Atelier Rorona ~Alchemist of Arland~ OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: KDSD-10038/9
Released On: June 24, 2009
Composed By: Ken Nakagawa
Arranged By: Ken Nakagawa
Published By: Team Entertainment
Recorded At: SameCreative Inc., D-Sound
Format: 2 CDs
Buy this CD from Play-Asia

Disc One
01 - Falling, The Star Light
02 - Atelier Rorona ~Celtic~
03 - The Story Begins
04 - Let's Start Out
05 - Entrance of the Palace
06 - That Knight is Gruff
07 - The Young Lady is a Tomboy
08 - Cocco Informs You When It's the Morning
09 - Atelier Rorona
10 - Ah! Nap Time
11 - Shop's Jig
12 - Eat it with the Special Menu
13 - I Learned it
14 - A Stroll in the Forest
15 - Full-Bokko
16 - Encounter with Alchemy
17 - When You are Troubled, Talk
18 - The Cycle of Disturbing Thoughts ~Duet~
19 - Father and Mother
20 - Shop's Jig ~Recorder~
21 - Hitori-Shizuka
22 - A Blurred Scene
23 - Whoosh-Whoosh Waltz
24 - Ultimate Rondo
25 - Noisy
26 - A Little Evildoer's March
27 - Infiltration! Potholing
28 - Maji-Bukko
29 - A Cemetery Sleeping in the Basement
30 - Unpleasant Presentiment
31 - Ghost Girl ~for Atelier Rorona~
32 - A Big Crowd at the Kingdom Festival
33 - Falling, The Star Light ~Alchemy Boy & Girl~
Total Time:

Disc Two
01 - Will You Try it?
02 - Sun Bathing
03 - Shopkeeper's Disposition
04 - The Dancer of Arland ~Solo~
05 - That's the Way a Minstrel Recites It
06 - Shop's Jig ~Whistle~
07 - The Weapon Shop's Old Man
08 - Lionela's Street Performance
09 - The King of Arland
10 - Let's Get Going
11 - Boundless Plains
12 - Waterside Poem
13 - The Street Performer
14 - We're Friends, Right?
15 - It Might be a Good Thing
16 - Shop's Jig ~Bagpipe~
17 - Hair-Rooted Cape
18 - The Dancer of Arland ~Duet~
19 - Complicated Atelier Rorona
20 - Wind Valley
21 - Silent Undersea Ruins
22 - The Ancient Tree's Beat
23 - Dark Zone
24 - Cyclone
25 - Nose Dive
26 - Devil's Tango
27 - Eyes of the Dragon
28 - Today's Guts Pose
29 - I'll Announce it!
30 - Atelier Rorona ~Ballad~
31 - A Mysterious Recipe
32 - Falling, The Star Light ~Karaoke~
33 - A Mysterious Recipe ~Karaoke~
Total Time:

THe liner notes reveal some of Ken Nakagawa's more eccentric instruments.

The newest Atelier game is Atelier Rorona for PlayStation 3. It takes a turn back in time, going for the style of the older Atelier games (such as Atelier Marie) instead of the more recent, combat-heavy Ateliers (Atelier Iris and Mana-Khemia). The all-star trio of the Gust Sound Team (Akira Tsuchiya, Daisuke Achiwa, and Ken Nakagawa) has been whittled away over the years since they first united with Atelier Viorate. For this particular score, Ken Nakagawa flies solo.

Being less focused on combat and more focused on traveling from town to town, performing fetch quests, and synthesizing items into new alchemic creations, the soundtrack required a more soothing sound. And through my first listen of the album, up until near the end of the second disc, these were my impressions:

"The music is simple, provincial, and comfortable. There is not a single track on here that I would consider awe-inspiring, spectacular, or sublime."

I was almost certain I would need to put this statement in my final review. And if the score ended at disc 2, track 19, I could've kept it in. But let me strike that statement from the record!

For some reason, Ken Nakagawa decided to load all of his best compositions at the back end of the OST. Starting at disc 2, track 20, and moving forward to track 27, what we find are some of Ken Nakagawa's best compositions ever. Surprise! They are "dungeon" and "battle" themes (well, sort...). The point is that they are up-tempo, engaging, and they manage to keep a feel all their own while still bringing back the best bits and pieces of previous Gust scores. If someone were to create an arranged album for Atelier Rorona, I suspect that vast majority of the arrange album would cover the eight tracks here at the end of disc two. They are phenomenal.

The first disc of the OST is largely forgettable. The only tracks that stood out to me were the opening vocal (which, after the first 45 seconds, goes against the grain of a typical Atelier opening), and the town theme that is track 4 (parts of it sound nearly identical to the Atelier Iris town theme!). There are some interesting musical themes to be found on disc one, yes. But by and large, after having listened to the first disc (as I mentioned earlier), I suspected that this would become one of my least favorite Atelier OSTs.

But, honestly, disc two really makes up for it. The section of awesomeness that I've already talked about certainly helps things. But there are plenty of good tracks throughout the second disc as well: more in the vein of "happy town music," but still more interesting than what I heard on disc one. Reoccuring Atelier traditions, such as the synthesized male vocalist for the weapon shop clerk, make their return here.

The ending vocal theme is painfully cheesy, though it does have a great non-lyrical ("la la") extended fade-out, which comprises the last minute of the track (check out the audio sample, disc 2 track 31).

I don't know what recommendations to make about this album. I'm still excited about the game, and its art style, and if I had to compare this soundtrack to Atelier Marie or Lilie, there's no question that Ken Nakagawa trumps those old-time composers. But if you're looking for another Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~ OST, you won't find it here. This is something new and different. I hope that Nakagawa-san is able to continue refining his style, and that his next OST will have more "stand-out" tracks than this one did. If you're willing to shell out money for a full two disc OST, keeping in mind what I said about the first disc, you'll still be rewarded with a few amazing instrumental tracks at the end of disc two. I'll let the audio samples tell the rest of the story.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann