Marking Sounds released the remix album St. Michael’s Music Academy on 21 August 2011. A remastered edition was released alongside a sequel to this album, St. Michael’s Music Academy ~Side Story~, on 8 April 2012. The first of its kind for this series, these albums take the relatively sparse soundtrack of the visual novels and give it new life with a variety of electronic music styles. A highly ambitious project, it inspired the creation of my index of Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo fanart with the hope that it will inspire more non-Japanese fans like Marking Sounds to create their own art for this series.
The records of the Music Academy celebrate the unique lifestyle of the modern St. Michael’s student and all of its ups and downs. The first release by The Marking Dude is a musical snapshot of the student’s life in the prestigious school for girls, surrounded as she is by daughters of well-to-do families and a select few who are always at her side. The first half of the album uses a conservative approach to remixing, with very recognizable renditions of the original sound, which in some cases is still largely present. The student is welcomed by the school, and she faces its challenges aided by her closest friends and perhaps finds love at the same time, with all the troubles and boons it comes with.
Past the interlude, the songs are more thorough in their arrangements, with greatly altered instrumentation and a heavier tone as the school year progresses and relationships become more complex. The arrangement of the ending theme to Sweet Enchanting Kisses provides reassurance, if not resolution to the student’s problems at hand. The closing track sits somewhere between the two moods in each half, having a relaxed mood and a distinctly electronic sound. The bell sees the students off and plays in reverse in intense anticipation for the continuation of their school lives.
The follow-up to this album, Side Story, features 15 tracks with a wider variety of music styles than its predecessor. It was produced by the following artists:
- typeMARS | Google+ | SoundCloud
- DJ Counterforce | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | SoundCloud
- Neurofinity | Google+ | SoundCloud
- Merit | Facebook | Google+ | SoundCloud
- sci | Facebook | SoundCloud | Bandcamp
- jennkei| Twitter | Google+
- Renzu | Website | Twitter | Google+ | SoundCloud
- TheTerboh | Twitter | Google+ | SoundCloud
- The Marking Dude | Twitter | Google+ | SoundCloud
When two different flavors join together, they mix into a whole new experience.
What started as an experiment using the sounds of the “Light” and “Dark” Petals turned into something more.
This is the world of “Side Story”…
- The Professor
The introduction track gives an immediate preview to the tone of the entire album, to establish that it is not like the main story. Rather than the nuanced journey through St. Michael’s that the first album evokes, the Side Story is a high-energy album throughout. The second track, the first proper song is an amalgamation of the two “Amai Hanazono” remixes that demarcated the two sides of the first album. Multiple upbeat remixes follow until the first interlude, where the mood changes to a more melodic and relaxed pace. This second section ends with a remix of the normally higher-tempo ending theme from Amakute Otona no Torokeru Chuu with new vocals by jennkei. On the other side of the second interlude, the energetic tone resumes with a simpler, yet more distinct electronic sound, topped off with a playful chiptune. Light-hearted as this section is, it is colored by anticipation of the trial ahead.
The Final Exam offers one last look back to the rest of the album as the Professor directly confronts the subject with a condescending tone. This challenge prefaces the climax: the most frenetic track yet, a grand combination of The Marking Dude’s previous styles (with a hint of tranquilo) interspersed with fragments of the lighter melody from the original ending song. The Graduation track that concludes the piece reflects the feeling of triumph over all conflicts, academic and romantic, that the student of the school for girls inevitably experiences. This is in direct contrast to the closing bells of the original album, which suggests an eventual return; the Graduation is truly a finale in every sense of the word.
The first and third major releases of Marking Sounds pay tribute to the unique qualities of Sonohana in a way no other fanart does. Also of note is Marking Sounds’ second release, tranquilo, an original album which contains new versions of two tracks from St. Michael’s Music Academy: “Our Special Spot” and “Class Is Dismissed”. As noted in the annotations for those songs, the new remixes expand on the original songs to better explore certain aspects of the St. Michael’s student life. “Our Special Spot” has its relaxing mood extended, and “Class Is Dismissed” goes beyond its original ending to explore how the girls of the school spend their time away from school in the city.
The remix albums are free to download in MP3, OGG Vorbis, and FLAC formats at http://markingsounds.com/. tranquilo is a name-your-price album or $3.49 at Google Play. See this index for more Sonohana fanart.
Update 15 April 2012: The samples above have been uploaded to Nico Nico Video for publicity among the Japanese audience. If you can promote them within Japanese fan communities, please do.
Update 13 May 2012: The Marking Dude made an appeal to Reo-ppoi Radio’s Immigration Bureau on episode 31.