DigiCube (1st Edition); Square Enix (2nd Edition)
April 22, 1998; June 29, 2005
Buy at CDJapan
Xenogears Creid is a Xenogears arranged album that Yasunori Mitsuda concocted featuring Millenial Fair. It’s a very interesting album, taking tracks you’d expect to be arranged in Celtic style, and some you wouldn’t, and creating a very diverse array of pieces. In the end though, how does it compare to the original, and do the arrangements seem appropriate?
Xenogears Creid showcases a very diverse selection of tracks from the soundtrack. It can also be broken up into very two distinct styles of arrangements: vocal and instrumental.
The vocal pieces on this soundtrack are a mixed bag. On the whole, they are pretty good, but they also serve as the main weakness on this album. While the majority of the vocal pieces are mainly Celtic in style, there is one unique exception that blends together both a choral style as well as the aforementioned Celtic base: “Creid.” This track, an arrangement of “Those Wounded Shall Advance into the Light,” is probably the most emotionally gripping vocal performance on the album. The blending of the mesmeric choir and the Celtic-based accompaniment in the latter half, particularly in the solo, helps to soothe the body and the soul.
Moving on, two vocal pieces on this album, “Two Wings” and “Mebius,” arrangements for “Stars of Tears” and “Small Two of Pieces,” are verbatim from the original soundtrack in terms of instrumentation; however, the vocals have been translated into Japanese. While I was disappointed in the lack of originality in arranging these tracks, partially due to how similar they in the original soundtrack, I must applaud the Japanese vocals. They seem less harsh and help redeem the tracks as whole.
The arrangement of “The Sky, The Clouds, and You,” “Stairs of Light” is probably the weakest vocal performance on the album. While the instrumentation is certain up to par, it’s the vocals that suffer here. The lack of fluidity seen in the performance, as seen in the other tracks, really helps to deter from the overall impact on this score. I find myself listening to this track more for the instrumentation, rather than the vocalist. As such, I felt this track would have been better suited as just an instrumental arrangement.
The last vocal piece on this album, “Spring Lullaby,” is an arrangement of one of my favorite themes on the original soundtrack, “Gathering Stars in the Night Sky,” whose melody was also featured in “Flight.” In this piece, the instrumentation works so well together with the vocalist, and really adds another dimension to an already stellar composition. The vocal performance, unlike “Stairs of Light,” is extremely fluid in its application and the vocalist’s voice seems to cast an entrancing spell on the listener. Despite the less-than-perfect “Stairs of Light” performance, and the lack of originality in arranging the two main vocal themes seen on the original, the vocal half of this album doesn’t disappoint too much.
The other half of the album is comprised of instrumental arrangements. As seen in the vocal section, there is only one really uninspiring arrangement, and this track is “June Mermaid.” While the instrumentation is much sharper in this album, it’s essentially a remastered version, rather than a totally unique arrangement.
“Melkaba” is a piece that arranges the thematic motif seen in “Light from the Netherworld” and “Omen,” and transforms it into a very different arrangement from the original counterparts. The arrangement produces a very ethereal effect with the use of the violin, and once the percussion enters into the mix, the pace really quickens and shifts into a Celtic style. While some may classify this piece as a vocal performance, due to the addition of the vocals, I find their inclusion to be merely another instrument, rather than a melodic driving force. If I’m not mistaken, no lyrics are actually used and it serves more the purpose of accentuating the original composition.
“Balto” is quite a unique arrangement. While the first half of this track is an almost identical to “Bonds of Sea and Fire,” it’s the development in the second half featuring “Aveh, the Ancient Dance” that really catches my attention. The first half, while quite poignant and soothing, is overshadowed by the extremely upbeat arrangement. While this piece also emphasizes the Celtic style, it also manages to display hints of Reggae and a French based influence into the composition as well. Another superb arrangement on this album is that of “My Village is Number One.” “Lahan,” the name of the town in which Fei lives, is able to create a very Celtic-rock feel to the entire track, as well as incorporate the “Broken Mirror” motif, otherwise heard in the ending vocal piece “Small Two of Pieces.” Once again, the addition of vocals towards the end mainly serves to highlight the melody.
This brings us, at long last, to my favorite arrangement on the entire album: “Dajil.” What Mitsuda is able to do to the original, “Dajiuru, City of Burning Sands,” is what I can only describe as a masterpiece. Shifting the entire pace of the track and integrating vocals, violin, strong percussion, and some electric guitar, Mitsuda is able to create a track that surpasses the original on every level. One can not help but listen to this track, after listening to the original of course, and notice the subtleties and extreme thought that went into this arrangement.
Xenogears Creid, on the whole, is an extremely pleasing album. Given the few bad arrangements in both the vocal and instrumentation section, and the lack of originality in some of the arrangements, Yasunori Mitsuda is still able to create an arranged album that maintains the magic seen in the original. I recommend this track to any Mitsuda fan, as well as anyone who is looking into purchasing a few arranged albums in the future.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.