Griotte The Sleeping Beauty
Griotte The Sleeping Beauty
October 14, 2009
Buy at CDJapan
Griotte no Nemuri Hime is the successor to Haruka Shimotsuki and Noriyuki Iwadare’s solo album Tindharia no Tane. However, for this album, Haruka Shimotsuki is joined by Noriyuki Iwadare, Wild Arms’ Michiko Naruke, Shadow Hearts’ Yoshitaka Hirota, and MANYO. Considering I thought highly of the Tindharia no Tane, did this album meet my expectations?
The album opens with “The Reason of the Downfall”. Composed by Haruka Shimotsuki and arranged by Iwadare, it really ties together the first album and sets the theme for this album. It opens very mysteriously with layered vocals before moving into something slightly more grandiose. However, the absolute best thing about this opening theme is the inclusion of “Flames of Truth” from Tindharia no Tane. It really helps tie together the two albums and this version, consisting of layered vocals and woodwinds, really improves upon the already impressive original. The instrumental section that follows is absolutely stunning and the piano and strings work really give a magical quality to the entire piece. Although Haruka Shimotsuki’s presence is throughout this entire album, given she composed the majority of the themes and is the vocalist for the entire album, she is only responsible for the arrangement of one theme, “Unfading Fragments”. This theme is absolutely stunning. It has a bit of a Celtic feel, similar to that heard in the White Knight Chronicles theme song, “Travelers”. However, at the same time, it features a ton of magic, both with the vocal work and the violin work. Each of these elements adds to the overall atmosphere heard in the more elaborate mixture of instruments. In particular, the violin manages to stand out and the simple, yet beautiful, passages it plays really helps draw me in.
The artist I’m least familiar with on the album is definitely MANYO. He contributes three themes to this album, two of which are arrangements of Shimotsuki’s compositions. The first of these themes, “Sky Ferry,” is quite magical. The percussion is definitely what draws me in to the theme the most. The accompaniment is minimal and provides little in terms of melody. Haruka handles this aspect of the song with her vocal work. Of note is how MANYO manages to make Haruka’s voice in the accompaniment sound like a bagpipe. It’s pretty impressive and adds a bunch of depth to the vocal work. The other arrangement is “Frozen” and is another soft theme. The simplistic harp accompaniment in the beginning is beautiful and as it progresses it grows in accompaniment with the addition of acoustic guitar and strings, but it never drowns out the vocals. MANYO’s original composition, “Solitary Dream,” gives off a very airy approach. The simplistic accompaniment, consisting of acoustic guitar, bass, piano, electric guitar, and some woodwind accents, really heightens the melody and atmosphere, despite it never intruding upon the song. Despite its length, I find myself simply mesmerized by it, even if it isn’t as elaborate as some of the other themes on the soundtrack.
The person to whom I was most looking forward to on this soundtrack was Yoshitaka Hirota and he didn’t disappoint. He was also responsible for two arrangements and one original composition. The first arrangement, “The Princess and the Clown,” opens up with a very striking violin solo before moving into a very jig-like Celtic composition. It’s playful, fun, and full of energy. In fact, I was quite surprised when I heard it as many of his vocal themes as of late for these collaboration albums tends to go on the more industrial side of his work. The violin accompaniment is simply superb and I love the woodwind instrumental bridges. His second arrangement, “Spots of the Kingdom,” is easily my favorite on the entire album. It contrasts greatly with “The Princess and the Clown.” The dark and haunting atmosphere of the entire piece is absolutely stunning, with many thanks going to the violin accompaniment and choir-like vocals heard throughout. The verses in the music are also great and offer a hint of sadness. The bass in this track, played by Hirota, is what really gives this a nice classic Hirota sound, although its more like a mix of his Shadow Hearts industrial and melodic sounds. The violin, however, really adds another dimension to the piece.
Hirota’s original composition “Those Relying on Wings” definitely sounds like it came off the unused Shadow Hearts reel. Ominous piano, deep bass work, haunting vocals all combine for a very mysterious and dark listen. Before getting into what really makes the track, I must say that the scat-like vocals by Shimotsuki, similar to what you hear in “Howl of the Departed” from Lost Odyssey in style, gives it a very creepy vibe. The violin is easily the icing on top of an already sweet cake. It eventually evolves into a very chaotic accompaniment that doesn’t really doesn’t match up with the rhythm of the rest of the piece, making it stand out greatly. This is easily my second favorite song on the entire album.
Michiko Naruke offers her services for two arrangements and one original composition. One of the arrangements is a co-arrangement with Noriyuki Iwadare, which I’ll talk about later in the review. Her arrangement of “The Chosen Folk” has a very Celtic feel to it as well. The strong points of this arrangement are definitely the vocals, the violin work, and the woodwind accompaniment. Haruka’s voice just brings this very entrancing quality to it and the violin’s sharpness adds a lot of contrast to the piece and the solo is absolutely stunning. The woodwind work helps give it a playful air as well. Her original composition, “To the Time of Demise,” is my favorite from her contributions to the album. This theme has more of an anime opening theme sound. It’s upbeat and energetic, has a hint of that Wild Arms sound, and makes for a very fun listen. The rock based accompaniment mixes quite well with Haruka’s voice and the violin work is absolutely stunning as well. Overall, this is a fantastic theme by Naruke.
Last, but not least, we have Noriyuki Iwadare, who reprises his role of arranger and composer from Tindharia no Tane. Aside the sublime ending theme, Iwadare arranges “Reversed Circle of Life”. It opens up with angelic layered vocal work before moving into a more upbeat theme reminiscent of Haruka Shimotsuki’s work on the Ar Tonelico series. The accompanying vocals continue this trend and the jazzy, semi-chaotic piano and organ in the accompaniment really adds a nice texture to the theme. “Flowers of Bond,” Iwadare’s original theme, is absolutely stunning. Opening up with violin and brass, reminiscent of his Grandia works, it quickly evolves into a soft, subtle piece that relies on piano, strings, and woodwinds to get its point across. It creates a very simplistic, yet touching, theme and one that gives off a hint of sadness. Did I mention the violin solo is absolutely to die for? It really strikes deep into the heart of the listener. This is easily the best original vocal theme I think I’ve heard Iwadare create. I cried the first time I heard this and it still touches me.
Lastly, Iwadare and Naruke team up to arrange the last song on the album, “FEL FEARY WEL.” The theme is a nice way to tie up the album as it incorporates elements heard in “The Reason of the Downfall”. Aside from that, it’s a stunning piece of music. Rather than go for the more elaborate and complex arrangements heard previously by Iwadare and Naruke, it opts for a very simplistic approach. Piano, harp, and strings dominate the theme with some soft percussion here and there. However, as the track draws to a close, it adopts a style heard in “The Reason of the Downfall”. This has to be my third favorite theme on the entire album.
Wow, what a sequel! I was highly impressed with Tindharia no Tane. I thought that Haruka Shimotsuki’s compositions were fantastic and both Iwadare’s arrangements and compositions for the album were also top-notch. However, Haruka Shimotsuki definitely outdid herself for this one. Her compositions are spectacular and are truly brought to life by MANYO, Noriyuki Iwadare, Michiko Naruke, and Yoshitaka Hirota. The original compositions by these arrangers are also stunning, particularly Hirota’s. In the end, this album surpasses its predecessor in every single aspect. I will be listening to this one for years to come.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.