GAME: Game & Anime Music Emotions - Soundtrack Review

There is nothing like a GAME

Track Listing
Disc 1
1.Scars of Time
3.The Athlete's Rag
4.Cruel Angel's Thesis
5.Frog's Theme
6.Decisive Battle With Magus
7.Sadness and Sorrrow
8.Vamo'alla Flamenco
9.Korobeiniki (Tetris Theme)
11.Dr. Wily's Castle Stage 1
12.Every Heart
13.1000 Words
14.Kiss Me Goodbye
15.The Prelude
16.Ending Theme
17.Final Fantasy Battle Medley
18.Boss Battle
Total Playtime: 00:49:24

"GAME is nothing short of a masterpiece."
Michael 'pianosquall' Gluck
Yasunori Mitsuda
Nobuo Uematsu
Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi
Michael 'pianosquall' Gluck

It has always been common practice for musicians to arrange their favorite tunes and replay them for their friends, family or locally. This practice saw a boom within the videogame world with the advent of the internet. Communities gathered and places like OverClocked Remix and RPGamer's: The Music Box, popped up giving remixers a place to share their arrangements. Videogame music gave remixers the opportunity to explore every facet of composition, with many different styles and instrumentations, with the favorite arguably being the piano. Piano arrangement albums are not entirely uncommon, and most videogame audiophiles appreciate hearing their favorite tunes moved from initially weak digital samples to the warm acoustical setting of the piano. Michael 'pianosquall' Gluck, a popular cosplaying pianist and entertainer, debuts with his first album: an eighteen-track game and anime compilation featuring works for solo piano.

The album, fully titled as GAME: Game & Anime Music Emotions, explores a wide selection of tracks from many albums, with the RPG tracks being almost exclusive to those composed by Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu, with "1000 Words" of Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi being the only exception. Other games and anime include tracks from, Tetris, Megaman II, Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, InuYasha, Cowboy Bebop, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Included as a bonus is an original composition of Michael Gluck and Michael Huang entitled "Boss Battle."

GAME opens with Scars of Time of Chrono Cross and transitions nicely to another opening theme, this time Tank! from Yoko Kanno's Cowboy Bebop. Two great selections to open the album with, as they display completely different genres of music in composition and performance. The Athlete's Rag, the virtuosic showpiece of the videogame music world, is executed well, especially in the prominent left hand baseline and crisp articulation. Next, Cruel Angel's Thesis, takes a softer approach to the upbeat anime intro, and lets Michael Gluck begin to introduce the "Music Emotions" portion of the subtitle with a very convincingly emotional performance.

Frog's Theme and Decisive Battle with Magus are two great remixes, but are disappointingly short. I would have preferred one of the songs had been given the full treatment while the other was scrapped, in favor of two one-minute shorts.

Following Chrono Trigger is Sadness and Sorrow, from the anime Naruto, which returns to more expansive arrangements and once again, Michael shows that music is not just a bunch of notes and fingerings, but a language that speaks through the emotions it invokes. The Vamo' alla Flamenco of Final Fantasy IX is an exciting arrangement that shows that music does not need to be slow or sad to inspire a certain response.

The Korobeiniki of Tetris is the quintessential arrangement of the tune, while Bratja of Fullmetal Alchemist pulls at your heart strings with another beautiful performance. Dr. Wily's Castle Stage 1 is a fine arrangement and great performance of this gem of the 8-bit world, with the slow build to the finale being one of the finest moments of the album. 1000 words and Kiss me Goodbye are fantastically orchestrated for solo piano direct from the vocal versions, and continue the standard set by Every Heart to convey the message of love.

The Prelude & Ending Theme are faithful reproductions of the originals, that neither disappoint nor try anything new. The real meat and potatoes of the album comes in the form of the near twelve minute recording of pianosquall's Final Fantasy Battle Medley. There are videos floating around YouTube, and demos posted on Michael's website, but the true recording is here on GAME. The medley combines nine favorite battle and boss themes of Final Fantasy IV through X, culminating in the famous victory fanfare. A true feat is accomplished on the piano, with many of the transitions between themes being flawless and expertly composed. The only awkward transition of note is between the fight theme of Final Fantasy IV and the battle theme of Final Fantasy X, though it does not detract from the overall experience. The album rounds out with an original composition that feels slightly out of place without the keys of the piano, but feels right at home as a boss theme.

As far as production and sound quality is concerned, the piano sounds crisp and live, although it could have benefitted from a little more bottom to the sound. Production value is top notch. Michael 'pianosquall' Gluck has accomplished a feat that I hope can only inspire more to follow. With a track list as diversified as GAME's and performances that succeed in drawing you into the wonderful world of game and anime music, GAME is nothing short of a masterpiece. With 20% of sales going towards the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and a $10 price tag, GAME is a must-have.

Sound Quality
Production Value
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