NiGHTS into Dreams Perfect Album
NiGHTS into Dreams Perfect Album
February 21, 2008
Buy at CDJapan
To celebrate the PlayStation 2 remake of NiGHTS into Dreams, Sega’s record label decided to give the fantasy game’s score its long-desired full soundtrack release. Relative to the NiGHTS into Dreams Original Soundtrack, the NiGHTS into Dreams Perfect Album offered extended stage themes, all the main theme arrangements, new jingles and event themes, and a stomachable pricetag. What’s more, this three disc release also featured the gimmicky soundtrack to Christmas NiGHTS. Was this album a late Christmas present for Sonic Team fans?
Once again, Tomoko Sasaki’s main theme for NiGHTS into Dreams is at the centre of the album. The melody itself is a simple, dreamy, and adventurous one filled with Disney influences, but the arrangements are what really make the theme stunning. The Perfect Album opens with its primary vocal arrangement, “Dreams Dreams”, a romantic gospel-influenced duet that is cleverly integrated into the game. It also receives a surprisingly tolerable child vocal performance and an instrumental rendition at the end of the second disc. Perhaps even more enjoyable is Hayato Matsuo’s rich orchestration of the theme at the start of the second disc, which is actually exclusive to the soundtrack release. This rendition perfectly captures the atmosphere of the game by transitioning through grandiose, action-packed, whimsical, and romantic sections, culminating in a recapitulation with powerful brass and lavish piano decoration. This is actually an arrangement exclusive to the album releases and an extended version of the game’s opening theme now in its right place. The main theme is integrated in slightly less elaborate ways throughout the soundtrack in pieces such as the dance mix “Message from Nightopia”, pop-flavoured “Growing Wings”, or minimalistic “D’Force Master”. The melody isn’t that flexible and therefore often seems obligatory in these interpretations, yet the arrangements are good enough for the tracks to still be worthwhile.
The most significant additions to this version of the NiGHTS into Dreams soundtrack are the extended versions of the stage themes. Whereas the first soundtrack release featured three minute long tracks, this release extends them close to ten minute playtimes. These full versions sustain interest throughout and emphasise the colour of the stages as they transition through their original, sweet, bitter, and spicy variations, each generally done by a different arranger. Most themes, such as “Gloom of the N.H.C.” and “”Paternal Horn”, continually delight with their whimsical phrasing and unconventional use of organic instrumentation. Tomoko Sasaki’s “Suburban Museum” is a particular favourite with its unforgettable melody and folky instrumentation while Fumie Kumatani’s “The Amazing Water” is mesmerising with its individualistic blend of piano, tuned percussion, and electronic elements. Naofumi Hataya meanwhile offers some infectious blends of jazz and electronic features on “Under Construction” and “Take the Snow Train”, enhanced by streamed flute and saxophone performances. Although everything is kept light throughout, there is certainly a tonne of diversity in styles here nevertheless. What’s more, the synth is so well done that the instrumentation sounds well-balanced and realistic.
Elsewhere in the soundtrack, Sasaki and company tend to maintain a very optimistic vibe. Sasaki’s character select theme “Gate of Your Dream”, for instance, reinforces the youthful aura of the game with fragile tuned percussion and child voices. Meanwhile Hataya’s “The Dragon Gave a Loud Scream” culminates with a liberating saxophone solo at the 1:06 mark and Kumatani’s “Deep It Lies” sounds completely ‘out there’ with its electro-acoustic blends. Even the themes for the antagonists can be really endearing, whether the bouncy funk-flavoured “The Mantle” or the temperamental semi-operatic “She Had Long Ears”. The two versions of “Nights and Reala” are also delightful, the first a refreshingly unconventional chillout theme, the reprise a hard rock fest. Both make good use of the main theme, as does the unused orchestral action theme “Know Thyself” featured at the climax of the album. The other exclusives to the NiGHTS into Dreams soundtrack come from the various jingle and event themes. Some tracks are charming, such as the two versions of “Dreaming Youngsters”, the classically-oriented “On to the Audition”, or the piano-based “Score the Goal!”, but the rest tend to be too short to be anything but superfluous. Fortunately these cues are sufficiently few to really perturb the listening experience.
The album doesn’t end there! On the third disc, the previously unreleased score for Christmas NiGHTS given away with in a Saturn bundle on Christmas 1996. Much of the soundtrack features arrangements of Christmas classics or NiGHTS into Dreams pieces and some tracks, such as the opener “Missing Star”, feature both. The first full-length track blends the Jingle Bells melodies with the Tomoko Sasaki’s characteristic upbeat jazz and gospel influences. Other easily recognisable arrangements include “Welcome to Christmas NiGHTS” and “Twinkle Star”. Naofumi Hataya’s arrangement of his own “The Dragon Gave a Loud Dream” sounds better than ever and the Christmas influences are thankfully unobtrusive. Further attention is given to “Dream Dreams” with its soulful a capella rendition at the centre of the soundtrack. Moving to the original music, the complete version of “Jack Frost’s Chime” recounts the more whimsical and organic flavour of the series’ music across a sequence of four arrangements. A little diversity is also created with the epic orchestration and operatic influences of “Rolling Eggman” before things are wrapped up with the sweet and sassy interpretation of the theme song. While short and stereotypical, the soundtrack features several charming and emotional pieces nevertheless.
The NiGHTS into Dreams Perfect Album is a soundtrack release done right. It features everything from the original game, most notably the extended stage themes, in a sensible order. Completists no longer need to have niggles about the original release and can bathe themselves in an entertaining two disc listen. The Christmas NiGHTS soundtrack is also a welcome bonus even if a little gimmicky. The whole release is recommended for fans of fantasy game music and those who enjoyed the game.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.