Kara*Cola ~Hymmnos Orgel Collection~

 

Review by · July 3, 2009

I looked everywhere to get this album. Composer and vocalist Akiko Shikata made her own, unique arranged album for the Ar tonelico “Hymmnos” tracks. The album had a low print run and is already a hard-to-find CD. I needed to know, was this album any good? Did Akiko Shikata know how to make interesting orgel (“music box”) arrangements?

Finally, I get to answer my own anxious questions. Good news for all you out there: you too will now get the answers to these nagging questions!

There are a select few exclusively “orgel” arranged albums from Japan (Sailor Moon, Monster Hunter, Genso Suikoden, and a few other game/anime franchises have them). I generally dislike all of them. But Akiko Shikata took the simple sound and made it far more complex, far more intricate. I don’t know what software (hardware?) Shikata used to make these arrangements work. But she did a fantastic job. This isn’t like a dinky music box that might be playing by your bedside. In this album, it feels like you’ve stepped into a room, and the room itself is a giant music box, with ticking clocks, metal xylophones, and wind chimes lining the walls. Then, some intricate series of mechanisms go through and touch all of these instruments in a preordained way. It’s as if the Tower of Ar tonelico itself were producing the music without the use of Reyvateils. The resonance of metal, having a life all its own…very clever, and definitely a brilliant idea.

Indeed, if there was any franchise worthy of a good Orgel album, it’s Ar tonelico. I am reminded of the anime “Key: The Metal Idol,” as what we experience here is an incredibly organic score played out through “hollow” mechanized instruments. The arrangement doesn’t just help you appreciate the orgel sound; it helps you hear all of the subtleties of the “hymmnos” pieces written for the Ar tonelico series.

Every single arrangement is beautiful. I want Ar tonelico fans to hear this entire album. Unfortunately, our audio samples are limited, but do check them out. If you’re not familiar with Ar tonelico’s music, you probably won’t enjoy this album very much (unless you agree with me that the arrangements in and of themselves are quite impressive). But if you know and love your made-up “hymmnos” language, and would like to see what one of the series’ composers (and vocalists) can do with the music, you need to hear this album.

There’s also a hilarious bonus vocal track, for “Pepen” (a bath toy). The music sounds bubbly, there’s some spoken word from a what sounds like a female child, and Shikata’s performance is extremely cute too. This song is really catchy! I’d like to see Gust put the song into Ar tonelico 3.

More Kara*Cola please!

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and cats.