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Darius Burst Remix Wonder World :: Review by Don

Darius Burst Remix Wonder World Album Title: Darius Burst Remix Wonder World
Record Label: Zuntata Records
Catalog No.: ZTTL-0064/5
Release Date: June 30, 2010
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


In January 2010, the Darius Burst Original Soundtrack was released. Composed primarily current members of the Zuntata sound team, Shohei Tsuchiya and Hirokazu Koshio, with a guest contribution by the founder of Zuntata, Darius veteran Hisayoshi Ogura, it provided a new sound to the Darius series, while at the same time, keeping some of the flair that made the original so popular. In April, it was announced that the original soundtrack would get an all-star arrange album featuring arrangements from some of the industry's heaviest hitters, such as Yoko Shimomura, Yasunori Mitsuda, Yasuhisa Watanabe, Manabu Namiki, and others. Shohei Tsuchiya, who came up with the image of this unique arrange album project, has stated that the Darius Burst Remix Wonder World album would focus on two themes. These themes, "The breath of the living being" and "The breath of the machine", provided a unique approach to the arrange album in the fact that each disc's source material would be the same, but the arrangers handling each theme would interpret the piece according to the theme they were assigned. I'm surprised this hasn't been done before, actually, but does the innovation pay off?


The breath of a living thing

Yoko Shimomura, known for her works on the Kingdom Hearts series, opens up the arrange album with "The Future on My Shoulders," an arrangement of "Goodbye by earth," the main theme for Darius Burst. Dramatic piano and some Spanish flamenco guitar open up the arrangement hinting at the main melody before moving into a more upbeat Spanish infused arrangement with some exquisite vocal work by Suika Yonezawa. It's an extremely compelling arrangement featuring exotic percussion and a ton of energy. The slower instrumental bridge features the flamenco guitar once more and reinforces the Spanish flavor of the theme. Overall, it's an excellent way to open up the album and, due to the vocals, really emphasizes and establishes the "breath of a living thing" concept that will be heard throughout the first disc.

Motoi Sakuraba, known for his work for tri-Ace and the Tales series, continues with "The Battle is Now in Progress," an arrangement of "Hinder Two." Opening up with some mysterious violin work, it quickly evolves into what most people know Sakuraba for, a prog rock rendition of the battle theme. As such, there is a ton of energy, attributed mainly to the tempo of the drums. As the theme progresses, I love how it goes from more energetic keyboard and percussion, to more mysterious atmospheres with the recurrence of the violin that opened up the soundtrack. Throw in some funk with the inclusion of some bass and some keyboard improvisation. The arrangement also ends with the inclusion of the "Goodbye my earth" motif established in the original. It's nice to see that he kept it in there. It's an excellent arrangement by Sakuraba with some equally excellent keyboard and drum work, which apparently he is also responsible for. The "breath of a living thing" concept, in my opinion, isn't as clearly defined as it is in some of the other themes, but it probably has to do with the rush of adrenaline that humans feel during tense situations.

"Hometown," an arrangement of "Fast lane," is Soyo Oka's contribution, known for her work on the original Super Mario Kart and Pilotwings. This extremely poignant and touching orchestral theme is an extreme transformation, given the original, and really manages to convey an atmosphere of warmth. The acoustic guitar and percussion helps give it a nice rustic hometown vibe while the violin helps provide the warmth heard in the music. It's a truly mesmerizing theme that manages to convey a variety of emotions through its varied use of instrumentation, such as the piano and music box. In the end, Soyo Oka really captures the "breath of a living thing" concept through her use of warm and inviting soundscapes that help convey emotions that a human would feel.

Michiko Naruke, known for her work in the Wild Arms series, offers an arrangement of "Cylinder" in "Intensification". As the name suggests, the intensity of the piece plays a huge part in this arrangement. Featuring some excellent strings work, electric guitar leads, and fantastic keyboard solos, it manages to create an extremely intense atmosphere as it progresses. There are moments of calm however that really helps break the tension. It's an excellent theme that truly manages to excite. Naruke really impressed with this one. As for the "breath of a living thing" concept, her arrangement isn't as clear cut, but I'd imagine that it has to do mainly with the rush of adrenaline, similar to Sakuraba's arrangement, even if there is a bit of industrial accompaniment that I'd associate with more mechanical beings.

"Peaceful Sleep in the Wreckage" is an arrangement of Hisayoshi Ogura's "Hello 31337" by Shohei Tsuchiya, one of the composers of the original soundtrack and whose concept and vision created this arrange project. He tackles the best theme on the original soundtrack in my opinion and the resultant arrangement is absolutely stunning. Being able to take the original and arrange it into a groovy funk arrangement speaks a lot for his talent. I love how the bass and electric guitar take the accompaniment and melody of the original, respectively, and amplify it a bit and giving it a definite organic sound. It's such a relaxing sound and Tsuchiya really managed to nail down the "breath of a living thing" concept really well.

