01 - Opening
02 - Arc
03 - Kukuru
04 - Poco
05 - Tosh
06 - gogen
07 - Chongara
08 - Iga
09 - Finale
10 - Departure
11 - Ending
What happens when you combine solid orchestral performances with elevator music? You get the Arc the Lad "Original Game Soundtrack", which is ironically a disc filled with arranged tracks: nothing originally from the game.
Well, except for the "Royal Philharmonic Orchestra" work on the opening and ending tracks, which are beautiful orchestral works used within the game. The most well-done piece, in my opinion, is the ending track, which I have sampled above. These melodies stuck with me, and I am only vaguely familiar with the first Arc the Lad game. It is certainly an enjoyable piece, as are all the orchestral tracks (1, 9-11).
And now for your local forecast!
Tracks 2 through 8 receive an entirely different arrangement. The best way to describe these tracks is "The Weather Channel." Have you ever stopped and paid attention to the music playing on the Weather Channel? The classification for this type of music, I'm told, is "smooth jazz." Melodic guitars; simple, fairly repetitive bass riffs; the wailing saxophone; the bright synthesized keyboard, the "wah wah" guitar. It's all there in these tracks.
Some of my more snobbish musically-inclined friends tend to bash the "smooth jazz" as a false style of music, nothing more than a degradation of real, good jazz (such as bebop). While I am forced to admit that they are probably right, I cannot help but bounce my head along to these simple, jazzy songs. Seriously, listen to the sample on track 4, "Poco", and then spend the next five hours watching the weather channel. I have a feeling that perhaps Masahiro Andoh is actually receiving royalties from America for submitting his work, because I am SURE I've heard this somewhere before. Haven't you? Haven't we all...
Certainly, this soundtrack contains a most awkward combination of musical styles, which in one sense degrades it and in another sense enriches. If you can appreciate both styles, it is definitely worth finding. If you dislike one of the two styles (probably the smooth jazz), it is (as a university professor once told me) like mixing ice cream with dung: this doesn't hurt the dung at all, but it certainly decreases the value of the ice cream.
Even after getting two reprints after its original release, this soundtrack is now fairly hard to locate. If you enjoy the samples, I would truly recommend you find the soundtrack: but I suspect, if you are anything like the majority of people I've spoken to, that you will not at all appreciate the smooth jazz/fusion happening on this disc. Elevator music meets epic symphonic music: I don't think I'll ever get over such a strange mix.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann