Ah, Ys IV. Among the dozens of Falcom-produced albums, the ‘Perfect Collections’ tend to be among the most loved and lauded of them. Ys IV had two separate scenarios written, and the music on the Perfect Collections is largely based upon Ryo Yonemitsu’s arrangements of the PCE version, entitled “The Dawn of Ys.”
What we have here is part two of a series of albums featuring Ys IV’s music, all of them being *completely* arranged by Mr. Yonemitsu. How cool is that? Ryo’s musicianship is, in my opinion, stunning – a fusion of early-to-mid-90s dance, techno and rock to create a new genre, commonly (and accurately) dubbed “power rock.” His shimmering drum programming and guitar are exhilarating and a perfect match with the excellent compositions of the venerable Sound Team JDK. From an aural standpoint, these albums are still likely the most advanced and modern albums to emerge from the Ys franchise, even compared to the recent Ys VI OST.
So, Volume 2…many have called it somber and moody compared to the poppy Volume 1 and the rocking Volume 3. While that is true, many of the series’ hottest and most intense songs are found here too. A listen to ‘A Kiss from Eldiel,’ ‘Crimson Wings’ or ‘Celceta, The Sea of Trees’ will yield some awesome techno-rockers. ‘Walking the Path of Legend’ is another hot track with a very neat intro, as is ‘Valley of Quicksand,’ a really cracking high-speed number.
The moody and dark themes are certainly present, however. ‘An Ancient Legend’ is very sleek, polished and somber, with a Metal Gear-esque aura once the light drums fade in. Think you’ve heard ‘Feena’ enough? The rendition here is unlike any other – a hard hitting rhythm (supplied by a Led Zeppelin sound clip) booming along below the whispy xylo lead. Coupled with the deceptively quiet intro, this track is simply amazing. Same goes for ‘Eldiel.’ ‘Sacred District’ is one of the album’s most haunting and beautiful songs. Over a light, crisp xylophone synth a choir sings, emphasized by bells and sweeping pads, until giving way to a chilling female vocal solo. ‘Tension’ gently soothes you while sounding mournful and hopeful at the same time. All tracks are listenable, and are at worst nice and at best spectacular.
Of course, this is Ys IV – and being so we are treated to the obligatory (and excellent) megamix. What we’ve come to expect is a non-stop powered up medley of familiar themes from the album. This particular mix is no different. Not as fun as Volume 1’s mix nor as jaw-dropping as 3’s, but equally interesting in it’s own sonically darker way.
All this seriousness can be overbearing, but worry not – arguably the best rendition of ‘Tower of the Shadow of Death’ is present. Despite its name, fans everywhere know this to be a pretty upbeat and groovy song. No underachiever, Ryo throws classy live brass rips and wailing guitar solos our way. The brass/guitar jam towards the three-quarters mark is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. I really love everything about this song.
Can I say anything bad about this album? …not really. Perhaps just that, next to the other two Ys IV Perfect Collections, this is my third favorite, but that’s purely up to an individual’s musical tastes. This is truly a great CD from Falcom. The only REAL problem with it is that it is hard to find, being released in ’94. Your best bet is definitely eBay or Yahoo Japan auctions and fan message boards. These Ys albums are rare but by no means impossible to get. Check around and find yourself a copy of this excellent CD! Or if only we could get Falcom to reprint them…