Blake Robinson is no stranger to tasteful video game music arrangements. Earlier this year he debuted his talents with a Super Metroid album, and later Banjo-Kazooie. After sampling his previous work, one can safely assume that Volume 1 of his Chrono Trigger Symphony collection will not only satiate, but elate. Though, why assume when the music can be sampled right here?
What lies herein is nothing but the most professional orchestral sounds offered digitally. While Robinson certainly doesn’t over-complicate this soundtrack that graced millions of ears on the Super Nintendo, he adds dimensions that offer a fuller body. Instantly recognizable, every track remains faithful to the source, while simultaneously adding intuitive instrumentation.
Personal favorites, such as “Yearnings of the Wind,” otherwise known as “Wind Scene,” perfectly encapsulate the mood of wonder and adventure with piano and strings. Robinson’s hard work and respect for Mitsuda’s composition is evident and felt throughout. “Secret of the Forest” echoes these sentiments, almost indistinguishable from its source.
Those of us who’ve reviewed and experienced several Chrono Trigger arrangements sometimes forget what the original work actually sounds like; thus, upon hearing this incredible work, one almost expects this level of quality as our nostalgia demands it. Yet, a quick sample of the 16-bit’s actual sound is awe-striking in itself. This arrangement is an authentic, modern representation of the sounds that have haunted many of us since our childhood.
Not all of the works here are truly loyal to their source, however. The battle theme, for instance, has received a tremendous facelift, with renewed energy and chorus to back up the intensity of engagement. Again, sampling the original work after listening to this track illustrates just how much work went into this rendition. Although technically accurate and similar, the amount of artistic license that went into this piece is evident — and completely welcomed.
Similarly, “Frog’s Theme,” known for its epic sound, enjoys a bit more complexity and depth that the original, by comparison, lacked. The contentious “Gato’s Song” also carries with it a degree of creativity that turns an otherwise tacky theme into something more palatable. “Gato’s Theme” on the SNES embraced a great deal of mind-numbing repetition, which Robinson has expertly evaded while still remaining authentic.
Blake Robinson is the kind of arranger that any gaming fan can appreciate, whether or not one cares for the music he covers. The familiarity of his work combined with his artistic sensibilities are sure to satisfy even the most die-hard of fans. Without a doubt, he cares about and respects what he pays homage to. The best part? This is only volume one of “several volumes” he intends to produce as he arranges a complete collection of this historic title.