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Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria Arrange Album :: Review by Chris

Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria Arrange Album Album Title: Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria Arrange Album
Record Label: Team Entertainment
Catalog No.: KDSD-00106
Release Date: August 9, 2006
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria Arrange Album preserves most of the elements one would expect from a Motoi Sakuraba arranged album. It offers epic symphonic cues, plenty of progressive rock action themes, and elaborate use of piano, chorus, and electronic instruments. Like Star Ocean Till the End of Time before it, however, the extent of arranging is often minimal given how refined the Silmeria soundtracks were both musically and technologically. It ends up often sounding more like a 'best of' as a consequence, though also has its individual merits. Let�s take a look at each of the arrangements...


Silmeria's title theme "Movement of Distorted Causality" is a symphonic opener for the arranged album. Less fragmented than the programmatic original, it beautifully develops from a haunting string passage into a full-blown masterpiece. An aggressive choir enhances a mature full-orchestral while distorted electronic samples — reminiscent of Star Ocean The Second Story Arrange Album — add to the richness and meanness of the track. Captivating from the start to its finish five and half minutes later, "Movement..." is atmospheric, intricate, and well-driven throughout, enhanced by numerous build-ups, accelerandi, and some epic peaks. After the track concludes on a melancholy note with a single harp, Sakuraba's progressive rock makes its entrance with the thick opening chords of the battle theme "Celestial Troupe". The contrast is delightful and the theme soon shines for the lyricism of its playful melodic line. Similarly, "A Motion of Finishing Blow" is carefree, occasionally theatrical, track that explores a variety of positive feelings concerned with the battlefield; it's a curious twist on the standard Sakuraba battle theme given the melody trades keyboards and guitars for violin while being accompanied by fierce drum work and decorated by keyboard and organ solos. Great fun. Don't expect too much contrast from the original here; it's more like an enhanced version with some solos and electronic effects, though it's still enjoyable.

"Junk Modulation + One Error Begets Another" is the most creative arrangement on the album, albeit somewhat misplaced so early on. It intricately merges a grungy bass guitar-led action theme, a heroic but melancholic symphonic composition, and some original dramatic electric guitar and keyboard solos into one thematically continuous arrangement. Overwhelmingly rich timbres are created by the oppressive bass riff of "Junk Modulation" playing simultaneously with the intense chord progressions created by the tragic "One Error Begets Another". The solos, pauses, and repetitive secondary bass elements only enhance the effect of this merciless emotional rollercoaster. "Dancing Without Malice or Mercy", however, is much more meaty and unsettling. It's built from a stabbing bass guitar riff and becomes dominated by repeated string discords and distorted electronic melodies that, when combined with a slow tempo, sound deathly. The most touching arrangement on the album, "A Stable Float", is a gentle piano-led piece reminiscent of Star Ocean Till the End of the Time's "So Alone, Be Sorrow"; it achieves an atmospheric effect by combining a reflective melody, sorrowful choir chants, a variety of ethereal sound effects, and some lovely violin solos. "In Order to Acquire the Light in That Hand" constitutes the final battle theme on the album and shines for its jagged 6/4 rhythms. Again, an interesting variation on the standard battle theme that decorates the rather erratic middle of a short album.

"Unrestrained Struggle" subsequently signals the beginning of the end. It has it all — dark symphonic chord progressions, Baroque harpsichord passagework, chanting choirs, roaring timpanis, and fantastical harp decoration. It's bombastic, but not without beauty. The penultimate track on the album, "Endless High-Speed Running", will be too difficult to stomach for most. It's five and a half minutes of messy and abstract jazz-influenced electric guitar and keyboard jamming built from oppressive bass guitar and drum riffs. Though I'm personally fond of the oppressive but carefree sound the arrangements creates, I found it a tasteless addition to the album, especially given it barely differs to the original except for some synth overtones. The final track is an epic masterpiece of a medley united by piano work. Opening gently on solo piano with "Circumstances Leading to the Conclusion", a sudden orchestral buildup and two awe-inspiring ascending chromatic progressions results in a segue into "Into the Eternal Land", the haunting theme that made the introduction to the Alicia side of Silmeria's soundtrack so spine-tingling. An abrupt transition to the tense "Multiplexed Contradiction" delays the resolution of the medley and, in the section beginning at 4:01, the medley reaches its peak with aggressive bass riffs, string crisis motifs, electronic samples, and choir backing. After another build-up, the medley quietens with a brief interpretation of the ending theme "Each Lullaby", in which the piano re-enters, "Into the Eternal Land" is reprised, and, after one final build-up, the arranged album fades into nothingness.


This arranged album principally serves as a collection of the best progressive rock action themes from Silmeria. Strong track selection, good use of electronic samples, fine solos, and other minor refinements make these tracks remarkable. However, to summarise it as an unlikely but accessible 'best of' is an oversimplification. The symphonic works here are incredibly emotional and the opener and the concluding piece is arguably the most mature, deep, and dramatic arrangement Sakuraba has ever created. This album is a little imbalanced and lacks elaboration in places, but is basically a solid addition to Sakuraba's gleaming arranged album collection.

Overall Score: 8/10