Album Review – (Reitaisai SP) [Quintet] Astral Weeks

The second release by Quintet, continuing in the trend of a rather unique mix of different instruments with various electronic elements thrown in. This is actually a collaboration with Radical Rythmn, so there’s a fair bit of changes in the arrangement style throughout the album.

Ritsu only gets one track in this album though, which disappoints me greatly. Nevertheless, most of the vocals in this are pretty awesome, with good arrangements backing up the vocals quite well and the vocalists sounding rather skilled in general.

The tracks arranged by Radical Rythmn in this one tend to lack Quintet’s usual feel, which introduces an interesting contrast. Radical Rythmn favours rather more traditional genres, with their tracks sounding more like DnB or Trance-style tracks, while Quintet’s half has a more rock/chiptune feel to it.

The full title of the album is really 「Astral Weeks -Strange Days From Another Star-」, but that’s rather long so I’ll just refer to it as Astral Weeks.

Circle Name: Quintet
Album Name: Astral Weeks
Website: http://9intet.web.fc2.com/Astral_weeks/

  1. intro -Strange Days-
    Starting off the album quite nicely with a short showcase of Solaris’ favoured electronic style. Not quite long enough to be considered a full track, but is rather a build-up to the second track, which is…
  2. Little Galaxy
    Vocals by Ritsu in this one, but sadly it’s highly processed and she doesn’t get to show off much in this track. The vocal processing also adds a fair amount of electronic feel to this, which is definitely interesting. I also like the drum style used in this, with a series of constantly cycling beat patterns rather than a single repeated pattern for the entire track. The different electronic elements also add alot to the atmosphere, making this seem somewhat like a chiptune track. I think there’s a bit of rock influence in there somewhere too. Pretty awesome track by Solaris.
  3. 春天來了 (Instrumental Ver.)
    This is one of the tracks arranged by Radical Rythmn, and as such sounds rather different from Little Galaxy, with a more DnB-like style and alot less electronic elements. Luckily the transition from Little Galaxy to this track isn’t bad at all, but this track doesn’t really feel all that great compared to Little Galaxy. It lacks any excitement for the first half of the track, which is sad considering how nice Little Galaxy was. The latter half is somewhat better, but not good enough to rescue the track Definitely kind of disappointed with this one. I don’t quite see why the (Instrumental Ver.) is required, since there isn’t actual a vocal version of this song.
  4. 空のセピア (Instrumental Ver.)
    And back to Solaris doing the arrangements. I realize that most of the instruments used by Solaris tend to have a much deeper sound than what I would normally expect, with very deep-sounding drums and very deep-sounding synthesizers, which is probably why most of his music sounds extremely distinctive. This track has quite a large mix of instruments, with some piano at the start that’s quite obviously electronic/programmed, and a mix of various synthesizers in front of the drums. Not bad I’d say, but Solaris is quite weak when he doesn’t have vocals in his songs so not that great either.
  5. Butterfly Effect
    Ah, an arrangement of Dichromatic Butterfly ~ Red and White! I like that original song alot, so I was looking forward to this track quite a fair bit. Vocals are sadly not by Ritsu, but done by 藤本美菜実, with Solaris doing the arranging. As usual, a very loud overall sound in the instruments that’s vaguely reminiscent of chiptune, and some nice use of piano to provide more depth to the melody.  The piano actually seems like it’s filling the role of where a bass instrument would usually be, which produces a very unique effect. Also some good use of some light piano to provide backup for the vocals towards the middle, which adds a nice softer touch to the track as well. The vocals by Minafuni are also pretty decent, though I would really have liked Ritsu better. One of the better tracks in the album.
  6. 想いは雪のように
    Another track by Radical Rythmn, definitely sounds alot more like a regular trance-ish track, with none of the very loud and in-your-face instrumentals that Solaris seems to favour. Vocals provided by 紺野聖, who has a rather good voice actually. I sort of prefer her to Minafuni, but I’d rather have vocals by Ritsu than by her. I guess I’m quite biased towards Ritsu. The synthesizers are definitely somewhat reminiscent of trance, but pretty much everything else points towards this being more of an electropop track, which doesn’t really interest me as much. Another track that’s not exactly bad, but not really great either.
  7. outro -紅葉、旅路にて-
    I rather like it when albums have proper outro tracks. Alot of albums tend to have introductory tracks, but not many seem to like having good outro tracks which has always been kind of disappointing to me. Although it’s rather close to Solaris’ style, this is a track arranged by Radical Rythmn. So far they’ve produced a DnB track, a Trance/Electropop track and now it seems like they’re doing something that’s more along the lines of Orchestral/Symphonic music, with some modern touches to it. The use of an organ here is quite excellent, adds a rather foreboding atmosphere to the track. I definitely think that this is an interesting take on the original melody, and despite the short length Radical Rythmn manages to produce an outstanding ending track for this album.

There’s actually en eighth track in this album, a bonus track called -Strange Days-, but that’s just the Intro and Little Galaxy combined so I didn’t bother including it in the track list. They really are meant to be listened to together as a single track though, which is always nice.

One of Quintet’s weaker points has been constructing an album that has good overall composition and balance, but this time around it showed a much better arrangement of tracks in the album, and I couldn’t find fault with any of the track transitions.

Although there’s a few circles that have styles similar to Quintet’s arrangements, there’s always an extra something in Quintet’s albums that make them seem to be alot more better. Usually for their style of arrangement you don’t see many vocal tracks either, so that’s a nice change from the usual.