NieR Replicant -10+1 Years- EP
NieR Replicant -10+1 Years- EP
Square Enix Music
September 15, 2021
Buy at iTunes
NieR Replicant -10+1 Years- EP is a digital release that collects the four new official arrange tracks that appear on the four NieR Replicant -10+1 Years- LPs. The arrangements are all performed by different small instrumental ensembles, foregoing the original vocals and bringing textures to the tracks that are very different from those found in the original soundtracks, though they are still in keeping with the spirit of the originals.
The first track, “Shadowlord / Sax Ensemble Ver.” arranged by Hitoshi Suzuki, is the most daring of the arrangements. Although the ensemble constituency might suggest a jazzy affair, the track is actually melancholy and atmospheric. The track begins slowly and meditatively, evoking organum of medieval chant through drones and parallel motion, while also sounding exotic thanks to the added musical ornamentation. It gradually adds more lines before reaching a raw and feverish climax. It’s a dark and strange track that won’t be for everyone, but its uniqueness makes it easily my favourite out of the set.
The second track is “Kainé” arranged by Sachiko Miyano for an oboe and bassoon quartet. This track is much more in keeping with the original “Kaine (Salvation)”, keeping the melody intact and the harmony mostly unchanged. There’s a good amount of counterpoint added throughout that is nice and gives the track a classical feeling, while also allowing each member some time at the forefront. But the main draw of the arrangement is how lovely and warm the quartet sound together, and the ending of the track is particularly beautiful without being overwrought.
Third is “Emil” arranged by Kenji Kaneko for a quartet of recorders. The arrangement is a serious one, unlike the more playful and comical arrangements from previous Square Enix albums involving recorders. Though the instruments themselves may still be a bit too shrill for everyone’s liking, there is something about the instruments that captures the innocence of Emil’s character. Despite staying relatively close to both “Sacrifice” and “Karma” versions of the track again with added counterpoint, the instrumentation means the track has a subtly different emotional register from the originals, more lonely than sorrowful.
The last track is “Song of the Ancients / Mandolin Ensemble Ver.” arranged by Ryo Aoyama and modelled closely after the Devola version of the original. It’s straightforward at first, but after about a minute when the mandolins all start adding tremolos, the track suddenly feels very expansive sonically. It’s an enchanting effect when combined with Okabe’s original melody. I wish it developed a bit more as the track went on, but it works well enough as it is.
NieR Replicant 10+1 Years EP is a fine little collection of mostly fresh sounding arrangements that give classic NieR tunes a new sound palette. Although the instrumentation is very different from the originals, the mood is still there. It’s also nice that they sound so different from the other arrangement projects that the series has already received. The arrangements alone probably won’t justify the purchase of the full LPs except for diehard fans, given how much other redundant material there is on them, even though the packaging is nice. But as a convenient digital release, this EP easy to recommend.
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Posted on September 27, 2021 by Tien Hoang. Last modified on September 27, 2021.