video page is a fan interpretation of what the Aveh language sounds like. The way she sings it paint's this beautiful world, making us feel for these people.

     The lyrics as I have mentioned are sung in her version of what she feels the Aveh people sound like. It is so hauntingly beautiful. The amount of emotion she put in her songs are breathtaking. She is such a talented singer and through her songs we can be transported to that realm. She brings the music to life.

9: Yuki No Hana – Mika Nakashima

     What's this? A song on this list that is *not* as video game cover? What next, an album review by famed Nerdcore Rapper Megaran aka Random and his Final Fantasy VII album Black Materia. Surely you jest.

     Joking aside, this song is really beautiful. As I said, this is actually a cover of a song by Japanese performer Mika Nakashima. On researching this article, I did come across Miss Nakashima's original version and Erutan did a wonderful job of covering the song.

     The reasoning behind this song is also very sweet as well. According to the information listed in the video, this was dedicated to a listeners brother who had passed away. This does strike a chord with me because I do know what it's like to lose someone you love and having people be there in your time of need really helps with the healing process. A solid cover and worthy of the number 9 spot

     I am not much of an anime fan. I know what I like, which is usually limited to Dragonball, and Yotsuba (yes I like it so shut it) amongst others. So as I was going through the list of music I have for the Erutan top 10, I came across this cover from the Mai Otome. I have heard of this series but have never seen it. If it is any good, please feel free to tweet me.

     Onto the song now. As I said I haven't really seen the show so I have no opinion on how well it stacks up versus the original. However I do like the song as it is a really nice cover. With beautiful violin playing backed by gorgeous vocals by Erutan and  Daydreamgirl, this is a solid cover and a welcome addition to anyone's iPod.

     Do you remember firs playing Final Fantasy VII back in 1997. This game, along side Metal Gear Solid was the property that put the Ps1 in peoples homes. If people remember anything from this game, it is one of three things. The first being Tifa's chest. No matter how much you cut it, your inner 12 year old still giggles at them. Followed by Sephiroth who would later pave the way for pale haired pretty boys with either a god complex, or an Oedipus complex. The last thing would be the death of the virginal flower girl Aerith (or Aeris) Gainsborough. When she died, almost every young, hormonal teen shed several tears, mourning the loss of their video game girlfriend.

     Erutan does a great job of having us remember that fateful day in the autumn of '97. If it's one thing she is incredibly good at, it is making us care for there characters again. You can out grow the tears and emotions you had as a child, but the moment you hear this cover, it comes rushing back and you will remember watching the TV as that silver haired bastard murder your friend.

6: Radical Dreams – Chrono Cross/Radical Dreams

     Coming in at number 6 is Radical Dreams from the Chrono Gaiden game Radical Dreamers. To me, not much is known about this song because despite my status as a Chrono Trigger fan, this game stayed under my radar, only to show up a few years back. I've heard the soundtrack and it is solid work by Yasunori Mitsuda but nothing truly groundbreaking, save for a few songs.

     So Why is Radical Dreams on the list? Well, while the Radical Dreamers soundtrack isn't well known to me, it was through Erutan's cover that got me curious to find out more. It is a well put together and amazingly enough sung entirely in Japanese which at the time was important because at the time of the release, Japan was hit with one of the worst Tsunami's in recent history and she used the song as a vehicle for people to donate to the Red Cross.

     One of the many things that Erutan is good at is broadening ones horizons when it comes to music. With out her covers, I would still be in the dark about the Radical Dreamers soundtrack.It is still a solid song. It has a beautiful melody and as usual the instrument work is top notch. This is defiantly worthy to be on your iPod.

5: Hymn of theFayth - Final Fantasy X

     Final Fantasy X's lone entrant in the list is the hauntingly beautiful Hymn of the Fayth. Now contrary to popular opinion, I like Final Fantasy X. It's not high on my list, but I don't out right hate it like some people. Like all games it has it's flaws and unlike FF VIII, the music is not one of them. Whereas the FF VIII soundtrack is painfully boring, the FFX sound track mixes hard j-rock with religious and spiritual tunes and high energy shonen style themes.

     Erutan's cover of this song is fantastic. While the original version had up to multiple people doing the vocal work giving it the feel of a church choir, her single voice gives makes the song more haunted and more melancholy. On top of that her woodwind work gives a strong Japanese feel to the song, more so then the original. When listening to it, I can almost visualize a small maiden kneeling before a shrine softly chanting this song. A definite must have.

4: I'll Follow You Into The Dark - Death Cab for Cutie

     This is the second of the two mainstream covers that is on the list, this time taking the Death Cab for Cutie hit and making it her own. Now I don't mean hers is better, but her rendition is different enough musically to be her own song. Whereas the original uses an acoustic guitar, Erutan uses a harp. Both instruments give it a special spin on an other wise dark song.

     This song is very dark, taking themes of lost loved ones and possible suicide. The title of the song is rather blunt in it's meaning and with Erutan's version it feels even more dark. While DCFC's guitar works gives a glimmer of hope, Erutan's does not. Her voice and instrument work

     I have a love hate relationship with this song as while it is incredibly good, it again reminds me of someone who took her own life. While I do not talk about, I do find myself still questioning why, nearly 10 years later. While this song does not help me find any answers, I do still enjoy it.

     This song is what cemented my love of Erutan's Music. Gently as She Goes showed me that she was not a simple OCRemiX artist but has a talent of covering a wide variety of songs. From Disney to J-Pop artist to even Anime tracks, Erutan has covered something from that genre. She knows how to take a song and make it her own, while not taking away what makes the original good.

Gently As She Goes, from the Beowulf film is a good cover. I personally prefer the original as it gives the song a more fantasy feel to it but Erutan's version is still excellent. If I have to compare her voice to Robin Wright Penn's it is a tough call but I give it to Erutan as I prefer her voice to this song. That isn't to say Miss Penn's voice is bad, far from it. It's just a personal preference of mine.

2: Final Fantasy IX Covers

     You'll notice I've lumped all the Final Fantasy IX tracks together and that is for good reason. First off, my article before the PAX East work was strictly focused on Final Fantasy IX and secondly, all her covers from that game are incredible and would take up half of the list. I feel it would be better if I put them together and give a general write up on the songs.

     Final Fantasy IX is my favourite of the Ps1 Final Fantasy games. It was a love letter to those who grew up playing the games from the original NES. Obviously it has had an impact on Erutan as about 1/4 of her covers are Final Fantasy IX covers.

     How do they stand up? They are fantastic. They give the game so much depth and makes you feel for the characters. From You're Not Alone to Melodies of Life, she makes the world of Gaia come alive. These songs are fantastic but what could top these tracks?

1: To my DearFriends – Chrono Trigger

     At the time of this writing, Erutan has recovered the use of her Twitter and Youtube. Back in February, she lost control of her Twitter via someone one hacking her account and her Youtube account was suspended. Why is this important? Well about a week after she got her accounts back, she released this song which to me is a thank you to us, her listeners for standing by her during that time.

     The song is a beautiful rendition of To My Dear Friends and like her other songs, has lyrics added to it. This time, however, she is not singing as Marle or Lucca, but Crono. Through her words, you can almost imagine Crono sitting in his chair looking at the photograph and smiling, remembering an adventure that spanned and several different epoch's while riding on the wings of time.

     This is the most recent song of hers and it is leagues better then anything she has released on youtube, which itself is an amazing feat. If you have any of her songs, and a Chrono Trigger fan, then this is the song you should get.

     Erutan is a talented songwriter and singer. She has an ability of taking a song and giving it her own unique sound. If you are interested in her work or in music arrangements altogether, then you should check out her Youtube and DeviantArt accounts. Also check out her CD which you can buy here. I will be covering Raindancer at a later time.

     Next time on Lost in the Music, it's time to go the slums of Sector 7 and listen to the Megaran album Black Materia. This has been Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.

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