Persona 3 Portable Voice Mix Arrange
Persona 3 Portable Voice Mix Arrange
December 15, 2010
Buy at CDJapan
The revival of the Persona series has proven to be very popular in Japan, though the popularity of Persona 3 seems to reign supreme in terms of game and soundtrack. There have been numerous releases dedicated to Persona 3, including the original soundtrack, the Fes soundtrack, an arrange album, the portable soundtrack, and numerous live band DVDs and albums. The latest, the Persona 3 Portable Voice Mix Arrange, is unique for a variety of reasons. Rather than opting for another normal arrange album, they decided to make a voice mix arrange album, similar in concept to those for tri-Ace games Valkyrie Profile and Star Ocean: Till the End of Time; however, at the same time, rather than just adding voice samples from the game into the regular music, Atlus decided to hire Shinji Hosoe and Nobuyoshi Sano to arrange the music as well. Does the addition of voice samples ruin the arrange album or are they tastefully added?
Shinji Hosoe opens up the arrange album with arguably the most popular of the Persona opening themes, “Soul Phrase.” The original features a mixture beautiful verses and edgy chorus, so Hosoe’s transformation is quite welcome. It opens up with the same edgy guitar as the original, but quickly transforms into a Hosoe-certified techno theme full of amazing beats and synthesizer manipulation that really helps mimic the more mellow passages of the original. Despite being hesitant at first, I find the voice samples to be tastefully done. They really go well with the piano melody that is used to replace the vocal work in the original. As the remix progresses, the layering between electric guitar, intense beats, and ethereal piano really make for a wonderful listen. It’s definitely one of my favorite Hosoe interpretations on the album.
Perhaps the most transformative of arrangements is “Poem for Everyone’s Souls.” Hosoe transforms the beautiful aria into an extremely upbeat, club-worthy rendition sans vocals. The voice samples, although more frequent than those featured in “Soul Phrase”, don’t really inhibit the enjoyment of this piece and will enhance its meaning for Japanese speakers. The various synthesizer passages really help add to the original melody, while the glockenspiel-based melodic passages maintain the ethereal feel. It’s a nice treat because it truly does break down the original into something one might not ever expect to hear. Surprisingly, Hosoe also arranges my favorite Persona 3 theme, “Shadow.” While this one isn’t nearly as transformative as “Soul Phrase” or “Poem for Everyone’s Souls,” I do find it to be an enjoyable listen. The dark nature of the original is retained as well; however, rather than include piano, like the original, Hosoe includes a number of new additions, such as some eccentric electronic beeping, some sinister synth accompaniment, and some very intense techno beats, which are incorporated at a tempo that accentuates the overall atmosphere of gloom.
Hosoe is also responsible for two remixes pertaining to battle themes. The first, “Wiping All Out/Mass Destruction” is, in my opinion, the more enjoyable of the two. With this theme, he does quite a few interesting things. First of all, I appreciate how he kept the rap portions of “Wiping All Out,” as, while controversial, they goes well with the electronic soundscape he provided for the remix. However, more intriguingly, he replaced the female vocals with a synthesizer that sounds as if it’s mimicking a vocoder version of the female vocals. It’s really quite clever! As for the “Mass Destruction” part, it isn’t featured as heavily as I thought it would be and mainly serves as a nice transition between verses in the “Wiping All Out” sections, but it is nice nod nonetheless. Overall, I think Hosoe nailed this one, retaining all the charm of the original “Wiping All Out” (and of course, some of “Mass Destruction”), but at the same time, adding electronic soundscapes on top of the hip-hop beats. Lastly, Hosoe remixes the Persona 3 final battle theme “Burn My Dread -Last Battle-.” Similar to “Shadow,” this one doesn’t do a lot that makes it stand out amongst the remixes, however, at the same time, I do think what Hosoe did makes the theme quite enjoyable as a remix. Keeping in place both the rap sections and the female vocal harmonies, he strengthens the hip-hop beats featured in the original and includes some wonderful electronic and rock accompaniment during the rap sections. It’s an enjoyable theme, yet probably the weakest of his remixes on the album.
