Melodies -RPG Piano Collection-
Melodies -RPG Piano Collection-
Magical Trick Society
May 5, 2010
Buy at D-Stage
RPG music and piano is not an unusual mix. Square has given us a piano arranged albums for nearly all of its biggest franchises from Final Fantasy to Kingdom Hearts, and it’s certainly not unusual to see fans use their talents to perform video game music, with Daniel Brown, Benyamin Nuss and Martin Leung being fine examples of this. There’s always games that have yet to get the piano treatment we might think it deserves and doujin group Magical Trick Society took notice of this fact with their release Melodies. This album offers piano arrangements of ten different games, many of which have yet to be heard on solo piano.
WATAMIN, one of the co-directors at Magical Trick Society, was responsible for all the arrangements found in this CD. It is apparent very early on that it is a programmed piano we are dealing with, with the sound being very crisp and clear in a way only digital pianos allow. This makes for a very pleasant sound quality, but some music fans find the use of digital instruments alienating. I tend to think it comes down to the production values and mixing, and for the most part, they are top notch on this album.
The album starts out with a heavy hitter for a lead in with Ys’s “Feena”, one of Yuzo Koshiro’s early masterpieces. It’s a great slow jazz arrangement that is well suited for piano and instantly recognizable for game music lovers. It works in small sections of original elements, with strikes of arpeggios and also small teases of “First Step Towards Wars” from the same soundtrack. It always struck me how much the intro to this track sounds like Metroid‘s ending theme, and it is only enhanced on this piano arrangement. “Offering” from ActRaiser meanwhile is one of the more exciting pieces featured on the album due to the game being legendary for its music, also by Yuzo Koshiro. It hasn’t often been heard interpreted on the piano, so it feels quite welcome here and, while focusing on a very simple melody, WATAMIN does a great job portraying it with a clear religious tone and a deep nuances.
Being a resident of Europe, I was one of those lucky people who got to play Terranigma when it was first released on SNES in these parts of the world. The inclusion of that title here made me smile, and “Light and Darkness” is an interesting track that starts with a light and bouncy melody but descends slowly into a slower and darker piece, as foreshadowed by the track name. Xanadu is another RPG which might be quite unknown to western fans, but the games offer some great music by Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. who were also behind the aforementioned Ys. The arrangement of “Feel at Ease” features a light pop melody with jazz elements and feels rather straightforward. “Rising Sun” from Seiken Densetsu takes things in a direction of classical romantic piece, while “Reminiscence” from Suikoden II offers a more misty and haunting melody with clear emotional emphasis.
“Corridors of Time” is probably a track everyone has heard one too many times, but still manages to be featured on a majority of arrangement releases every year. The Chrono Trigger arrangement on this RPG piano collection fails to offer anything new unfortunately. It is well done and by no means unpleasant, but apart from a few seconds at the end, it doesn’t offer enough original elements to make it interesting enough to stand out in the sea of alternatives available. Fire Emblem does not share this fate thankfully, and the “Main Theme” sounds glorious in a piano setting, thanks to its classical nature. The optimistic march is often heard performed by a choir but works just a well on piano, with a playful and heroic melody.
Ogre Battle would also be described by many as a soundtrack that gets glossed over in favor for the more well known fan favorites, but this track proves itself worthy among the rest. Whereas Fire Emblem a more heroic march, nearly on the level of an anthem, this track is more militaristic and wartorn with a clear story of battle. While programmed, it’s still a great fast track, which properly picks up some steam from the slower lead-in. But what goes up must come down again and Xenogears closes the album with a pop ballad called “Where the Egg of Dreams Hatches” (though I believe Americans tend to use the title “Shattering of the Dream Egg”). It’s a nice little piece, though never reaches any high point and is just sort of there. It leaves the end of the album a bit flatlined.
It might be a bit unfair, but it is necessary to compare this CD to other recent piano offerings such as Benyamin Nuss Plays Uematsu and Pia-Com. At times, the sound feels a bit unauthentic and lacks the proper resonance and humanity that a real piano would have given. What becomes this album’s greatest strengths is the track listing full of untapped potential, mixed with fan favorites, that will certainly appeal to hardcore fans. WATAMIN has done a good job arranging the source material, although in comparison to Benyamin Nuss especially, they might feel a bit straightforward and lacking climaxes. If you like piano arrange albums, this is a good choice and will compliment your piano collection well — it just won’t redefine it.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Audun Sørlie. Last modified on August 1, 2012.