01 - Into a World of Illusion (Piano Arrange)
02 - Mysterious Forest (Vocal Arrange)
03 - Her Sigh (Piano Arrange)
04 - Reminiscence (Vocal Arrange)
05 - Midwinter Land (Piano Arrange)
06 - Searching for a Hero of Long Ago (Vocal Arrange)
07 - Finale: Remembering the Blue of the Sea (Piano Arrange)
08 - Seaside Spring (Vocal Arrange)
09 - To Peaceful Days (Piano Arrange)
10 - A Moment of Calm (Vocal Arrange)
11 - Home of the Porpos (Piano Arrange)
12 - Their Futures (Vocal Arrange)
It's been a while in coming, but Konami has finally released a new Genso Suikoden album. Genso Suikoden Arrange Collection Vol.1 ~Vocal & Piano~ is a compilation of all new vocal and piano arrangements of Suikodens new and old. Included this time are arrangements for tracks from IV, V, and Tierkreis, so let's examine the breakdown.
We start out with strong representation from the original Suikoden. The first track is a laid-back, light piano rendition of Into a World of Illusion, the first game's title theme. The piano work is great, and the new arrangement works well with the motif. I especially enjoyed some of the ambient overtones present in the track. Next up we have Mysterious Forest, our first vocal track featuring Sana. It's very trippy, and an extremely different arrangement than we've heard before. She sings in French, to the best of my knowledge, and there's a bit of Eurostep to the track. Still, the source material is strong, and the arrangement works with it well.
Transitioning to the second game's soundtrack, we have Her Sigh, which is treated exactly as it should be–violin and piano, very melancholy while still managing to convey an Asian feel. Reminiscence follows this and includes French vocals by shi-ta, as well as heavy use of echo. Midway through, there is a jolting change with a forceful bass beat, and it works well all things considered. Still, this game is considered by most–myself included–to have the strongest soundtrack of the series, and it's hard to go wrong.
Coming up at number five is Midwinter Land, an arrangement of the same from III. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of III's soundtrack, aside from Transcending Love, Searching for the Hero of Long Ago, and this track, so it came as a pleasant surprise. However, the arrangement replaced the tinkling chimes with harpsichord and piano, and while it's a fine piece, I really liked the original more. Fortunately, it's pretty short and leads into Searching for a Hero of Long Ago. The arrangers really knew what the strongest tracks were from each album, and this one is no exception. Previously done in a horrible Engrish vocal version, this time the vocalist, Satoko Nakamura does a decent Itarian version... at least, I'm guessing it's Italian since the diction is problematic, but at least she can carry a tune, even if she has to engage in some pretty obvious octave changes to do it.
Moving away from III takes us to arrangements for IV, which is usually considered one of the weaker entries in the series, and my least favorite in terms of soundtracks. We start off with Finale: Remembering the Blue of the Sea, which is actually one of the stronger pieces from the game's soundtrack (as befits the finale of any Suikoden game). It's surprising they chose to do a short arrangement of such a long track (10 minutes!) but it's got some nice, somewhat jazzy piano, and you can't go wrong there. Of course, this is followed up by a very faithful rendition of Seaside Spring, which is a heaping helping of sunny, tropical jazz with somewhat garbled Spanish vocals by Sana again.
Suikoden V is up next, and gets some decent treatment with To Peaceful Days, which is a piano and violin arrangement that starts out simple, but gets more intense later on with some nice discordant harmonies on the violin. It is definitely different from the more stoic original version, but I do enjoy it when the piano darts here and there, so I approve. A Moment of Calm on the other hand is wistful and pretty, with sparkly bells and good vocal work by shi-ta. I can't figure out what language this one is in, but hey, it's pretty, so who cares?
Lastly, we get to the arrangements of the newest Suikoden for DS, Tierkreis, and let me tell you, for all the time I put into this game, I did not get a very memorable soundtrack. Fortunately, the first track, Home of the Porpos, is one I know well, since I visited those damn dolphins enough while trading. For this entry we have a piano arrangement in a somewhat minor key, which is honestly befitting of the original piece. Second, we have the final track on the album, Their Futures, which includes some nice guitar work and Portuguese lyrics by Satoko Nakamura again; good music to use as a lullaby.
Overall, Genso Suikoden Arrange Collection Vol.1 ~Vocal & Piano~ is a solid album, especially the piano pieces. Vocal performances range, but are all better than those from the previous vocal albums. It's nice to finally hear some decent arrangements of IV and Tierkreis's music, and so I recommend this album for those who enjoy Suikoden music and possibly for those who enjoy light piano arrangements. Here's looking forward to Volume 2, which will be a Celtic/Asian album.
Reviewed by: Damian Thomas