Radiata Stories: Arrange Album starts the way a good RPG soundtrack should. The first track, Legendary Sword, is a solo piano, starting off gently and building into a haunting tune. One can start to imagine the visuals that may appear during this opening track as sensational composer Noriyuki Iwadare leads us with this entrancing promise of what sounds to be a spectacular gaming experience as well as listening experience.
The rest of the tracks fall within Iwadare’s veritable scope in a very well done arranged album that showcases Iwadare’s talent at the composition of many styles and genres, at times even done in tandem. For example, track 2, Diffuse World, is an upbeat vocal with a brass and percussion section that seems a mix of several styles, at times following the general standard form of western style jazz; complete with bridge, solo and formation.
Track 3, Hopping Sun, remains one of my favorites with its spiraling piano melody and accompanying guitar voices, coupled with a few contrapuntal intricacies, such as a surprising change to a melodic minor during several resolutions. Track 4, Genuine Girl, is a bit more subdued and follows along classical piano styles, but even then Iwadare breaks the normal rules of form, but not to unpleasant resolutions.
Track 5 was a slight disappointment for me, but that’s generally because I favor instrumental tracks over vocal counterparts, and the initial dark chords and ethereal instrumentation of bells and music box did not lead me to believe that the piece would evolve into a young girl plaintive chorus, still, the composition is flawless, with dark woodwinds and music box accompanying the single female voice. Track 6 takes us into some western piano ragtime and blues, though the title of the track doesn’t seem to match the composition. Somehow the term “Song of Freedom Fighters” seems to evoke compositions of a grander scale than a playful piano tune complete with the “blue note.”
Track 7, Wind, is typical RPG fare, and Track 8, Talking, another vocal piece; this time sung almost in the style of a ballad and almost evokes a sense of reflection or conversation. Track 9, Teach Me Please, once again falls in the general realm of jazz, complete with what sounds like a synthesized saxophone section in addition to the brass and percussion and it actually evolves into some big band swing sounds. Track 10 is an incidental piece, light and airy. Track 11, Itinerant Party, is another vocal track, with a little more J-Pop format and eastern influences than the preceding vocal tracks, except of course for that accordion and that it seems to end with a similar rhythm to the American classic “Who are You?”
Track 12, Men’s Dirge, again provides that strange feeling that the title doesn’t seem to match the music playing, the title, especially the use of the word Dirge, seems to imply that the piece will be stately, honorable and dark. Instead we have a simple, upbeat, piano, guitar and percussion piece. Track 13, CALM, on the contrary, fits the title exactly with a very frigid and ambient air, gentle arpeggios of piano and guitar provide the subtle counterpoint to a haunting single female vocal.
Track 14 and 15 are again exceptionally done piano pieces, well done melodies, but flowing and outside of the typical formulas making them easy to get lost in. Track 16, Thank You Mix, is a great way to end the album, once again Iwadare incorporates several different genres though never once loses its mellow tone or natural sounds.
I was surprised with this album, none of the arrangements are of the type that I am fond of, there are no swelling orchestral pieces, no emotionally heavy pieces, and still I can’t get over the brilliance of this collection. I typically do not review track by track, but Iwadare is such a master of composing in such a vast array of styles so seamlessly, that it was truly the only way to do it justice.