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  #1  
Old Sep 15, 2018, 03:18 AM
_if's Avatar
_if _if is offline
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I hesitate to potentially prejudice anyone else's impression of this album, so if you want to form your own opinion on it independent of anyone else's thoughts, ignore me. If you already have yours, indulge me getting my thoughts out and compare if you want. This looks like a much bigger block of text than I initially intended it to be, sorry.

I tend to think Square Enix especially puts out consistently good, if not always awe-inspiring orchestral albums. Sometimes the arrangements are fantastic and extremely satisfying, sometimes they're just serviceable and I don't have strong feelings either way. Usually I don't think anything is bad, at least out of the albums I've heard, which admittedly isn't all of them.

This one, though, is unusually uneven and feels all over the place to me. I don't like either of Daisuke Shinoda's tracks. After the bland arrangement of "Snow in Summer" with overly muddy brass, "Song of the Ancients" seems like it's going to go well and then trips with every step it takes in each direction, including some obligatory generic modern Hollywood-style drama. The adaptation of the original vocal melody always seems unnatural somehow, which maybe is because I know the original and, since it doesn't match, I feel this has the wrong articulations. His version of "The Ultimate Weapon" on the extra disc from the box set is also particularly offensive to my ears. I love well-executed dissonance in music, especially music that manages to retain its melodicism while incorporating dissonance, like Yoshihisa Hirano's stuff when he goes into that territory. But this performance sounds like a bad high school brass section unintentionally playing out of tune with each other, which I assume is the fault of the arrangement and not the players. "The Prestigious Mask" is somewhat more competent, but it also loses everything that made the original distinctive. I know nothing about the man or his experience, but he comes off to me as an amateur.

Mariam Abounnasr did better, thankfully. I like her "Emil" but the other ones are rather so-so. Sachiko Miyano did better still. I think her "Kainé" arrangement gets kinda too Disney-fied which is a sound that doesn't fit the piece right to me, but her version of "The Wretched Automatons" takes a different approach from the original and she employed more creativity in arranging it than pretty much anything else the album has. I went into this without much in the way of expectations, but my general hope for arranged albums is to have more tracks along these lines so we get something new rather than the old but with no synth, so that's my persepctive/bias in approaching these which may or may not align with your own.

I liked both of Kosuke Yamashita's arrangements, which are solid and kind of improve upon the originals in sound, but don't stray very far either. This is the quality I wanted out of arrangements that were more faithful than transformative. The orchestra sounds to me more rehearsed, clear, and confident on these tracks than anywhere else, which may be the credit of the orchestration. I really do not understand why people love "Grandma" so much, though. For my money, not at all one of the stand-outs of the original soundtrack. I understand it was used in some pre-release promotional stuff, but even if I had heard it then I don't think it would have piqued my interest.

Finally, Tomomichi Takeoka's "Ashes of Dreams" is basically on par with what I've come to expect from the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds albums: pretty okay, sometimes different from the original, but not so skillfully done that the changes stick with me after listening.

I'm kinda left confused as to why this isn't better. I think great orchestral arrangements could be done of all of this, and for every other Square Enix orchestral album I've heard they've at least come closer to that potential even when not reaching it fully.

Last edited by _if; Sep 15, 2018 at 03:23 AM.
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  #2  
Old Sep 15, 2018, 02:11 PM
Ramza Ramza is offline
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I'm waiting for my set to arrive. But I appreciate your early take on the G&R disc.

Did you have a chance to listen to the Automata album yet? I am hoping for better news on that front if this one didn't come out great. I am hoping that I will enjoy Emil, Kaine, and Wretched Automatons. We shall see.

(FWIW, I've always loved "Grandma." So I think that will be a big win for me.)
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Old Sep 15, 2018, 04:04 PM
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I haven't heard Automata's music because I've been playing through the whole Drakengard series on and off for the past year and haven't gotten that far yet, so I haven't listened to the orchestral album either. I'm late to every party, sometimes years late.

I'll surely read your review once you get it. I'm interested to know if other people will see it the same way as I do.
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Old Nov 23, 2018, 01:12 PM
Ramza Ramza is offline
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I made contact with someone who bought this and the Automata orchestra albums separately. We compared packaging, and the two sealed albums with slipcases found in the box set are indeed identical to these separate albums, meaning the front display used here is a web-only promotional image.

(to be clear: the slipcase with obi shows the album title as you see it in the web image, but it also shows all the typical stuff you find on the obi, as can be seen in the obi scan. When obi is removed, the slipcase front has no text on it.)

I will be putting my scans for this CD and the Automata CD in the appropriate album locations as such. I will also leave the web/display fronts, but I will drop them from default status since no such image actually exists for the physical CD. If anyone disputes that, feel free to change it back or talk to another moderator who can do so.
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Old Dec 7, 2018, 09:36 PM
Ramza Ramza is offline
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Hey __if, review went up.

http://www.rpgfan.com/soundtracks/nier-orch/index.html

I found it a lot more impressive than you did. However ... stick around for the Automata orchestra review. I wonder if we'll be alike, or if our views will contrast, on that as well.
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