01 - Dive into your fate
02 - Maybe it was fated
03 - Amber Love
04 - Missin'
05 - Lumiere dans Dedale
06 - Tracks in the Sky
07 - Silver Will, Golden Wings
08 - Where the Stars Are
09 - I swear...
10 - Looking Up at the Sky
01 - Dive into your fate (Less Vocal)
02 - Maybe it was fated (Less Vocal)
03 - Amber Love (Less Vocal)
04 - Missin' (Less Vocal)
05 - Lumiere dans Dedale (Less Vocal)
06 - Tracks in the Sky (Less Vocal)
07 - Silver Will, Golden Wings (Less Vocal)
08 - Where the Stars Are (Less Vocal)
09 - I swear... (Less Vocal)
10 - Looking Up at the Sky (Less Vocal)
The Sora no Kiseki Vocal Collection is, quite simply, the most recent example in a long line of albums that show Falcom's clear ability to milk their games and the games' music.
When "The Legend of Heroes VI ~ Sora no Kiseki" was released, there were three soundtracks released alongside it: the opening/ending single, the OST, and the Super Arrange Version. That's a pretty fair way to release albums, and I expected the same amount of printing to come from Sora no Kiseki SC (Second Chapter). But Falcom switched things up a bit. Instead of one "Super Arrange Version" album, they split the vocals and instrumentals from SC, stuck them with counterparts from FC, and managed to release four discs from what would have been one disc worth of original content.
This vocal collection pulls songs from FC and SC's OSTs, FC's Super Arrange Version, and Theme Song singles. Only five of the ten songs on this album are new. These five songs could have been stuck with the few new instrumental arranges found on the FC/SC Super Arrange double disc, but instead, like I said, we get these massive compilation albums with repeat tracks and karaoke versions to drain the hardcore consumer's wallets.
The five original songs are the five we have sampled. Since I have literally talked about the five non-original tracks in other reviews, I'll just sparsely say some things about theme here. Three are performances from "u-mi." "Amber Love" (Kohaku no Ai) is a soft and pretty piece with excellent guitar accompaniment. "Tracks in the Sky" (Sora no Kiseki) is possibly my favorite of all u-mi's vocal performances (including "Cumulus" from Ys VI), mostly because of the swelling chorus with plenty of vocal harmony to keep one's ears interested. "Where the Stars Are" (Hoshi no Arika) is the lightest of the three from u-mi, and it's also the least inspirational of the three. Seriously, I think the song is pretty darn boring.
The other two songs that aren't new are the opening and ending to SC. They are "Silver Will, Golden Wings" (Gin no Ishi, Kin no Tsubasa) and "I swear...". The opening piece is a great vocal arrangement to an already excellent track from the first chapter of Sora no Kiseki. As for the ending, I swear that I like it less and less the more I hear it (hope you caught the pun!). The song reeks of standard "ending theme" syndrome.
The five original tracks, surprisingly, manage to make up for the repetition. Let's take a look at each one in order of appearance.
Apparently the developers were fixated on the concept as fate, as both of the opening songs contain the word. "Dive Into Your Fate" is a techno-pop-driven piece led by the vocals of Kanako Kotera (the same vocalist who did "I swear..."). The musical style of the song helps to distinguish the LoH VI sound from among other Falcom games, and while the vocal melody isn't entirely memorable, the song overall is certainly worthwhile. If I took a time machine back to the 1980s and brought with me today's synth technology, I suppose a song like this would have been produced.
"Maybe it was fated" puts my favorite of recent Falcom vocalists, Hiroko Yamawaki, into the spotlight. This song is in-your-face rock with more pop-style vocals. The electric guitar makes the whole song worthwhile, but Yamawaki's performance is golden, so I have to say I like everything about this song.
Kotera is back for "Missin'," a soulful piece with soft instruments and a distinct, wave-like melody line. The chorus of this 6/8 jazz ballad is my favorite part; the melody is most memorable at this point.
"Lumiere dans Dedale" (Light in the Labyrinth for you non-French-folk) features an original team: Ayako Shibazaki on vocals, and Kimitaka Kogo doing the arrangement. Neither of these two people show up again on the album, and it's a crying shame, because I really enjoyed this song. Like "Lapis Lazuli" from Ys VI's "Songs of Zemeth" album, Shibazaki's whisper-style voicings are matched with enigmatic but fun disco-star strings and synths. The percussion is also excellent on this track, if I may say so. It's not my favorite track, and I doubt it's anyone else's favorite song, but it's certainly a nice reprieve from the usual stuff.
Finally, we have "Looking Up at the Sky" (Sora wo Miagete). This track was originally an instrumental from SC, but now it is this album's ending vocal piece. Kanako Kotera is back for this piece, and she certainly outdoes herself on this track. I'd be willing to say that this is her best performance on the album; certainly, it's better than "I swear..." was. The reason for her success has a lot to do with the composition and arrangement: excellent piano arpeggios and soaring violin solos to accompany. It's all aural yumminess to end the 50 minute album.
And, of course, the second disc is all karaoke versions of the same stuff. I would have preferred something else, anything else, as the content of the second disc, but I won't complain.
The conclusion to the matter is the same as what I've said about many Falcom soundtracks. Despite their attempt to milk the songs they've produced by putting them all over various albums, the original content on this two disc set makes it all worthwhile. And, if you don't own the Super Arrange Version of Legend of Heroes VI (and you probably don't, as it wasn't available in most online stores), then this collection isn't a bad deal in the least.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann