01 - VIVE! ~I Feel Like I Could Dance with the Wind~
02 - Rock on the Road
03 - Sophisticated Fight
04 - Tour of Liberl
05 - Seaport City Ruan
06 - Suite "The White Flower Madrigal" - First Movement (Princess' Worries ~ Knights' Sorrow ~ Each One's Expectations)
07 - Suite "The White Flower Madrigal" - Second Movement (Castle ~ Colosseum ~ Duel)
08 - Suite "The White Flower Madrigal" - Third Movement (Princess' Death ~ Finale)
09 - Those Who Protect the Treasure
10 - Where the Stars Are - Guitar Ver.
11 - Silver Will
12 - Beginning (Legend of Heroes VI Sora no Kiseki Preview Track)
01 - Dive into your fate - Instrumental Ver.
02 - Maybe it was fated - Instrumental Ver.
03 - Missin' - Instrumental Ver.
04 - Amber Love - Piano Full Ver.
05 - Silver Will, Golden Wings - Instrumental Ver.
06 - Lumiere dans Dedale - Instrumental Ver.
07 - Enormous Fright
08 - I swear... - Instrumental Ver.
09 - Looking Up at the Sky - Instrumental Ver.
10 - The Enforcers
11 - Place of a promise ~Tracks in the Sky~
12 - Silver Will (Legend of Heroes Sora no Kiseki SC Preview Ver.)
Two years ago, Falcom released an album entitled "The Legend of Heroes VI ~ Sora no Kiseki Super Arrange Version." On it were ten tracks: eight instrumental, two vocal. The two vocal tracks have since been added to a Sora no Kiseki vocal collection, and the eight instrumentals are now found on this "First Chapter and Second Chapter" edition of LoH VI Sora no Kiseki Super Arranged stuff.
I complained heavily about Falcom's re-using materials in my review of the vocal album, but I do recognize that the limited "promotional" release of the old SAV album makes this new, marketed album a more convenient and worthwhile purchase.
The opening track, "VIVE," is a pleasant orchestral piece using some familiar Sora no Kiseki themes to create a catchy melody that isn't quickly forgotten. It also adds a touch of diversity to this album, which has more jazz/fusion than straight orchestra.
The next two tracks were originally found on the first Super Arrange album, and while I do enjoy them, I think their quality isn't up there with the newly added stuff. I was surprised by how much I tired of "Rock on the Road," a simple and listener-friendly traveling piece. "Sophisticated Fight," on the other hand, is still a favorite of mine, mainly because of its excellent composition. It's hard for me to say which I prefer between the original and arranged version of the song. The arrangement is essentially the same song as last time, but now it includes a few live instruments and a solo.
"Tour of Liberl" and "Seaport City Ruan" are both songs originally found on the "first chapter" (once upon a time just called "The Legend of Heroes VI"); however, the arrangements are new, unique to the album. "Liberl" is a briskly paced town theme, again turning to a synthesized orchestra for arrangement. However, the style of the music is still somewhat jazzy, what with the syncopated rhythm and pop-fused melody line. "Ruan" is a much more interesting town theme, even if the soprano sax makes it feel like a smooth jazz piece. The keyboards, organs, and funky percussion help to keep the song sounding more eccentric than your average "Weather Channel" style elevator music. This track is probably my favorite on the first disc because it is so subtle yet so fresh.
And then came the White Flower Magical, which I have jokingly dubbed the "yawn fest" of Falcom's post-2000 work. The only part I really found myself enjoying on this most recent of listens was the latter half of the third movement, the Finale. After this less-than-appealing section of the disc, "Those Who Protect the Treasure" makes an appearance. This song was also found on the first SAV album, and I again ask, what's not to love? This last battle theme is great, though it doesn't vary too much from the original. The only difference I noticed was an improvement in sound quality, particularly with the voices (though still obviously synthesized, they sounded very lifelike!).
Surprisingly enjoyable is the guitar version of "Where the Stars Are." I easily prefer this version of the song to any other version. The song had simply been overdone in the last two years, to the point where I was going to relegate it "Feena" song status (older Falcom fans understand my point here). However, this new arrangement redeems what is a very bland vocal ballad and turns it into a spicy Latin guitar piece. Yes, I feel cheesy using the word "spicy," but I had to say it. Let me add, however, that this spice is subdued with a soft and floury tortilla (hence completing my food-to-music metaphor).