One of the most beautiful arrangements on the first disc is "Selflessness," an arrangement of "Iron Corridor," by Metal Gear Solid's Norihiko Hibino. Unlike many of the other arrangements on the soundtrack, his take is extremely simplistic, but extremely effective as well. Atmospheric and ethereal accompaniment really supports the sole melodic instrument, the saxophone, played by Hibino himself. It doesn't do anything outrageous, but the saxophone work is exquisite and really manages to provide a sense of emotional calm and relief. Such raw emotion is surely Hibino's take on the concept of "the breath of a living thing."

"Bonds," by Hideki Sakamoto, known for his work on echochrome, is an arrangement of "Calm Down." Interestingly enough, despite being on the "the breath of a living thing" disc, much of his arrangement seems more fitting for the "the breath of a machine" disc. However, during the promotional period, he said his concept for this was to focus on the human voice. The arrangement itself is quite experimental and takes on what I like to call a "electronica light" approach, through its eclectic use of electronic elements, piano, and vocal work. The vocal work, by Hideki Sakamoto himself, is very "breathy." Overall, it's an experimental, but calming, take on the original. He certainly gets points for originality!

Another heavy hitter on the arrange album is Hiroki Kikuta, known for his work on the Seiken Densetsu series. His arrangement of "Baptize Silver Hawk," entitled "Resolution and Determination," features an extremely interesting progression. The majority of the arrangement is quite dramatic in natures with stunning orchestral work that really shows that Hiroki Kikuta still has it (and should be composing for more RPGs rather than eroge games), however, there is also a playful xylophone section, however brief, that adds a nice touch of fun to the arrangement. In the end, this theme definitely reminds me of a mixture between his Seiken Densetsu works and Alphabet Planet. I also assume that his take on the "breath of a living thing" concept lies within the instrumentation.

"Heart," by Berwick Saga's Minako Seki, is an absolutely stunning take on "Shady" is absolutely stunning. It's an amazing transformation, to say the least. It features Miki Tsuchiya on vocals, which are done in a choral/operatic style. At first, the music gradually builds and is quite mysterious in nature, due in part to both the instrumentation and the choral work. As it progresses, however, it becomes a fantastic, upbeat, dark, and smooth orchestral piece with stellar vocal work. There is just so much complexity in this piece, ranging from the dynamic piano accompaniment to the deep bass guitar that you have to really listen for. It is one of my favorite remixes on the "breath of a living thing" concept, which is clearly a mixture of the adrenaline heard in the piece as well as the incorporation of the human vocals.

One of my favorite arrangers on these side projects is definitely Yasunori Mitsuda. Although he hasn't been involved in an arrange album in a while, I gladly welcome his return with this arrangement. "The Arrival of Peace," an arrangement of "The world of spirit," describes, in my opinion, a robotic Pinocchio feeling human emotion for the first time. There is a delicate and appropriate balance between more mechanically inclined and more emotionally inclined sections. Whether it be the warming nature of the music box, acoustic guitar, and the beautiful strings, or the mechanistic ticking of a clock and robotic vocaloid work, Mitsuda's arrangement bravely straddles the line between the "breath of a living thing" concept and the "breath of a machine" concept. It is truly a beautifully crafted arrangement and definitely reminds me why he is one of my favorite arrangers. I can only imagine what it would have been like if he was part of the CAVE arrange albums.

The last item on the "breath of a living thing" disc is "Goodbye my earth (Long Arranged Ver.)," an extended version of the original piece by Hirokazu Koshio, one of the composers of the Darius Burst soundtrack. I'm not sure how these themes fit into the whole concept, but I like to think of this more as a bonus theme rather than part of the concept design. As for this album, there is definitely some changes, such as the removal of the vocals that were featured in the original and there seems to be a more industrial sound to it. The piano featured is also quite lovely and I love the jazzy piano solo featured in it.

The breath of a machine

One of the arrangers whose involvement surprised me the most was Square Enix's resident synthesizer operator, Mitsuto Suzuki, known for his solo albums and arrangements on Final Fantasy XIII. His take on "Goodbye my earth," entitled "Departure," is more in line with his solo works. It features an exquisitely beautiful "soft electronica" take on the original with some beautiful layering and synth choices. It's quite the departure, no pun intended, from Shimomura's take on the same theme. It's not complex, but it really doesn't need to be. It manages to maintain a beautifully mellow atmosphere throughout and brings a smile to my face. He did a splendid job, in my opinion.

"Crushing the Enemy Lightly," Shohei Tsuchiya's take on "Hinder Two," is another stellar arrangement by Tsuchiya. It definitely masks the original music much more than Sakuraba's and features some some slick bass, some great electronic layering, both in more intense and crystalline forms, and some great percussion. Overall, there is a ton of energy on this arrangement and I love how smooth the whole arrangement sounds. In fact, I think I love how subtly the original is featured in this one the most.

Manabu Namiki, known for his work for the shmup company CAVE, arranges "Fast Lane." His arrangement, "Factory," utilizes a variety of various chiptune sounds to accomplish an extremely catchy and exhilarating sound. Although it sounds retro in terms of sound, the arrangement is definitely a bit on the modern side. The layering is superb and the various effects that Namiki threw into the mix really make me smile. Retro, without being retro, is a fantastic concept and one that I'd like to see more often. In fact, Namiki has told me that one of the instruments used in his arrangement is an old handheld gaming system that he programmed to play specific parts of his arrangement. If that doesn't show the "breath of a machine" concept, I don't know what does!

