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Arranagements from NieR and Far: 15 Nightmares & Arrange Tracks (Review)

December 1, 2010 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook Arranagements from NieR and Far: 15 Nightmares & Arrange Tracks (Review)on Twitter

Well, this is certainly one of my most anticipated albums of the year. Most of us here at OSV absolutely adore the NieR soundtrack and vocalist Emi Evans’s distinct vocal stylings that made the soundtrack what it is. And that’s not to discredit the composition team over at MoNACA either, as they also performed wonderfully.

What we have here are several tracks from the 15 Nightmares DLC pack along with new arrangements of some of the music from the original soundtrack. We’ve known for quite some time that Emi Evans was not directly involved with new recordings on the arrange album, so I admit I was a bit skeptical, but given the quality of the source material, there’s no way that MoNACA could go wrong with this one, right?

Well, find out whether this album lives up to expectations in our review after the jump.

As mentioned, the first 5 tracks on the album come from the 15 Nightmares DLC. These are, in fact, arrangements of tracks from the original NieR soundtrack, including “Song of the Ancients,” “Emil,” “Shadowlord, “Shadowlord’s Castle,” and “Shadowlord.” The most obvious thing you’ll notice with these tracks, however, is their heavy electronic nature. I’ll come right out and say that while the arrangements are quite well done and while I’m a fan of the genre, these took me by surprise given the softer, subdued nature of the original pieces. I almost feel as though they should have swapped the tracklisting to feature the arrangements before the 15 Nightmares material to ease listeners into this heavier sound.

Regarding the arrangements themselves, each lifts the original vocals from its respective source and places them over some rather typical techno backings. The opening track, “Song of the Ancients – Lost Androids Mixuxux,” sports a standard “boom tss boom tss” percussion line along with a repetitive bassline. The effects on the vocals are cool, and this one probably makes for great listening on the high-speed freeways. “Blu-bird – Hansel und Gretel” actually goes into authentic heavy metal rather than techno, but the remaining three tracks go back to the former genre. “Emil – Ultimate Weapon No. 7” combines the two, and once again, I like the effects applied to the vocals.

Well, it’s then on to the arrangement section that most of us were greatly looking forward to. There are 6 arrangements in all, and you’ll probably be disappointed to learn that “Grandma” is not present. But that’s okay! There are still a number of fan and personal favorites here, including “Song of the Ancients,” “Emil,” “Kaine,” and even “The Wretched Automatons.”

Keigo Hoashi at MoNACA handles the instrumental arrangements, starting with “Emil / Piano Ver.,” which takes the memorable theme and transformers it into something more emotional and mature. “Song of the Ancients / Piano Ver.” similarly elevates the theme to a new level with a jazzy performance that embellishes the melody, turning it into a heartfelt arrangement that you could imagine hearing in a blues lounge. Hoashi also hits my soft spot with “Shadowlord / Music Box Ver.,” which is both beautiful and mysterious. It’s not overdone, either, as it’s the shortest track on the album at just 2:15 and is actually just right, as I know music box isn’t for everyone. Finally, Hoashi utilizes the DAISENSEI Muroya Strings group for “Kaine / Duet Ver.,” an absolutely stunning rendition of the theme that opens on with a slow note in “Kaine / Salvation” fashion before picking up speed to represent the “Kaine / Escape” version on the soundtrack.

Keiichi Okabe arrangements the vocal segments in “The Wretched Automatons / a cappella,” which is, as you can guess, the backing vocals from the track given their due time in the spotlight. As you may recall, Evans’s voice was buried in the background of this original track, but this allows listeners to get a clearer idea of what she was saying. While this doesn’t seem like much of an arrangement, it actually sounds quite full with the addition of the rhythmic choral “do” sections.

The last arrangement on the album is probably my favorite. Arranged by Hidekazu Tanaka at MoNACA, “The Legend of NieR: 8-bit Heroes” is an 8-bit medley of many of the themes from the game, coming in at over 8 minutes in length. It opens with a beautiful yet foreboding take on “Song of the Ancients,” which actually reminds me of something out of either Xanadu or Castlevania. Next it’s “Kaine,” featuring some amazing arpeggiator effects. The “Emil” portion comes suddenly, and is much more intense than the previous sections, driving the listener forward. The chorus section is particularly powerful with some great swirling tones in the background. The rest of the arrangement (4 minutes) is dedicated to “Ashes of Dreams,” which acts as a sort of melancholy credits theme to the arrangement. A digitally crunched version of Emi Evans’s powerful vocals is even included, which was a risky move, but it absolutely pays off. The entire arrangement of this track is spot on, making me wish there was an entire 8-bit NieR arrange album from Tanaka.

While all of the arrangements here are fantastic, I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed. Perhaps my expectations were so high that I was expecting more? That’s not to discredit MoNACA on this effort. It truly is great, but I think most fans will skip the 15 Nightmares material in favor of the arrangement section. There were so many great tracks from the soundtrack that 6 just doesn’t feel like enough even though the disc is around 55 minutes of music as is. This album had some big shoes to fill, and it’s done an admirable job. I hope some of you can chime in with your thoughts once you’re able to give it a listen.

The packaging is pretty minimal. The cover refers to the original soundtrack cover, but adopts a darker black color scheme (yes, I know it’s not a color). The booklet contains the tracklist in both English and Japanese as well as composer, arranger, and performance credits, all in English. It’s currently available for pre-order from both Play-Asia and CD Japan with a release date of December 8, 2010, and I highly recommend picking it up.

Again, let us know what you think! I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

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