Falcom Special Box ’90
Falcom Special Box ’90
December 21, 1989
Buy Used Copy
Falcom Sound Box ’90 is a compilation of four 20 minute singles. It features three arranged discs, entitled ‘Vocal’, ‘Heavy Metal’, and ‘New Age’ respectively, as well as the original soundtrack for the anime adaptation of Ys. This box set is a major improvement on the inconsistent and derivative Falcom Special Box ’89, but it still has its limitations. Time for a closer look…
Those who can’t get enough of Falcom’s vocal themes will enjoy the first disc. It features five vocal arrangements of favourites from several franchises. The opener is a straightforward pop-based interpretation of “Trading Village of Redmont”, but refreshingly features a slightly more mature vocalist than most Falcom vocals. The jazz influences in the instrumentals are also appealing. The Sorcerian offerings feature even better vocalists and are presented like epic set numbers from musicals. However, the interpretations of Ys and Star Trader compositions return back to the company’s characteristic focus on youthful vocalists and sentimental melodies. These vocal arrangements are some of Falcom’s best, but they’re still very much a select taste.
The Heavy Metal section features a range of vocal and instrumental performances by the J.D.K. Band. “Holy Fighter” is an effective introduction to the disc, since it features vocals like the preceding disc. Thankfully, the vocals are actually quite compelling ones and the instrumental backing is equally charismatic. “Lonely Soldier” also offers vocals and is pretty reminiscent of typical metal coming from Japan at the time. Some will find it clichéd, others brooding and captivating. However, the instrumental performances are certainly the jewels on this disc. “Stranger in the Night” is a racing power rock version of Sorcerian‘s “Major Demon” and “Protecters” features some absolutely awesome guitar work. These are easily some of J.D.K. Band’s very finest.
The third disc provides a major contrast with a series of acoustic performances by the Michio Fujisawa Project. Those who have listened to the PrePrimer albums will know what to expect here and that is, of course, exceptional piano quintet arrangements. “Rainy Weekend” beautifully portrays the imagery suggested in the title with its fluid, falling piano work and restful violin overlays. “The First Day of Spring” interprets one of Sorcerian‘s more marginal tracks with a passionate jazz piano arrangement, while “Legend of Moon and Light” is full of bittersweet contrasts and melancholy undertones. The final track, “Departure of Sunrise”, rounds off the section in a wonderful manner and captures all the emotions that originally went into Mieko Ishikawa’s composition.
The final disc provides the original music for the anime Ys Heaven’s Sanctuary. There are some good compositions here, but they’re often hindered by their presentation. The opener “Battle with the Demon Lord!!”, for instance, provides a pleasant twist on the classic Falcom rock theme with its flute leads. However, it’s not appealing to have to listen through 40 seconds of sound effects and crazy shouting to get to the body. Other tracks such as “Darm Tower Floating in the Sea”, “What’s Ys”, and “The Enigma of Esteria” are effective in context, yet little more than short cinematic filler on the soundtrack. Among the biggest highlights are the arrangements of classic, including even a sample from Symphony Ys, though there is a little too much reliance on “First Step Towards Wars”. Stick to the Perfect Collection Heaven’s Sanctuary albums instead.
Falcom Special Box ’90 is a vast improvement on Falcom Special Box ’89. The vocal, heavy metal, and new age arrangements are all of exceptional quality and among the very finest of Falcom’s discography. However, the vocal tracks won’t appeal to everyone and the soundtrack to Ys Heaven’s Sanctuary is rather strange. Also keep in mind that the discs are generally quite short — about 20 minutes each — so it’s not a fully-fledged four disc effort like it might appear to be.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.