01 - Into a World of Illusions
02 - Touching Theme
03 - To A More Distant Place
04 - Every Day is a Carnival
05 - Triumphant Return
06 - Bright Farming Village
07 - Epilogue ~For the 108 Stars~
08 - The Significance of Heritage
09 - The River and the Sun
10 - A Sad Wish
11 - The Plain and the Sky
12 - To the World!
For those of you who have read my review of the first Arrange Collection, you probably know that I enjoyed the album and have been really excited for the second. So without additional preamble, let's dig in.
The theme of this second volume is, unsurprisingly, Celtic and Asian renditions of some of the most famous Suikoden tracks. This is certainly well-traveled terrain for the series' music – both original and arranged tracks from the games have been Celtic and Asian-inspired – and the arrangers do an excellent job with the material. We start out with "Into a World of Illusion," the main theme of the first Suikoden game, done in a Celtic style with harp, fiddle, pipes, and other trappings of the genre. Fans may note that this was also the first track of the previous album, though there done in a piano motif. This time around, the arrangement is more upbeat and bouncy, and acts as an excellent contrast to the previous album's rendition.
Next up is Touching Theme from the first game, done in an Asian style. As in the previous album, Volume 2 alternates tracks, two from each game in the series, the first being Celtic themed, the second being Asian. Flute, violin, and birdsong accompany this classic melody, and evoke images of forests in the mist. Shifting to the second game in the series, we again return to the Emerald Isle with "To a More Distant Place," an excellent, slow arrangement of the overworld theme complete with pipes, lone soprano, and cooing doves, then to a bouncy "Every Day is a Carnival" in what feels like a mixture of the Celtic and Asian with western fiddle, some sort of Asian stringed instrument, and out of nowhere, an electric bass. Sure, why not?
Moving on to the third game, we have the Celtic "Triumphant Return" which is done with bagpipes, and the Asian "Bright Farming Village" which is more Indian or Middle-eastern that far-east Asian. The fourth game is represented on the Celtic side by "Epilogue ~For the 108 Stars~" which starts with an annoyingly harsh bagpipe solo, and continues in that vein for longer than I'd like. Fortunately, the Asian "The Significance of Heritage" is a stark contrast, with somewhat of a synth hi-hat and strings, making it feel more like a techno piece than traditional Asian.
Rounding out the album is "The River and the Sun" from Suikoden V, done with pipes and flute. This is one of my favorite pieces from the game, and it's done respectfully, which I appreciate. Then it's on to "A Sad Wish," which is once again done in a techno/eurobeat style. At this point I had to wonder if the arrangers were trying to associate Asia with techno, but I'm not complaining. It's also interesting to note that the original piece was done in somewhat of a Celtic style in the OST.
Finally we hit up the red-headed stepchild of the series, Tierkreis. We start out with "The Plain and Sky," which is an improvement on the original piece, featuring guitar and fiddle, and then finish with "To the World" in Asian style, which apparently means chimes, claps, and tribal drums. It eventually blossoms out to an Indian-themed melody, but it was a weak ending to a fairly awesome album.
In conclusion, I'll say what I said from my review of the previous album; if you like Suikoden music, this is a great album to own. If you enjoy Celtic and Asian-themed music, again, this is a good album, although some might be put off by the more modern techno tracks in the mix. Still, while not a classic like Orrizonte, it still is a great addition to your library.
Reviewed by: Damian Thomas