Irem Theme Song Collection
Irem Theme Song Collection
April 23, 2009
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Aside from a couple of scores for the Steambot Chronicles, Hototogisu, and R-Type franchises, Irem haven’t been releasing many album releases since their classic days. However, the company continues to release new console titles on a regular basis, most of them scored by the talented team of USP. The Irem Theme Song Collection compiles together seven of their vocal ballads featured in recent titles, all of them written and sung by Mai Iida.
The soundtrack opens with “By Your Side…” from the final instalment of the Disaster Report series. When stripped down, this track is a straightforward ballad, complete with a conventional verse-chorus structure, sentimental vocal melodies, and wandering piano accompaniment. However, it proves to be one of the better tracks of its sort. This is in part thanks to vocalist Mai Iida, whose voice proves rich and accessible throughout the track. The major shifts in emotion from the verse and chorus are also very effective, inspiring memories of Mika Nakashima’s work.
Another centrepiece of the album is “Wings”, the ending theme for Hototogisu Ran. It is another pop ballad intended to appeal to the sentimental and reflective out there. However, it’s certainly better than most thanks to USP’s excellent arrangement and Iida’s sensitive performance. The wails of Koichi Hiroki’s shakuhachi are an especially welcome touch fitting for this historical simulation. It is still another ballad, but at least it’s a meaningful one.
“Color” elaborates further on the balladic approach present throughout this release. The first part of the track places an even greater focus on Iida’s voice, since she is accompanied by an acoustic piano alone. However, the instrumentation builds up gradually thereafter, culminating in even an electric guitar solo. Although it slightly labours its six minute playtime, it’s still a fitting way to close this video game adaptation of the Hammerin’ Hero anime.
The final three tracks, namely “To Tommorrow”, “Deep Breath”, and “Flower”, are featured on the PachiPara series of pachinko simulators. These tracks have a more upbeat sound than others on the album, given the relative superficiality of the games they originate from. However, they are still fundamentally ballads focusing on longing vocals and soft piano performances. Sadly too little distinguishes them in their melodies or arrangements to sustain interest during the album’s playtime. It may therefore be better to dip in and out of these ballads then listen to them all at once.
The songs featured on the Irem Theme Song Collection are generally memorable, emotional, and polished thanks to the talents of Mai Iida and the arrangers. However, all the songs adhere to a conventional ballad format to the extent that some are barely distinguishable from each other. It’s great that Irem decided to compile these songs together, but when they’re so similar and there are only seven in total, the album may not be worth its relatively expensive price.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.