The album changes pace again with "Silver Will," originally the opening track to the first SAV. If you've never heard it, you simply must. The two violins sound awesome over the pop-dance background music. To the Falcom followers among us, you already know how great this arrangement is, so let's move on...
Disc one ends with the "preview track," an old medley piece used in a trailer for Sora no Kiseki before its release. I'm glad the song found the light of day, because it's a very good song, worthy of VGM fan's attention. The same choir synth used earlier is found here, and the strings soar to new heights with the contrast of the slow melody and the fast, repetitive accompaniment.
The second disc is almost entirely a waste for anyone that bothered to purchase the vocal collection. This disc is mostly a collection of "instrumental" versions of various vocal pieces from the series. Funny thing about that is that off vocal versions already exist in the form of the vocal album's entire second disc! The difference between "off vocal" and "instrumental," you ask? The instrumental version has one particular instrument cover the vocalist's melody, whereas off vocal has nothing. Of course, these songs are all great, especially the first two songs! Man oh man, I am so glad Falcom wrote these tunes, because they are solid gold. I also like the choice to use saxophone as the lead instrument in "Lumiere dans Dedale," where most of the other pieces either get guitar or violin to take the vocalist's place.
"Amber Love" shows up on this disc as a beautiful piano piece. The song really shines near the end, when the pianist deviates from the melody and weaves a lovely solo together. Beautiful as the piece is, it is derived from the 2nd track of the old SAV.
So, what's really new to this disc? The first one is track seven, "Enormous Fright." Pulled from the Second Chapter of the game (finally some arrangements from it!), this track is another strong choral anthem, not entirely dissimilar to "Those Who Protect the Treasure." The first minute or two are enough to dull the listener to sleep, but the song picks up halfway through, and it gets really interesting from there. The lower strings have a melodic pattern that reminds me of "Destati" from Kingdom Hearts, and the choral chanting is almost the same as the end of "One Winged Angel." In other words, Falcom was definitely borrowing from Square Enix on this piece. Of course, every musician borrows from their contemporaries and those who came before them, so I won't fault Falcom here.
Also new is track 10, "The Enforcers," which is a rock-hard version of one of the haunting melodic themes from Sora no Kiseki SC. This arrangement is just the sort that makes an album like this a worthwhile purchase: enough similarities to tie it to the original piece, but with more than enough additions to call it a true "arrangement." Industrial grunge rock guitars and beating drums hold the song together, while an extremely haunting female operatic vocalist carries the melody, and male vocalists pop in as supporters. Guitar solos and a lot of post-production make this song something like what we've heard in bands like "Evanescence," only this is much less mundane and musically superior to the songs you've heard on the radio.
The album's more fitting ending piece, track 11, is a musical medley of some different themes from both chapters of the game. This track, much like the opening counterpart, is of a more classical orchestral style than the other songs on the album. It's the sort of music you'd expect to hear during an end credits sequence, and one can easily detect that feeling of triumph, and "love conquers all," all that sort of thing, within the notes of this piece.
And the album ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper. I suppose the last track was tacked on for the sake of consistency, as it's the trailer music for the second chapter. All it is, however, is a bare-bones substance-lacking version of Silver Will. They cut the main violins and put in nothing to replace it. Yuck! I wish they had simply excluded this piece, or at least put it on the first disc. I don't like the album leaving a sour taste in my mouth at the end...oh, my apologies for another food-music metaphor.
The album is a strong addition to the Falcom discography, and very much of the same style we've heard for the past four years (thanks to Yukihiro Jindo and Kohei Wada heading up Falcom's arranged works...and for all we know, the original compositions as well!). However, it's not an easy find, since Falcom's stuff is generally not distributed to the usual online outlets (Amazon Japan and VGM World are two good places to look!). I was pleased with the album overall, but I still felt a little dissatisfied at the end of the day. I don't know what it's lacking...maybe I'm just not happy about the second disc being filled with those instrumental versions...but whatever it is, I caution you to listen to these samples before getting the album for yourself. It's nothing like the Falcom of the past, but it's still great stuff.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann