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Vantage Master Portable Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Vantage Master Portable Original Soundtrack Album Title: Vantage Master Portable Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Nihon Falcom
Catalog No.: NW10102760
Release Date: April 24, 2008
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Vantage Master Portable was packaged with a double disc soundtrack release when it was released in Japan in 2008. One disc was dedicated to Yukihiro Jindo's arranged soundtrack for the PSP remake while the other disc was the earlier released soundtrack for the original PC game. The Vantage Master Original Soundtrack was a relatively accomplished orchestral score that has been reviewed separately. However, Jindo took things a step further by offering diverse and refined arrangements using high quality libraries and even the new J.D.K. Band. Did the arranged score meet expectations?


The soundtrack opens with a short arrangement of the Vantage Master ending theme "And Down a New Road" featuring the new J.D.K. Band. Relatively straightforward, it offers a violin-based interpretation of the melody against rocking accompaniment. As the spiritual main theme for the game, it was essential that "Looking Toward the Twinkling Stars" was given a definitive arrangement. Jindo certainly offers something striking, transitioning from lush reflective introduction into a brisk snare-driven march. While probably more striking, the orchestration doesn't feel quite as natural as the original due to some balance issues and artificial samples, though the melody is still enjoyable and a triumphant feel is still created. These issues are less important in the lavishly decorated "The Ancient City of Gods", perhaps because of the more dynamic timbres, and the relatively ambient and abstract "A March Beneath the Earth".

The icefield theme "A Quiet Purity" has undergone a dramatic transformation from an organic piano-based theme into a dynamic new age track. The electronic beats certainly maintain a relaxing feel and the bamboo flute melody is more beautiful than ever, though the transitions between the sections don't feel as natural. Not all will consider it an improvement, but it's an interesting arrangement nonetheless. "A Folk Dance of Shadows and Shimmers" sounds more melancholic than ever with its star trumpet melody and intricate countermelodies. Similarly, "The Labyrinth of Time" gives of a stronger gothic influence due to the more prominent use of choir and organ; the arranger also uses the Baroque chamber orchestra and harpsichord continuo featured in the original in a more intricate. "Premonition of Danger" sounds stronger than ever, thanks to Jindo's dramatic integration of flutes and chorus to the already explosive orchestrations. Its counterpart "A Battle with Solitude" is also very engaging, but more for the way it builds tension rather than creates explosions.

The most definitive improvements, however, are the themes that were lacking in the original release. For example, "Dreaming of the Top" is no longer so repetitive or annoying, since Jindo effectively blends some jazz and rock elements into the orchestration. "The Pure Ones" rejects the focus on smooth jazz in favour of offering expansive electric guitar melodies against retro pop accompaniment; it's cheesier than ever, but intends to me and is more individualistic than the original. Superfluous themes from the original score such as "An Invitation", "Visual", and "The Faint Light of Hope" are now given slightly more substantial arrangements. Furthermore, the track listings are revised such that they now feel like they have a proper place in the musical experience and are not just mere add-ons. The album ends with a glorious orchestration of the Vantage Master V2 arrangement of the ending theme followed by a second J.D.K. interpretation; the second interpretation is significantly less generic than the opener and also bulked out, although the orchestral version is more special.


There are plenty of highlights among the arrangements, although they have their fair share of problems too and some will be select tastes. Regardless, Yukihiro Jindo offers fresh and emotional perspectives on already accomplished themes while greatly improving the originally flawed ones. What's more, the Vantage Master Original Soundtrack is still present on the second disc; it is a great listen and will provide salvation for those disappointed with the arrangements. Even though neither soundtrack is perfect, the album will be a fantastic purchase for Falcom fans since it compiles them both.

Overall Score: 9/10