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Street Fighter EX Arrange Album :: Review by Chris

Street Fighter EX Arrange Album Album Title: Street Fighter EX Arrange Album
Record Label: Pony Canyon
Catalog No.: PCCB-00251
Release Date: March 5, 1997
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Takayuki Aihara, Ayako Saso, and Shinji Hosoe managed to achieve a considerable amount in their score for Street Fighter EX. While they maintained an emphasis on the series' cultural diversity and memorable melodies, they took things in a new direction with more refined synth and electronic elements. Nevertheless, their creativity remained restricted while creating the score, since the hardware was still limited and most themes needed to be fairly short. Soon enough, they decided to expand on their inspirations with a fully-fleshed arranged album, featuring all sorts of styles and high quality production values.


The opener "Rising Dragoon" will assure listeners that the arrangers have a high quality experience prepared for consumers. Takayuki Aihara preserves the features of the original with his funky rhythm guitar lines and catchy synth melodies. However, he also greatly enhances them through offering a full band, a few ethnic interludes, and plenty of solos, culminating in the 'feel good' section from 2:39. Listeners are treated to plenty of compelling soundscapes elsewhere in the album — ranging from surreal electronica and jazzy piano infusions in "Strange Sunset" to disco grooves and orch hits in "God Hands". It all amounts to a very diverse and vibrant experience, even if some arrangements are bound to raise eyebrows.

In tradition of the series, there is also plenty of cultural diversity across the score. One of the most impressive examples is the interpretation of Jack's theme "Garnet Sky" by guest arranger Hideo Takahashi. It now sounds more flamenco-inspired than ever with its virtuosic rasgueado-heavy Spanish guitar performance and authentic castanet use. What I'd have done to see an interpretation of Vega's theme as good as this one... Of course, "Arabesque" receives a catchy Arabian-styled arrangement too, combining regional intruments, electronic backing, and even a synthesised child's chorus. It's one of Takayuki Aihara's most eccentric contributions to date. The blend of traditional Japanese instruments and contemporary elements is also expertly achieved in "Cherry Trees in Full Bloom", although this one stays rather close to the original.

Surprisingly, this arranged album has a strong rock emphasis. Ayako Saso's "Guardian of Light" is a refreshing instrumental rock piece reminiscent of some of Van Halen's more anthemic works. "Cold Pipe" and "Amusementive Crime" meanwhile exhibit a much more modern and grungy sound, courtesy of external arranger Ayumi Yasui. Though among the more generic contributions to the album, thankfully the major highlights and rhythmical edge of the original compositions are kept alive. This rock emphasis is especially prominent at the climax of the album with the succession of the "Irreconcilably", "Stronger", and "Tenkyaku Babu". While the boss themes are blistering and intense, the final theme of the album is ultimately relieving with its retro jazz fusion emphasis.


Overall, the Street Fighter EX Arrange Album is an impressive. It exhibits high quality production values, plenty of stylistic diversity, and highly refined and developed arrangements. What's more, most of the arrangements stays true to the inspirations of the original, ensuring a largely accessible listen. Sometimes the emphasis on cookie-cutter rock can be a little uninspired, but there are plenty of highlights such as "Strange Sunset", "Garnet Sky", and "Arabesque" to make up for this. If you enjoyed the original score and want even more, then this arranged album is an ideal purchase.

Overall Score: 8/10