"Crushing the Enemy Somberly," by beatmania's Ryutaro Nakahara's, revisits "Cylinder." His arrangement is definitely one that feels like it belongs on the dance floor. Heavy beats, fantastic percussion, some distorted vocaloid work, and some subtle dramatic and calming electronica in the background all mesh together to form a particularly enticing arrangement. I love the section, in particular, that gratuitously features the vocaloid, giving it a strangely ethnic sound, despite the robotic nature of the vocaloid. In the end, this is a sexy arrangement that makes me dance in my chair as I listen.

"A Serene and Pensive Moment Amidst the Wreckage," Hirokazu Koshio's take on Hisayoshi Ogura's awesome "Hello 31337," is also a fantastic arrangement that belongs in a club. Throughout the entire arrangement is an extremely sexy beat that is composed primarily of the beat of the original, but chopped up and mixed quite a bit. In addition, he also distorts and chops up a majority of the melody line to create a unique sounding industrial mix. It doesn't transform the piece as much as Tsuchiya's take on it, but it's still quite a fantastic listen none the less. I'm sure that OGR is very proud of this arrangement.

TECHNOuchi has seen a surge in his participation on a variety of arrange albums. His latest arrangement, a take on "Iron Corridor" entitled "Innocence," is probably the one most different from the rest. Rather than focusing on a club beat like many of his other arrangements, he opts for a very atmospheric and subtle approach to the original. It's a very atmospheric piece, as stated already, with some accompanying beats that help add to the atmosphere. As the arrangement nears its end, there is a shift to a more house beat focus, but it doesn't comprise the majority of the arrangement. It helps to bring a bit of change to what some might think is a bit too minimalistic, but it wasn't necessary in my opinion. I really like how Hibino and TECHNOuchi both took on the relaxing route, but did it astronomically different way.

Hisayoshi Ogura. The man for whom I have deep respect, mainly due to his Darius music. His take on "Calm Down," entitled "Unable to Comprehend," is Ogura at his finest. Opening with some vocaloid spelling out "C-A-L-M D-O-W-N" as well as "R-I-K-A-I-F-U-N-O," which is the Japanese title of the arrangement, it's a fantastic song that really reminds me of the old Darius music that made me fall in love with OGR in the first place. According to OGR, "RIKAIFUNO" means something along the lines of "unable to feel the human heart." The arrangement is a superb blend of new and old Darius. It features some slick beats and electronic effects, but I think my favorite part of the whole arrangement is the inclusion of the vocal samples heard in "VISIONNERZ," as well as a reworked rendition of the same theme that is incorporated into the melody. It's a fantastic song that really reminds me of the old Darius music that made me fall in love with OGR in the first place.

Another prominent electronic artist, Yasuhisa Watanabe, arranges "Baptize Silver Hawk." Entitled "Comrades - Reliance," it's a calm electronic arrangement with some distinct Asian flavors. I really love the mellow electronic melody over the various Asian percussion instruments. Throw in some crystalline synth that almost has a heavenly sound to it and you have a very interesting mix of elements. Striking at times, but atmospheric in others, I think that this arrangement truly shines in creating a soundscape that easily soothes the listener.

"Mind," Hirokazu Koshio's take on "Shady," is a much more subtle take on the original than Minako Seki's. There is an ethereal and atmospheric beauty about this theme and the various types of synths used to portray this. The incorporation of some nice industrial beats really helps add a nice mechanical sound to it as well. I also love the reference to "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." Although I can't quite figure out what is said at the end, I'm pretty sure it says "Do A.I. dream of electric gray things?" Perhaps this is a reference to the battleships used in Darius. I'm not entirely sure.

Baiyon, known for his work on PixelJunk Eden, arranges "The world of spirit." Entitled, "A Soothing Sensation," it greatly contrasts with Mitsuda's. It's a very subtle theme that incorporates some vocaloid work and the melody, but for the most part, it's a house arrangement that one might here in the club. I enjoy the subtlety and the house beats and it's definitely a refreshing arrangement to hear given the more energetic electronica club-like arrangements.

Lastly, "The world of spirit Type zero (for A ZONE)," arranged by Tsuchiya," is what I consider the "bonus track" for this disc. It's a very nice theme, with some great industrial and Asian influences. In the end, it's definitely an extended version of the original with a great energy. It closes off the album quite nicely, in my opinion.


In the end, this idea of dual concepts for an arrange album works extremely well. I would love to see more arrange albums tackle this idea. Having one theme by two arrangers shows just how diverse the world of music is and how imagination is limitless when it comes to music. Both the first and second disc are marvelous and I really think that Tsuchiya's concept is really brought to life with the variety of arrangers featured. In the end, this is easily my favorite arrange album of 2010, so far, and I think it will be quite difficult to beat this one. Shohei Tsuchiya has expressed his feelings about wanting people all over the world to hear this album, so do yourself a favor and order this as soon as you can. There is something for everyone and you won't be disappointed.

Overall Score: 10/10