This lengthy 3-track single was printed for the release of Atelier Iris Grand Fantasm (the third "Iris" title in the series). The first two songs, while not found on the original soundtrack, are meant to complement the main theme for the game.
In case you're lacking in knowledge of German, "Schwarz" is "black" and "Weiss" is "white." You can see how the two opening songs (which are both slow and beautiful ballads) are intended to lead into the main theme, which is much more forceful and fast-paced.
If you strip away the depth from the titles and their cryptic philosophical meanings, you are left with some fairly solid music. It is my own opinion that the first two songs are much more enjoyable than the last song, which was written by "Revo." (Edit: Revo also wrote the first piece; Haruka Shimotsuki only wrote track 2. Thanks Don!)
Weiss, the "Invitation to Illusions," opens with a beautiful oboe solo, and then goes into a mildly-paced 3/4 ballad with lots of harmonic 3rds from the vocals and some bird-and-water-noise in the background. You can envision the peaceful setting for yourself. The song picks up rhythmically with some catchy Asian percussion for the chorus, lifting the listener's mood (or, at least, this listener's mood).
Weiss ends with a violin solo, and a seamless transition featuring piano and choral voices leads us into Schwarz, which is definitely my favorite song on the single. The ethereal backup voices continue throughout the entirety of the song, and Shimotsuki's voice soars up and down the octaves for this very enigmatic ballad. Again, the instruments are beautiful too.
The straight-4 hard rock makes its debut for the full-length, five-minute version of schwarzweiss, the opening theme for Grand Fantasm. A full male-and-female angry church choir opens the song, and crazy synth strings and organ carry you through. Shimotsuki sounds less genuine in this performance, which is a shame, as it will probably be heard much more than her other two pieces on this single.
There's a solo in the middle, where keyboard/organ trades off with the guitarist every few measures. It's a wild solo (check the sample to find out for yourself), and I was more than mildly impressed. However, it's a bit short and seems cut off early.
Overall, the song reminds me of a similar tune I remember on an old Langrisser arranged album. The guitar's straight power-chord part during the chorus adds to the monotony of the song. Hence, there's plenty of good and plenty of bad on this song. I have mixed feelings about it.
I don't, however, have mixed feelings about the other two songs. That's why you should definitely consider purchasing this single, even if you already have the Grand Fantasm OST. Haruka Shimotsuki has quickly become Gust's leading lady, and I can only hope this single reinforces that role for her.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann