(C80) [Camphor] Malignant"X"

And it’s right back to the electronic bandwagon, this time with the wonderful Takuya Hori at the reins! If you don’t know about him, well, you’re missing out. Warning: Contains lots of progressive house/trance, come prepared.

This time around they’re being less cheap with the packaging – you actually get something that’s printed on, instead of just a simple engraved disc! Of course, Takuya Hori does some ridiculous stuff with it anyway, have a look at how the packaging looks:

Picture courtesy of Camphor's website

Who says disk jackets have to be square?

As for how the music sounds, it’s pretty similar to Camphor’s previous album, if you’ve listened to that. Takuya Hori has a very unique, progressive-ish style that blends together both house and trance elements while maintaining a pretty decent beat throughout the song. It’s the kind of music that’s hard to find much of, and it’s really quite good.

Needless to say, if you don’t like electronic music this is where your should excuse yourself.

Takuya Hori likes cars.

Circle Name: Camphor
Album Name: Malignant”X”
Website: http://camphor0000.blog11.fc2.com/blog-entry-18.html

  1. Takuya Hori – Bridge of the dark

    A nice little trance number to start off with, although the start is a bit shaky for this track. It doesn’t get particularly interesting until the middle, but when it does it’s really, really good and sets the tone nicely for the rest of the album. The second half of this song is definitely one of the best trance pieces I’ve heard in a long time, and the house elements add just enough power to it. If there’s one thing you can expect from Takuya Hori, it’s his masterful use of buildup and breakdown that appears every track – truly, a progressive arranger for a progressive album.

  2. Takuya Hori – Colorful Path

    Once again, the start is a little suspicious but when it gets going it does excellently as well. The composition is superb, introducing each element just quickly enough to keep it from getting boring, and keeping the emotional buildup going for almost the entire song. The reward when the anthem arrives is a rush of emotion energy, and is strongly accentuated by the deep and punchy bass-line that gives it extra punch. The chopped-up vocals add a nice delicate touch to cold synths and basses, resulting in a track that’s a mashup of the best elements from Electro and Progressive Trance. Fantastic track.

  3. Takuya Hori – Yakan

    Another slow start, but builds up fairly quickly this time. Has a much darker tone than the previous songs, providing an interesting contrast for Colorful Path. It feels more like a “refresher” or “palette cleanser” track than anything else, but it still manages to stand on its own as a song – just not a very interesting one. With a very bass-heavy sound, a fairly mundane sounding melody and a pretty high lack of emotion, all that’s left is the intense energy from the buildup and breakdown which simply isn’t enough to carry this track through. Still, it serves quite excellently as a foil for Colorful Path.

  4. Takuya Hori – Mystery of your town

    If you’ve listened to Camphor’s previous releases, this is the track that will be most familiar to you. It’s a very light-hearted arrangement, with a slow buildup over the track and just a very relaxed mood to it overall – perfect for dispelling all that energy from Yakan. I quite like the synths in the distance, along with the piano-esque rendering of the melody, it’s very interesting to hear such a take on this original track. Definitely like this track, it’s so light and fluffy feeling.

  5. Takuya Hori – Mysterious Mountain

    Actually sounds quite similar at the start to the previous song, if you listen closely enough. Develops much more energetically though, almost sounds like the inverse of Mystery of your town. It’s still fairly relaxing, but the nature of the drums used in this prevents it from being too laid-back, and indeed, the rest of the instruments are quite energetic as well. It’s similar to Colorful Path in style and pattern, but with a very different melody and base instruments – I particularly like the distorted bass that’s being used for the drop, it’s very funky and funky is always good. Good stuff for sure.

  6. Takuya Hori – Malignant police

    Interesting title, to say the least. I have to say, this is another one of my favourites – it develops rather quickly compared to the others, with a simple repeated catchy motif that’s modified throughout the track. I guess if you wanted to, you could say that it’s repetitive in the same way that a police siren is, although that would be pushing it. Definitely one of the better original tracks of the album, everything seems pretty well composed and all elements are pretty well balanced. I was pretty surprised by how decent the drop was for this song – I wasn’t expecting it to be able to match the quality of the buildup, but it did and it was excellent.

  7. Takuya Hori – Diver

    Another application of the simple, repeated motifs that work so well in trance, this time producing what is undoubtedly the best track of the album. The title of the song is eerily accurate to what it feels like – a bit like the blurry vision that the diver would have, only able to see the blue of the water before slowly and finally focusing on an underwater object. This track is so repetitive that by right it shouldn’t be interesting at all, but it manages to keep things moving with a simple synth element that carries the melody, while the repeated musical keyboard-esque chords keep repeating in the background. Combined with an excellent choice of drum style, everything combines into an amazingly catchy track with excellent buildup and excellent understanding of composition. Best.

Quite an excellent album, isn’t it? As you can tell, my favourite track from the album is Diver – it’s such a smooth-flowing track that’s like nothing else I’ve ever heard. There’s also the added bonus of it looping well within itself, so you can just loop it all day long. Such greatness!

It’s also quite rare to find this blend of progressive house/trance – usually, we get some very heavy house elements or some very trance-like elements, so this album was especially special for me. The lack of vocals might be off-putting to some, but the lack of vocals allows the instrumentals to truly shine through, and puts the arranger’s skill to the test.

This is definitely one of my favourite releases from C80, and one of the few that I have kept listening to constantly even after C81 came around. I’m usually quite willing to switch over wholesale to whatever new batch of music comes out each Comiket, but Camphor’s albums have always proven themselves to be irreplaceable – there’s simply nothing else like it.

Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed when there was no announcement on Camphor’s website for C81. Takuya Hori’s style is so unique that he can’t really be replaced by anyone else, I really do hope Takuya Hori comes up with more albums – although preferably with more conventional packaging. It’s not cool when the disc is exposed to scratches like that, you know!!

If you want to buy this album, well, that’s a bit problematic. It’s available on DLSite’s Japanese portal, but I’m pretty sure that only accepts Japanese credit cards – so really, you’re screwed for this release. The only hope you might have is if Camphor does another Comiket, they might maybe have their old releases on sale as well.