01 - Flower Sign
02 - Mystic Pendulum
03 - Thorns
04 - Stargazer
05 - Twilight
06 - MARIA
07 - Stars at Dusk
08 - Dream-Weaving House
09 - Altair
Not only did Atelier Ayesha launch with a 3 disc OST, but a separate album was released for all the vocals. Only the opening and ending, "Flower Sign" and "Altair," are found on the OST. So that's 7 new tracks for those of you who purchase this album. And while they're hit-or-miss, I think it's mostly hit.
But let's start with that graceful, acoustic marvel that is "Flower Sign." It's so very decorative, I dare call it floral, or "blooming." The little scat-singing sections within and after the refrain are just so perfect. I get chills listening to this piece. If you see me at a game or anime convention and I'm humming a tune, try shouting "Hana-shirube!" at me. Then we can become best friends.
The second track, Mystic Pendulum, is amazing. Seriously. Well, at least at first. The whole track is done by Japanese singer/songwriter Rurutia, and she definitely understands the Gust/Atelier vibe. The opening minute of this song is truly beautiful. The first appearance of the refrain is strong too. However, I dare say the song overstays its welcome. I wasn't entirely impressed with the bridge, which comes in at the 4 minute mark. And by the fourth repeat of the chorus, I am just a little tired of it. But the style is spot-on, very emotionally evocative, strained vocal performance and catchy synth drum tracks. We're good so far!
Vocalist yanaginagi sings on track 3, "Thorns" (or, for you romaji-lovers, "Ibara"). This is a fun, spirited pop-rock track composed and arranged by Kazuki Yanagawa. The chorus is especially catchy, but the song doesn't have the staying power of the two prior tracks.
Track 4, "Stargazer," is sung by vocalist Saya, and written by Gust veteran Daisuke Achiwa. Guitar-infused power-rock ballad, slightly fast tempo, very much reminds me of the Grand Fantasm / Mana Khemia era. It's not the best song on the album, and it's not Achiwa's best writing, but it's certainly earning a passing grade.
"Twilight" ("Tasogare") is the only track composed by Gust newcomer Yu Shimoda for this album. It reminds me of this one particularly slow and acoustic ballad from the Ar tonelico (1) hymmnos side Blue. I think it's the mandolin, or maybe just that it's a slow 3/4 tempo. Sadly, I think it might also be the least memorable track of the bunch, even though it does pack an emotional power-punch in the moment.
Haruka Shimotsuki performed for two tracks on this album: track 6 (MARIA) and track 8 (Dream-Weaving House). The latter is a very happy, very chipper track that you can actually find an instrumental version of on the OST. I prefer the instrumental version, strangely enough. I usually love everything Shimotsuki-san touches, but for both tracks on this album, I'm not impressed. MARIA is the better track, though it takes forever to get anywhere. But once it gets where it's going, and Shimotsuki is hitting those high notes, it is straight up epic.
That leaves ... the end track, "Altair," which is so-so, and the most unique track on the album, "Stars at Dusk" ("Yoi no Hoshi"). I really dig Stars at Dusk, mostly because of the nuanced performance of vocalist "Chirinuruwowaka" (what kind of name is that, anyway?). If you like the opening track for Romancing SaGa ~Minstrel Song~, but you wish it were sung by a woman instead of a man, this song is for you. It also has this strange country-Western feel to it, just barely touching the same spots of my heart where fond memories of Wild Arms and Sakura Wars V are held.
Bottom line: if you're going to spring for the OST, you may as well pick up this album too for a more complete listening experience. There's enough good stuff here to warrant the purchase.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann