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Ys The Oath in Felghana Premium Music CD Box in Felghana :: Review by Charles

Ys The Oath in Felghana Premium Music CD Box in Felghana Album Title: Ys The Oath in Felghana Premium Music CD Box in Felghana
Record Label: Nihon Falcom
Catalog No.: Promotional
Release Date: July 4, 2005
Purchase: Buy at eBay


The Ys Premium Music CD Box in Felghana is Falcom's largest album release to date, featuring eight discs in total, released with the limited edition version of Ys: The Oath in Felghana. It is entirely dedicated to the music of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys and its loose remake Ys: The Oath in Felghana. Unfortunately, the majority of this album comprises of reprinted discs released in the past, ranging from original scores to symphonic poems to random assortments of arrangements. However, there are a lot of goodies packed within these eight discs, including some exclusives. Are they enough to make this box set worthwhile?


The only exclusive on the box set is the first disc, the Ys The Oath in Felghana Pre-Arrange Version. Strangely, this album comprises of unappealing prototype versions of the original score for Ys: The Oath in Felghana before they received more elaborate arrangements and polished implementation. For example, the version of "A Premonition = Styx =" is less expressive since it features a MIDI piano instead of a beautiful performance. "Trading Town of Redmont" and "Prelude to the Adventure", on the other hand, come across as brash one-dimensional rehashes of their originals and lack the orchestral lushness of their full arrangements. But perhaps the most pathetic of all is "The Strongest Foe", which features choppy MIDI sounds of even worse quality than most of Falcom's pre-90s music. It doesn't compare to Yukihiro Jindo's stunning rock-orchestral version. Though a lot of the album is listenable, I'm not sure why most would bother since there is a greatly superior alternative available. The only exclusive highlight here is the performance of "Descendant of Genos" at the end of the album, featuring hard rock performances and lavish piano decorations.

The second disc is a reprint of Music from Ys III Wanderers from Ys, featuring the authentic original music from the PC-8801 game. Mieko Ishikawa's score will be a major highlight on the box set for chiptune fans. After a silly opener, "A Premonition = Styx =" provides a slow cinematic introduction to the experience. Following the cheery "Trading Village of Redmont" and heroic "The Boy Who Had Wings", the score takes a sinister twist in dungeon themes such as "Be Careful", "A Searing Struggle", and "Varestine Castle". These all offer bold synth melodies and gritty rhythm guitar backing in these versions. There are also decent rock-oriented boss themes, such as "Beasts an Black as Night", "Shock of the Grim Reaper", and "The Strongest Foe", that tend to sound a bit muddy down below. The score concludes with two classic ending themes, the reflective "Departure at Sunrise" and upbeat "Wanderers from Ys", that capture the spirit of the series' music. There are also three arrangements of classic themes for the X68000. Overall a great score that will be accessible to all RPG lovers who don't mind low quality synth.

Disc Three is the Special Arrange Version from Perfect Collection Ys III. Many will be sad to learn that Ryo Yonemitsu mainly abandoned his arrangement role on this album and most arrangements are handled by Yoshio Tsuru and Hiroyuki Saito. In contrast to previous Perfect Collection albums, this duo are able to offer vastly improved synth and more balanced ensembles. This provides crystal clear chamber music in "Quiet Moments" and blistering rock interpretations in "Valestine Castle". However, their arrangements are otherwise very conservative and barely deviate from their originals, such that few pieces exceed the minute mark. All that locked up potential in "The Strongest Foe" and "The Boy Who Had Wings" isn't really brought out in these arrangements lacking solos. And the potential for some of Yonemitsu's beautiful acoustic guitar overdubbing is not fulfilled in slower tracks like "Radiant Key" and "Morning of Departure" either. This disc is for those looking for resynthings rather than arrangements, yet there is enough of these elsewhere on the box set anyway.

The fourth part of the box set is dedicated to the stylistically diverse second disc of Perfect Collection Ys III. Of the vocal performances, "Departure of Sunrise" and "Darling Elena" will appeal to fans of soft ballads, whereas "Beleive in My Heart" is a high-spirited rock anthem featuring yet another of Falcom's youthful divas. The three chamber music tracks are bound to have a wider appeal among Western listeners. The melancholic violin performance of "Quiet Moments" and feathery harp-based interpretation of "Radiant Key" are immersive, though the arrangements aren't quite on par with Michio Fujisawa's work overall. Also entertaining are Yuzo Hayashi's funky taken of "Introduction!!" and Takayuki Hijikata's hard rock version of "Chop". In the context of the box set, the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K.'s own four arrangements are disappointing. This is mainly due to their low quality synth, however, and some of the arrangements are still good. In fact, the piano-driven interpretation of "Snare of Darkness" is probably the most creative arrangment of the whole Perfect Collection.

The box set continues with the Symphonic Poem Ys III Wanderers from Ys. This orchestral interpretation of Ys III's music was previously exclusive to the Falcom Special Box '92 and, in my opinion, it should have stayed there. The opening interpretation of "A Premonition = Styx =" stinks of pretention and gives the original chord progression grandiose orchestration and exotic qualities it never intended to carry. It's also boring. The subsequent rendition of "Trading Town of Redmont" is actually very good, offering bright interpretations of the melody and colourful piano sections, before the third movement takes a very dark turn with its Stravinsky-esque orchestration. "Tower of Destiny" takes listeners on a beautiful fantasy-inspired journey during its six minute playtime, but is ultimately hit-and-miss with me and somewhat anticlimactic as the pinnacle of the album. Had this album featured an additional action-packed movement, it might have verged on greatness, but instead it returns back to pretention with the schmaltzy "Morning of Departure" and overblown "Wanderers from Ys".

The Ys III Wanderers from Ys Super Arrange Version is also included on the sixth disc. The opening tracks are two very unappealing recollections of "Dancing on the Road" and "A Premonition = Styx =" using old-school synth. However, the album fortunately picks up with the jazz fusion arrangement of ""The Boy Who Had Wings", smooth jazz interpretation of "Trading Village of Redmont", and dissonant jazz trio performance of "Snare of Darkness". These arrangements all fit the original and stand out for their production values. There are also several rock arrangements on the disc. "A Searing Struggle" gets the rhythm going with its thrashing guitars and firm drum kits. However, the highlight is initially the distorted lead guitar, which gives an unusual timbre to the whole piece. Thankfully, "The Strongest Foe" also rocks hard, while still keeping the motivating rather than oppressive sound of the series alive. The album closes with orchestral renditions of the game's ending themes, "Morning of Departure" and "Wanderers from Ys". While colourful orchestrations, the actual implementation is tinny and leaves much to be desired.

The seventh disc might inspire déjà vu for listeners since it is oddly similar to the second disc. Yes, it is the Ys III J.D.K. Special, which comprises of mildly resynthed versions of Ys III's original score. These versions generally give a more perky sound to the game's music, which suits tracks such as the town theme "Trading Village of Redmont" and Adol's theme "The Boy Who Had Wings", but less so the ambient opener "A Premonition = Styx =". Most who have listened to the original score will find this disc completely redundant. At the end of the disc, there are thankfully four special arrangements and performances by the J.D.K. Band. "Be Careful" is the most exciting of these arrangements since the J.D.K. Band show what thrashing lead and rhythm guitars should really sound like. "Stealing the Will to Fight" and "The Boy Who Had Wings" are considerably tamer, but still upbeat and Ys-spirited. Finally, "Morning of Departure" closes the album wih a sentimental male vocal performance against atmospheric pop instrumentals. They're all worth a listen, but I'm not sure if they make the disc worthwhile otherwise.

The final disc does listeners a favour by compiling together Ys III arrangements from all sorts of sources. There's music from the box sets, piano collections, and more obscure sources such as Falcom Ending Collection, Falcom Neo Classic, and PrePrimer II. Rock fans will be pleased to note that the J.D.K. Band make four performances here, including their definitive version of "The Strongest Foe", though two of these are versions of "Morning of Departure" with squealing female vocals and hideous male vocals respectively. The opener to the disc is also a vocal track by Shoko Minami. More appealing are Michio Fujisawa's acoustic arrangements, which far exceed even the so-called new age arrangements of Perfect Collection Ys III. The eerily minimalistic pizzicato string take on "Valestine Castle" was an inspired decision while the piano interpretation of "A Premonition = Styx =" is a soulful beauty. A final major highlight of the collection is the London Symphony Orchestra's performance of "Wanderers from Ys" inspired by the courtrooms of the 17th Century.


When a series has a discography as vast as Ys', considerable redundancy builds up between releases. Packaging together all the original and arranged releases from Ys III: Wanderers from Ys was partly a dubious idea since it emphasises this redundancy. It's difficult to retain interest after hearing so many interpretations of the same 26 track score and many of the discs here are similar, particularly Music from Ys III, Ys III J.D.K. Special, and Perfect Collection Ys III. The Ys Premium Music CD Box in Felghana was a remarkable bonus with the limited edition version of Ys: The Oath in Felghana in Japan. However, anyone wanting to buy it second hand since should realize that not every disc is worth the box set's overall pricetag.

Overall Score: 7/10