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Music / Area 11

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"All the Lights in the Sky are falling to the ground"

Area 11 is an Otaku rock band from Bristol, England, that draws heavy influence from various anime series. They have dubbed the style of music they play "Gaijin Rock", a blend of J-Pop and Western shred rock, and they are attempting to establish this as a new, standalone genre. The lyrics of said Gaijin Rock songs usually reference the anime they draw influence from. However, unlike that other band, all of the references they make are subtle enough that someone who perhaps doesn't like anime can listen to them without being scared off. In fact, even the band name is a subtle reference; "Area 11" was the name for Japan in Code Geass.

Their debut album, All The Lights in The Sky was released on January 31st 2013. Half the bandnote  are members of the Yogscast where they did video and sound editing (Sparkles* left his full-time post at some point in 2014), and this fact certainly hasn't hurt them getting their name out. They were also signed to a record label made by the Yogscast, Yogscast Studios, who helped them release their debut album onto iTunes, though "Underline" was later released independently. Before then, they released their work on their BandCamp, but after releasing their debut album they chose to remove their EP, Blackline Complete from the site, due to each of the songs being re-recorded for All The Lights in The Sky.

They have also created the ending theme for the Bravoman animated series, titled "GO!! Fighting Action Power", and are also responsible for the opening theme, "Wonder Wars", of the Wonder Momo anime.

On May 1st of 2014, Area 11 had officially released Homunculus for free download on Dropify.note  The band has gone on their first tour, the aptly named The Ichi Tour, and started their second tour, aptly called the The Ni Tour, in October 2014.

Area 11 released Underline EP, their second EP to date, on November 1st. The band has promoted the EP by playing some of their newer songs from the EP live during The Ichi Tour. This was released independently of the Yogscast Studios label.

Their second album, Modern Synthesis, debuted in July 2016, this time under Cooking Records. Unlike ATLITS, it focuses less on anime-inspired lyrics.

Current members:

  • Sparkles* (Tom Clarke): Lead vocals, synths (2010-present)
  • Alex "Parv" Parvis: Guitar, backup vocals (2010-present)
  • Jonathan "Kogie" Kogan: Bass guitar, saxophone, backup vocals (2010-present)
  • Leo Taylor: Drums, percussions (2010-present)

Former members:

  • Luke Owens: Guitar, backup vocals (2010-2012, left due to start the sleaze rock band Teasing Demons, although the band have confirmed they're still on good terms)
  • Tim Yearsley: Bass guitar (2011)

They provide examples of:

