Personal feelings about Akitaka Tohyama

This isn't composer spotlight. That's CHz's thing, and he is good at it. This is something else. I just had to write something. You see, I've listened to Akitaka Tohyama for hours in a row now. That man is a freaking genius. Someone give him a medal or something! He has a sense of style and a way of using sounds that I've never experienced before. The only man on this earth that's even close to Akitaka Tohyama's uniqueness is, in my opinion, Trent Reznor, and that's saying a lot. So let me tell you why Akitaka Tohyama's work constantly blows my head up.

The works I've heard by Mr. Toyama are his tracks in Tekken 4, Tekken 5, Katamari Damacy and We Love Katamari (all must-have soundtracks by the way; Tekken 4 is maybe not that must-have). They share a really unique feel to them. Extensive use of effects with some serious automation, interesting and phat synths, and amazing beatwork. Now pick up your copy of Tekken 5 (you've got one, right?) and play some arcade. Then die. Yes, I know it pains you and lowers your ranking but do it anyway. Now you're at the continue screen. Here is what I'm talking about. Turn the volume to max, plug in some headphones and you'll hear something unbelievable. Akitaka Tohyama get's freaky. The extensive use of bitcrush and the fast repetitive drum-rolls (made popular by IDM music) is amazingly well programmed and It's really a something the world of game music hasn't heard much of before. The bleepy synth sounds, at first sound completely random but you soon realize he knows exactly what he's doing. In a way Tohyama captures the essence of old-school game music witht the lo-fi and upgrades it to fit the role that game music has today. This is high-quality, interesting and highly listenable music.

If you're not impressed yet and think the glitchy lo-fi stuff is just THAT bad, don't turn off Tekken 5 just yet. You want some pumping techno? You like zircon's use of phat synths or you plain just want to move your butt and still not ruin your reputation as the geek who only listens to game music? Go into training mode and select the level to play on. Select the final stage (the last of the two stages you meet Jinpachi on). Keep your headphones on. If I was out clubbing or dancing (which I sometimes do, especially at the club-tent at Arvikafestivalen, a music festival in Sweden) this would most certainly get me to move my feet. Again, it's Tohyama's unique skill to find the right sounds that makes this track so good. He also get's some of the classic VGM elements in there. The strings alone could be used in any RPG and the chord progression isn't that bad either. Still able to keep a groove that gets my adrenaline pumping faster than any other beat 'em up soundtrack has ever done, this is quality game music.

Sadly, this composer is very hard to find some decent information about. He's one of the Namco house composers (I guess?), so he's worked on some Namco games, but I only know of the four soundtracks I named up there and Soul Calibur. If ANYONE has a list or something of any of his works, please contact me on anothersoundscape@gmail.com. Any information about more of his works are welcome. Now get going and play some Tekken 5, because it has one hell of a soundtrack, even if it's not all Akitaka Tohyama. I might as well be back some other time with more rundowns of Tekken 5 tunes and composers. I'm just that nice.

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