Sunday, April 01, 2007

Digital Music Review: Sparkling Music by Deavid Soul

One of the best things about the Sega Dreamcast game Jet Grind Radio (aka Jet Set Radio in Japan) was its soundtrack. The fun, funky mix of hip-hop, dance, and other types of music fit the game's cel-shaded look and graffiti-based theme perfectly.

One of the groups who had music prominently featured in the game was the Japanese duo Deavid Soul. Four of their songs appeared in Jet Grind Radio and they also appear on their album Sparkling Music, now available for download from While some of the best tracks are the ones that were featured in Jet Grind Radio, the rest of Sparkling Music is just as much fun to listen to.

The first two tracks of Sparkling Music are songs that were in Jet Grind Radio. Hip-hop plays a big part in “Miller Ball Breakers.” The funky techno beat is spiced up with tons of hip-hop samples including a full-on rap breakdown in the middle of the song. “Yappie Feet,” another song from Jet Grind Radio, goes into a completely different direction. This song feels like the lovechild of early/mid 90's dance and disco. It's immensely upbeat and happy. What keeps the song from feeling like a cheesy nightmare is the underlying techno elements.

Much of the rest of Sparkling Music continues in the stylistic vein of the first two songs. “Red Thunder Driving” is a little more mellow in sound but just as upbeat in tempo. “Sweet Back” seems to be the duo's version of a “traditional” dance song, the type that most people think of when they think of dance music. This song is mostly instrumental, though, and that sets it apart. “Up-Set Attack,” another song featured in Jet Grind Radio, is a goofy dance confection while “Space Camper” is pretty much purely techno, albeit a light version.

For all the songs that feel similar in style, one song really surprised me. “House City Rockers” is the rockin' cousin of Fatboy Slim's “The Rockafeller Skank.” It takes a 1950's surf rock sample and turns it into something wild and fun. What makes this song really good is the way that it's done. The song doesn't just take the sample and put some modern beats behind it. Other fast-paced rock samples are mixed in too and a drum machine isn't used. The result is a dance song that actually, somehow, keeps the integrity of that style of rock intact.

If you are a fan of techno or dance music (or a fan of Jet Grind Radio's soundtrack), then Sparkling Music is worth a download. There are definitely noteworthy tracks beyond those from Jet Grind Radio and it's certainly an album that will cheer you up when you're in a bad mood.

As for getting the album from, it's very easy. Like a growing number of digital music stores, offers songs in MP3 format (192 kbps) with no DRM. It's completely legal with prices comparable to iTunes and since Sparkling Music is out-of-print in Japan, it's pretty much the only way to get the album

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