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Perfect Collection Ys :: Review by Chris

Perfect Collection Ys Album Title: Perfect Collection Ys
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1012/3
Release Date: August 5, 1990
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Among the numerous albums in the Ys series, Perfect Collection Ys has probably received the most popular praise over the years. It is a two disc set entirely dedicated to arrangements from Yuzo Koshiro's Ys Score. The first disc features arrangements of the entire used score by Ryo Yonemitsu mostly in a rock style. The second disc is more diverse and features vocal, classical, jazz, and rock arrangements. Let's take a tour of what is offered...


The album opens with Ryo Yonemitsu's 'Special Arrange Version'. Surprisingly given Yonemitsu's reputation, most of the early tracks have an acoustic focus. This is very appropriate given the nature of Yuzo Koshiro's originals and ensures that the compositions aren't transformed beyond recognition. For example, "Feena" stays faithful to the original intentions with its soft woodwind melodies and synthy backing, although Yonemitsu still spruces up the composition with some soulful semi-acoustic guitar work. Looking further into the collection, Yonemitsu's guitar improvisation takes an even bigger role on "The Syonin", while the likes of "Palace" seamlessly blend acoustic and electric elements to chilling effect. The arranger also doesn't hesitate to bring out the fun of "Fountain of Love" in his jazz-pop arrangement here and emphasises the sorrow of "Tears of Sylph" with new age soundscapes and synth chorus. They're so appropriate given the original material yet also more appealing and accessible than ever.

That said, rock is definitely the focus here. The album transforms into a rockfest right from the extravagant interpretation of the overworld theme "First Step Towards Wars". Yonemitsu's dazzling electric guitars and synth backing also take the focus in the dungeon theme "Palace of Destruction" and the medley of "Tower of the Shadow of Death" and "The Last Moment of the Dark", each time to mesmerising effect. He also interprets the game's two battle themes, "Holders of Powers" and "Final Battle", in a very energetic hard rock style that still won't be too abrasive for soundtrack listeners. The latter is particular a classic in my opinion. The interpretations of the ending themes "The Morning Grow" and "See You Again" are also spot on and the credits theme, in particular, stands out for the way it blends rock elements with an upbeat pop vibe. It's probably a select taste, but suits the original so well and also nicely conveys those youthful emotions lying behind the series.

The second disc of the Perfect Collection comprises a hotchpotch of arrangements by other musicians. Peculiarly the selection includes three arrangements from Ys II, "Subterranean Canal", "Ruins of Moondoria", and "So Much For Today", though the other six tracks are from Ys. The two vocal tracks are truly select tastes. "Alone Battle" features a light rock interpretation of "Subterranean Canal" by a male vocalist and is quite reminiscent of the style of anime theme songs. "Endless Grow" meanwhile provides a soothing performance of "The Morning Grow" by Shoko Minami, though in my opinion her intonation and tone are undesirable. Elsewhere on the album, there are authentic jazz interpretations of "Feena" and "Ruins of Moondoria". The former is a smooth jazz performance dominated by cheesy saxophone performances of the over-arranged melody. Fortunately, the latter proves a highlight and is one of the few jazz fusion arrangements that I enjoy in video game music.

There are also three so-called new age arrangements, which are actually classical chamber arrangements by the M-Fujisawa Project. "Baroque Intelligence" is quite beautiful for the way it blends Baroque and Romantic stylings of "Tears of Sylph" on piano and strings. The performance of "Feena" by the same ensemble is also a surprise highlight, partly since the arrangement offers many welcome deviations away from the melody, while "So Much For Today" offers phrasing and form loosely based on Classical sonatas. The album ends with two performances by fan favourites, the J.D.K. Band. "Palace of Destruction" is my favourite rock performance on the entire two disc set, since it offers an energetic full band performance of the classic theme, yet also some more mystical interludes. With its slapped bass and trumpet leads, "Tower of the Shadow of Death" is more of a funk arrangement. It suits the bass-focused original very well and leads the album out on a strong note.


Perfect Collection Ys will be a treat for many fans of Ys' music. Ryo Yonemitsu took considerable stylistic departures from Yuzo Koshiro's originals in his arrangements, making them much more rock- and pop-oriented. However, it appears the risk paid off since the reception towards his arranged version has been incredibly good. That said, I remain to be convinced thse arrangements are quite as exemplary as many state they are and still feel the original and Chronicles version of the Ys score. The second disc is a mixed bag, but there is bound to be something for everyone in there given how diverse the arrangements are. Overall, though, this will still be a must-have for most people's collections.

Overall Score: 9/10