The Nier Gestalt and Replicant OST is probably one of the most well crafted soundtracks ever composed. The transcendent pieces worked throughout the album lift listeners out of an ordinary life and into an audio fantasia, a world built on sweet promises uttered by gentle voices and dark secrets layered in bass vocals. Nier Echo takes this and injects a healthy dose of electronic. Not even close to being a set of rushed remix tracks made in some rundown basement, this album brings a fresh approach to an already spectacular work. And simply put, it’s amazing.
Echo may seem sketchy at first glance since it’s hard to keep musical consistency with multiple groups working on the same album – but no effort was spared in putting it together. The album plays off of digital allusions as well as strong orchestral backdrops, all the while portraying reminiscent songs in a new light. Echo revolves around many of the strong (and not-so-strong) vocal pieces from the original OST, but each artist manages to bring their own interpretation of the tracks, thereby creating a reinvented track that is familiar yet completely fresh. Everything from heavy piano and strings to 8-bit bip-boops to accordions and saxophones are represented: a cacophony of crazy sounds that yields beautiful results.
From the first minute, nay, within the first four seconds you are held in suspension—not knowing where you are or what you’re doing and only faintly aware of a world outside music. You can’t help but let the tracks absorb you as they walk the path between ancient earth and a digital frontier. “Repose” is an amazing choice to open up Echo, as it sets the tone for rest of the album, feeling remarkably electrifying and soothing at the same time. “Temple of Drifting Sands” and “The Incomplete Stone” are also wonderful examples of what kind of power this album has by intertwining electronic beats with Nier tracks. The energy of “Song of Ancients” is ridiculous, and the vocals are just as passionate as their original tracks.
The one track that does stick out of the electronic groove is “Shadowlord’s Castle.” It’s the shortest track on the album and has nothing synth or digital about it. Instead, it opts for a more traditional folk appeal, which I personally found enjoyable, although others may find it out of place.
As much praise as I’ve lavished on this album, and indeed it is every bit deserving, it’s not without some blemishes. Despite how spectacular the rest of the songs are, two duds manage to manifest themselves. “Kain,” with its slow-downed vocals and minimalist backdrop, is not a good follow up to the euphoria of “Repose.” And while some tracks may get too electronic heavy here and there, “Emil/Sacrifice” is probably the worst offender. Being both sluggish and chaotic with its background, enjoyment is rendered seemingly impossible with the excessiveness of it all. But when considering these are two out of twelve tracks, it’s safe to say the album comes out fairly unscathed.
Overall, Nier Echo is pretty outstanding. The album does an excellent job of complimenting the vocals and melodies of the Gestalt/Replicant OST with an electronic twist that gives the music a new impression. Though the digital elements may get too excessive at time times, the album is still masterfully done and completely worth a listen.