Kingdom Hearts Tribute Album
Kingdom Hearts Tribute Album
March 25, 2015
Buy at CDJapan
Kingdom Hearts Tribute Album is the first arrange album dedicated to Yoko Shimomura’s many scores for the Kingdom Hearts series. The album covers a range of well-known tracks from the series and includes a few medleys for a total of ten arrangements and ten remixers. There are a few different genres present on the album, mainly in rock and electronic styles. There is no particular cohesive theme or style to the album, so some tracks are likely to be hit-or-miss with listeners. Still, Shimomura’s memorable melodies are still able to shine through the arrangements, and fans should find enough to like on the album.
The album opens with Suemitsu & The Suemith’s take on “Dearly Beloved”. The track starts with some spacious percussion before the melody comes on, and slowly other elements are added in the background like an organ, bells, and vocal “la” on the melody. While I like the other elements, that central “la” is rather distracting and even annoying as the track goes on. But worse is how the track doesn’t feel very creative, as it feels like the remixers just threw on a bunch of instruments overtop of a “Dearly Beloved” template. It’s still listenable because of its faithfulness to Shimomura’s iconic original, but it’s not much more than that.
In sharp contrast to that is the jizue quartet’s jazz take on “Riku~Kairi~Sora”, which follows immediately after. Admittedly the take on “Riku” feels rather out of place and unsuited to the style given its downcast nature, but “Kairi” and “Sora”s themes work much better, partly thanks to the variations and improvisations taken on the melodies. The renditions feel very fresh and fun, and talents of the musicians show nicely here. Also interesting is “A Piece of Peace~Under The Sea~Traverse Town” by Kawai Hidehiro. A short guitar rendition of “A Piece of Peace” leads into “Traverse Town” arranged with the style and instrumentation of “Under The Sea”. Admittedly it doesn’t really take long for the novelty to wear off, and the arrangement feels rather minimal and basic, but it still has its charms along with the great melody.
For the more electronic remixes, first is Jimanica’s take on “Traverse Town” with big synths and a bright palette. The glitchy segments and some of the improvised lines are really great, though at times the remix runs its short motif into the ground over its nearly 7-minute span, which can sometimes make the track hard to get through. Later on is the big “Dearly Beloved~Hollow Bastion~Hand in Hand~Always on My Mind~” medley by SOREMONSTER, which has some electronic and rock elements divided between the tracks. The light rock segments of “Dearly Beloved” and “Always on My Mind” are adequately entertaining, but the dupsteppy “Hollow Bastion” and anthemic trance of “Hand in Hand” are much more notable. The transitions in the medley are pretty abrupt, but overall its a fun and unpredictable experience that feels much better put together than many of the other tracks.
Vampillia’s arrangement of “Always on My Mind” is surprisingly the first full rock track on the album. It’s very spacious with a slow and gradual build, starting mainly with acoustic elements including a pretty violin solo, then later adding the electric guitar, bass, and percussion. It’s a decent arrangement, but a bit long at 6 minutes for such a simple melody that isn’t developed too much throughout the track. Later on, two battle tracks make appearances. “Rage Awakened” sees 9mm Parabellum Bullet injects some more energy into the fan-favourite. It plays out just as you would expect a rock remix of this track to go, which isn’t too bad a thing. The wailing guitars fit the track well and the arrangement is quite faithful, though I felt it could have had a bit more going on at times. Marmalade butcher’s rendition of “The 13th Struggle” is a bit better, having a bit more variation in the arrangement, including a lot of the original piano and chimes. It’s also a faithful arrangement that in the end isn’t too surprising, but it is still enjoyable and is a great companion to the original.
Also enjoyable on the album are the two chiptune-influenced remixes. “Bustin’ Up on the Beach~Shrouding Dark Cloud~Guardando nel buio” is a purely chiptune medley by BOKKADENcI. Although the renditions are rather faithful to the originals, they don’t feel like typical demakes, particularly in the case of the battle tracks. A good amount of creativity is used to re-image these tracks in chiptune format, and it’s quite entertaining, even if it at times lacks the dynamic punch of the originals. RIZM DEVICE finds similar success with “March Caprice”, here augmenting the chiptune with modern synths and influences. It’s a bit sparse at times, but there’s enough happening in the track to keep it engaging and interesting.
Kingdom Hearts Tribute Album is a rather uneven album, not only in thematic cohesiveness but also in terms of quality. Some tracks feel a bit bare or overlong, and admittedly even the better tracks on the album never go to any extreme heights. On first listens the album can be a bit jarring, but once their concepts and ideas become more familiar it grows on you. Certainly there are some songs that will entertain, particularly the rock and the chiptune influenced tracks, but the rest will depend on the listener. It’s not an essential album for Kingdom Hearts fans, but it’s adequate.
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Posted on May 4, 2015 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on May 5, 2015.