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Mana-Khemia ~The Academy's Alchemists~ OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: KDSD-10025/6
Released On: May 30, 2007
Composed By: Ken Nakagawa, Daisuke Achiwa
Arranged By: Ken Nakagawa, Daisuke Achiwa
Published By: Team Entertainment
Recorded At: D-Sound
Format: 2 CDs
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Tracklist:

Disc One
01 - Run For Your Life
02 - Nostalgic School House
03 - The Dream of the Black Cat
04 - A Young Man's Worries
05 - To the Future of Dreams ~Chorus Version~
06 - The Day We Met, the Moment We Parted
07 - Welcome to the Magic Workshop
08 - The Ally of Justice Has Arrived
09 - Homeroom
10 - Town of Clear Skies
11 - Pulse
12 - Splendid Force
13 - Victorious High Touch
14 - Nice Work
15 - Result Announcement
16 - Vain and His Pleasant Friends
17 - Whistle Maiden
18 - Welcome to the Magic Workshop ~ Honobo Arrange
19 - The Store Lady & Old Man Medley
20 - Wind Festival
21 - Dark Black
22 - Hurry Up!
23 - The Menace
24 - Takedown of Defeat
25 - Taking the Unknown Route
26 - Ah, Youth Discipline Committee
27 - Stupid Hair Saga
28 - Legend of the Fool
29 - Let's Try Even Harder
30 - Cut It Up! Rhythm of Time
31 - Sailbird
32 - Hallucinate Bell
33 - Today's the School Festival
34 - A Friend's Hand
35 - To the Future of Dreams
36 - Sirius
Total Time:
66'27"

Disc Two
01 - Hey
02 - Onto the Next Step Part 1
03 - Grasshopper
04 - Absorbed by the Glasses
05 - Crystalized
06 - Together with New Friends
07 - A Rusted Neigh
08 - Looming Conspiracy
09 - Running Shadow
10 - Riding on the Winds Crossing over the Hills
11 - Mansion of Slumbering Wisdom
12 - Hateful Mana-Khemialchemy
13 - Phantom Maiden for Mana-Khemia
14 - Repulsion
15 - Gavotte
16 - Gravestone Engraving
17 - A Treasure Obtained
18 - The Life of Poan
19 - Rectangular Wave of Love
20 - Memory of the Great Tree
21 - Disruptor
22 - Sunset
23 - Onto the Next Step Part 2
24 - Blooming Flowers in the Empty Sky
25 - A Smile of Ice
26 - Nefertiti
27 - A Quiet Giddiness
28 - Wailing of the Rain
29 - The Voice of the Dark, from the Abyss
30 - One More Ending
31 - A Gap to the Darkness
32 - With Power and Light in the Grasp
33 - STIGMATA
34 - The Illusionary Patty-Ridge
35 - TOGGLE
Total Time:
71'24"

As much as I love the Gust Sound Team, there was one thing I've feared over the last two years of their work; eventually, people would get tired of it. They'd level the same complaint against Gust that VGM critics (myself included) say about Motoi Sakuraba: "it all sounds the same."

If you made that complaint about Mana-Khemia, I'd not argue with you. For Nakagawa and Achiwa, this is their sixth score in five years (starting with Atelier Viorate). And let's face it: they write using some very speific styles, and some particular instruments that other composers don't know how to write with like this team does. But there is good news...

For those that enjoy the Gust sound, it's still enjoyable. The formulae for writing town themes, battle themes, and event themes are all there. But there are plenty of small, new twists introduced to the soundscape, enough to make you want to keep collecting Gust albums.

Though Mana-Khemia is, technically, part of the Atelier series, the unique ideas used in "Ar tonelico" are here too. Songs like "Dark Black" use that moody, atmospheric sound are here, and we also find English spoken word (rap) in the 8-bit "Rectangular Wave of Love."

And, if you enjoyed the rock arrangements of the Atelier Iris games from SSH, know that guitarist Toshinori Hiramatsu lent his talents for a number of battle tracks in Mana-Khemia, including "Repulsion" and "Nefertiti." The former uses the trademark "Megaman" guitar sound (with harmonic thirds all over the place), and the latter is a battle theme worthy of the greatest "Ys" battle tracks you've ever heard.

Furthermore, what Gust soundtrack would be complete without an onslaught of vocal tracks, performed by the now-infamous Haruka Shimotsuki or Noriko Mitose? There are a total of five vocals: the opening, two ending tracks, and two event songs from vocalist "Marie." Without a doubt, my favorite among the bunch is Mitose's "STIGMATA" for its in-your-face music structure and intense melody. Other tracks use non-verbal vocal parts to create a silly sound. The "Stupid Hair Saga" track is a good example of this, and it's one of my favorite "silly songs" from Gust to date.

What I really love about this album, much like the previous Atelier Iris albums, is that there isn't a single track I'd want to skip while listening. "Filler" music? Not a chance. Every song is either a bouncy romp through a fantasy world, an intense battle theme, or a moving ballad. I can't get enough of it.

If you're anything like me, and you can't get enough of the Gust sound, you'll definitely want the Mana-Khemia OST. If, however, you were getting tired of the style around the time of Atelier Iris 2 or Ar tonelico, don't think you'll find something entirely new and refreshing in this album.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann



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