When first starting up Atelier Iris the thing that stood out most to me was the opening song, White Night Imagination. It was very unique, sounding like nothing I’d heard before in VGM, and because of that it became one of my favorite vocal songs. Thinking of it when I saw Volkslied made it a very easy purchase. The question was, could it possibly top White Night Imagination? For the most part, yes.
Volkslied is made up of 10 vocal arrangements from the 7 Atelier games, as well as a spin-off called Hermina and Culus. There are a few arrangements of vocal songs already found on the OSTs, like Eternal Story from Atelier Iris 2, but most of the songs are vocal versions of instrumental pieces, like Baum Kuchen from Atelier Viorate.
The Atelier series has a very distinct sound, making it hard to confuse with other soundtracks. This style also lends it self well to vocals, apparently, because my favorites on the disc are those from the instrumental arrangements. Baum Kuchen, my personal favorite, is a relentlessly upbeat song. It has lots of accordion, and fits very well into the Atelier style. Every Day’s a Carnival, from Atelier Lilie, is another favorite. A duet, it sounds, well, like something you’d expect from a Carnival. It has a very heavy polka flavor (in the best way), with perfect instrumentation. Distant Hometown, from Atelier Iris, stays faithful to the original while having a unique sound. Snow and Memories, from Atelier Marie, is a very pleasant, relaxing song. It also manages to find the uncommon sound of an enjoyable Japanese male vocal.
The arrangements of existing vocal pieces don’t fare so well. Eternal Story and The Door to Adventure, the opening and closing songs to Atelier Iris 2 respectively, just don’t match their OST counterparts. The Eternal Story on the Iris 2 OST is a very upbeat, fast paced song. The version on Volkslied has all of its energy drained, and became a slow, quiet piece. It’s not particularly bad, but it’s very unspectacular. It’s also just short of 6 minutes long, so its length certainly doesn’t help.
The Door to the Journey also fails to meet the mark of its OST version. The tempo and instrumentation are fairly similar to the OST version, but the OST has a female singer. Volkslied features a man who unfortunately fails the Japanese male vocal test. His voice is way too deep and scratchy, and completely changes the mood of the song. I can’t say I enjoy the version here at all, though it may just be me.
So Eternal Story and The Door to the Journey aren’t so great, that doesn’t really matter. Everything else is fantastic and, somewhat unusual for a vocal collection, full of things you can’t find on other releases. If the music in Atelier Iris interested you at all I’d recommend picking this CD up. It not only has great vocals but also gives a good idea of how the rest of the Atelier games sound. And it’s a lot less work than tracking down the Atelier Viorate OST.