This album is a privileged/promotional item that could only be receiverd by purchasing the first print edition of Legend of Heroes VI for PC. Why Falcom didn't print this CD for everyone else to purchase is beyond me, because frankly, I think this is one ridiculously well-made arranged album.
If you hadn't yet read it, my review of the Sora no Kiseki OST is overwhelmingly positive. A great OST deserves a great arranged CD, doesn't it? Well, Falcom gave us one, though it is unfortunately a hard one to find.
The ten-track CD opens with Silver Will ("Gin no Ishi"), a song that appears much later on the OST. Techno beats merge with the smoothest of string samples to create a song the likes of which I have never heard before. Honestly, I have heard such an enormous amount of music in my life, but I've never heard anything even similar to the first twenty seconds of this track. The song continues from the intro to be a wonderous, sweeping aural experience from beginning to end. The two violin parts (melody and harmony) continue through the remainder of the track (beyond the one minute sample) to complete this once all-too-short OST track.
Amber Love (Kohaku no Ai) takes a queue from the Piano Version on the OST, and makes it longer, more elaborate, and generally better. It doesn't stray too far from the original in terms of melody of chords though: the structure of the song stays intact. I didn't think they could make the OST version much better, but they did here.
Rock on the Road is not a vast improvement from the OST version, and is probably one of the few tracks that I think could've been replaced by another of the OST's many awesome-but-too-short tracks. Don't get me wrong, this arrangement still sounds great; it's upbeat, and it's catchy, but if they were aiming for only ten tracks, I would've preferred an arrangement of "The Fading Light of the Sealed Land" over this (though I don't suppose they could do much improvement to that track either).
The lack of change on "Rock on the Road" is taken care of in a completely solo-ed out arrangement of "Sophisticated Fight." This track contains the original melody, but then incorporates a number of solos not included in the OST. This song was begging for instrumental solos, and now we can have them. Thank you Falcom! Thank you Yukihiro Jindo! Listen to the sample to catch a pretty wicked vibraphone solo, which later meets up with a soprano saxophone (or is that a clarinet?). A tenor sax also shows up to make the song more and more brilliant.
We already had the jazz piano version, but now we have a cool new vocal version, accompanied by a beautiful latin/classical guitar in the background. Though I was at first disappointed by the concept of having the same song on one arranged CD twice, it must be said that this version is not at all like the piano version. The beat is straight, the mood is solemn, and the melody (held by the female vocals) holds to a stringent rhythm, without any delay or straying from what would be written on paper. I like the feel of this song.
The entire White Flower Madrigal Suite got ported from the OST to the arranged version: and we should thank our lucky stars that it did. The OST version is so poor that I instinctively skip it when listening to the OST. The Arranged version, however, sounds like a full orchestra performing the suite the way it was intended to be. I think this is the version that should've been used in-game. Though I couldn't sample the whole thing, listen to a selection from the second movement, which covers the end of "Colosseum" and the beginning of "Duel."
I'm fairly certain "Those Who Protect the Treasure" is the last battle music from the game, and it is certainly a wild ride on this disc. The original version was nothing to scoff at, but it lacked a certain strength that is found on this bold and aggressive version. Synth choirs, similar to those found on Symphonic Fantasy White Witch, dominate this arranged track.
The album ends with a beautiful vocal version of the game's main theme, "Sora no Kiseki" (translated to "Tracks in the Sky"). Like most vocal themes, the verses are pretty, but the chorus is really what makes or breaks the song. I love this chorus, because it is nothing more than a simple melody with a whole lot of vocal and instrumental harmony making it profound.
It may be a good thing that I am not a native citizen of Japan, because I would probably be either very jaded with the videogame music scene, or I would be disgustingly poor. To get this CD, I would've had to purchase the limited edition of the game: this is how Falcom's been "snagging" their fanbase for years now. Of course, a true Falcom fan is glad to own all of the junk that comes with a limited edition box, but it sure as heck is expensive, isn't it? I wish this album would simply be printed as its own bit of music, because it is certainly good enough to warrant its own purchase outside of the game.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann