Question: how do you make the best soundtrack of 2010 even better?
Answer: you don’t, because you can’t.
This collection of music isn’t any better than the OST. In fact, it’s worse. But then, on a complete BS made-up subjective scale that I invented, most things are worse than the NieR OST. You can still be awesome and rank second to that album.
That won’t stop Square Enix and the Monaca sound team from trying an arranged album. And if we’re honest with ourselves as consumers and fans, I suspect we’re happier that way. You know, release the arranged album just to prove the point that you can’t improve upon perfection, especially not by making four-on-the-floor hard techno remixes of music that was brilliant, sublime, at times grand and other times subtle. It sure as heck didn’t stop me from buying the arranged album.
After all, even if it’s not of the same quality, it’s a new take on some amazing music, and how could I resist new NieR, more NieR? NieR NieR NieR! WEE!!
The first half of this album, thereabouts, is music found on the “Recycled Vessel” DLC pack. Technically, one could consider it an extension of the OST. It’s my least favorite part of the disc, but I can see how some people could get into it. Play it at a house party-turned-rave, and it would probably go over better than an acoustic version of “Song of the Ancients.”
The second half of the album are instrument-limited arrangements from the game: two piano tracks, an orgel track, an 8-bit chiptunes medley (which is a totally awesome idea that S-E needs to start incorporating in more arranged albums!), an a capella vocal track (very interesting), and some string-centric chamber music. This half of the disc, I could get into. In fact, because I love this soundtrack so much, I wouldn’t mind having full albums of any one arrangement type. A NieR Piano Collection? Yes, I would pay good money for that, and for its sheet music. A NieR chiptunes album? Sounds good to me! And that a capella track (note the spelling “cappella,” as provided with the soundtrack’s packaging) proves that a vocal-only arranged album would be really cool.
I think, beyond the frustration of trying to outdo the excellence of the OST, the other frustration is trying to pick the songs the fans will want most. That’s always a challenge when making an arranged album. Looking at the tracklist, two songs should immediately come to mind as “missing” from an ideal arranged album: “Grandma” and “Temple of the Drifting Sands.” And yet, some of you reading this will disagree and name some other song that you see as non-negotiable, must-haves on an arranged CD. Thanks for proving my point.
For those who just can’t get enough, get this album. Don’t expect to be blown away by it. Keep your expectations low and enjoy what you can. For everyone else, just stick with the OST. And if you don’t like the NieR OST, don’t read anything I’ve written, because we clearly cannot see eye-to-eye on what makes for a good game soundtrack, or good music in general.