Sometimes people break the mould, do something different, something original, something inspired. Medley’s of songs have always been a staple of video game arrangements, maybe not so much now, but in remixes and arrangements from a decade ago and beyond. However an arrangement that still divides people over 10 years later as much as it probably did back then must be given credit for breaking the mould.
Hiroki Kikuta, an extraordinary talent (severely underrated/underused in today’s VGM world despite making a comeback on his own label) gave us “Secret of Mana +” – a single track arrangement of his Secret of Mana soundtrack that is 50 minutes long!
After an almost space odyssey introduction, the ambience of tweeting birds and beautiful electric keyboards take over and off you will go on a journey. The arrangements of various songs throughout this trip are both beautiful and original. There is real thought into how each piece transitions into the next one and they are all smooth and brilliantly executed.
The originality comes from some excellent use of various household objects around us. Phone key tones bleeps, pinging cash registers, flicked tables, ringing telephones, outside ambience, animal noises… it all lends a hand to create a unique world to have the music housed in.
As for the actual sound, it is very much of its mid 1990’s time. It sounds dated in places but to no extent is it ever really horribly dated. It just helps its unique tone.
I won’t spoil how arrangements are done but they are very true to the originals of the soundtrack, and I think the main criticism of “but you can’t fast forward to your favourite arrangement” is very much missing the whole point of the CD. You have to experience it as a whole piece to appreciate your favourite parts more. Sure on hindsight it would have been nice to keep everything seamless and just insert places to start off on a cd, but this is an artistic cd. It won’t appeal to everyone and its easy to see why, but when an artist goes the whole hog on an idea, its refreshing to see there is no compromise. A daring thing to do in a commercial age and we should all congratulate Kikuta for his uncompromising genius.