Disgaea -Hour of Darkness- Arrange Soundtrack
Disgaea -Hour of Darkness- Arrange Soundtrack
June 28, 2003
Buy Used Copy
Tenpei Sato’s approach to arranged albums differs from most others in the game music field. Rather than transform themes by arranging them with different styles and instruments to the originals, Sato chooses to stick closely to his source material. With the Makai Senki Disgaea Arrange Soundtrack, Sato offers a selection of some of the best music from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness and changes the originals by offering enhanced sound quality and more elaborate development. The consequent album gives a perspective on how Sato would have treated the score were he not limited by synthesizer technology and maximum track lengths. Given the original score was pretty technologically commanded and well-developed in the first place, the results of this approach are modest. However, is the album still worth considering if you’re a hardcore fan of the series?
First things first, all the vocal themes from Disgaea return here. The first full-length item on the arranged album, “Lord Laharl’s Hymn” provides a magnificent concoction of devilish female vocals and jubilant jazz instrumentals. This version develops identically to the original, incorporating some stunningly lyrical instrumental sections given even more crispness and bite thanks to the very slightly enhanced sound quality here. As for the other vocal themes, “Etna Boogie” blends a temptress’ vocals with big band jazz, “Tragic Marionette” evokes the imagery of a lament sung by a lonely girl in a musical, and “Aah, My Magnificent Life” dazzles listeners with a powerful performance of a tenor Italian opera singer. All are near-enough identical to their originals, though these are nevertheless the definitive versions due to the superior sound quality.
However, there are three vocal themes that receive some arrangement treatment. The Wild West-themed “Oh Comrade” is a significant improvement on the original with more refined instruments and a longer playtime in part due to the introduction of a loop. More controversially, “Red Moon” initially takes a somewhat disorientating canonic approach to the children’s choir before pausing at 0:47 to rehash the richly layered original version. The opening of the album is actually a brief a capella version of “Flower of Happiness”; the decision to introduce the album with this theme will be charming to some, alienating to others. Despite the opening arrangement hinting at the potential for creativity, the ending version “Flower of Happiness” is basically identical to the wonderful original. Due to this recycling, half the album resembles a vocal compilation rather than a true arranged album.
The instrumental tracks all offer changes from the original, some more extraordinary than others. “Whisper of the Netherworld” retains the Edward Scissorhands-influenced waltz characteristics of the original, but incorporates an original violin-focused middle section and places more emphasis on the contrast between still haunting celesta motifs and rich fluid orchestral build-ups. The folk dance battle theme “Beautiful Roundelay” benefits from the articulation and roundedness provided the restructured instrumentation in its primary section; at 1:30, it surprisingly enters an excellent new section featuring a romantic violin solo against piano accompaniment and dabs of cello. “Flowerbed” retains the dreamy woodwind focus of the original but adds a new violin section to limited success; while creativity is evident, the section is too underdeveloped and detached to fit with the smooth body.
Probably the least inaccessible arrangement is “Demon Descent”, which is slowed down and integrates vocal chants, weird technological noises, and
ethnic instruments with the carried over orchestral discords and heavy percussion. On the quieter side, “Dear Friends” embellishes and develops the soft guitar-based material of the original, “The Sad Angel” has more definition than before due to some careful resynthing, and the ending theme “Eternal Melody” is even richer and more rounded than the original. Towards the end of the album Sato emphasises the trance factor of “Planet X” with an extravagant remix obsessed with synth glissandi. Finally, “Disgaea” retains the epic qualities of the original with some enhanced choral samples and includes some decent interludes that are reasonably well-integrated with the source material. Overall, the instrumental arrangements lack extravagance, though most technological changes and new sections are successful.
The Makai Senki Disgaea Arrange Soundtrack is an appreciable tribute to the game’s original score but lacks features that make it distinguished in its own right. The majority of the vocal pieces are rehashes of the original, the rest of the arrangements are carried by their originals, and the technological improvements weren’t particularly necessary. There are some interesting works here, however, such as “Whisper of the Netherworld”, “Oh Comrade”, “Beautiful Roundelay”, and “Demon Descent” that will be enjoyed by hardcore fans of the game. Discounting it as an arranged album, this may warrant a purchase for those looking for a ‘best of’ for the game. After all, it features all of the vocal tracks and most of the instrumental masterpieces. However, there are still many wonderful tracks missing, some of which are featured in the B-side promotional album Makai Senki Disgaea Makai Arrange Collection Dark Label. More importantly, the diversity and changeability of the Original Soundtrack are not fully captured with this selection of 17 mostly lengthy tracks. Overall, I’d recommend the Original Soundtrack above this, although this album will be a pleasant if potentially disappointing listen to hardcore Disgaea fans.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.