Chrono Trigger Symphony Volume 1
|Type||Orchestral arrangement of music from Chrono Trigger|
|Artist||Blake Robinson/Synthetic Orchestra|
|Album||Chrono Trigger Symphony Volume 1|
|Genre||Symphonic, Orchestral, Rock|
|Release Date||August 22nd 2013|
Firstly a bit of background information. The original soundtrack from Chrono Trigger was released on the ‘Super Nintendo Entertainment System’ in 1995 and composed Yasunori Mitsuda, Nobuo Uematsu and Noriko Matsueda. The soundtrack remains both a personal favourite of mine and loved by many other fans of the game. Since it’s release it has been covered and arranged extensively by other artists such as: ‘Chrono Symphonic’ by the guys at OCRemix, ‘Play! A Video Game symphony’, Video Games live, Symphonic Fantasies and various Youtube users. So it would seem that Blake has much competition and a high standard to live up to. Fortunately, this album maintains the standard that has been set so far and on some of the tracks even go far beyond it. Blake has chosen to arrange all 23 tracks from the first Disc of the original Chrono Trigger release and in the same order.
GENRE/STYLE – As the title of the album suggests, it features the music from the video game Chrono Trigger as if were played by a live symphonic orchestra. The style is reminiscent of modern Hollywood film soundtracks and even hints of The Romantic era of Classical music. Due to the original album featuring a variety of styles, moods and compositional techniques you can expect to a similar amount variety in this version.
ARRANGEMENT – Arrangement-wise most songs seem to fall into one of two categories. The first is those that seem to be standard reorchestrations of the original songs with updated sounds such as ‘The Chrono Trigger Symphony’. Some tracks, however, have been developed even further with additional material being added and variations on themes. I particularly like how he included (where others might of left them out) some of the shorter tracks from the original album (which are probably better described as ‘stingers’ or ‘fanfares’) and then developed upon these ideas to create longer tracks. ‘Goodnight’, ‘Huh’, ‘A Prayer for the Wayfarer’ and ‘Fanfare 1’ are great examples of this. There is a great variety of dynamics and textures throughout the tracks which adds interest to the ears of the listener. Songs such as ‘Morning Glow’ and ‘Yearnings of the Wind’ are both melodic, relaxing and nothing short of beautiful. Other tracks like ‘Guardia Castle – Pride and Glory’, ‘Boss Battle 1’ and ‘Frog’s Theme’ are the higher energy and more powerful arrangements which are just great to listen to.
INSTRUMENTATION – Although most songs feature instruments you would normally associate with a standard orchestra (strings, wind, brass, percussion), other instruments are also present on some of the songs to remain faithful to the original. Examples of this are distorted rhythm guitars on ‘Boss Battle 1’, an accordion on ‘Guardia’s Millenial Fair’ and also a ticking clock sound appears on ‘A Premonition’.
PRODUCTION – While many songs share similar arrangements when compared to their original counterpart, an obvious difference that immediately stands out on the whole album is the production. When compared sonically with the original, it is richer, crisper and clearer with the overall effect sounding far more similar to a live orchestra. The sounds are well balanced and its easy to make out all the instruments playing their parts. I think this is in part due to Blake’s great production skills and high quality samples used in the making of this album.
CRITICISM – When thinking about criticisms or suggested improvements to the album I was having a hard time thinking of any due to being overall very impressed. I could only come up with two. Firstly, I would liked to have seen longer versions of some of the tracks as they are somewhat on the short side and it’s a shame that Blake didn’t develop and expand on them even more. Several examples of this are Morning Glow (1 Minute 20 seconds), Peaceful Days (1 Minute 15 seconds), Frog’s Theme (1 Minute 10 seconds). Frog’s Theme was one of my favourites from the original and it’s a shame that it wasn’t developed further and expanded upon. The other problem, which is perhaps more subjective and others may disagree, is the lack of arrangement and development of some of the tracks. While the overall sound quality is definitely an improvement, it might have been interesting to hear new takes on the direction on some of the songs.
Gato’s Song – I’m not sure what it is I like about this track. Perhaps the image of a dancing robot to a orchestra playing his theme, the general upbeat and almost comical sound to the song or the great use of orchestral instruments and dynamics that develop the theme as it progresses. Either way, this song stands out as one of my favourites from the album.
Secret of the Forest – I already loved the original and this version does it justice. While it stays mostly similar to the original, there are some additions such as the picked acoustic guitar, french horn counter melodies, and pizzicato strings in the middle section.
Boss Battle 1 – Possibly the loudest and most intense of all the songs. This song really shines with a full symphonic orchestra and rock guitars, but with addition of choirs as the song develops takes it over the edge and ends up ripping a hole in the space-time continuum due to it’s epicness (see what I did there?).
Rating – 9/10
Overall it’s a really great album that pays tribute to the original soundtrack of Chrono Trigger. Some songs go above and beyond what you might expect from this type of album, but unfortunately a few fall on the short side with limited development and creativity. So bearing all this in mind, I give this album a 9/10.