December 17, 2008
Buy at CDJapan
While recently Kenji Ito hasn’t been up to par with his days of old, he has taken a liking to composing and arranging vocal themes. Last year, he featured a track, “Polymnia,” on Akiko Shikata’s album Istoria ~ Musa, which I thought was a fantastic piece of music. In addition, he contributed another fantastic vocal theme for the recent collaboration album, Message. Released slightly before Message, Dream Temple is a small collection of vocal themes sung by Yuduki, composed and arranged by Kenji Ito. Is this mini-collection a good sign of things to come? Has Kenji Ito found his new calling?
The first piece “Keauhou ~Not Here In this Faraway Island~” is a melancholy ballad that is minimalistic in approach. While strings and piano are the main feature, there seems to be this sense of desolation throughout the piece as they are used in a simple, yet moving, fashion. The vocalist’s voice also seems to sound distant at times. It’s a very touching piece and is a great start to the album. The second piece, “Oath to the Moon Flower,” has a similar approach to the first piece, but the melody here is much stronger. The piano gracefully produces a fitting accompaniment to Yuduki’s delicate voice, while strings are used to help accent the mood. It’s a very soft, beautiful piece that describes the fragility of a flower quite nicely.
The next piece, “Bloody Moon,” is an extreme departure from the previous two pieces. Featuring a live violinist and guitarist, Kenji Ito opts for a Spanish flavor, similar to that found on “The Phoenixion -Extra Mix-” from his 2007 arrangement of the Culdcept Saga favorite. It’s an extremely bouncy piece with some excellent performances from all players. The melody, while not quite as fitting the title as the previous two, is extremely catchy and the accompaniments are fantastic. The various violin solos interspersed throughout the piece add a nice sharpness to the smooth guitar work. It’s definitely one of my favorites on the album.
“Forget-Me-Not? -Wasurenagusa-” is another ballad, but with a pop influence. Piano, strings, and drums are used to create a melody that seems to have hints of a Chinese musical style. While this is an enjoyable piece that seems to describe reminiscence of some sort, I find it to be the weakest piece on the album. “Moon at Dawn” is another beautiful piece that focuses on a minimalistic approach. Strings are used effectively to create this almost starry feeling, while piano is used to accent certain portions of the song quite nicely. Yuduki’s voice here is very tame in comparison to some of her other pieces, but it seems to fit quite nicely. Along with “Forget-Me-Not? -Wasurenagusa-,” it’s one of the weaker pieces on the album.
The album closes with “The Journey Begins,” a great contender for my absolute favorite on this album. From the start, the listener is greeted with this bubbly synth that just screams “ADVENTURE!” Throughout the piece, the combination of rhythmic synth and piano are used to craft a marvelous theme that would really fit quite nicely into an RPG as an overworld theme. While it’s not the only star on the album, it is the one that hits closest to home and it has a chorus that is so infectiously catchy, you’ll find yourself humming it on your way home from work or school.
I don’t know what it is, but Kenji Ito seems to have been inspired once more. Sure, it’s only with composing vocal themes, but I’ll take that for now. Dream Temple, while short, is easily worth the money. While it features a few delicate pieces, the bolder pieces “Bloody Moon” and “The Journey Begins” help to keep this album from being more than just background music. Now, if only Ito could use this inspiration for his soundtracks!
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.