Motoi Sakuraba Band Arrangement Album -Star Ocean & Valkyrie Profile-

motoiband Album Title:
Motoi Sakuraba Band Arrangement Album – Star Ocean & Valkyrie Profile-
Record Label:
Square Enix
Catalog No.:
SQEX-10544
Release Date:
June 8, 2016
Purchase:
Buy at CDJapan

Overview

Motoi Sakuraba has long been a part of the Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile series. This year, a few months after the release of the soundtrack to Star Ocean 5 -Integrity and Faithlessness-, an arrange album titled Motoi Sakuraba Band Arrangement Album / STAR OCEAN & VALKYRIE PROFILE, dedicated to his music to these series, was released. Featuring his band, the arrange album contains music from the first two games in each series. Given the amount of music for Star Ocean, it is surprising to see him only focus on the first two games in the series. How does the overall album turn out?

Body

The album opens up with fan favorite battle theme, “Stab the Sword of Justice,” from Star Ocean -The Second Story-, and is an electric guitar led arrangement of the original. The arrangement itself is pretty faithful to the original. It’s enjoyable, but it certainly isn’t nearly as creative as his Star Ocean -The Last Hope- rendition, in my opinion. The other normal battle themes featured on the album are “For Achieve” from Star Ocean and “Unconfirmed God Fighting Syndrome” from Valkyrie Profile. Like “Stab the Sword of Justice,” these two pieces take a similar approach and come off as pretty straightforward and nothing really stands out among them. Another tune that is pretty faithful to the original is “The incarnation of devil.” It’s a keyboard driven arrangement that doesn’t really do anything new, which isn’t surprising, given that this tune has been arranged a plethora of times throughout his  career.

There are some tunes where he takes a bit of risk and I think it pays off in the end. “Dynamite,” “KA.MI.KA.ZE,” both from Star Ocean -The Second Story-, and “Never Surrender” from Valkyrie Profile 2 -Silmeria- all slow the tempo down compared to the original. “Dynamite” gets a very heavy and oppressive sound but teeters a bit on the repetitive side focusing on electirc guitar, while “KA.MI.KA.ZE” is a much more dramatic affair compared to the original and is primarily keyboard focused. Lastly, “Never Surrender” is done more in a ballad style, transforming the orchestral boss theme into a piano driven, beautiful, and dramatic piece. These three songs are, to me, the highlights of the album, as it transforms the tunes into something more successful, even if some of them tend to get a bit repetitive.

“The true nature of all” from Valkyrie Profile isn’t an innovative arrangement by any means, but the updated synth and the interplay between it and the harpsichord is a welcome update. “An illusion of the brainstem” from Valkyrie Profile is another successful update to the original and its electric guitar led arrangement makes for a stylistic fit and an enjoyable one at that.  “Mighty Blow + Shiver” from Star Ocean -The Second Story- is a synth keyboard arrangement with some jazzy undertones at times. While the two pieces fuse together quite nicely, the end result doesn’t really stand out. “Tangency,” also from Star Ocean -The Second Story-, is a frenetic keyboard driven piece with a ton of energy and chaotic tones. There are also some moments of clarity that add a nice contrast and is a decent take on the original. Of the pieces that Sakuraba has arranged quite often throughout his career, “Confidence in the Domination,” from Valkyrie Profile, is another fan favorite. Despite being arranged to death throughout his career, I feel that this version manages to succeed. The electric guitar led melody help as do the copious amounts of solos that give the piece some freshness due to the guitar focus of the arrangement instead of the keyboard solos like so many past renditions.

Summary

The Motoi Sakuraba Band Arrangement Album / STAR OCEAN & VALKYRIE PROFILE is certainly a missed opportunity. Despite featuring the music of the first two games in each series, the majority of the tunes come from Star Ocean -The Second Story- and Valkyrie Profile, relegating the other two games featured on the album to one arrangement each. Not only that, but many of the arrangements are of tunes that he has arranged before, so the chance for arranging different pieces was certainly ample. The end result is one with mixed enjoyability and creativity and given the fact that there were three other Star Ocean games and a spinoff Valkyrie Profile from which music could be chosen, one which certainly played it safe in terms of track selection.

Motoi Sakuraba Band Arrangement Album -Star Ocean & Valkyrie Profile- Don Kotowski

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!

2.5


Posted on September 12, 2016 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on September 12, 2016.

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About the Author

Don Kotowski

Currently residing in New York, I spend my days working in antibody therapeutics and dedicate some of my spare time in the evening to the vast world of video game music, both reviewing soundtracks as well as maintaining relationships with composers overseas in Europe and in Japan.



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