FALCOM NEO CLASSIC From Studios In London City
With a few exceptions, Falcom's games are generally not well-known outside the Asian continent. Still, the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. is well known among gamers and video game music lovers alike, for their highly melodic synth compositions. A symphonic rendition of these compositions might sound like a weird concept but believe me, the arranger Takayuki Hattori did such a great job with the themes that he's nothing short of a genius. This album is one of the rarest printed albums released by the company and it's worth what it's worth if you ever find it on eBay. A little like the Orchestral Game Concerts, it's hard to find, yet contains such great music. Among the themes, we can find music from Ys, Dragon Slayer, Sorcerian, and Xanadu. The first CD contains music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra (you know, one of the most famous orchestras in the world) and the second CD contains a mix of synth music and real instruments. Anyway let's start the review.
The first CD contains tracks entirely performed by musicians of the London Symphony Orchestra. The first track is a medley of "Lilia," "Feena," and "The Morning Grow". The track mixes a lot of styles, passing from a soothing melody to a more adventurous theme to end with a grandiose reprise of the theme of "Lilia" by the whole orchestra. This is the best track on the CD, believe me. Then comes "Josephine". This track is kind of sad and laboured, but still very beautiful. The third track mainly comprises a string quartet playing several melancholy themes from Xanadu and Legend of Heroes. In fact, this chamber music reminds me of the Schindler's List soundtrack. Then comes "Wanderers from Ys". Again, you will be deceived if you're looking for action music. Again, the track consists of a string quartet playing the theme, giving an intimate rather than fully-fledged feeling.
"Cursed Earth" calls back the orchestra to play a beautiful love theme. The track starts slowly and softly, but gradually gains depth and pace as it moves into subsequent sections. The lush classically-oriented nature of this is reminiscent of some of Sugiyama's tracks found on the numerous Dragon Quest Symphonic Suites. This track is another one of my favourites on the album. Then comes the great "Legend of Heroes" from Dragon Slayer. It starts with a soft melody accompanied by the xylophone, then rises in intensity for an orchestral tutti. I love the use of triplets in this track and how the track emerges into a dynamic march. It features such a beautiful melody that stays in my head every time I listen to the track. It's really beautiful. This is easily the best part of the disc.
Moving to the second disc, I'm not really a fan of the remakes of the themes by the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K., but some are good. "Ancient Sculpture" amalgamates an orchestra with synth sounds. It's really beautiful and it might be one of the most successful tracks in game music where real orchestras are mixed with synth sounds. "The Voice" is also an interesting track, highlighting mysterious ambient music,while "Flare Lullaby" is another beauty. Several more unusual remixes are featured on this disc too. For example, there is a light-hearted version of "Feena" featuring techno and the occasional "Oh no!" The remake of "Josephine" in my opinion sucks, though. It sounds like a lot of noises and instruments playing in random parts. The melody is hardly recognizable... The album ends with the familiar "The Morning Grow" featuring lavish leads and pizzicato strings.
Featured in the limited edition version of the album, the 8cm bonus disc contains seven tracks from the rehearsal sessions. Hear you can hear the musicians rehearsing and talking. There is nothing spectacular on this and no real complete tracks to marvel at. However, you can still hear some tracks rehearsed and how it actually went during the recording. This is interesting, but I doubt you'll want to listen to it every day.
In two words this album would be described as a 'rare gem'. When it appears on eBay, the price starts from 100 dollars and that's just the starting price. And that's if you can find one on eBay! If you liked Symphony Ys, then you'll probably like this one, and if you're a real Falcom, you'll like this for sure. But I invite you to discover this rare gem even if you never played any Falcom games, given it is great orchestral music irrespective of the source material.
Disc 1: London Symphony Orchestra Version
Disc 2: Logic System Version
NEO CLASSIC Projects are
Special Supervisor : Masayuki Katoh (Nihon Falcom Inc.)
Producer : Setsuo "Jumping" Kimbara
: Fujio Sakai
Director : Takuo Uchida
Mieko Ishikawa (Nihon Falcom Inc.)
Recording Engineer : Mike JARRAT, Tristan POWELL
Yasuhiro Miki, Makoto Nijima, Thoru Oka
Mix-down Engineer : Yasuhiro Miki (SOUND MAN)
Assistant : Charlie SMITH, Susumu Masuda
Sound Produced by LOGIC SYSTEM (Jun Irie, Hideki Matsutake)
Arrangement by Jun Irie (Disc 2), Takayuki Hattori (Disc 1)
Sound Operator : Hideki Matsutake, Tomoyuki Konishi
CONDUCTOR : Maestro Konstantin PAVROV
ORCHESTRA : London Symphony Orchestra
CONCERT MASTER : Michael DAUTH
ORCHESTRA ADMINISTRATION : Cathy CARSON
LIBRARIAN : Craham CHAMBERS
STRING QUARTET : Robin BRIGHTMAN (1st Violin)
Colin RENWICK (2nd Violin)
Nick BARR (Viola)
Emma PRITCHARD (Cello)
PIANO TRIO : John ALLEY (Piano)
Robin BRIGHTMAN (Violin)
Emma PRITCHARD (Cello)
[note: the first print bonus was a 3" mini cd (8SSX-10001) containing seven rehearsal tracks.]
Off the Deep End: LA VALSE POUR XANADU ~ Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes
WANDERERS FROM Ys
Cursed Land: Sorcerian Cursed Oasis [Desert] ~ Sorcerian Medusa's Head [Village]
THE LEGEND OF HEROES