I do enjoy video game music, as many of you will know, and I also love a rearrangement. When I heard Scarlet Moon Record’s had got together various composers for a short and fun Christmas album I was curious to see how rearrangements would go beyond adding sleigh bells to beloved tracks.
Vince DiCola’s “Jingle Bells” is a sweet jazzy rendition with smooth bass, electric piano and a hint of ice. I particularly like the different pacing of the theme all housed inside a single track. Mustin’s “Christmas Garden” from Yoshi’s Island is full of triangles, church bells and has a cute marching drum beat to feel festive to whilst wrapping presents. Dale North’s “Peaceful Christmas” comes from Chrono Trigger and its live piano sounds like it was recorded in a huge echo room as gentle synths underpin a gentle lullabye. Osamu Kotaba’s “Some Small Hope” is a gorgeously traditional string arrangement of Cherbic Hymn. I always find a lot of religious music is never truly joyous and this has some sinister undertones for me even if it’s meant to be angelic!
Hiroki Kikuta’s “Angels We Heard on High” is cute, bouncy, airy and full of life. Pizzicato strings, choral samples and enough sleigh bells to slay a reindeer make this a particular stand out for me. An interesting inclusion is Robyn Miller reinventing his own Myst track with “Christmas Comes To Myst”. The once ambient drones take on a more abstract melodic quality with all the added atmospherics and it’s a genuinely surprising reimaginging I completely approve of. Justin Lassan’s take on “Rainbow Road” from Mario Kart 64 brings some much-needed electronic euphoria to events with easily the most unabridged celebratory track on the album before Goomin Nan’s sumptuous rendition of Final Fantasy IX’s “Melodies of Life” on piano slows us down to remember loved ones. Other instruments join in too but the biggest band effort comes from the closing track from Materia. “Aspertia 2 – Winter” from Pokemon White and Black 2 is a full on rock jazz band jamming out the blues with plenty of tuned percussion to give the Chrimbo spirit.
A varied and often non traditional approach to Christmas arrangements of game themes is most definitely welcomed here. These things are not always everyone’s cup of mulled wine, but this album is a fine example of arrangements regardless of theme and actually has got me in the mood to finish wrapping my presents. Toodles!
Recommended Track : Angels We Heard on High