Falcom’s “JDK Band” made a revival in 2008 with a whole new lineup, like a Japanese version of Menudo. Falcom’s obvious attempt to make JDK Band look more young and hip (see cover art) may turn off oldschool fans, but the new image has little to do with the quality of the music. It’s time to get past the image and check out the music itself!
The opening track, from Sora no Kiseki, is fantastic. It’s on par with the Super Arrange Version album’s battle arrangements…perhaps even better! It only took this first track for me to realize that we were hearing a new phase in JDK’s musical evolution. Super-speedy percussion, incredible guitar solos, and production value that far exceeds that of the old JDK Band albums… yes, this is what I’ve been wanting for nearly a decade.
But if you think you’re only going to hear arrangements from newer Falcom titles, prepare to be shocked. Next up is an incredible arrangement from Ys IV! Piano and violin take center stage amidst the “rock band” setup, and the resulting performance is fantastic. You don’t want to miss this track.
Other oldschool games, like the original Sorcerian, get plenty of attention here. It’s a tough decision, determining which is the superior track: “Kraken” or “Blue Dragon.” Ultimately, I think I’ll have to go with Blue Dragon, but both arrangements are fantastic. They take these original Sorcerian melodies to a whole new level of straight up awesome. The drummer and guitarists are most surprising on Blue Dragon; the performances are truly some of the best I’ve ever heard from Falcom.
Not every track is in-your-face rock, mind you. “A Cat Relaxing in the Sun” is a soft, acoustic piece. And the next track, from Zwei!!, sounds almost like something composed by Gust’s sound team for an Atelier Iris game. The arrangement is truly beautiful.
If there’s one thing I would request if they make another one of these albums (and they better), it would be this: less Sora no Kiseki, more music from obscure games. I didn’t expect Vantage Master to make the cut, but it did. So how about some Brandish, Xanadu, or even Gurumin next time around? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, get this album. If you like Falcom at all, you have to get this album. It’s just that good.