|Album Title:||Rasmus Faber Presents Platina Jazz ~Anime Standards Vol. 1~|
|Release Date:||November 25, 2009|
|Purchase at:||CDJapan, iTunes|
|1. Hare Hare Yukai||Ryo Kunihiko||1:29|
|2. Happy Material||Ryo Kunihiko||2:53|
|3. Genesis of Aquarion (feat. Emily McEwan)||Ryo Kunihiko||2:48|
|4. Seikan Hikou||Ryo Kunihiko||3:41|
|5. Mizu no Akashi||Ryo Kunihiko||1:18|
|6. Cosmos ni Kimito||Ryo Kunihiko||1:05|
|7. Carrying You||Ryo Kunihiko||2:15|
|8. Sora no Mukou||Ryo Kunihiko||2:58|
|9. Toki no Kioku||Ryo Kunihiko||2:52|
|10. Thanatos -If I Can’t Be Yours- (feat. Emily McEwan)||Ryo Kunihiko||1:21|
|11. Main Theme – The Wings of Honneamise||Ryo Kunihiko||3:27|
|12. Children of the Light (feat. Emily McEwan)||Ryo Kunihiko||2:46|
|13. Yumeiro No Spoon||Ryo Kunihiko||2:16|
|14. Fire Treasure||Ryo Kunihiko||2:24|
|15. Gaanetto||Ryo Kunihiko||2:08|
|16. Doll||Ryo Kunihiko||1:16|
|17. Sorae…||Ryo Kunihiko||1:10|
|18. Voices||Ryo Kunihiko||2:35|
Review: It’s a given that good arrange albums are going to be difficult to find and while I could have gone for some Gundam rock, my bent for jazz has me looking in that direction. So enter Platina Jazz, an album arranged by Swedish musician Rasmus Faber, which takes 18 pieces from a variety of anime, ranging from oldies like Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro to more recent fare like Macross Frontier. Its chronologically diverse lineup looks promising enough to spur my curiosity. And since it’s so different, why don’t we listen to the music in a laid-back, close-knit setting that complements the mood that Platina Jazz wants us to feel comfortable in. Let’s head over to the Fasching jazz club in Stockholm, Sweden, and watch the performers strut their stuff.
To start, this album settles us in with an arrangement of Haruhi’s “Hare Hare Yukai.” The original channeled its excitement through an addictive melody, but Platina Jazz departs from that by delivering calmer fare. Its moments of fun can still be heard, but the overriding goal, it seems, is to be relaxing, fitting in with the jazz club setting. So while it might not be faithful, it works as an atmosphere-setter.
The issue with faithfulness is not limited to “Hare Hare Yukai” either, but its success depends on the way the arrangement is executed. Energetic pieces like “Genesis of Aquarion” take on a mellower tone while Laputa’s “Carrying You” is more melancholy than breathtaking. The former shines through as a result of Emily McEwan’s job on the vocals, which guide us through the lyrics to bring out the feelings of love and sentimentality that lie at the heart of this song. McEwan’s contribution to this album is what pushes it up a few notches, and I’ll come back to explain why later.
Happy Material & Genesis of Aquarion
I also really liked the way Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-‘s ED “Doll” turned out. The original’s slow and relaxing melody makes way for Rasmus Faber’s burst of energy. The opening might have a menacing hint surrounding it, but once the rhythm kicks in, you’ll want to snap your fingers along with the upbeat arrangement. Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo’s “Garnet” (spelled as “Gaanetto”) is similarly more energetic and demonstrates that this departure can increase your appreciation for the original by exposing you to a subtle aspect of the piece made more apparent through creative arranging.
On the other hand, “Carrying You’s” tone isn’t as effective. Its sense of longing is maintained in the arrangement, and when you look at it holistically, it’s a solid, cohesive piece. However, the piece’s atmosphere is far too melancholy, and I would have preferred an arrangement that not only captures the forlorn tone of the original, but also that sense of awe and wonder evoked as the characters explore the floating city. The “Main Theme from Honneamise” didn’t catch my ear either and my attention drifted in and out as the piece played. It doesn’t help that I’m not familiar with Honneamise, and so, I could never get into this piece.
Carrying You & Main Theme from Honneamise
Even with these duds, there’s still a lot to like. Macross Frontier’s “Seikan Hikou” still carries the flashy, J-pop flair that the original possessed and the piano improvisation made for an enthralling experience all around. I was also won over by “Mizu no Akashi,” with its beautifully expressive jazz ballad. The warmth that emanates from the melody comes out ever so slowly, but it nails the wonderful, floaty feelings that leaves you soothed and comforted.
Mizu No Akashi
Though these tracks make Platina Jazz a consideration, its Emily McEwan’s work that really makes this album shine. I’ve already mentioned how well she conveys the “Genesis of Aquarion’s” sentiments, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Her frenetic sense of worry in the arrangement of “Thanatos -If I Can’t Be Yours-” along with the neurotic delivery perfectly reflects the original’s vibe. My favorite track by far brings out the hope and optimism in “Children of the Light.” The way the instrumentals are layered give it an orchestral touch along with an ethereal feeling, and once McEwan enters, her emotive singing and radiance lifts your troubles away, leaving you warm and happy from the experience.
There’s certainly room for improvement, and I think a large part of that can be corrected if more care was placed upon track selection and making sure the originals can survive the transition to jazz. Still, Platina Jazz’s chronological and stylistic diversity have managed to delight if not impress, and so, I hope that it is successful enough to warrant a Volume 2. I, for one, would love to see how far Faber’s creativity can extend should he work on any follow-ups.
Cosmos Ni Kimito, Fire Treasure, Toki No Kioku