Zwei!!’s OST was the first original soundtrack that had come out of Falcom in years. The music itself broke the mold of what the company’s composing team, Sound Team JDK, was known for, and looked to be the beginning of a new era in Falcom’s music. The only thing that could top that would have been an arranged album. Luckily for us, Falcom was thinking the same thing. Exactly one year later we have the first Super Arrange album since Legend of Xanadu Super Arrange Version in 1994.
I wasn’t expecting to love this CD as much as I do. Long before I had the chance to pick it up, I’d heard many wonderful things about it, as well as a few mediocre, but I still wasn’t sure how well Zwei!! Super Arrange Version would turn out; it seems all of Falcom’s great arrangers have disappeared from the company these days. And truthfully, other than “The Demon King Vespar,” which is an incredible arrangement of the game’s final battle, I wasn’t immediately taken with the album. But, I’ve come to the realization that sometimes it’s the music that needs to grow on you a little, to find a place in your mind and heart, which is the real treasure.
Zwei!! Super Arrange Version is emotional, yet diverse, and it’s diversity that really stands out among the album’s greatest characteristics. While most of the original soundtrack was very Celtic-inspired, the arrangers took a different approach with many of these pieces. Although Celtic influences still feature prominently (about half of the album’s 12 tracks), Latin, Arabic, new age, even jazz influences are incorporated into many of the arrangements. “The Illusionary World of Serpentina” is one of the more interesting of these. Starting off with what sounds to be an audience cheering on the guitarist (with a Hispanic-sounding voice “ole-ing” in the background), it then breaks into this very cool, fast paced latin guitar/violin arrangement, which is definitely one of the highlights of the album. Another track that pops out, but in a good way, is “Dapne Desert” with its decidedly Arabic theme. The harsher sounding instruments and melody were a bit unappealing to me at first, especially contrasted with the more soothing Celtic tracks, but after listening to it a few times I was really able to appreciate how everything came together and gave the song a unique sound and feel; this is one of the best “desert” themes I’ve heard in any game.
Other noteworthy tracks include the dramatically beautiful opening theme, “An Eternal Dream, Memories of the Heavens,” a subdued, yet emotional version of the main theme “The Floating Continent Arges,” and the tropical/samba-ish “A Song of Wind and Flowers.”
The compositions themselves are very close to the originals, but with far superior sound quality; as odd as it sounds, my first listen I had a hard time placing some of the tracks due to the better quality. But, now that I’ve grown accustomed to the change, I find myself preferring these arrangements over the originals. The samples themselves are crisp, clear and life-like, so much so that I have a hard time distinguishing if certain instruments are real or synthesized. The violin, which is featured in many of the tracks, and guitars are among those that particularly sound genuine. In short, this is one sweet sounding CD.
Zwei!! Super Arrange Version isn’t what I’d expected, it’s more. And even though it took me awhile to realize how much I loved it, I know others will find much to enjoy here. Even if you weren’t impressed with the OST, I highly recommend this CD! In my opinion, this is one of the best arranged albums to have ever come out of Falcom, and the arrangements are much too good to go without notice. So, the next time you place an order with falcom.co.jp, don’t forget to add this little gem to it. You’ll thank me for it.