Game Music, Reviews

Arrange Your Face Off! DariusBurst Remix Wonder World (Review)

August 23, 2012 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Arrange Your Face Off! DariusBurst Remix Wonder World (Review)on Twitter

Available at: CDJapan | Play-Asia

I have much love for Zuntata (OGR et al). And for shmup fans, Zuntata equals Darius. The latest game in the long-running series, a revival of sorts, was DariusBurst. The OST was released in January 2010, and then, only a few months later, a mammoth album dropped.

That album was DariusBurst Remix WONDER WORLD. The album had two discs, and they were themed. Disc one: “Breath of a living thing,” were more acoustic arrangements. Disc two: “Breath of a machine,” much more on the electronic/synthesized side of music.

A total of 22 tracks, 11 tracks per disc, each handled with special care from talented, well-known VGM personalities. How could it possibly be bad? Here’s a hint: it can’t be. This album is filled with yummy-in-my-tummy goodness.

For more details, including an in-depth look at the track arranged by baiyon (this is baiyon week, after all!), join us after the jump. And stop back later tonight for a review of yet another DariusBurst album!

Here’s the full tracklist. Study it: if you recognize the arrangers, that will help you follow my whirlwind thoughts in the review. And if you recognize a pattern with the source tunes across the two discs, that’ll help you understand my arranger comparisons too. Be perceptive!

Disc One: Breath of a living thing
01 – The Future on My Shoulders – arr. Yoko Shimomura (source tune “Good-bye my earth”)
02 – The Battle is Now in Progress – arr. Motoi Sakuraba (source tune “Hinder Two”)
03 – Hometown – arr. Soyo Oka (source tune “Fast lane”)
04 – Intensification – arr. Michiko Naruke (source tune “Cylinder”)
05 – Peaceful Sleep in the Wreckage – arr. Shohei Tsuchiya (source tune “Hello 31337”)
06 – Selflessness – arr. Norihiko Hibino (source tune “Iron Corridor”)
07 – Bonds – arr. Hideki Sakamoto (source tune “Calm down”)
08 – Resolution and Determination – arr. Hiroki Kikuta (source tune “Baptize Silver Hawk”)
09 – Heart – arr. Minako Seki (source tune “Shady”)
10 – The Arrival of Peace – arr. Yasunori Mitsuda (source tune “The world of spirit”)
11 – Good-bye my earth (Long Arranged ver.) – arr. Hirokazu Koshio (source tune “Good-bye my earth”)

Disc Two: Breath of a machine
01 – Departure – arr. Mitsuto Suzuki (source tune “Good-bye my earth”)
02 – Crushing the Enemy Lightly – arr. Shohei Tsuchiya (source tune “Hinder Two”)
03 – Factory – arr. Manabu Namiki (source tune “Fast lane”)
04 – Crushing the Enemy Somberly – arr. Ryutaro Nakahara (source tune “Cylinder”)
05 – A Serene and Pensive Moment Amidst the Wreckage – arr. Hirokazu Koshio (source tune “Hello 31337”)
06 – Innocence – arr. Yuji Takenouchi (source tune “Iron Corridor”)
07 – Unable to Comprehend – arr. Hisayoshi Ogura (source tune “Calm down”)
08 – Comrades – Reliance – arr. Yasuhisa Watanabe (source tune “Baptize Silver Hawk”)
09 – Mind – arr. Hirokazu Koshio (source tune “Shady”)
10 – A Soothing Sensation – arr. baiyon (source tune “The world of spirit”)
11 – The world of spirit Type zero (for A ZONE) – arr. Shohei Tsuchiya (source tune “Good-bye my earth”)

You see that? You see what they did there? It’s like someone sat down and said “okay, we’re doing a ‘Premium Arrange’ album. And then we’re doing it again, using all the same tracks, but different arrangers in very different styles. It’s a two-for-one!” Whomever it was that sat down and said all that, I want to personally thank you. Great idea, great (double) premium arrange. It’s crazy.

