August 17, 2014
Buy at Wayô Records
Ensemble is a collaborative effort between Noriyuki Iwadare and violinist Reiko Tsuchiya. Released during Comiket 86 and available to the West through Wayô Records, it features tunes composed by both artists. How does this work compare to some of Iwadare’s soundtrack works and how does Tsuchiya fare as a composer?
Iwadare opens up the album with “Spanish Omelette,” a vibrant tune with stunning violin work, has a distinct Spanish flavor, although with an Iwadare twist. The melody is extremely memorable and is definitely reminiscent of his RPG works while the synth keyboard and piano really make for a nice touch as well. It’s an extremely strong start to the album. Iwadare also offers four other tunes on the album. “Arabian Dreams,” as the name implies, definitely has that desert flair to it. The violin and percussion, in particular, really help craft this sandswept atmosphere. “Trois Porte”, on the other hand, has a bit of a French flair thanks to its romantic violin and vocal backing.
Iwadare also offers a bossa nova style track with “Bossa PAYA.” There is a very relaxing tone to this piece and although the vocals only consist of “PAYA,” they manage to work quite well with the atmosphere. In addition, the violin is a strong touch, as it really elevates the tune. It is definitely some of my favorite violin work on the entire album. Lastly, “Night Whistle” has a bit of a whimsical and romantic air to it. The piano helps provide the whimsy atmosphere, although there is also a classical air to the piano while the strings work helps to give it a more mature sound.
The other half of the album is composed and arranged by Reiko Tsuchiya, violinist for many projects, including those by Iwadare himself. Her works are some of the best on the album. “Merits and Demerits” is dominated with an overall Spanish air, complementing Iwadare’s “Spanish Omelette” quite nicely, although in a much more refined way. The violin works quite well with the flamenco guitar and rustic accompaniment. “Waltz of Madness” definitely takes on a waltz flavor; however, the name doesn’t instill any sense of madness. On the contrary, it is quite a beautiful tune, although there are moments of mystery that add to the overall experience.
“STORY” is a stunning piece as well, focusing on violin and vocals by Kaori Kawasumi. Although there are no tangible lyrics, the vocals helps create a very ethereal listen that complements the fairy-tale like accompaniment. “Sounds of the Foot of the Mountain” is another of Tsuchiya’s highlights on the album. The atmosphere of the piece is rather forlorn, bringing with it a more somber tone than some of the other pieces. It is very reflective in nature and has a dramatic touch to it. I could picture it in a Japanese film. The album ends with Tsuchiya’s last contribution, “LIFE,” which definitely has a sense of closure to it. There is warmth in the melody that really manages to capture that essence of life with the strings and piano combining to create a formidable pair.
In the end, Ensemble is definitely a wonderful album. The instrumental work is quite stunning, from both composers. As one might suspect, the album definitely relies a lot on strings work so to those who aren’t the biggest fans of strings, this album might not completely satisfy; however, there is a ton of variety in terms of styles on the album and fans of Iwadare are sure to enjoy it. Tsuchiya definitely surprised as well, creating a nice blend of styles as well that offer a more mature and refined sound. You can purchase this album from French based record label, Wayô Records; however, please be aware that there are limited quantities and after that, you may have to resort to using Japanese based auction sites or buy using a middle man service.
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Posted on October 7, 2014 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on October 12, 2014.