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Note: This article is about the Artcore musical genre related to Drum and Bass and its visual style, not an aesthetic centered around art. If that's what you're looking for, see Art Academia or Art Hoe.
This is page is not to be confused with the subgenre of Hardcore Punk of the same name
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Artcore (アートコア), primitively known as Renaissance Hardcore, is a niche electronic musical genre that originated in Japan in the 2000s. The genre is characterized by its fusion of Drum and Bass (which it is closely related to[1]) with classical music and traditional music from various regions of Europe, as well as multiple EDM genres and its inspiration from the historical aesthetics and fine arts of western Europe. Artcore is mainly prevails in the Dōjin scene (independent music circles) and the Japanese rhythm game industry, and in fact, the BEMANI series played an important role on its popularization.

Being a portmanteau of "Art" and "Hardcore Techno", the songs tend to have a high BPM, emotional rhythm build-ups and very peculiar dramatic atmopsheres, with most of them being piano-based[2], being followed only by synthethizers and electric guitars, smoothly merging electronic sounds with acoustic ones.

Artcore is sometimes called "Japanese Artcore" in Western music sources to distinguish it from the subgenre of Hardcore Punk of the same name. Sometimes it may be considered a subgenre of Drum and Bass or J-Core (Japanese Hardcore). However, it heavily differs from mainstream J-Core because it tends to be less Rave-oriented and more focused on beauty.

History[]

Origins[]

One of the early examples and inspiration for Artcore traces back to the song "A" by DJ Amuro (better known as dj TAKA), which was originally described as "Renaissance Hardcore" as well as "Drum and Bass"[3]. This electronic yet acoustic track employed violins and pianos as primary instruments, along with a style reminiscent of European music from the 14th to 17th centuries (roughly corresponding to the Renaissance period), as the genre's name suggests.

Emergence[]

Artcore as a niche genre was approximately introduced in 2002, when Kennosuke Ono (better known by his stage name Onoken) released the track "felys". It is considered by the fanbase to be the first Artcore song, although the genre didn't have a name yet. It was originally classified as "Drum and Bass", although it had many unique characteristics like progressive piano rhythms, synthesized violins, and emphasis on a dramatic melody. This song was truly influential for the scene because it inspired other musical artists, namely sasakure.UK, AcuticNotes/Feryquitous, Tsukasa Yatoki, Sakuzyo, Lunatic Sounds and Bernis.

The first song to be actually self-described as Artcore is "Narcisus At Oasis" by Ryutaro Nakahara (better known as Ryu☆), who technically introduced the term. The track was first featured in the Beatmania IIDX game[4]. It's important to note that although Beatmania songs are known for mispelling music genres on purpose or making up "fake" ones, this doesn't seem to be the case for Artcore because Ryu☆ specializes in Happy Hardcore tracks, but the song closely resembles Drum and Bass and uses emotional atmospheres.

Thanks to the internet, some artists outside Japan started producing Artcore during the early 2010s, and the genre's popularity went beyond the Dōjin and rhythm game scene. AcuticNotes started producing music in 2011, inspired by the song "felys"[5]. After joining the Diverse System record label, it spread the genre further. Although the label was founded in 2000 and originally focused on broad styles of experimental music, they later shifted towards Artcore music. Some artists like ak+q (from Texas, USA) or Helblinde (a member of the Fractal Dreamers duo, from Sweden) are notable examples of non-Japan-based Artcore artists. Nowadays Artcore remains as a really niche genre. Its fanbase it's small, yet really dedicated to it.

Visuals[]

The visuals associated with Artcore music, evident in cover arts and music videos, are characterized by their elegance, fantastic elements and inspiration from various periods of European history (namely Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic). Some common motifs include dreamlike settings with elements such as shimmering crystals, ethereal imagery, angel feathers and cultural patterns combined with futuristic ones. Gothic architecture and other landmarks reminiscent of Western European culture frequently serve as scenaries. This is most notably in rhythm games such as Arcaea, as pictured below, which uses a lot of Gothic cathedrals in its imagery. Artworks related to the genre often depict anime-style characters, often wearing outfits reminiscent of Lolita fashion or traditional clothing from various regions of Europe. Other common tropes in the characters depicted include angels, fairies and cyborgs. They also tend to use realistic shading and lighting techniques.

Common Motifs[]

  • Ethereal imagery
  • Elements from the cultures and regions of western Europe, such as patterns
  • Use of European languages, as well as the Greek, Icelandic and Old English alphabets
  • Anime-styled characters, often wearing Lolita-adjacent fashion
  • Gothic architecture and cathedrals
  • Shattered glass, crystals and ice
  • Flourishing flowers
  • Elements from the Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance periods
  • Folklorical creatures such as angels and fairies
  • Muted hue colors and high contrast colors
  • Vague landscapes
Arcaea

The title screen of Arcaea as screenshotted by the Game UI Database. It depicts architecture reminiscent to that of the Gothic period as well as shattered, flourishing crystals.

Music[]

Musical Artists[]

  • 3R2
  • a_hisa
  • ak+q
  • ARForest
  • BlackY
  • Cosmograph / Lunatic Sounds
  • cranky
  • DJ TOTTO
  • Feryquitous
  • Fractal Dreamers
  • HyuN
  • Masaru ‘Go’ Shiina
  • M2U
  • Laur
  • Onoken
  • Sakuzyo
  • sasakure.UK
  • Sennzai
  • Shiki
  • Street
  • tn-shi
  • Tsukasa Yatoki
  • XI
  • wa.

Songs[]

Playlists[]

Media[]

Video Games[]

  • Arcaea
  • BEMANI series
  • CHUNITHM
  • Crystar
  • DEEMO
  • DYNAMIX
  • KALPA - Original Rhythm Game
  • Maimai DX
  • Lanota
  • O.N.G.E.K.I.

Artists[]

Some artists known to make art related to Artcore music include:

External Links[]

External resources can help you get a better understanding of this genre.

  • Artcore on Rate Your Music
  • r/Artcore on Reddit
  • Elegant Sister, a YouTube channel that collects Dōjin music
  • Diverse System, a record label that focuses on Artcore and experimental music
  • Arcaea, a mobile rhythm game with an aesthetic heavily influenced by Artcore

Gallery[]

References[]

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