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Genso Suikoden ~Distant Stars Echoes of Love~ :: Review by Simon

Genso Suikoden Vocal Collection ~Distant Stars Echoes of Love~ Album Title: Genso Suikoden Vocal Collection ~Distant Stars Echoes of Love~
Record Label: Konami Media Entertainment
Catalog No.: KOLA-018
Release Date: January 22, 2003
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan

Overview

Genso Suikoden Vocal Collection ~Distant Stars Echoes of Love~ is a vocal collection that takes pieces from the first three games in the popular game series and transforms them into love songs. Using Eastern percussion and Western instrumentation, the combination of music works well, but, before I begin, I must warn you of the one thing that will divide and decide whether or not you will like this album or not. The singer who is Japanese sings every song in English, but sadly pronounces the words in Romanji! The result is some extremely bizarre versions of English words and, although it may sound quiet novel at first, the end result means the album is somewhat diminished for the highest echelons that it could have met.

Body

The opening song displays exactly what I'm talking about. "Faraway Star" is a simple and slow song in which the vocals are somewhat unsuited. Sometimes it hurts the ears, and sometimes you ask yourself what language she is singing in! Thankfully "Beautiful Morning" is much livelier and catchy number in which the singing, the instrumentals, and the lyrics all fit together very nicely indeed for what is one of the standout tracks of the album. "The Boundless Dream" is a dramatic song thanks the excellent percussion, but suffers from a slight misjudgement in using a saxophone that doesn't really fit the mood of the song. The vocals aren't up to much with notably an unforgiving attempt at saying 'soul' and ending up with 'slur'... Thankfully it doesn't diminish the song too much.

"Dandy Richmond" comes across as an old fashioned songs and is very snazzy indeed! You could almost make an erotic dance routine to it! Although once again you can't really understand what the lady is singing, she does give it a sultry groove and sassy appeal. This is a unique classic in the game music world and one that really stands out from the rest. "Dancing Girl" starts off awfully with a terrible display of vocals. Sanae Shintani is clearly out of depth here, despite all the instruments best efforts to drown her out. Sadly, it doesn't work... "Wind and Earth" is a big step in the right direction. A strong theme runs throughout and suits the vocalist much more which makes the song much more enjoyable. The deep conga rhythm tops the song off.

"Narcy's Theme" is possibly one of the best out of tune songs I've heard in ages. The chorus is so off key it's pleasantly fresh and inviting. Whether or not it was meant to be like that's another story, as the vocal tone does stray a bit in the verses too! Still, the song is very catchy, jolly and relaxed all at once. Great song! "Currents (Opening)" is given the jazzed up J-Pop treatment and ends up becoming a fast paced song complete with guitar solos and what is close to dance beats. Its quite a difference from the version from "Orrizonte" and, although I prefer that other version, this one fits into the album much better and is a refreshing look at the song. New renditions are always welcome.

"Withered Earth" is an excellent piece of music and, if you think the vocalist is not actually speaking English (since at no point does it sound like it), then this song is one of the best on the album. The original execution of the arrangement must be applauded as handclapping is hardly ever used as a main instrument! The final song "Moonlit Night" is a pretty and sensitive song that closes the album very cleverly with parts of the opening song as if it's gone full circle.

Summary

Genso Suikoden Vocal Collection ~Distant Stars Echoes of Love~ does just that too. It goes full circle from some of the best to some of the worst vocal arrangements I've experienced. Its all depends on if you can break the barrier of language. If you can think 'it is not English' then maybe the CD could get away with being fairly good, as the renditions in terms of music are actually very well-produced. Sadly, the very reason you want to buy it, its vocals, falls well short of the mark´┐Ż

Overall Score: 6/10