When Gust announced Atelier Elie Unknown Origin, it was spoken of as a gift to the fans of the series. And what a gift! Are you unaware of what makes this collection of music so special?! Allow me to inform you.
Years upon years ago, Sony Records released a two disc set that was the Atelier Elie OST. And while the compositions were great, the sound quality was mediocre. The keen and observant listener likely noticed Elie's unreached potential in this lower form.
And so it came to pass that the people over at Gust recognized the need for Atelier Elie's score to receive an extra stroke of genius: Akira Tsuchiya walked back into the studio and "boosted" the quality of pretty much the top twenty-some tracks from the OST: some have changed enough to be called "arranged", others have simply undergone an aural facelift.
The result is, in both cases, spectacular.
Though I hesitated in selecting tracks to sample (as I wanted to give you an adequate selection to feast upon), there was no need to hesitate. I could have picked any five tracks, and you would likely be satisfied either way. This album is consistently above the average run-of-the-mill soundtrack on all counts. That is wonderful news.
Those new to the series ought to know that Akira Tsuchiya has a particular writing style that is difficult to describe, but easy to recognize. If you've heard Tsuchiya (read: music from the Atelier series), then you'll recognize it any time you hear it again for the rest of your life. It oozes charm, and it permeates you senses with a refreshing spray of pure, liquid creativity. Don't believe me? Take a listen to the samples: from the bouncy "Story of the Seagull..." to the quirky "...Room of Distortion!", everything is marvelous.
Tracks 24 to 28 of the first disc seem to be fully arranged tracks. Especially significant among these is track 25, which contains drama tracks and incredible impromptu jazz sessions (featuring melodies from the soundtrack, now performed with remarkable accuracy from live instruments!). The track runs at a lengthy eight minutes, and the minute sampled showcases only some of this fine fine track.
Disc two features three versions of the game's vocal theme, now gone soft and jazzy. Each version of the song runs at seven minutes and thirty seconds. That's a lot to take in at once, especially since only the first of the three tracks features vocals (though all three feature piano from Mami Horie, who is also the vocalist). This song is absolutely beautiful, and these three different versions run together to make a twenty minute soft-jazz experience that is difficult to find on other VGM albums. Make no mistake: this second disc is as much a gift as the first.
If you purchase just one Atelier soundtrack in your entire life as a VGM collector, this is the one to get. Though I have my own favorite complete OSTs, as far as these types of albums go, featuring a "best of" with higher-produced sounds, this is one of the best ones I've ever seen. Gust, Tsuchiya, and Horie all need to pat themselves on the back: job well done.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann