Once upon a time, in the days before the Falcom Sound Team JDK was known by that moniker alone, we were actually told which musicians had done what on Falcom soundtracks. Spooky and amazing, I know, though even more surprising is you can still find out who’s who in the sound team. That put aside, in those wistful days of old, Falcom did not turn to Ryo Yonemitsu for their arrangement needs. Instead they turned to another man, Hiroyuki Nanba (or Namba, it’s completely a Romanization issue), to breathe new life into their already very solid compositions. Now most people haven’t heard these compositions because they are ancient history. We’re talking OSTs for the very first versions of the games released, back before the Ys logo was updated to something a little less toothpick-ish. This album, the Nanba Collection, is somewhat of a hodgepodge mix of songs arranged by Mr. Nanba during that prehistoric age.
The music shows its age.
Now that’s not to say anything here is particularly awful. But the synths used within are, by modern comparison, really getting on in their years. I’m not entirely sure if they were top-notch back when this album was released. Compositionally, most songs are very solid, save for “King Dragon” which is just overall a really nasty piece of music. The arrangements tend to stick fairly close to the source material, however, so there’s not much in the way of variety. Nanba’s style for these songs was mainly to update the originals to something a little less blippy.
And for some songs, he did a really good job of that. “Blue Dragon,” as opposed to the king variety, is a really kickin’ song. I dig the guitar that wails all over the place and has a generally fun time playing the song up. “Termination” is still the awesome song it always is, and a little past halfway through the song, the same guitar from “Blue Dragon” enters and completely rocks out. This is awesome, awesome stuff, with a really groovy ending. Surprisingly, though, the real star of the show is First Step Towards Wars. This really is a large departure from the original, putting a piano and a guitar center stage with emphasis on the piano. It starts off really slowly and prettily before slowly ramping up again, then back down to piano and acoustic loving, then up again to some REAL rollicking good fun. Thankfully, this version can also be found on, if memory serves, the Memorial Sounds album (before Memorial’s release, this song was exclusive to the Nanba album). Everyone should hear this version at least once, it’s my favorite of all the versions Falcom’s put out.
Unfortunately, from there the album takes a sharp downturn to some really cheesy synth-work of the somewhat crappy sort. Instead of going out with a bang, it ends in a whimper, which is really unfortunate because they had built up to something that was really good. This compounds the problem of a really, really slow buildup from the beginning of the album to the meat and sweet nougat of the middle. Because of that, the soundtrack as a whole loses a lot of points that it could’ve gotten fairly easily. It doesn’t help that finding this collection is going to be the equivalent of a needle in a haystack, being released in 1992. eBay is your only hope of finding this, but I’m fairly confident the price that it commands is not a reflection of its true value. If you can pick it up on the cheap, however, there is absolutely no reason not to. There is some good music here that would be a shame to miss. But as an overall package, I’d recommend it to collectors only.