01 - That Dear Person
02 - The Island Nations' Elite
03 - Landing
04 - Town Upon a Canal
05 - Seaside Spring
06 - Lalacle's Theme (from Quest Guild)
07 - On a Quiet Island
08 - Another World ~ Orrizonte
09 - Hideout Theme
10 - Town Upon a Canal (Reprise)
11 - A Continental Breeze
February 23rd, 2006 - In celebration of the Genso Suikoden series' 10th anniversary, Konami brought us three major releases in one day. First, and most important, was Suikoden V, which we'll see on this side of the world at the end of the month. A PSP revision of Suikoden I & II was also released in Japan, as well as the latest Suikoden album - "Genso Suikoden IV Music Collection - Another World."
This album was originally slated to come out sometime in November of last year, but dropped off the face of the earth until just days before the February surprise. Whatever reason for the delay, was it worth the wait? How does the newest addition to the already massive Suikoden collection fare?
Well...it's alright. First, the packaging - very subtle, very nice. A pretty illustration of Rhapsodia's cast is on the cover, but I was kinda sad not to see a similar picture for Suikoden IV, seeing as that's what the album is named after. (For those unfamiliar, Rhapsodia is a prelude and continuation of the rune cannon arc of Suikoden IV's story).
Track one, 'That Dear Person,' starts out pretty nice, with a rolling bassline and plenty of guitar and bouzouki. And then a sax....ok, a little out of place, but alright. Then an electric guitar. What the heck? I mean, I love guitar - I'm an Ys fan! But distorted guitars in Suikoden are like fish out of water. Regardless, the song sounds alright, being somewhat reminiscent of the old Konami Kukeiha Club.
Track two is awesome, and the best tune on the CD. Very much in the style of Enya, 'The Island Nations' Elite' is taken from one of Suikoden IV's main motifs. Rich with harp, smooth, sweeping pads and gentle singing, the song is very relaxing; a well executed track in all regards.
'Landing' still keeps up the quality, with a nice, acoustic version of another one of Suikoden IV's major themes. Plenty of accordion, fiddle, Spanish guitar and stand-up bass keeps the images of the port town Razril and the open sea fresh in the mind.
Then it starts to fall apart. Fast.
'Town Upon a Canal' (not Venice, but close enough) was a very nice tune in the Rhapsodia original score. But something happened...something terrible...on the way over to this album. Within seconds, the disgust came over me as a crappy synth bass, coupled with a REALLY cheesy flute sample, came through the speakers and into my poor, hapless ears.
Then...the singing. Oh, man. They took all that nice Celtic-ey singing from Orrizonte and did the exact opposite. The singing is really, really, high-pitched, whiney, out of tune, dissonant, and just heinous in every way. At one point, there are like three or four of them all going at once, and it sounds like a freakin' insane asylum. I can't take it. It's just an ugly beast of a song. I can't believe the person who made this allowed it to be on an album.
BUT! Then it gets worse! Out of nowhere, the song breaks out into this ultra-corny beat, with the whiney girls now rapping over it. RAPPING! It sounds like they heard that Savage Garden song and tried to copy it, and then totally missed the entire sound and style. It sucks. When this song ended, all I could think was, "Holy. Crap." In a bad way.
Shaking off the terror, what's next? 'Seaside Spring' was a favorite of mine in the Suikoden IV OST. Gentle, breezy and relaxing, it was. I guess it still is, but they turned the sunny sound of the original into this semi-serious, almost moody smooth jazz tune. High on corn and low on content, the song just kind of wanders around, and completely loses the melody. I totally lost track of the song about a minute in to a bunch of random, uninspired improv with no direction. It's kind of grating to see potential wasted like this.
'Lalacle's Theme' was crap in the Rhapsodia score, so I wasn't expecting much here. But now it's cool! We're talking gentle, old-time big band swing with an excellent vocalist taking the lead in Portuguese. I normally don't jump up at this kind of music, but after the last couple tunes, it was a very nice break in crappiness. It wouldn't be out of place in Love Will Grow, and I think that's a good thing.
'On a Quiet Island' tries to be dub reggae, which, if you don't know what that means, is basically tripped out electro-reggae. Except this is more pseudo-jazz-restaurant-TV-friendly-reggae. What that means is that it's cheesy. Also, the song has gone from two minutes to seven minutes! How's 'filler' sound? But at least the melody made it through intact.
The title song, and main theme of Rhapsodia, 'Another World,' pokes its little head out next. They took the original from the game, which was another Enya-like tune, and added some cheesy lounge beatz and electric piano to the mix. The result is 'ehh.' Just listen to the original, it's way better. The song breaks into a little surprise about halfway through, though - the heart-warming, tear-jerking main theme of the original Suikoden, 'Orrizonte!' But, like most of this album, you'd really, really be better off looking elsewhere for the definitive version of the song. The vocalist is pretty grating on the nerves...she (or is it a little boy?) sounds totally high and drunk at the same time, being very chill, very off beat, and having a terribly tough time opening her/his mouth and pronouncing words. Yet another classic, emotional Suiko tune turned '108 FM - The Breeze.'
'Hideout Theme' was never a favorite of mine, but the arrangement is decent enough. That's, uh, relatively speaking, of course. The song has a very crappy Ricky Martin-esque sound, except less Latin and more MIDI. *shudders*
But that was nothing. Are you ready for this?
We get a reprise. In other words, more filler, because it's *exactly* the same as the first time. But guess what song it is! That's right! 'Town Upon a Canal!!!!' Yes, those lovely, cute, out-of-tune, board-scratching, vomit-inducing singers are back! I am at a loss for words at this point. This is seriously the single most worst song I have ever heard. I don't even know what song this is originally from anymore, because I have lost all touch with cohesive thinking. It is perverse. It is worse than Hulk Hogan's 'greatest hits,' it is worse than Fabio's legendary recordings, it is worse than everything ever recorded in the history of mankind. I hate it, and it makes me want to die. Not a single song in the whole universe could make my ears bleed more than this frightening carnival of pain. I want to take this disc out of the player and snap it in half, jump on it, and scrape it all over the pavement until all hopes of hearing that song again have been dashed to pieces. This song shall haunt my dreams, torment my soul and cause bedwetting for years to come. I am seriously in physical pain.
'A Continental Breeze' is utterly unremarkable, especially after the last song. It's basically what half; the bad half, of this album has been: washing down the original melodies into crappy freeform with terrible instrumentation. This song is really boring. Maybe I'm just on edge from the previous number, but the constant banging on the steel drums is equally irritating and disappointing.
Actually, that's what this album is: a disappointment. Forgive my lack of tact, but, despite a couple great renditions, the album as a whole is poo. Maybe this was the point, but the musicians totally missed out on making a richer version of the dark, brooding feel of Suikoden IV's music. For abandoning the spirit of the original tunes, for wasting tons of ripe material, crying out for new and inspired renditions, on insipid arrangements, and for ruining my eardrums, I hate this album.
This album is generally only available directly though KonamiStyle, though VGM World may still have some copies if you are lucky enough (thanks to a certain, hard-working Kahori, this album was made available to us Westerners. Thank you)!
Be assured, there is hope in the future with the upcoming and 100% excellent four disc Suikoden V original soundtrack. But until then, unless you love lowest-tier smooth jazz, steer clear of this heinous, wicked abhorrence.
Okay, this time more reasonably: sorry if I sounded off on the album a bit much. If you enjoy smooth jazz, don't be afraid to try it out: everyone's taste is different. Don't let my ramblings stop you!
Reviewed by: Connary