August 18, 2009
Buy at Bad Dudes Music
OneUp Studios have been putting out a lot of arranged albums lately and surprisingly, many of them are dedicated to the works of Yasunori Mitsuda. Having already put out Xenogears Light and Time & Space: A Tribute to Yasunori Mitsuda, they are back with a tribute to the music from Chrono Trigger. Chronotorious chronicles a very diverse journey through the music and features many popular arrangers from the commmunity. As a commercial rather than free release, though, is it really worth getting?
I really enjoyed Tim Sheehy’s opening arrangement of the main theme, “Chronotorious”. It has a variety of styles, ranging from jazzy piano and electronica, to some nice R&B beats, and even a bit of rock.Two other themes that I really enjoyed were “Bottomed Out” and “Forest Steppin’,” takes on “At the Bottom of Night” and “Secret of the Forest”. Arranged by Mustin, they take similar approaches, but are ultimately different. “Bottomed Out” takes a rather poignant theme and transforms it a jazzy piano ballad with some great accompanying beats, whereas “Forest Steppin'” features some jazzy piano work as well, but is accompanied more by a soft electronica vibe, similar to what one might hear if they listened to the artist I Am Robot and Proud.
Probably my favorite theme on the album is “Rockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” a take on “Corridors of Time” by Danimal Cannon. While I would have preferred a bit more arrangement in the first part of the arrangement, as it’s a pretty straightforward transcription of the original, the latter half really makes up for it with some awesome electric guitar jamming. It’s a refreshing take on the theme. The last of my favourites, “Longing of the Wind” is a beautiful piano arrangement full of nuances. I really appreciate how Bladiator manages to mask the original “Wind Scene” quite well, but at the same time, make sure you know it;s there.
Of course, every silver lining has a dark cloud to accompany it. Fortunately, there were only three themes that I truly disliked. “Cave Girl” is an arrangement of “Ayla’s Theme,” by zykO that incorporates a variety of elements, such as some Spanish flair, vocal samples, electronica, and rock. The final result comes off as a very disjointed arrangement rather than an inspired fusion, however. Even weaker is Mazedude’s take on “Tyran Castle”, . It has a very ethnic vibe at times and a bit of an industrial flavour, but in the end, barely manages to hook the listener in. Interestingly enough, “The Bad Ending,” an arrangement of “Lavos’ Theme,” is the last theme on the album (aside from the bonus track heard after some silence) and is also the last album that really didn’t please me. Arranged by Kunal Majmudar, it features sound effects aplenty and has a few genres it incorporates. Throughout the arrangement, you’ll hear rock and electronica and a mixture of both, but it ends up sounding a bit crowded at times, and a bit on the disjointed side.
The rest of the tracks have their ups and downs. The arrangement of “Guardia Castle” has some great instrumentation, particularly through the use of piano and brass, but at the same time, I found the arrangement to be pretty straightforward only deviating a bit towards the end. The same applies to “Black Omen”. Many people love the theme from original soundtrack and for good reason — it’s a fantastic theme that rides on the strengths of being able to tie together the atmosphere of each time period and its strong focus on jazzy piano and electronic nature. “Dream of Black,” Joshua Morse’s take on this theme, is pretty straightforward. There are some electronic and ethnic influences interspersed throughout, but the main strength of the original — its foreboding tone and jazzy punctuattions — is absent from this version. It’s enjoyable, but nothing to write home about.
From the samples, I also had high hopes for one of my favorite Chrono Trigger themes, “Frog’s Theme.” Arranged by Ailsean and entitled “Dethfrog,” it’s a clear parody of the group Dethklock featuring deep guttural vocals over a heavy metal backing. The guitar melodies that feature “Frog’s Theme” are great, but honestly, the vocals absolutely kill this theme for me. If you are a fan of death metal vocals, you’ll probably find this one right up your alley, but for me, it was a huge letdown. Everyone’s favorite villain/party member, Magus, also gets his theme arranged. “Battle with Magus” takes on the form of “B.A.M.F.,” arranged by Mustin and Dhsu, to mixed results. The piano opening by Dhsu is quite beautiful and moves into a sinister sounding electronica theme. Unfortunately, from there, it takes on a jazzy sound complete with piano and beats and because of this, it loses the sinister sound that makes the original so appealing. I can understand what they were trying to do, but I think it comes off as a bit disjointed, especially since at the end, some grunge like rock comes out of nowhere. I would have liked to have heard this throughout!
“disodium guanylate,” by posu yan, is a take on “Remains of the Factory.” It’s a pretty beat heavy arrangement, and does throw in a decent synth solo, but it ends up having a rather lackluster atmosphere overall. “Watertite,” a take on “Undersea Palace,” arranged by Kunal Majmudar, comes off rather disjointed, but manages to retain the mysterious nature of the original. There are some of the sections, particularly in the melody line, that don’t really seem to synch up. I’m not sure if it was his intention to be so syncopated, but if it was, I don’t think it was a very successful experiment. Lastly, “Forced Enlightenment,” an arrangement of “Schala’s Theme” by Diggi Dis, is one I have strong feelings about. In the commentary, it was revealed that the original version of this arrangement was much more relaxed, but due to “constructive criticism,” it was intensified a bit. That being said, I’m not a big fan of the movement to the increased tempo and the deep bass that was implied to be new additions, but I do enjoy the calmer sections quite a bit. I really want to hear the original version that Diggi Dis put together as I find that I may enjoy it more.
I ended up ordering this album, of which only 1000 were printed, on a whim because I had liked what I had heard via the samples on their website. However, in the end, I thought it was a fairly lackluster album. It’s always hard reviewing albums when it comes to those arranged by fans. I know they really put their heart and soul into their works and hope to please the masses, but sometimes they don’t always succeed. This is, to me, one of those cases. There were a few arrangements that I truly enjoyed and truly disliked, but there was a lot in that middle ground. This inconsistency and hit-and-miss experimentation is tolerable on free releases, but not on commercial ones. If you like previous OneUp Studios works, this album might be for you, but I ultimately walked away with a rather neutral stance on the whole album. At least it came with an awesome poster. If you do want to order the album, now the physical copies are sold out, there is the digital option, but be warned that only 11 of the 15 themes have been released through this format and they’re not always the better ones (plus you don’t get the poster!).
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on January 19, 2016.