Falcom Special Box ’92
Falcom Special Box ’92
December 21, 1991
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Falcom Sound Box ’92 features three discs of arrangements from Falcom titles. The first disc is a vocal version dedicated to games such as Lord Monarch, Dinosaur, and The Legend of Heroes. The Legend of Heroes is also the subject of the second disc, a jazz-oriented instrumental arranged version, while the third disc finishes things on a dramatic note with a symphonic interpretation of Ys III. It’s quite a treat for those who have had enough of endless Ys and Sorcerian arrangements. Yet though quite a diverse album, it’s also a rather deceptive one…
The first disc of the box set is entirely dedicated to vocal arrangements from relatively obscure Falcom titles. “White Magic Xmas” interprets Lord Monarch‘s opening theme in the style of a conventional pop ballad. Though very derivative, the arrangement is still a competent one and Chiyoko Amai’s vocals are quite soothing. Despite featuring the same vocalist, “Take Me Another World” and “A World Full of Love” are quite a bit brighter. They’re enhanced by some dashes of brass and piano work respectively. Moving away from the Lord Monarch material, “Moonlight Mystery” presents Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes‘ “Field” theme in the style of a ballad. Yuko Imai’s strong vocals are the highlight here, while the soprano saxophone work is too slushy for my tastes. The biggest surprise, however, is “Voyage de Roi”, which is reminiscent of the surreal vocal themes Zuntata often produced. Who could have expected Dinosaur‘s music could be presented in such a way? Though undoubtedly a rip-off, it’s still the highlight of an otherwise short and average vocal collection.
The second disc is dedicated to Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes Super Arrange Version. Unlike most of Falcom’s Super Arrange Versions, this one is just six tracks long and probably the half-hearted results of what was intended to be a stand-alone album. Still, Takeshi Watanabe offers some interesting interpretations here. “Opening” is a lounge jazz piece featuring some understated yet beautiful piano improvisation. This style is maintained in several other tracks in the album, for instance in the gorgeously soundscaped “Ship” and jazz trio improvisation “Ending II”, to mesmerising effect. Yet while not diverse as most of Falcom’s Super Arrange Version, this disc does have its surprises. Foremost among them is “Dungeon”, which juxtaposes soprano saxophone passages with thrashing rock backing, all the while in an Indian tonality. In spite of the continued saxophone focus, “Pirate’s Island” is also a diversion from the norm with its tropical instrumentation and beautiful interludes. These arrangements are quite random in construction, but do bring some creativity into what could have been a one-dimensional production.
The box set ends with the a symphonic interpretation of the music from Ys III: Wanderers from Ys. Of all the orchestral arrangements Tamiya Terashima has produced, this one is sadly one of the weakest, lacking a substantial length, a true orchestral performance, or particularly consistent arrangements. It’s still decent nonetheless. The opener “A Premonition = Styx =” is probably the weakest of the arrangements, since it treats a simple chord progression in an overblown and overdrawn way. Fortunately, the second movement transforms a once simplistic town theme into a dashing piano-decorated marvel, while the third movement is one of the most convincing attempts at dissonant avant-garde music in game music. After a worldly and scenic interpretation of “Tower of Destiny”, the album sadly doesn’t really develop into a climax one would have expected, such as a rasping interpretation of “The Strongest Foe”. Instead listeners are presented with the sentimental reflections of “Morning of Departure” and grandiose bombast of “Wanderers of Ys”. Both are very colourful and competent arrangements, yet arguably would have benefited from a little restraint, since they sound melodramatic.
Falcom Special Box ’92 is a flawed entry in the Falcom Special Box series. While it features three discs, no disc can really stand on its own since there are only five or six pieces in each. There are also some problems even aside quantity, such as the tacky arrangements of the Vocal Version, the soprano saxophone overdose of the Super Arrange Version, or the lack of a dramatic arch in the Symphonic Poem. Yet when bundled together, there are plenty of highlights to go around. Though it could have been more, this album is still an impressive testament to the diversity and impact of Falcom’s music. It’s lightly recommended for Falcom music collectors.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.