My husband and I have been slowly studying this album, with all its nuanced details, for the past six months. The only thing we could say from the start was that, without a doubt, this vocal collection beat the pants off of the first Volkslied. This is the superior album between the two.
But what makes it so much better? We came up with a short list of what makes it better, and what allows it to stand out well on its own, regardless of the comparison to the first album, to show that it’s a worthwhile addition to any Atelier fan’s collection.
First, the song selection is top notch. Yes, most of these songs are the folksy 6/8 rhythm pieces found throughout each installment of the Atelier series. But what’s wrong with that? The Gust Sound Team has proved time and time again that they are more than capable of creating brilliant music using these “folk” sounds as the standard. Indeed, it is their musical signature.
Second, the vocalists do an excellent job. There are little moments, the few seconds that are the high point, in each song that prove the vocalist’s talents and sensitivity to the nature of the music. In “By Yourself,” the high note that must be hit repeatedly throughout the chorus sounds simply angelic. And, though I hate to discriminate, I’m happy to find this album devoid of any male vocalists. There were some male vocal tracks on the first Volkslied, and frankly, they didn’t work with the songs at all.
Third, the instrumental arrangements are top notch. The violin part in the beginning, and strewn throughout, the opening track “Fragments of Dawn” is fantastic. Nakagawa and Achiwa did a great job balancing the impressive vocals with the equally impressive instrumental performances.
That’s about all it takes, right? Good song choices, good vocalists, and good arrangements. All in all, the album is excellent. If you follow this site’s coverage of the Atelier series, particularly the music, you should know what to expect. Two parts fun and bouncy, three parts folk-ish, and one part ethereal, this is a great vocal album. It’s pretty, in the best sense of the word. Check it out.