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The Legend of Heroes III Electric Orchestra :: Review by Chris

The Legend of Heroes III Electric Orchestra Album Title: The Legend of Heroes III Electric Orchestra
Record Label: Nihon Falcom
Catalog No.: NW10102430
Release Date: February 10, 2001
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


Over the years, Tamiya Terashima's J.D.K. Electric Orchestra arrangements have become legendary among Falcom fans for the way they elegantly combine emotional orchestrations with a synthetic feel. Though some would argue using synthesizers is a cop-out, it's understandable given the inherently synthetic flavour of the soundtracks themselves and also forgivable given the low-budget nature of Falcom's productions. The Legend of Heroes III Electric Orchestra is an especially good example of how well the synthetic orchestration works. Originally incorporated into the otherwise worthless Falcom Special Box '95, Falcom's in-house decided to separately publish the album in 2001. The stand-alone album doesn't disappoint and arguably provides the definitive version of The Legend of Heroes III's score...


Within the opening minute of "The White Witch Gerud", the album managed to captivate me. There are few fantasy orchestrations as colourful and emotional as this one, and indeed the synthetic approach is partly the reason for this. With exotic woodwind ululations, fantastical harp arpeggios, soothing string overlays, and even a heavenly soprano chorus, the timbre created is otherworldly and difficult to express naturally. At 2:00, the suite segues into a melancholic interpretation of the main theme, dominated by classically-oriented piano and string interplay. As the suite approaches its conclusion, it undergoes several haunting and epic twists, all of which Tamiya Terashima incorporates elegantly. By the conclusion at the six minute mark, it's clear that Terashima isn't just a great musician, but also capable of creating pure magic.

Delving deeper into the album, there is an impressive range of styles incorporated. "Afternoon at the Beach" recollects the jazz focus of the original score with soft soprano saxophone and whistling melodies; though this approach would not be compatible with a live orchestral album, it fits smoothly with the synthetic approach here. "Little Heroes" goes one step further with its bombastic jazz sound, while "Spirit in Our Days" even dares to incorporate natural sound effects and a bluegrass section. Yet maybe the biggest oddity is "Queen Isabel", which incorporates funky rhythms throughout and even some club voice samples. It shouldn't work and maybe it won't for some, but it is still so atmospheric regardless. This is certainly no conventional orchestral album and, for me at least, that's a good thing in this specific case.

Where needed, Tamiya Terashima nevertheless steps up to the mark to provide definitive orchestrations. An excellent example is "The Great Battle of Bolt", which brings out all the orchestral might of the original in its brassy orchestration. "Demise" meanwhile is a more personal orchestration that demonstrates the arranger's capacity for subtlety too. There are also several very spiritual entries. "Sorrowful Melody" makes the most of a simple melody from the soundtrack with a mixture of gospel and choir work against harp arpeggios. "Ordos Cathedral" meanwhile elaborates on the gothic tone of the original with Gregorian chant and eerie organ work. The effect is highly atmospheric in both cases. "Love Shining Inside" provides a definitive finish to the album, developing from its gentle orgel introduction towards a bright march-like finish.


Overall, The Legend of Heroes III Electric Orchestra is one of Tamiya Terashima's most colourful and emotional productions. Rather than attempt to mould The Legend of Heroes III's score for a true orchestra, he instead adopted a largely orchestral focus coloured with stylistic deviations and unusual forces. The result seems to fit the diverse and otherworldly experience that The Legend of Heroes III represents. It also offers a liberating musical experience in its own right for those less conservative listeners out there. Overall, a highly recommended production.

Overall Score: 8/10