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Atelier Lina -The Alchemist of Strahl- Original Soundtrack :: Review by Charles

Atelier Lina -The Alchemist of Strahl- Original Soundtrack Album Title: Atelier Lina -The Alchemist of Strahl- Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Team Entertainment
Catalog No.: KDSD-10042
Release Date: December 19, 2009
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


In 2009, Gust's Atelier series continued to the expand with the third DS instalment, Atelier Lina: The Alchemist of Strahl. Once again, Daisuke Achiwa returned to craft its soundtrack, offering a mixture of both instrumental and vocal themes. The resultant soundtrack has more in common with the music from a typical dating simulator than the expansive soundtracks most would expect from the series' console games. That is, it is bouncy and catchy, but almost without any depth or intricacy...


In Gust tradition, vocal themes remain probably the biggest highlight of the Atelier Lina -The Alchemist of Strahl- Original Soundtrack. The opener "Flora" is a fairly typical J-Pop theme featuring a girly vocalist and upbeat melodies; it's generic and unmemorable, but still serves its purpose as an introduction to game and soundtrack alike. More impressive is the vocal arrangement of "Girl of the Summer Breeze" with Haruka Shimotsuki's mild vocals and folksy instrumentation; it's a very effective interpretation of the personality of Lina and a little original as an arrangement too. To round off the soundtrack, there is also a J-Rock performance called "Windy". The wild electric guitars are pretty enjoyable here, though I personally don't feel Mami Yanagi's vocals intergrate well.

The instrumental pieces are generally far less ambitious than the vocal themes. As a result of the technological limitations of the DS, most are composed using pretty basic synth and few exceed the minute mark. The resultant compositions are usually highly listenable, but often lack depth. Take, for instance, "Today We Also Have Nice Weather", "Baumkuchen", "Acorn March", and "Happy News" that could easily have been lifted from a typical dating simulator. These feature little more than a silly pop-influenced melody against some bouncy accompaniment, and loop after less than 30 seconds. Even "The Student City" is mind-numbingly infantile despite its central role on the soundtrack. Equally obnoxious are sentimental themes such as "Sprout", "Droplets of Feelings", and "Letter of the Dead Leaves", which rely so much on clichés such as mild woodwinds or singing strings. The resultant compositions are functional in context, but lack any depth or individual outside of it.

Thankfully, Daisuke Achiwa still retained his flair for composing memorable themes. The instrumental version of "Girl of the Summer Breeze" and "The City of the Sun" are certainly endearing with their elegant melodies and tropical arrangements. There are also a few lovely setting themes, such as "If Tomorrow has a Clear Sky" and "Inviting the Waves", that remind one of the more organic themes from the Ar tonelico series. Battle themes such as "Cyclone", "Intruder", and "Annihilator" are also surely addictive with their SNES-influenced instrumental rock stylings. If anything, these compositions will remind you of the type of music featured in Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest. Achiwa's sense of lyricism during the development is just so appealing. It's also worth noting that at the end of the soundtrack, there are a few short arrangements from Atelier Viorate, Atelier Annie, and Atelier Rorona.


The recent explosion of Atelier games is bittersweet. On one hand, it keeps fans of the series constantly entertained with new instalments for various consoles. On the other hand, it risks the series becoming stale both in terms of gameplay and music, just like other series such as Tales have before it. For me, at least, this staleness is certain reflected in the soundtrack to Atelier Lina. Essentially all compositions are inferior imitations of styles that have been done on the Atelier series. What's left are a fair number of memorable melodies or captivating moments, yet nothing of much creative value or emotional moments. The resultant soundtrack is acceptable for a DS spinoff, but those expecting something more ambitious for the series should stick to the main console games instead.

Overall Score: 6/10