Falcom Field Zanmai
Falcom Field Zanmai
August 10, 2013
Buy at CDJapan
Falcom Field Zanmai is the latest in the Zanmai series dedicated to various Falcom games. In this album release, Noriyuki Kamikura, Toshiharu Okajima, and Yukihiro Jindo arrange various field themes from across Falcom’s diverse history, including titles from the Kiseki, Ys, and Dragon Slayer franchises. How does this mix of tunes compare to the previous Zanmai entries?
The album opens up with a bang with Kamikura’s take on Ys’ “First Step Towards War.” It’s an excellent synth rock imagining of the PC-88 classic and is chock full of keyboard and guitar solos. More interesting, though, perhaps not for everyone, is Kamikura’s smooth jazz approach to “Field,” from Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes. There is a nice groove to the arrangement and the mix of saxophone, keyboard, and guitar helps give it a nice mashup of soundscapes. Overall, it’s a relaxing rendition of the original. “Gust of Wind” from Ys: Memories of Celceta is a faithful interpretation of the Ys IV tune. The same synth rock elements are retained, although there is a bit more polish on this version compared to the original, if only due to the live instruments, and the guitar solo is absolutely rocking. But for those who would have preferred something a bit more creative, this one may not be the tune for you.
Okajima’s three contributions manage to provide a nice diverse mix of sounds. “Mountain Path” from The Legend of Heroes III takes the bubbly original and turns it into an upbeat, rustic arrangement replete with beautiful woodwind and violin passages. It is a far improvement over the original and is definitely one of Okajima’s stronger works on the album. “Motto Chikaku de” is an interesting take on The Legend of Heroes: Sora no Kiseki First Chapter’s “Path to Libel.” Gone is the original soundscape and in its place, an electronic beat and vocals replacing the melody instead and a violin harmony. It’s definitely a surprising arrangement, given the original’s more orchestral sound, but fans of Falcom vocals will find this one right at home. Lastly, “Sand Castle,” from Sorcerian, is transformed from its original PC-88 into a heavy rock tune replete with violin passages to help give it that modern Falcom sound. It’s my favorite of Okajima’s contributions on the album and it’s definitely a style fitting for the original.
Jindo provides a nice blend of styles as well. “On the Green Road,” from The Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki, takes the upbeat orchestral pop tune and transforms it into a much more rustic affair. It still maintains a pop influence; however, the track is dominated by acoustic guitar and harmonica, the latter of which truly makes the track. Jindo’s version of “Quatera Woods,” from Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, features a rustic sound as well, thanks to the acoustic violin; however, the violin and piano ad a beautiful touch to the piece. It’s a stunning arrangement, in my opinion, and one that I prefer over the original. Lastly, Jindo arranges the field theme from Xanadu into a lengthy orchestral tune. While it is very nice, I do find the length of the arrangement makes the tune drag on, despite the variation presented in the main melodic motif. It’s still great to see the old fan favorite make a return here though.
Lastly, Kamikura and Satoshi Ohyama once again provide a jazzy orchestral arrangement for the album. This time, the invigorating original for “Get Over the Barrier!” from The Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki is transformed into a brass led orchestral theme. The intensity is gone, but there is something a bit charming to this arrangement, although I think it is one of the weaker ones on the album.
After a few sligthtly disappointing entries, Falcom’s latest entry in the Zanmai series is certainly more of a return to form. It’s akin to that of the other Zanmai album that spanned the entire Falcom universe, Falcom Boss Zanmai. While I find the first album to be superior, this album definitely has a lot of high marks with only a few themes here missing their mark slightly. Fans of the Zanmai series, and especially those of field themes, might find themselves enjoying this entry quite a bit.
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Posted on October 26, 2014 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on December 13, 2014.