NieR:Automata Arranged & Unreleased Tracks
NieR:Automata Arranged & Unreleased Tracks
December 20, 2017
Buy at CDJapan
The NieR: Automata Arranged & Unreleased Tracks release by Square Enix is 1 part arrange album and 1 part unreleased music. The former features twelve arrangements from various artists, including AJURIKA, known for his work on the Tekken series, while the latter features music by Keiichi Okabe. How does this hybrid album turn out and is it worth the asking price?
Before talking about the arrangements, the elephant in the room to address is the unreleased tracks. All of the music featured on the second disc is either “Birth of a Wish” or “Possessed Disease” but including all of the robotic chants heard as these tunes play in the game itself. Each version has the same music, both in English and in Japanese, while some versions of “Birth of a Wish” also has snippets of the CEO, etc. that were included as DLC. The problem with this part of the release is that it just gets stale very quickly and probably shouldn’t have been a part of the release.
As for the arranged side of things, the arrangements are reminiscent of NieR Tribute Album -echo-, in that there are a variety of arrangement styles, but the end result is one that is very hit or miss. Tunes like AJURIKA’s “City Ruins,” which keep the original vocal samples intact while juxtaposing the soft melody with aggressive electronic beats, some drum n’ bass flair, and great synth accompaniment works extremely well. Likewise, “Peaceful Sleep,” arranged by Cheng Bi meets Masato Ishinari, which does change the vocalist up, is an extremely beautiful acoustic arrangement focused on guitar. The beauty of the original is intact and expands upon it with some great instrumental sections. Other more successful tunes include “End of the Unknown,” “Vague Hope,” and “Song of the Ancients”, by ATOLS, Takuro Iga, and Jun Hayakawa with Atsuki Yoshida, respectively. “End of the Unknown”adds a more epic sound with its choral and cinematic percussion additions to the electronic original while changing up the tempo and general style of the piece adds a lot to the original and I actually prefer it. “Vague Hope” is a stunning strings and piano piece that elevates the original while also incorporating some light electronic elements. Lastly, “Song of the Ancients” is by far the biggest transformation from the source material. The choice of instrumentation is certainly bizarre with its combination of bandoneon and strings quartet, but the end result has a very romantic air to it.
Another tune from the original, which saw a reinterpretation in the sequel is “Emil.” Arranged by Morrigan and Lily, dramatic orchestra with dual vocals by the arrangers adds a lot of depth to the original and also introduces some more industrial tones as it progresses. It’s another great tune. LITE’s “Copied City” takes the original and turns it into a more rock focused tune rather than piano, but adds a very progressive rock sound that complements the original’s structure quite nicely. “Alien Manifestation” is another odd tune on the album that mashes together musical styles. Given the list of arrangers (Yutaka Oyama, Junichi Saito, Yusuke Shima, and Jose Colon), it’s clear where this amalgam of traditional Japanese instrumentation and Spanish instrumentation come into play. Despite such disparate sounds created by these two drastically different sound profiles, it manages to work and the brass and shamisen forward melody lines, with respective solos, is surprisingly enjoyable. Another surprising hit is ZANIO’s “Weight of the World.” While it doesn’t hit the same powerful notes of the original, his vocals a brighter perspective to the music that also seems a major facelift focusing on piano, violin, acoustic guitar, and light electronic pop elements that has a beautiful, inspiring sound.
On the other side of the coin are tunes that don’t necessarily hit the mark, for one reason or another. “Amusement Park,” by arai tasuki feat. momocashew, is, in my opinion, one of the biggest offenders. A complete transformation, it takes the haunting carnival sound and takes it to a different level, re-doing the vocals into a more wispy vocal that definitely has a huge creep factor to it. While it does give the impression of an abandoned amusement park, the vocals are extremely off-putting. To its credit, as the arrangement progresses, the instrumentation does become a bit fuller, but distortion and electronic elements introduced create a bit too much cacophony. Speaking of distortion, “Pascal,” by Ryu Kawamura, is another tune that suffers from overmanipulation. Robotic vocal samples with plenty of electronic distortion dominate the arrangement, particularly in the first half, that overstays its welcome very quickly. However, as the tune progresses, the tune becomes more jazzy and adopts the original vocals of the original and really manages to redeem itself, but a bit too late. Surprisingly, Sachiko Miyano’s take on “Mourning” is an unexpected miss. Usually known for her impeccable orchestrations, for this arrangement, she opts for a pipe organ arrangement spanning almost seven minutes. The end result lacks musical texture, makes the overall tune sound harsh, and has an overall very muddy quality to it.
In the end, the NieR: Automata Arranged & Unreleased Tracks is certainly not without its fault. The second disc is largely unnecessary, as it really does detract from the relative strength of the arrangement side of the release. While not every arrangement manages to succeed entirely, there is still plenty to enjoy on the album and fans of the NieR Tribute Album -echo- album will certainly see the same diverse array of arrangements, but I would argue it isn’t as strong as said album.
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Posted on February 21, 2018 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on February 21, 2018.