Tales of Destiny Director's Cut Premium Box Special Soundtrack :: Review by Chris
|Album Title:||Tales of Destiny Director's Cut Premium Box Special Soundtrack|
|Record Label:||Namco Bandai|
|Release Date:||January 31, 2008|
|Purchase:||Buy at eBay|
One of the items in the PlayStation 2's Tales of Destiny Director's Cut Premium Box was a bonus album. It featured five new compositions created by Motoi Sakuraba for the new scenarios and events featured in the Director's Cut. However, the bulk of the album features 16 arrangements by Motoi Sakuraba of the series' music — ranging from Phantasia to Abyss — in both progressive rock and orchestral styles. These were taken directly from the 21 arrangements featured in the Tales of Destiny PS2 Version Premium Soundtrack and Tales of Destiny 2 PSP Version Premium Soundtrack that were exclusive to limited edition DVDs. Although the recycling will disappoint hardcore fans of the series, it makes the arrangements more available for most audiences to hear. Is this a great collector's item?
An arrangement of one of the series' first amazing progressive rock themes — Phantasia's "Final Act" — opens the album. At the sacrifice of originality, the trumpet is rejected in favour of the rock organ for the main melody. This allows Sakuraba to expose his characteristic progressive rock style with an otherwise faithful and enjoyable interpretation complete with new solos and epic interludes. The other Phantasia selection, "I Miss You," is one of the most enlightening offerings. The small ensemble use and eventual orchestration shows much more maturity than the original, the occasional obnoxious feature aside. The arrangement achieves a dramatic arch so convincing that it could be the ending themes of one of his tri-Ace epics. Destiny's "Mysterious Night" — originally an atmospheric but underdeveloped chime and vocal theme — is given a surprising arrangement subsequently. Initially interpreted with lush piano and strings, the arrangement unexpectedly builds into an uplifting yet unpredictable action theme. The similarly underdeveloped "Silent Night" is given a bold new direction first with an uplifting orchestral passage and then with a brisk take on "Endless Dream". It's very fun and catchy.
There are plenty of enjoyable battle arrangements too. Destiny's "Lion ~ Irony of Fate" is given an especially multifaceted transformation. The arrangement is built on a blend of grungy rhythm guitar riffs and punctuated string motifs, the former novel in itself. The treble elements, in contrast, include beautiful trumpet melodies, emotional keyboard and string interludes, and even some spiritual vocal samples. The overall sound is fulfilling on so many levels. Eternia provides some of the most enjoyable battle themes on the album. While "Eternia Mind" is an uplifting straightforward rendition, Sakuraba's eccentric side is demonstrated with the abstract blends of rock and techno in "Mid Boss 2" and the witty jazz-influenced synth licks and faux-horror moments of "Celestia Battle". Destiny 2's "Wheel of Fortune", while one of the more faithful arrangements, features a very persuasive blend of Baroque and progressive rock elements. Symphonia's "Eternal Oath" also takes a two-tiered approach, opening with a serene orchestration and transitioning into a dramatic action theme. The action section is incredible, mixing moody electronic beats, string melodies, choir chants, and rock organ solos, but isn't quite long enough to be entirely fulfilling.
Moving to the later arrangements, Rebirth's "Icy Edge" features Sakuraba's characteristic triumphant sound with bold string and brass melodies and a driving basso ostinato. The arrangement is a bit linear and one-dimensional, staying closer to the original than most other pieces on the collection. In contrast, Rebirth's "Guidance of of the Moon" takes a slow-building atmospheric route with orchestral forces and threatening sound effects emanating above repeated 'cello and brass punctuations, but takes a highly motivating change of pace during the second minute. Abyss' progressive rock arrangement "Wing of Hope" stays close to the original in terms of melody and structure, but makes considerable refinements in terms of instrumentation. The timbral contrasts of the airy sprawling arpeggios, distorted guitar riffs, and light orchestral melodies are excellently done and the late appearance of Sakuraba's dissonant piano work adds to the richness. Finally "Happiness in my Hand" resolves the arranged section in a beautiful manner. Its fragile piano melodies and warm woodwind use will inspire comparisons with his work on Eternal Sonata; especially evocative moments are the sudden flute solo from 1:57 and the addition of ethnic choir and instruments in the concluding passages.
The album concludes with the five additional compositions created for Tales of Destiny Director's Cut. "The Boyhood Dream" is one of many recent examples of Sakuraba's solo piano performances; it inspires a lot of compassion in the game with its gentle slow-building development. "She" is also reminiscent of his Eternal Sonata work, though this time is written for flute, piano, and cello. It is clear that Sakuraba wasn't on autopilot here and actually greatly understood and cared for the new material of the game. The rasping orchestral action theme "Spiral of Doom" adds to the already diverse palette of Tales of Destiny's score. It is highly memorable in the game for the way it conveys both the surreal and apocalyptic elements of the scene fully. "Lion -Fate of a Fecer-" is one of his more generic offerings — essentially just another progressive rock arrangement of "Lion ~ Irony of Fate". However, it is sure to please fans too given the popular melody and the ever pleasing style. "Parting Towards a New Hope" returns the focus back to the piano and nicely builds up the instrumentation to create feelings of serenity, triumph, and hope. However, nothing is ever simple with Sakuraba's ending themes and this one is no exception — taking a particularly sinister if short-lived twist during its five minute playtime.
Though recycled, the arrangements are well worth listening to for those who didn't purchase the Premium Soundtrack releases. Most of the arrangements go way beyond their source material to exhibit extraordinary character or emotion. However, there are a few derivative or disappointing additions and, furthermore, five of the arrangements featured in the Premium Soundtrack releases were not carried over here due to time restrictions. Although the new compositions are very similar to the material Motoi Sakuraba has been offering in his recent tri-Ace and tri-Crescendo works, they were at least mostly novel within the PlayStation 2 version of Tales of Destiny. It's also clear that Sakuraba put a lot of time into making these tracks interesting and personal rather than mere superfluous filler. Overall, this album is a great collector's item, though will be hard to find outside Japan.