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Sorcerian Super Arrange Version :: Review by Chris

Sorcerian Super Arrange Version Album Title: Sorcerian Super Arrange Version
Record Label: King Records (1st Edition); Nihon Falcom (Reprint)
Catalog No.: K32X-7123 (CD - 1st Edition), K28H-4499 (Tape),
K28G-7377 (Vinyl); NW10102240 (CD Reprint)
Release Date: April 21, 1988; December 22, 1999
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Sorcerian Super Arrange Version offers 13 diverse arrangements from the original Sorcerian. Unlike most of Falcom's Super Arrange Versions, this album is not a compilation of arrangements by random people — there are no high-pitched vocalists, piano quintet, or J.D.K. Band performances to be found. Instead it was entirely arranged by Hiroyuki Namba, a legendary progressive rock and jazz musician who intended to offer a cohesive recollection of the in-game experience. Given this album was made in 1988, it offers synthesizers that pale to today's. However, all the arrangements are drastic improvements on their originals and, whether restrained or extravagant, they are usually delightful to listen to.


The album begins with a soft rendition of Sorcerian's "Opening" theme. Hiroyuki Namba maintains the simplicity of the original with his palette of piano and bass. However, the performances bring a lot of emotion to each recollection of the melody or deep chord switch. In this regard, it is a full realisation of the feelings that went into Yuzo Koshiro's original music before it was degraded into with PC-8801 synth. The rendition of the castle theme "Let's Meet Here" is equally low-key and very synthy, yet it's still a joy to listen to since it keeps the emphasis on the bouncy melodies from the original. Meanwhile "Desert" offers a new facet to the album with its Celtic recorder solos and classically-influenced accompaniment. Such an organic and spiritual piece adds some depth to a largely mainstream-targeted production.

Namba reflects his characteristic fusion style more in the action arrangements. Both "Dungeon" and "Survivor" from The Lost King's Sceptre are good examples of this. The former is a motivating piece juxtaposing an extravagant keyboard melody against hard-edged bass and drum rhythms. While the body of the piece is good, the particular remarkable sections include the epic interlude at 0:47 and the succession of country-influenced improvisations from 2:36. "Survivor" meanwhile is one of the most uptempo and enthusiastic tracks on the soundtrack. Namba offers everything from orchestral imitations to synthy leads to dazzling arpeggios with his keyboard work here. The result is delightful for stand-alone listening.

Although much of the album is humble, some arrangements try to be expansive. An incredible example is "Kraken", which channels all the aggression from the original into a formidable progressive rock piece. Though not really a progressive piece, "Blue Dragon" is even denser with its extravagant electric guitar solos and heavy drum beats. This piece is also one of the few that departs from the synthy focus to highlight instrumental soloists. Mitsuo Nagai's electric guitar work is also a very liberating element in "Forest". Moving to the end of the album, Daisuke Inoue's saxophone performance in "Cave II" is surprisingly good, at least for game music, though it's a pity that the ending arrangement resorts to the cliché of using the instrument in a sickeningly smooth way.


Hiroyuki Namba really impressed me with this album. He demonstrates great understanding of the original material and, indeed, the game as a whole. However, he's also willing to really experiment and go wild when appropriate. Some criticise the album for being too synthy or samey, but I largely disagree. The whole album is well-implemented, whether using keyboards or live instruments, and there is plenty of diversity offered with the jazz, prog rock, and Celtic arrangements. In comparison to other Super Arrange Versions, this one also has the upper-edge that it features just one arranger and therefore comes together as a cohesive overall work, rather than a hotchpotch of styles.

Overall Score: 6/10