Arrangement: Rasmus Faber Presents: Platina Jazz ~Anime Standards Vol. 1~ – Review

Album Title: Rasmus Faber Presents Platina Jazz ~Anime Standards Vol. 1~
Anime Title: Various
Artist: Rasmus Faber
Catalog Number: VICP-64778
Release Type: Arrangement
Release Date: November 25, 2009
Purchase at: CDJapan, iTunes


Tracklist

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Track Title Artist Time
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 »

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 »

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.

Seikan Hikou »

Seikan Hikou

Mizu No Akashi »

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 »

Cosmos Ni Kimito, Fire Treasure, Toki No Kioku

Rating: Good

About the author

zzeroparticle Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

12 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Reltair says:

    Good jazz songs, although it doesn’t sound like anime music anymore. Not that I don’t like it or anything.

  2. Hitoribocchi says:

    It’s nice that you took the time to review this album. I was dumbstruck as to its existence as I had not expected somebody to do mellowed songs from ani-songs (most remixes I hear are either metal rock, techno or something loud and frenetic).

    It’d be nice if you could put in a link as to where we could buy this album. The jazz concept has great potential, and if there’s any other way we could appreciate Rasmus’ work by purchasing his works, that’d be great.

  3. Omurqi says:

    These sorts of arrangements are fantastic if you know the original tracks well, which isn’t the case for me here.

    Nevertheless, that’s some very pleasant jazz right there. As Hitoribocchi said, it’s rare that you see jazz arrangement albums from anime music compared to some other genres. Nice find!

  4. Yi says:

    It’s so jazzy! In the right mood, this is really really nice.
    I don’t hear any anime in it though, but maybe it’s because I’m not too familiar with the originals either.

  5. To all: tossed a link to CDJapan way up top in the Album Info table, so if you want to go and purchase the album (and help me in the process), you can do so there. If you want to listen to more samples of the album, you can go ahead and do so here before you buy: http://www.neowing.co.jp/track_for_cdj.html?KEY=VICP-64778

    @Reltair
    You sound kinda tsundere there :3

    But yes, as several have noted, it helps if you’re familiar with the originals. When I wrote this post, I did go back and acquaint myself with them so that I could see how well they turned out.

    @Hitoribocchi
    Took care of that by putting in a link at the first table! Or, if you’re not too keen on scrolling up, I’ll put it here for good measure: CDJapan.

    And yeah, this is a nice change from all the trance/techno anime remix albums that I’ve come across, especially since I prefer more mellower fare than the UNTZ UNTZ UNTZ most of the time.

    @Omurqi
    I was fairly surprised to see this album and decided that it was something I really had to listen to just so I could see how well it flies. Managed to get a decent amount of mileage out of it.

    @Yi
    You might want to check out the way he arranged “Doll” from Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino since that’s one song you should hopefully be familiar with.

  6. Mizu no Akashi won me over. Amazing.

  7. @TwilightShiva
    I might not have heard the original in its proper context, but when jazzified, it’s definitely awesome in the way it hits all the moods just right. I’d say it’s one of the stronger tracks on the album!

  8. Reltair says:

    @zzeroparticle: Wow, reading my own comment now it does sound that way. Haha…

  9. Marcos G says:

    Really enjoyable. Improvement is a neighbor every musician and composer [unfortunately] knows. With that said, the pieces could be better… but for just relaxing to the music it does a mighty fine job.

  10. @Marcos G
    Yeah, it does just enough for me to like it, though it could progress to being awesome. I’m sure parts of it were because of the song selection; it might have gone differently if Rasmus Faber could have picked out the songs himself to arrange. As is, I think he did a good, not great job.

  11. lelangir says:

    I mean, what’s so anime about anime music? I feel like jazz has the ability to take in anime music because “pop” is so deeply engrained into swing and bebop. There’s a much deeper lineage between swing, bop, and later, more complex forms of jazz so that you can have an album with styles ranging from 1920-1970 and it can still be called “jazz” very easily (although this isn’t always the case). But anime music doesn’t necessarily have that luxury; IMO the things that make up its genre are more rigid. Like, take Renai Circulation (super hardcore ‘sugar pop’ in general). I think it’d be damn near impossible to make a jazz arrangement out of that. Likewise, take Inner Urge. Impossible to turn it into an anime song. The tunes arranged here are “inbetween,” they are pop melodies, but harmonically complex enough (but not too complex; jazz can make it more complex anyway) to float ambiguously around genres. Say, Tabi no Tochuu; I think it could make a great minor swing waltz.

    • zzeroparticle says:

      @lelangir
      The question now is whether Rasmus Faber is taking any requests. That’d be kinda cool if he’ll magically stumble upon this review and do something for Platina Jazz vol. 3!

      As for the Inner Urge track you linked, yeah, it does lack the sort of high-energy that characterizes most anisongs. Maybe it could work in mellower tones, but until someone can set animation that complements that, it’s not likely. Rhapsody in Blue though? Fantasia proves it capable of working in tandem with animation.

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