Shinji Hosoe and sanodg (Nobuyoshi Sano) may not be household names among video game music aficionados, but their work as both composers and arrangers is pretty extensive. I first heard about these gentlemen in much the same way other RPG enthusiasts did: Hosoe through his music for Xenosaga II and Sano through his music for Drakengard. I enjoyed the music in both games and kept thinking in the back of my mind, "I should explore more of these guys' stuff."
These two prolific composer arrangers work their arranging magic on Shoji Meguro's compositions from the PSP version of Persona 3. I figured that since I already like Meguro's compositions and should learn more about Hosoe and sanodg, why not give Persona 3: Portable Voice Mix Arrange a spin. I'm glad I did, because the arranged music combined with occasional Japanese voice clips from the game was an hour extremely well spent.
Hosoe and sanodg are responsible for five tracks apiece and though their styles of modern electronica are distinct, the album as a whole sounds very cohesive. I found Hosoe's arrangements to be a lot more "in your face" than sanodg's more fluid arrangements. This was an interesting contrast because I don't recall Hosoe's music for Xenosaga II being super punchy whereas sanodg has done music for "punchy" fighting games like Tekken: Dark Resurrection and Arcana Heart. I love it when I get to see different sides of composers like this and having my expectations delightfully defied. My overall impression was that the Shoji Meguro sound spent three years at the gym and put on about ten pounds of muscle.
Since this album is titled Voice Mix Arrange, special note must be made of the extremely skilled and tasteful use of Japanese voice clips throughout the songs. The voices were used enough to live up to the album title, but were never overused to the point where it felt like a thinly veiled drama CD. The voices also made the lengthy tracks (which range from 5:12 to 7:31) feel fresh, varied, and not repetitive throughout their courses. The songs never felt too long, which is a feat given the track lengths.
Combining Shoji Meguro's compositions with the arranging talents of Shinji Hosoe and sanodg was nothing short of genius. I thoroughly enjoyed this album, I think it's fantastic, and I highly recommend it. I also urge anyone out there to look at Hosoe's and sanodg's lists of credits and check out more of their stuff. These guys are good.
Reviewed by: Neal Chandran