  • Action Girl: Whoever "Cassandra" is, she might possibly be this. It's not 100% clear.
  • Ambient: Sparkles* released one on his Soundcloud, located here. The song itself is called "Prologue III (Echodeath)", lasts for 20 minutes, and supposedly is a massive clue to his game, "Digital Haunt".
  • Album Filler: System;start is presumably there to make the tracks add up to eleven, after two other tracks ("Homunculus" and "[HUMAN IS DEAD, MISMATCH]") were cut.
  • Album Title Drop: All the Lights in the Sky appears in the lyrics of "Heaven-Piercing Giga Drill" (although the song predates the album) and the fourth movement of "Bōsōzoku Symphonic", which is appropriately titled the same.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: For the main Yogscast livestream in 2012, Sparkles* interrupts one part of the livestream by stumbling in utterly plastered before the others have to escort him out. It's not the worst example, but it certainly caused the fans to chuckle.
  • Alternate Reality Game: Sparkles* is running one called Digital Haunt. According to him, he's been planning it for seven whole years now, and it'll take a fair old while to unravel it. More information can be found here.
  • Anti-Love Song: "Shi No Barado" is one. Obvious once you realize it's based on Death Note.
  • Arc Words: Modern Synthesis has "lines fade out".
  • Artifact Title: The name "Area 11" made sense when they were making songs about anime. Since they started writing songs that aren't anime related, it makes less sense now.
  • Auto-Tune: Present in the singles re-release of "Heaven-Piercing Giga Drill". A comment from the band on their video for it says it's a deliberate artistic choice, not because Sparkles* cannot sing (hear the older versions for proof of that).
  • Ballad of X: "Shi No Barado", meaning Ballad of Death.
  • Berserk Button: Hat Films get very angry when they don't get to play as the top hat in "Monopoly".
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: There's a really, REALLY slight one in "GO!! Fighting Action Power", during one part where the music changes - "Don't give up, you gottta achive your dreams - if you don't, don't sue us, it's a cartoon theme!". The real reason it actually breaks the fourth wall is essential because GOFAP is the Bravoman animated series ending song.
  • Butt-Monkey: Parv is/was one for the Yogscast in general; in terms of the actual band, Leo takes this role, although he's been getting considerably less flak thanks to "RIP Parv". Kogie explicitly calls Parv a Butt-Monkey in this video.
  • B-Side: Both "Shi No Barado" and "Go!! Fighting Action Power" have B-sides, the former being a re-recorded old song of theirs, "The Legendary Sannin", and the latter, a beautiful piano version of "Heaven-Piercing Giga Drill". "Heaven-Piercing Giga Drill" has an acoustic version of "Movement 4" from Bōsōzoku Symphonic, albeit slightly extended.
  • Call-Back:
    • GIGACRAFT follows on from the music video for "Heaven-Piercing Giga Drill", with Sparkles* trapped in Minecraft for an undetermined amount of time.
    • "Are You Listening"'s ending quotes "Cassandra Part II" and also mentions "the lights in the sky" in a nice Shout-Out to their prior album.
    • "Panacea and the Prelogue"'s climax refers back to "Processor" (an earlier track on the album), as well as quoting lines from several other songs of theirs, including "Are You Listening?", "In the Blind", "Override [A]", "Processor" (there's another line in addition to the main Arc Words of "lines fade out"), "Cassandra Pt. II", and "All the Lights in the Sky".
  • The Cameo:
    • Simon Lane, aka Honeydew, appears in the first episode of GIGACRAFT. He gets killed off not long after being introduced, prompting Sparkles* to flee as his boss is dead and he fears he'll be held responsible.
    • Hat Films and InTheLittleWood both appear in "Monopoly". The former are playing the titular game with the band and kicking up a fuss about how they aren't allowed to be the top hat, while the latter appears in a Do Not Try This at Home disclaimer.
  • Christmas Song: Their single "Minecraft Christmas", released on the BlueXephos channel. It doesn't place an emphasis on Christmas being wonderful and magic, and is more set around it. While it starts off a little depressing (not the music. That's upbeat the whole way through), with the character being alone on Christmas eve. Things get progressively better for the character, until at the end it's as happy as any other Christmas Song. And for a brief moment, it even charted, partially helped by being a charity single.
  • Cover Version:
    • Shi No Barado was released in unison with several versions:
      • One by Superpowerless.
      • Another by I Fight Dragons.
      • And one by the band themselves, but in Japanese.
      • Yet another one, combining the vanilla and Japanese versions, was released online a while after the single's debut.
    • There was also "DOTA 2 Beta Key", a lyric-changing cover of Basshunter's "All I Ever Wanted".
  • Crossover: The band did the instrumental and backing vocals for Sips' song "Big Girl".
  • Darker and Edgier: Downplayed with their second full album, Modern Synthesis; there is an Enter Shikari feel to some of the songs, but the album doesn't follow this trend entirely.
  • Description Cut: Sparkles* manages to this to himself in GIGACRAFT episode 1.
    Sparkles*: For some reason I have all this knowledge of how to do things in this world.
    Sparkles*: *Doesn't know how to craft early Minecraft objects*
  • Do Not Try This at Home: Played for Laughs in "Monopoly", when Martyn cameos to tell viewers not to chew and swallow Monopoly houses. He then asks Sparkles* if that's it and smokes a cigarette from the sheer weirdness of the sketch.
  • Dress Rehearsal Video: "Shi No Barado".
  • Electronic Music: Due to the electronic outro, the bouncy rhythm and the upbeat tempo,"Tokyo House Party" (from All the Lights in the Sky) is considered to be more a dance music song than a rock song.
  • Epic Rocking: Definitely "Bōsōzoku Symphonic". It breaks the 5 minute mark and doesn't stop until a full 11 minutes and 11 seconds have passed.
  • Formerly Fat: Sparkles* has lost quite a bit of weight in recent years, though he wasn't that fat in the first place, more slightly chubby.
  • Genre Mashup: The band blends J-Pop as well as Japanese cultural references with Western-born shred focused "guitar worship" rock music. Since they are attempting to establish this as a genre in it's own right, they could also be considered the Trope Maker of Gaijin Rock.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Japanese is sprinkled throughout several songs, which is appropriate considering the Gratuitous English that infests J-Pop:
    • The first movement of "Bōsōzoku Symphonic", "Ryōkan" (being a Japanese poem set to music) is entirely in Japanese.
    • The multilanguage version of "Shi No Barado". While it is supposed to be a blend of the vanilla and Japanese versions, more of the English version survives the crunch together than the Japanese.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: A heart can be heard throughout much of "System;Start", although it is soon drowned out.
  • Hidden Depths: According to Hannah Rutherford from the Yogscast, Sparkles* studied biology at university.
  • Hot Springs Episode: GIGACRAFT episodes 4 and 5, with Kogie and Leo having won the hot springs in a magazine contest.
  • Japanese Delinquents:
    • Not they themselves, being British anime nerds and pretty talented musicians, but they reference a sub-culture of such delinquents in the title of the last song on their debut album, "Bōsōzoku Symphonic"; a Bōsōzoku as a sub-culture of Japanese biker gangs known for riding around on loud, extremely customized motorcycles and causing chaos in the streets of Japan.
    • Amusingly, in GIGACRAFT this gets Sparkles* kicked out of the hot springs as he has a Yakuza tattoo.
  • Let's Duet: "Shi No Barado", with Beckii Cruel.
  • Let's Play: Two of them are members of the Yogscast, and upload videos of their gameplay to their YouTube channel. Since 2014, a good chunk of the Let's Play videos are gone, but some newer "Game Night" ones still remain.
  • Looped Lyrics: "Bōsōzoku Symphonic", movements one and five, albeit not excessively.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Euphemia". On the surface of it, it is fast, soaring and epic. Lyrically, it's a reflection of one of Code Geass's most tragic events, through the viewpoint of the man who caused it in the first place.
  • Metal Scream:
    • A brief one in the second chorus of "The Strays".
    • Many throughout "Versus".
    • Several in the middle of "Processor".
  • Nerds Are Sexy: The guys have quite the following for this reason.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Frequent. More often than not, in fact.
  • Note to Self: In GIGACRAFT, Sparkles* used these before the series begins, but only to count the days he'd been trapped (until he gave that up), and to remind him to hate his old friends.
  • One-Woman Song: "Cassandra, Pt.2". May be a subversion, may be not. Nobody's quite sure what it means.
  • Performance Video: "Shi No Barado" and "Euphemia" are partially examples intercut with other clips, while "Go!! Fighting Action Power" is exclusively this. The videos for "The Contract" and "Versus" also follow this trend.
  • Power Ballad: "Shi no Barado". It's starts off soft, and then the guitar (played by guitarist Alex "Parv" Parvis) kicks in. And from then on, the rest of the song goes back and forth between the two.
  • Recycled Lyrics: "The lights in the sky", or variants thereof, are referred to three timesnote  throughout All The Lights In The Sky.
  • Self-Deprecation: The band often mocks itself for supposed "ego issues" and for being a bit too nerdy, albeit outside most of their songs. Quite a few of the pictures on the band's Twitter show them goofing off, playing Pokémon when they should be working, for instance.
  • Shout-Out: Damn near every early song of theirs is one lyrically (all but "Cassandra, Pt.2", at least on the first album), but the most notable example might be naming their first album, All The Lights In The Sky after the second Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann movie, The Lights in the Sky Are Stars.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "Vectors" and "Euphemia". This is because the Blackline version of "Euphemia" had an intro, which was since moved to the end of "Vectors" in the All The Lights In The Sky edition. With "System;Start" being a non-mandatory lead in to the former.
  • Stop and Go: The original "The Legendary Sannin" has one early on.
  • Talky Bookend: "Heaven-Piercing Giga Drill", serving as the set-up for GIGACRAFT.
  • Title Track: The fourth movement of "Bōsōzoku Symphonic" would be this for All The Lights In The Sky, if it weren't for the fact that all five movement names can only be found on the Yogscast wiki.
  • Unplugged Version: Shi No Barado has had one, uploaded on their channel. Amusingly, an electric keyboard stood in for a piano.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: Just who is Cassandra from "Cassandra, Pt.2"? We'll supposedly never know.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: Sparkles* starts off GIGACRAFT in this fashion, though he wakes in more of a cave than a room.