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Having his work credited in countless projects as a sound producer, composer, and DJ, Taku Inoue has taken to collaborating with prominent VTuber/VSinger Hoshimachi Suisei as a tag team under the group name, Midnight Grand Orchestra. After the release of their first mini album “Overture” back on July 27, the duo has set in stone their precedence in terms of concept and world-building as a music group.
In this original piece here at SPICE, we’ll be taking a closer look at Midnight Grand Orchestra’s newest virtual live event featuring a track-list mainly comprised of songs from the aforementioned mini album, with some extra tunes sprinkled in.
A quick rundown of the duo’s history goes something like this: Hoshimachi Suisei was initially brought in as a guest singer for Taku Inoue’s major debut song “3:12” (3時12分) where the two artists first collaborated.
Along the same time, Suisei was in the midst of her own production of her first album, “Still Still Stellar” where she would have Inoue on board as the composer for the titular track of the album, “Stellar Stellar”. Fans of both sides are keenly aware of how these coincidentally simultaneous collaborations brought the two artists together as Midnight Grand Orchestra.
▍Hoshimachi Suisei at Midnight Grand Orchestra 1st Live Concert “Overture”
Due to how the Midnight Grand Orchestra was first banded together because of the collaborations on both “Stellar Stellar” and “3:12”, it can very well be said that these two tracks contain the routes of the sounds incorporated by the musical duo. Opting with a title signifying the beginning of the morning and the end of the night, the track “3:12” employs a stop-and-go rhythm that further enhances the calm yet ambiguous nature of the song.
On the other hand “Stellar Stellar” opens with Inoue’s signature liquid funk/drum and bass-influenced melodies combined together with orchestral strings to enhance the grandeur of the track, going for a more gracious flow as the leading song of the album. The overall structure of the album and its music follows suit with its selection of songs that flare up with energy like “Stellar Stellar”, punctuated with quieter mellow songs like “3:12” added to the mix.
This particular live event spectacle was brought together in the form of a live stream viewing session with an audience limit of 150 people. As editor of this report, I was one of the many that were there at the session. Just to give readers an idea, the entire proceedings of the performance were viewed by a silent audience due to the regulations put forth.
Although there may not have been rounds of applause at the end of each track, nor were there any chanting and cheering by the crowd, it was very clear to me that everyone was simply taking in the experience and were overwhelmed by silence by the whole spectacle.
This rang true, especially with how I was brought back to reality at the very end of the concert, bringing out the claps and applause that echoed out of the crowd. If there was a concert-like aspect to the viewing session, it could be said that this absence of sound by the audience was a shared experience to all who were there, equally enamored by it all.
Just as the early sneak-peak video, which was teased beforehand, the concert employs a cyberpunk aesthetic to its virtual stage. The details presented on stage were nothing short of impressive, where an entire cityscape with a skyline lit up by rays of starlight and neon colors presents a spectacle for the eyes.
The live performance began with a countdown followed up by the stage lighting up with the logo of Midnight Grand Orchestra, concluded with a Morse code spelling out SOS. With the countdown striking zero, the performance began, starting off the show with “Never Ending Midnights” and “SOS”.
“Hi everyone! Thank you all so much for coming over to Midnight Grand Orchestra’s first live concert!”. After finishing off the two opening tracks, Suisei greets her audience along with Inoue with his guitar, together with a drummer and bass player behind the VSinger.
“For viewers on YouTube that’ll be the end of the sneak-peak stream! Do stick around for more since I think we’ve shown off what this performance offers!” Ending with these words, Suisei went on to her next song. Everyone was stunned and already immersed in the precedence set.
The song “Allegro” would turn up the gear next with “Rat A Tat” following up with its catchy rhythms. All members of Midnight Grand Orchestra are adorned in thematic blue costumes with Suisei outfitted with an altered version of her own original outfit, swapping out the orange accents in her clothing for a darker blue. During the performance, the camera would often focus on the vtuber, where each of her breath and shakes in her voice would show up on the display.
After the two songs, the duo would warp out into a completely new stage prop as they go on to their next MC segment. During the talk with Suisei, Inuoe would overlook the virtual cityscape and closer to the stars, here the duo would briefly talk about how they first collaborated together, as well as going on to show off the band members that were co-performing.
Tepe on guitar, Hironao Nagayama on keyboards, CHICA & Yu Sugino on violins, Aiko Hosokawa on viola, Yuuki Shinozaki on Cello and Drums performed by bobo & Maoki Yamamoto round out the music instrumentals of the concert.
The concert goes along with the setlist of the album, moving along with “Tuning (Interlude)” and shifting tones to a more mellowed-out vibe. ”Meteor Shower” (流星群) features a literal barrage of comets just like the song title and lyrics Suisei sang. Moving on to the seventh song of the live ”3:12”, the camera zooming out as the song hits its chorus is evocative of the MV of the track.
As the song hits its final bridge, the floor of the stage showing a clock pointing at 3:12 spins into motion as if given life by the music. The decision to then put “Stellar Stellar” right after the softer-sounding tracks was a very nice touch. The powerful longer notes and high registering falsettos create a beautiful contrast that deviates heavily from the previous songs.
The MC part afterward would come with Suisei announcing that this 9th song will be the final song of the mini live. “Please be excited for what’s to come! We’re eager to know what we can do the next time we get together!” Ending with those words, Suisei and the group swept up the audience for the last spectacle of their midnight cruise.
As the virtual night sky is showered in a blinding flash of countless meteors the song “Highway” picks up the pace. The arpeggio of the song along with the torrent of stars falling from the sky conveyed a feeling analogous to something like the end of a journey in a road movie.
The falling meteors are contrasted by the string instruments that come in at the end of the chorus, where the entire virtual stage was engulfed in light as if the world itself is about to end. The final parts of the “Highway” and the visuals were that of a sensory supernova that had gone off, birthing a new star in the night by way of a luminous, powerful explosion.
The Overture mini-live came to an end with Suisei’s final words, “Thank you all so much. We the Midnight Grand Orchestra hope to see you again soon.” It’s probably apt that the group called the live performance Overture, as the event marked the beginning of a new musical duo, backed by band members as well as the countless staff members that facilitated the visual aspects of the show. It would be an understatement to say that the entire team of Midnight Grand Orchestra has given their all at their first outing artistically.
Truly a unique media experience, the Midnight Grand Orchestra 1st LIVE “Overture” was something simply not replicable by merely streaming the songs themselves, and elevated the listening experience to that of a more grandiose affair with its sparkling lights and impressive virtual stage props. It’ll be exciting to see what the duo has in mind for their next live event with how eye-opening of an experience it was to the senses, simultaneously giving context and substance to the message and tone of each track of their own music album.
▍Track List for 2022.8.20 Midnight Grand Orchestra 1st LIVE “Overture”
01. Never Ending Midnights
04. Rat A Tat
05. Tuning (Interlude)
06. ”Meteor Shower” (流星群)
07. “3:12” (3時12分)
08. Stellar Stellar
The original article was written by Yusuke Maeda (前田勇介) and published by SPICE, which can be found here: https://spice.eplus.jp/articles/307091