The craziest thing of all: I can’t decide which disc I like more. Before listening, I thought “Breath of a living thing” would be a shoe-in. Look at the list of names! You have Shimomura, Mitsuda, Naruke, Kikuta, Hibino, Sakamoto (echochrome / Tekaru), and even the legendary Soyo Oka! That’s a powerful list right there; how can you compete with some synths and chips?

Well, you can, and the people on the second disc, if they’re the “response” to a call-and-response of the entire DariusBurst soundtrack, they give the perfect response. Let’s take a look at some matched pairs of life vs machine, acoustic vs electronic (though that delineation doesn’t quite hold up…).

Yoko Shimomura opens the first disc with a beautiful, Latin-charged vocalized rendition of “Good-bye my earth.” It’s fun and jazzy, but it’s powerful all the same. Pair that up against Square Enix sound guru Mitsuto Suzuki with his version of the same song. Suzuki’s is sublime. It’s the bonus track on S-E Battle Vol.1 all over again. There is nobody in the VGM scene that makes music quite like Suzuki-san, and what he does for this opening track is absolutely wonderful. This doesn’t downgrade Shimomura’s work at all; no, instead it’s a perfect electronic complement. It reminds us that the realm of the artificial, the “man-made,” can still affect us as much as something totally pristine, untouched, and otherwise “natural.”

Now, let’s jump up to track 10. We have two versions of “The world of spirit,” and they couldn’t be more different. Mitsuda’s version, “The Arrival of Peace,” features a music box, the sounds of children talking, and some strangely (yet fitting) ethnic-sounding instrument: like uilleann pipes cross-bred with a shakuhachi. Then there are also some great hand drums, and a sweet guitar solo in the middle. All of the instrumentation selected by Mitsuda takes this piece of music to a new, grand level.

Compare that with baiyon’s “A Soothing Sensation.” Remember: same source melody. But now, we have a “Matrix-apocalypse” club/rave track with all sorts of fun, silly, and *eerie* noise samples. Manipulated voice samples take the cake in terms of both quantity and awesomeness. I love baiyon’s addition to the album. He needs to be on more albums of this nature: “collaborative” arrange albums. One weakness on this track, though: it doesn’t really end. It just sort of walks away. Compare that to Mitsuda’s track, which has a proper and fitting ending (a reprisal of the music box).

Okay, now Soyo Oka’s arrangement of “Fast lane” is just crazy. Anyone who remembers Oka’s Super Famicom SimCity soundtrack, or its arrangements on the Game Music Concert (aka “Orchestral Game Concert” albums) knows that she can make the world’s greatest “town” music ever. So she takes the song “Fast lane” from a shmup and turns it into a peaceful town theme. “Hometown” is one of the brightest and most surprising tracks across both discs. A beautiful acoustic performance, featuring multiple acoustic guitars and lots of bowed string instruments as well, this one has a great sound to it. On the other side, we have shmup king himself Manabu Namiki turning the song into a glorious chiptune track. I didn’t realize Namiki-san could do straight-up “chip” arrangements so well. Someone should get him on SQ Chips 3 (if Square Enix decides to go that far with those albums!). Seriously though, “Factory” (Namiki’s version of “Fast lane”) will blow your mind. It’s glorious.

There are so many other good tracks on here. I could go on and on. Naruke’s arrangement is solid. Hibino lays down some sweet sax. Kikuta’s track is “Gust” beautiful. Minako Seki, a name I don’t even recognize, does this beautiful choral arrangement. And then on the machine side, TECHNOuchi, OGR and YACK have a 3-in-a-row combo of utter awesome. Seriously, TECHNOuchi’s version of “Iron Corridor” is right up there with Mitsuto Suzuki’s track. I could bathe in this stuff.

Bottom line: get this album. Whether you know and/or love Zuntata / Darius or not, there’s someone here whose name you recognize (else, you wouldn’t be an OSV reader, would you?). It’s available at CDJapan & Play-Asia, or if you want to search other shopping locations, search by its catalog number, ZTTL-0064~5. Enjoy!

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