Piano Collections – Kingdom Hearts Field & Battle

March 20, 2010 at 8:09 pm (Soundtracks) (, , )

1. Scherzo Caprice on a Theme of Never Land
2. Sinister Sundown
3. Wonderland’s Surprises
4. Lazy Afternoons
5. Night of Fate
6. A Very Small Wish – Monstrous Monstro
7. Hollow Bastion
8. Medley of Conflict
9. Musique pour la tristesse de Xion

The second Piano Collections album for Kingdom Hearts was released not even a year later, and understandably had fewer tracks (and a lower price tag to go with that).  Focusing more on world themes rather than character themes, Field and Battle is able to do a bit of meshing together to create more interesting and less repetitive tracks (in comparison to the previous collection). Which is definitely a good thing.

As a note, all of the arrangers and performers here are the same as the previous album, save for the new guy who plays “Night of Fate”.

Starting off the album is a new song from Birth by Sleep. The “scherzo” of the album is definitely a fun happy scherzo this time, and it’s not that bad at all. I’m not a big fan of it though, partly because I have no emotional connection to it’s source track.

“Sinister Sundown” was released a few months prior to the album as a prototype sampler, and it was…pretty well what we expected. Unneeded runs, and repetition, even for its short length. It didn’t get amazingly better with the final version, but it’s not a bad track; it’s just the worst of the album. A few awkward transitions, and a very awkward placement of Roxas’ theme in the middle (where as in “Sora” from the last album, it fit in very well). It’s pretty meh, impressive as it is.

But here things really pick up. “Wonderland’s Surprises” works well because it mixes both the regular field theme with the battle theme, keeping it from becoming too repetitive. That said, there still is a bit of repetition on there, and they could have cut off an extra section at the end to help that. But this is an amazing arrangement. It’s very fun and light, and the name works too well, since the switches between the field and battle theme are abrupt. And then there’s that delightful midsection that’s full of damper pedal…have I mentioned before that I love damper pedal? Because I do. Anyways, there are a few unneeded runs here too, I will admit, but it’s not so bad. Great track.

When I first heard the sample, I said no. “Lazy Afternoons” did not appear to transfer well to the piano. It just sounded so empty and not quite as soft and relaxing as the original. But when I heard the whole track, I pretty much melted. Sure, it sounds like they’re playing it a bit harder than they should be, but it’s all fine and dandy. The source material was great, so there are no problems with repetition here. And since it’s a soft track, there isn’t a problem of showing off either. The arrangement was much better than I had hoped, and I absolutely love it.

Onto another battle theme. “Night of Fate” starts off as one of those arrangements I don’t really like. Full of stacattos and no pedal. Ew. These arrangements always seem to make me cringe, because they sound so much like MIDI files, and they’re really jumpy. It’s also got a short source track, so it’s a repetition of the same tune. But as the song gets going, there’s definitely enough pedal and dynamic changes to make it really good and interesting and less repetitive. And sure, this song is another ridiculous hard song from the sounds of it, but it’s so awesome that I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt. Everything just sounds so impressive, and by the time the ending comes along, I wonder if they didn’t get a new guy to play the song because the other players weren’t up to par. Seriously.

“A Very Small Wish – Monstrous Monstro” is similar to “Wonderland’s Surprises” in that it combines the field and battle themes of Monstro (as you can see in the name of the song). Which means less repetition, yay. Anyways, the track is actually a lot better than I expected it to be, not being a fan of the original songs. I much prefer the later half of the song though, which is quick paced and impressive, but not show-offy. Lots of banging chords, which I tend to enjoy as well. I’m not so sure that I approve of those changes in dynamics though (from really hard to really soft) but it’s interesting at least.

Ah, I was so looking forward to “Hollow Bastion”. The preview sounded spectacular, but sadly they didn’t mesh in the battle theme, so it’s extremely repetitive. Take the song in parts though and it’s great, but as a whole it doesn’t really go anywhere. I actually wish that they showed off a bit more here to add more variation, but no…

I didn’t like “Medley of Conflict” at all from the initial sample, because the arrangement was so basic that it could’ve been a MIDI file. The whole song eventually grew on me though, since it’s a great collection of many tracks, keeping “The Encounter” as the underlying melody (which was pretty creative). Sure, some parts still sound like MIDI’s, but others are quite impressive and I like them. It’s not too plagued with excessive runs, but the slowing down to transition between songs seemed to cut into the song too much (especially since they do it twice). But anyways, it’s not really that bad at all, and it’s not repetitive at all, so that’s a really good thing.

Ending off the album is and arrangement of “Xion’s Theme”. And how fitting, because it is a beautiful theme. Again we’ve got a mesh of the basic theme and the battle theme (which also mixes together Kairi’s theme and “Dearly Beloved”). The song starts off soft as expected, and then quickly goes into a slew of triplets (mixed with 8th’s so it’s a huge pain to play), which, while they are beautiful, seem like they’re coming in too early. The song all of a sudden becomes dramatic very quickly, and I feel that there should’ve been a longer section for the soft part of the theme (even though the song is already long). But anyways, that aside, the rest of the arrangement is very endearing, and I like that they used chords instead of arpeggios for the climax of the song (so it isn’t extremely hard to play, and is more easily accessible to the lower grades…sort of). There is a tad awkwardness though in the arrangement, such as one of the sudden key changes and the transition to the boss theme. And “Dearly Beloved” got too long of a part in the song, but it’s not entirely a big deal. As a whole, it’s still an amazing track with plenty of epicness and sadness, and it’s a great way to end the album.

So all in all, the album did pretty well, given it’s length. There was definitely an improvement from the last album. Less show-offy runs, more emotion and substance. Less repetition, more themes meshed together (and properly done, too), and love for some of the lesser known themes in the games. I was definitely left wanting more (in a good way). But I mean really, we’re still missing some of the best songs from the series (“Destati”, “Destiny Islands”, etc) so I’m sure there will be another one. And they’ll have improved more, I’m sure.

Oh and the cover art is pretty nice, although the booklet is a little smaller than I’d hoped.

8.4/10

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