While Shinji Hosoe may have handled more of the iconic themes from the Persona 3 universe, I think that Nobuyoshi Sano did a nice job with what he remixed. I really like how his remixes complement Hosoe’s more intense remixes as most of these are quite bubbly and happy in nature. They remind me of his Brightness album in terms of atmosphere. Sano’s first remix is a medley of four favourites. Opening up with a beautiful trance rendition of “Time,” it manages to set a very dreamy atmosphere, one that continues for the entire remix. The bubbly beats, upbeat accompanying layers of synth, and of course, the melody line manages to transform the warm original pop rock vocal theme into a fitting electronic interpretation. The incorporation of “Want To Be Close,” “Sun,” and “Changing Seasons,” are used mainly as support roles and serve as nice interludes between the sections that feature the melody in “Time.” It’s nicely done I think and it’s truly impressive how they are all smoothly integrated.
Another set of vocal themes are set to a medley form sans vocals. This remix, “A Way of Life/When the Moon’s Reaching Out Stars,” also creates a very happy atmosphere, but it’s more in line with some of Sano’s Ridge Racer tunes. There’s a nice driving rhythm, some wonderful synthesizer manipulation, and I especially love the inclusion of some vocoder vocals. What I really find enjoyable about this remix is the fact that, while the majority of the melody is “A Way of Life,” the accompanying rhythms and beats are definitely taking from “When the Moon’s Reaching Out Stars.” It’s truly a remarkable feat as the two themes mesh together quite well. Speaking of mashups, similar to Hosoe’s take on the normal battle themes for Persona 3 and Persona 3 Portable, Sano does the same for the boss themes for the two games. “Danger Zone/Master of Tartarus” is definitely Sano’s most intense remix on the album and it really manages to carry over that foreboding nature heard in the originals. I particularly enjoy how he transitions from one to the other seamlessly to create an extremely intoxicating club sound. Synthesizer manipulation also plays a strong part in this theme as Sano manages to capture the nuances heard in the rock originals, especially when it comes to the “Danger Zone” sections. Throw in some light industrial beats, similar to what you might hear off a Nine Inch Nails album, and you have an extremely fitting remix that really shines.
Out of all of Sano’s remixes, I find that “Warm Feeling” is definitely my favorite. To me, Sano completely transforms the slow piano theme into something that truly accentuates this sense of warmth. His approach is absolutely stunning as, unlike other themes he remixed, the actual “Warm Feeling” melody almost has a muted approach. It’s still present of course, but Sano’s decision to make the beat the forefront of the remix really makes the melody, in my eyes, stand out, despite being more subtly integrated into the remix. Of course, there are sections where the beat is dropped and the actual melody gets to shine in all its glory. These are beautiful passages indeed, as I truly love how Sano managed to manipulate the melody to do a variety of neat effects and of course, the ethereal nature of the synth melody truly adds to the overall atmosphere. However, I find the sections where the melody is subtly integrated into the background to be much more enticing because it truly makes you listen for it and, in my eyes, appreciate it much more. This is truly the star of the album.
The one iconic theme that Nobuyoshi Sano did remix is “Memories of You,” and it closes the album and serves as the longest arrangement. In essence, it’s a culmination of a variety of techniques that Sano used earlier in the album. For example, there are sections where the melody is more in the background while the beat serves as the foreground, as well as sections where the melody is manipulated to produce a bunch of neat effects. As for the voice samples, they lend a nice airy quality to the very bubbly arrangement; however, there are a few sections that feature some screams of grief that really serve as a stark contrast to the happy atmosphere of the remix. They are bit of a mismatch, but aren’t too much of a deterrent as they aren’t featured prominently. In the end, I really enjoy this remix as well and it transforms the original into something with a bit of pep.
Out of all the voice mix albums I’ve heard, which are a bit limited, I do find that the Persona 3 Portable Voice Mix Arrange is the best one I’ve heard thus far for a few reasons. I don’t find the voice sample additions to be a huge deterrent from enjoying the music. Another factor towards its success is that the music is actually remixed, as opposed to some of the other albums that just insert voice samples into already existing music. I think that Nobuyoshi Sano and Shinji Hosoe arranged the modern sounding music into something that accentuates the modern city setting of the game and did so wonderfully. That said, the arrangements may be too abstract for some and others will be alienated by the concept of integrating voice samples into the music. Though not for all, it will be a fantastic experience for others, especially if you are a fan of the remixers.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.