August 16, 2015
Buy Used Copy
Ensemble II is the second collaborative effort between Noriyuki Iwadare and violinist Reiko Tsuchiya. Released during Comiket 88, it features tunes composed by both artists. How does this work compare to the first album, especially give its shorter length?
Although shorter in length, the distribution of compositions is still evenly split among by Reiko Tsuchiya and Noriyuki Iwadare. The album opens up with Reiko Tsuchiya’s “Gate to the Labyrinth,” a very haunting piece focusing on cello. In addition, there is some drum backing mixed in to give it a bit of a light industrial flair to the piece. It’s quite dramatic and a fantastic opening to the album. Her second piece, “uair,” is another fantastic addition to the album release. Celtic in nature, the core of the piece focuses on woodwinds and violins. There are both upbeat as well as more pensive moments, but the end result is a well-crafted piece of music that really manages to stand out. Lastly, her “Phantom Echoes of Eternity,” turns towards Eastern instrumentation to tell a very sorrowful and poignant tale through music. The melody is excellent and the light accompaniment really helps to keep the focus on the erhu. It’s quite a beautiful piece and is, to me, the highlight of the album.
Noriyuki Iwadare’s contributions are all quite varied as well. “Holiday nap” has jazzy pop flavor reminiscent of the 60s era of music with its soft drum pads, slow tempo, and brass. There are also some beautiful violin sections and keyboard sections as the piece progresses. “The Cullinan” is another upbeat tune with more of an ethnic flair to it, mainly due to the percussion. The brass and violin work quite well together to craft a highly enjoyable piece of music, as do the additional elements of the piece such as the jazzy piano and keyboards. Lastly, “hammock” closes the album with a strings and piano ballad. It’s quite a beautiful piece of music and definitely gives off a JRPG ending theme vibe and fits quite well as the last piece on the album, even though it may not be as particularly creative compared to the other entries.
In the end, the second collaboration album between Noriyuki Iwadare and Reiko Tsuchiya, while shorter, is still quite successful. There is more variety in the styles present on the album and the production quality is as top notch as ever. Fans of the first album will feel right at home while those who aren’t familiar with Iwadare’s non-game works might want to pick this up as well. At the time of this writing, the only way to get it would be through a special order or middle man; however, there is a possibility that Wayo Records will pick up copies for sale in limited quantities as they did with the first album.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 21, 2015 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on January 19, 2016.