What does Rozen sound like?
An acoustic arrangement album of Ghibli movie themes.
The review of Rozen – Ghibli Secret Hideaway
Part of the joy of watching a Studio Ghibli film is that you’ll often have a Joe Hisaishi soundtrack oozing all kinds of atmosphere throughout them. Joe’s influence on the movie is often a quintessential part of the haloed days of Ghibli. Rozen seems to think so too, as they’ve taken 15 tracks from various themes from 1986 – 2013 and arranged them lovingly.
The beauty of these arrangements comes from their rootsy rusticness. They feel like they could come from a slow Japanese country village at times although they are bristling with life and buoyancy. From the Parisian accordion and guitar version of “Merry-Go-Round-of-Life” (Howl’s Moving Castle) to the playful finger-picked strings of “Hey Let’s Go” (My Neighbour Totoro), there is often a jaunty innocence to Rozen’s arrangements. The breezy flutes and rustles from “Always With Me” (Spirited Away) equally feels warm and homely and that vibe carries across the whole album.
Rozen doesn’t add any additional motifs or embellishments. Instead, it’s the crystal clear instrumentation that does a lot of the transformative work. The sumptuous bells, marimba and kokyu violin styles of “The Path of the Wind” create a dream to wade through. That same instrument collection is joined with metal bells and zithers for a stunning version of “The Legend of Ashitaka” (Princess Mononoke). It conveys the power and drama on a smaller scale than the original symphonic approach but it is no less potent. Indeed the Princess Mononoke theme transcribed into a piano and dulcimer rendition hits the mark excellently too. The accordion pops out for the sunnier tracks and “A Journey(A Dream of Flight)” (The Wind Rises) is a particularly bittersweet arrangement. It moves from heart swell zest to tip-toe outro in style.
Fans of Joe Hisaishi and Studio Ghibli will adore this collection. Whilst it stays largely safe with the best-known themes, Rozen works his magic in a way that makes the instrumentation become the arrangement. Much like the earlier Final Fantasy Piano Collections or Acoustic Collections, they didn’t reinterpret the themes. Hearing them laid out differently was enough. This is a great arrangement collection that I hope allows Rozen to explore some of the lesser-known themes in a future companion piece at a later point, if I were greedy and asking! Beautiful and warming.
Recommended track: Merry-Go-Round-of-Life
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