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Stella Deus BGM ReArrange Album :: Review by Dave

Stella Deus BGM ReArrange Album Album Title: Stella Deus BGM ReArrange Album
Record Label: Atlus
Catalog No.: AT-001
Release Date: December 1, 2004
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


Arranged albums featuring Hitoshi Sakimoto and collaborators' original works are an interesting bunch. Ogre Battle's 'inspired by' effort raised a few eyebrows, White Melodies of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was more muzak than music, and Sword Maniac, and Sword Maniac was a misleading hotchpotch of inaccessible styles. The Stella Deus BGM ReArrange Album adds little order to the chaos, featuring five arrangers doing a mixture of piano, electronic, jazz, and orchestral arrangements and medleys of Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata's material from Stella Deus. The album was a promotional release, but became available for sale at VGM World and its initial sales were principally given to help Boxing Day 2004's tsunami relief efforts. How did each arranger fare? Is it worth a listen? Is there a degree of order within the album itself? Read on to find out.

Track-by-Track Reviews

1) Holy Spirit Piano Version

The opener to the album is a solo piano arrangement of the Original Soundtrack's vocal theme, "Holy Spirit (Spirit's Theme)," arranged by musical polyglot Kenichi Koyano. The decision to arrange such a dramatic, complex, and successful original track was dangerous in itself, but perhaps more surprising is its apparent simplicity. The arrangements almost unrelentlessly adheres to a 'melody with accompaniment' format; it continually emphasises the melody and the accompaniment comprises of mere diatonic arpeggios and chords. The magical nature of the melody and the fluidity of the accompaniment makes this sustainable, however, and the arrangement therefore glides elegantly in its simplicity. Though the arrangement is nothing remarkable, save for an interesting 'dark' bridge section, the decision to make it was inspired. It's a pleasant opener. (8/10)

2) Earth Activity

"Earth Activity" is an arrangement of "Everyday" from the Original Soundtrack. It is an electronic arrangement that opens with synth chords, which are later reinforced by a drum kit beat and a distinctive oboe melody. Though it develops well up until the three minute mark, it is needlessly extended after this and nothing original is added afterwards. Despite some lost inspiration, Iwami has done a good job overall and it is intriguing to see how a track can be manipulated into a totally different style so effortlessly. (7/10)

3) Light Atlas

Kaneda's first arrangement on the album, "Light Atlas," is another piano arrangement. This track is, in essence, an arrangement of "Disciple of Light"; however, it contains motifs from "World Map," "Bright Atmosphere," and "Prince of a Ruined Country." The opening few bars to this piano arrangement reflect a sense of anticipation, and the arrangement then moves on to explore a slow moving section. Though it develops very well with the introduction of several new sections, the melody sometimes dawdles and the track ends with a series of chords that seem inappropriate for the rest of the piece. Though the run up to the last chord is fine, the last chord itself is pathetic and uninspiring, letting an otherwise fine arrangement down. (9/10)

4) Ancient Wind

"Ancient Wind" is Iwata's arrangement of "Four Great Spirits," "Tutorial," and "Powerful Theme" from the Original Soundtrack. A creative timbre is produced through the combination of brass and strings, which certainly does the arrangement a lot of good. The thing that I love about this track is how it just keeps on moving, and even the ending doesn't sound final. Iwata knows how to perfectly transition from one section to another, and he prominently uses contrasts in dynamics to magnify this. As well as this, he uses a unique mix-and-match technique that hasn't failed him yet. The best feature of this arrangement is the way that it employs a wide use of timbres that seem to reflect its jolly yet mysterious nature. Indeed, there seems to be very few bad points. (10/10)

5) Ancient Dream

Koyano's last track on the album, "Ancient Dream," is an arrangement of "Religious Group's Theme," and "Disciple of Darkness." This is just as good as his first arrangement, but now features other instruments alongside the piano. It would seem that he tried to make this primarily a piano track, seeing as though a lot of the motifs played on the accompanying instruments are played by the piano also. However, his use of the other instruments ends up being useful, as by adding them, he is able to keep the piano moving while the parts play chords that transition into new sections. Though not the best track on the album, this is certainly a major highlight nonetheless. (10/10)

6) Civil Water

Iwami's "Civil Water" is a rather creative arrangement of "March of the Heroes," in which the melody seems so much more clearer than in the original. The whole track basically uses the same motif over and over again, but passes it through different instruments. The timbres are strange and include a drum kit and accordion, but all the instruments are stylishly integrated nonetheless. The various sections are all linked together in a superb way, and the track is structured so that it has an arch shape, peaking in the middle with vibrant melodies, and slowly moving out in a simple manner. The piece has one significant flaw in that it lacks development; the ending, for instance, could have been so much better. (9/10)

7) Sky Ray

"Name Entry," "Alchemy (Man's Theme)," and "World Map" join together in bliss in this arrangement by Sakimoto. The track is easily the best on the album and shows how versatile Sakimoto is with various instruments, especially the piano, an instrument he does not use enough. The introduction is sublime, and the use of a wide range of instruments in differing ways is extremely inventive. The track just reverberates in your head and it can be listened to many times over without getting old. Certainly, it is a true work of genius. (10/10)

8) Planet She

The last track on this album is an arrangement by Mitsuhiro Kaneda. His second piano arrangement is an arrangement of "Heroine's Theme," and a superb one at that. There is not a lot that I can say about this track, other than the fact that the use of dynamics and articulation makes it prominent. My favourite part has to be the wonderful chords around the 1:19 section that give the piece such a beautiful effect that could only be brought out properly by a piano. This is a fantastic way to end an album, as it reflects a sense of pride, joy, and success all in one. The epic nature of this track definitely makes it worthy of another 10+. (10/10)


This album is one of the best arranged albums that I have listened to for a long time. The album has been made by five capable arrangers, and each of them has provided us with a sense of style that is reflected through each track. The album deserves full marks for variation, panache, and listenability, and while some tracks let it down in the area of creativity, the two closing tracks, amongst others, make up for this. All in all, this album is superb, so don't miss out.

Overall Score: 10/10