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Atelier Totori -Alchemist of Arland 2- Original Soundtrack :: Review by Bryan

Atelier Totori -Alchemist of Arland 2- Original Soundtrack Album Title: Atelier Totori -Alchemist of Arland 2- Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Team Entertainment
Catalog No.: KDSD-10048/9
Release Date: June 23, 2010
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The Atelier series has seen a lot of changes in recent years in terms of the music. First the total disappearance of Daisuke Achiwa, someone who infused a hard rock style into a game filled with quirky and happy themes. Kazuki Yanagawa was introduced to us in the Ar tonelico III Original Soundtrack, and makes a return appearance in the Atelier Totori soundtrack. While our first exposure to him came with mixed feelings, he brings a slightly more serious look on his musical skills here. Joined by the ever famous Gust veteran Ken Nakagawa, the two manage to craft an extremely fitting score to complement this beautiful game. Does this album hold up against Atelier Rorona? Read on to find out!


Mineko Yamamoto joins us again for the game's opening theme, "Pilgrimage". While the song is pretty typical for Nakagawa, it features some outstanding piano interludes and vocal layering. Nakagawa continues this pattern layering piano with his typical instrumentation in "The Waves Call My Name". Blending Brass and organic instrumentation he manages to create a very serene and bouncy theme to complement what could only be a beautiful cutscene or area. "Atelier Totori" keeps the same bouncy feeling, only layering many more upbeat sounds creating a much lighter tone.

Nakagawa doesn't keep everything lighthearted as I would have expected. "GO GO TOTORI" is his first Battle theme contribution to this album, and it packs a pretty nice punch. While focusing on his standard use of organic instrumentation for the harmonic layering, he manages to focus the entire melody on a fluttering flute passage. While this may not sound too exciting, the combination of the flute with the amazing percussion and strings takes me straight back to his golden years. "Ophiuchus" uses the same formula for part of the track, leading with a celtic flute. However, he changes thing up with a catchy techno beat and an electric guitar passage. This is followed by an Arabic sounding guitar passage and an epic string bridge. This is by far my favorite Nakagawa track on the album and shouldn't be missed by any fan!

The real star of the show on this album has to be Kazuki Yanagawa. The variation and unique style he brings to the table is well beyond perfect for the series, and I couldn't have asked for a better replacement to Daisuke Achiwa than him. The normal battle theme, "Yellow Zone", has that unique sound I keep talking about. What starts out with a typical string intro, leads into a celtic based melody with amazing percussion and piano passages rivaling anything Nakagawa could dish out. The accordion passage leading into the piano and jazzy bass line proves he is capable of taking anything and turning it into something listenable and exciting. He does the same thing in "Red Zone". This boss theme, just as in Atelier Rorona, is a direct arrangement of the normal battle theme. The focus shifts from the lighthearted celtic based melody and hypes up the energy focusing more on distorted electric guitars and the percussion. By the end of the track, everything is playing all at once and the once happy sound of the main melody is overshadowed by the blaring percussion and mis-mashing strings. One might believe this is a turnoff, but I will be the first to tell you the effect works perfectly.

Yanagawa holds up the original Atelier style quite well in a number of other tracks as well. "A Storekeeper in a Small Village" begins with a bouncy piano intro not unlike something heard from Nakagawa. The later focus on layering an accordion with the jazzy piano takes that earlier mentioned style and reforms it to something incredibly beautiful and moving. We hear the same bounciness in "Across the Wilderness". This track has a much darker tone and focuses heavily on sharp string melodies and percussive interludes. The addition of the dulcimer in the harmony and arpeggios in the piano melody proves a level of skill we don't get to see from newcomers very often (I'm looking at you Takeharu Ishimoto!).

Yanagawa also offers up the game's main dungeon theme, "Following the Footsteps", which is subject to many arrangements from both composers. The original focuses on acoustic guitar and a strange synth instrument not unlike something heard out of the famous Twelve Girls Band. Every single one of Nakagawa's arrangements focus on surreal instrumentation perfectly fitting the scenery of the area it is played in. For instance, "Following the Footsteps ~ The Plains" features airy strings and marching percussion, painting an immediate picture of wind blowing around a lone traveler's hair on a vast open plain. "Following the Footsteps ~ The Ruins" does the same, throwing echoing sound effects and a quieter focus on the melody, as if you were walking through a damp dark ruin and your footsteps were echoing. Yanagawa again takes the lead in fitting arrangements of this track. "Following the Footsteps ~ The Caves" adds a tribal chant sound effect mixed with a somber cello melody accented by "dripping" sound effects. This really is one of the most amazing tracks on the album and should be an immediate priority on first listen by anyone.

I will discuss two more highlights on the album before closing this amazing journey with you all. "One Last Point", one of the final battle themes, begins with synth choir and an epic piano decent building the tension for a celtic based main melody. It fits exactly what I would expect a lighthearted game such as this to conclude its journey with. There was an amazing hidden shocker in this track however, that sent me into immediate tears. At the height of the tension, everything just drops out, the synth choir from the intro comes back and we get an extremely serene piano and music box duet that left me absolutely dumbfounded. I never expected such a high strung track to have something so beautiful in it, but Yanagawa seems to be a king of fitting off the wall sections into places they normally wouldn't fit.

The last track worth mentioning is the ending vocal theme, "Dia", which features Yanagawa as the composer and Mao on vocals. The instrumentation is pretty typical for him, as it really has no real direction, and picks up and slows down at such odd times. I have to admit though; it works perfectly and ends up being one of the best Atelier vocal themes of all time. Mao's mature voice mixed with the violin and rapidly changing melody just bleeds perfection.


I didn't expect anything special at all when I first picked this album up. Nakagawa has been slipping as far as what I like to hear from him, and Yanagawa's first work with Gust left me confused and pretty much uninterested. What I ended up with, however, was one of the highlight RPG soundtracks of the year for me thus far. The two crafted what is, in my opinion, the perfect depiction of the game world, and will stand for me as one of the best Atelier albums out there. I suggest any fan of Gust or the Atelier series to check this one out. We are missing the riffs and hardcore battle themes that came from Achiwa, but we gained someone capable of taking us on an emotional and inspiring visual journey through this world, and I couldn't have imagined it being THIS good. Take my advice and pick this up, there is something here for every fan.

Overall Score: 9/10