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Istoria ~Musa~ :: Review by Don

Istoria ~Musa~ Album Title: Istoria ~Musa~
Record Label: Vagrancy
Catalog No.: AURA-0013
Release Date: December 29, 2007
Purchase: Buy at Amazon Japan


What do you get when you combine Akiko Shikata (famed vocalist for the Ar Tonelico series), Yoshitaka Hirota (of Shadow Hearts fame), Kenji Ito (from the SaGa and Mana series), Bermei Inazama (who has arranged for beatmania IIDX), Masato Kouda (of Devil May Cry and Wild Arms renown), and Kitaro (legendary musician)? You get this album. Full of big names, how does this original musical work turn out?


Although Akiko Shikata only composes two of the tracks on the album, she contributes her voice to two others as well. Her two compositions, "Kalliope" and "Erato", remind me of the Gust Sound Team. They have a fresh feel combining vocals with Celtic instrumentation. There is definitely something to be said about her compositional skills. She is able to combine a multitude of instruments and her pure vocals to create magical melodies.

Ironically, Hirota's sole contribution, "Terpsichora," aside from the vocals, doesn't sound like him at all. Hints of the Shadow Hearts series can be heard, but at the same time, I love the combination of Middle Eastern influence as well as the Celtic influence. The instrumentation is lush, Akiko Shikata's voice is marvelous, and the guitar sections just ooze emotion. It's probably my favorite piece on the album.

Now, when I think Kenji Ito, I do NOT think of "Polymnia." Had I not known this was him, I definitely wouldn't believe it if I was told it. This beautiful composition, again accompanied by Akiko Shikata's vocals, is comprised mainly of piano and a layered vocal line. It's a very ethereal and heartwarming track. Honestly, if Ito could do this on his normal albums, he'd be amazing.

My one gripe with this album is the electronic opening to Bermei Inazawa's "Ourania." It's just so high-pitched and annoying. Once that passes, the track is much better. This arrangement has a very jazzy feel to it, and I absolutely love the piano line. As with many of the tracks on this album, the instrumentation really makes the track.

That brings us to Kitaro, who has done numerous solo albums of his own. His tracks, "Euterpe" and "Thaleia," have a very rudimentary Celtic folk feel to them. Both pieces are extremely playful, and although they rely on the same instrumentation, it's amazing to hear the extreme differences between them. These are, without a doubt, the best Celtic styled pieces on the album. It's a bit disturbing in "Thaleia" to hear some high-pitched sound effects, but it's not distracting at all.

Finally, Masato Kouda offers us the most ambient of the tracks with "Kleio" and "Melpomene." The former has a very holy atmosphere fear about it. The instrumentation, focusing mainly on strings, helps to create a beautiful atmosphere. It's easily my favorite of his. His other track, "Melpomene," is a very nice piano based composition with hints of smooth jazz and classical influence. It's another stellar performance.


To sum things up, aside from the opening in "Ourania," this album is extremely pleasing. Although a lot of the pieces have a Celtic sound to them, the diversity between them is amazing. Akiko Shikata really knew what she wanted when she made this album. All the composers really put forth their best effort to create a magical listening experience. This album comes highly recommended!

Overall Score: 9/10