This is a book by the doujin group chromatic-noise (色雑音研究室) published in August 2016. It features reviews of several Touhou albums (focusing on the design part) and interviews with the artists. Here I bring you a translation of the Kouseki Radio review and Ane’s interview!
You can still buy this book on BOOTH.
BUTAOTOME is a four members circle: Comp, Paprika, Ranko, and Ranko no Ane. They make music of a wide range of genres, but mainly rock and pop. They are also famous for their active live performances all over Japan. A lot of their songs are great during live performances, so if you like their works, I highly recommend you to see them live.
Packing method: plastic film with tear tape
Release: September 9, 2012 – Kyoukai kara mieta Keshiki
Event price: 700 yen
Shop price: 1000 yen + taxes
Case back (with obi)
In 1925 (Taisho 14), Japan’s first radio broadcast took place, and a crystal radio was used. The number of colors used is small, perhaps to reflect the Taisho and Showa era when crystal radios were used.
The yellow letters on the red background provide a good balance and stability while maintaining a moderate contrast.
The front and spine use light blue as a base color, with yellow and red as accents. The two members of the Hifuu Club are drawn in colors with little gradation.
The text on the obi is long and slightly faded.
These are all design choices that give the impression of the Taisho-Showa period to those who pick up the album.
Inside the case
The booklet has the same background that can be seen from the back of the case. However, while the case has the tracklist, here there all the credits. The names are all yellow, making them highly visible.
The disc’s surface is also eye-catching, with colors not used for the case. A crystal radio is also depicted here, playing a part in creating the atmosphere. The italicized circle name, which is also used on the cover art, is written below the horizontal line, creating a good balance with the flat title.
When taking the disc off a circuit diagram of a crystal radio is visible. However, the rectification in this circuit is done by germanium diodes, which is not in the category of crystal radios, but since germanium is also extracted from minerals such as germanite, I think it can be called a crystal radio in a broad sense (it is generally called germanium radio).
The back inlay is a yellow schematic on a black background, and the part visible when the obi is removed is a black credit on a red background. It gives the impression of a calm atmosphere without being too flashy.
Case (without obi)
On the front, there is a moon, which is often used as a motif in Hifuu Club works. When it is placed on the shelf of a bookstore, you can easily guess the songs by looking at it.
When the obi is removed, the credits can be seen through the case. The typeface used here is a design typeface, but it is not a strange one, and its size is well balanced.
On the back of the obi, there is a guide to old works and a link to the web page, which is also very considerate to those who pick up this album.
BUTAOTOME’s first entry of their Hifuu series gives the impression that there are many calm songs, probably because many Hifuu songs themselves are dark.
My most recommended song is track 2, “Moonstone”. At the beginning of the chorus, the singer’s voice expresses a fragile, faint, and sad feeling that spreads far and wide, and it makes me feel genuinely comfortable. At first glance, the song seems to have a slow tempo with a slow melody that stimulates the imagination of the song’s narrative, but as it enters the chorus, it changes into a light-hearted tune with synths and piano going around sparkling. It is good to be able to soak up in the gap between the slow and rapid tempo before and after the chorus, the sad and thoughtful singing style of the vocalist, and the rhythmic and light atmosphere of the song.
The song “Pyrite,” which keyboardist Paprika often performs live, is also included on this album, so it’s here if you’d like to hear it in CD form.
Pupupu, pupupupu… The prologue begins with such a faint sound, and as the name of the album suggests, this is a work in which we listen to music through a crystal radio. Are the two members of the Hifuu Club on the cover communicating with various places while walking across various crystals? This work captures the imagination of the listener with such images.
The world view of the lyrics is also based on the image of each crystal, which makes the concept of this album even clearer. For example, the arrangement of Tr2’s “Moonstone,” of course, has the Japanese word for “moonstone” in the lyrics, but it also makes you feel that her belief in the possibilities of a new world overlaps somewhat with the moonstone’s prediction of the future. Many of the other songs also have lyrics that make you aware of a connection to some other world, but is it just me or do you think the nuance is closer to the image of the crystals?
Please tell us what you do, and what you pay attention to when designing a package.
For the artwork, I decide on the main colors to be used (about 4 colors) and the front and back image themes at the initial composition stage before creating it. For Kouseki Radio, I had a particular image of a “mid-Showa boy’s magazine flavor,” so I used different colors for the pictures to make them look like they were printed with fewer colors, and different touches for the gems to make them look like natural history pictures. Since I was referring to old things, I made sure I had as many reference materials from that time as possible before I started.
What do you pay special attention to in terms of the typeface and logo you use?
I create the logo for the cover art last because it is important that it matches the composition of the picture. I think about the size and position of the logo to bring out the movement and atmosphere from the picture, and try to fit it in with different designs. The design will also be used for announcement banners and posters, so I pay attention that it must be highly visible whether it is large or small.
As for the typeface, the readability will vary depending on the composition of the screen (vertical or horizontal writing), so I try fitting several types and choose one that is easy to read.
Please tell us if you have any tips for creating works consistently.
When I see a lot of other circles’ works, I feel like “I want to make something like this too”. Also, if you are exposed to various genres of music and visual works, it’s easy to get the motivation “to do something like this next time”. Input is an important part of learning, but if you are not careful to some extent, you tend to consume only the same genres.
Who did you use for your presses?
We have been using Tech Trans for the past few years. Not only are their prices reasonable, but their salespeople are very knowledgeable about various doujin events, so they are able to consult with us on various matters through small chats and other means.
How did you feel when you finished this album?
The artwork for Kouseki Radio was made completely out of my personal hobby of collecting gemstones, so I was worried about how people would take it… As for the music, I’m very happy with the songs, and for the first time, we had an instrumental co-arranged by Comp and Paprika. I recommend this album because of the diversity of the songs and arrangements.
Please give some advice to people who are trying to make a doujin CD.
If you are making a CD for the first time, there are many things to think about, such as whether to press it or burn it by yourself.
It’s easy to make CDs in non-woven cases, but considering the ease of storage and the importance of lyrics booklet, it’s better to make them look more like regular CDs so that people can easily pick them up.
If you have a small number of CDs and it would be too expensive to order the whole set, you may want to ask the printer to make just the cover art and assemble them yourself.
What are your future activities?
We not only make CDs, but also do live performances, live broadcasts, and many other things, and since we are doujin, we hope to do many strange things. There is no limit to what we want to do, so if you have time, please keep an eye on our twitter account.
Do you have anything new to introduce?
Our new album “FREAKS” should be out at the same time as this book comes out at C90. Don’t miss it…
Like “Kouseki Radio”, this is a Hifuu-only piece. In the years since then, there has been a miraculous rush of supply from official sources, and I feel that our Hifuu sense has changed. I hope you will enjoy listening to and comparing these two albums that show the flow of time.