|Anime Title:||Angel Beats!, Air, Kanon, Clannad|
|Artist:||TAM, Jun Maeda|
|Release Date:||August 14, 2010|
|1. My Soul, Your Beats||TAM, Jun Maeda||4:00|
|2. Brave Song||TAM, Jun Maeda||1:32|
|3. Ichiban no Takaramono||TAM, Jun Maeda||3:13|
|4. Crow Song||TAM, Jun Maeda||3:36|
|5. Alchemy||TAM, Jun Maeda||3:37|
|6. My Song||TAM, Jun Maeda||2:33|
|7. My Soul, Your Beats! (Angel Ver.)||TAM, Jun Maeda||5:42|
|8. Brave Song (Angel Ver.)||TAM, Jun Maeda||7:21|
|9. Ichiban no Takaramono (Angel Ver.)||TAM, Jun Maeda||4:20|
|10. Promise (Kanon)||TAM, Jun Maeda||1:32|
|11. Natsukage (Air)||TAM, Jun Maeda||3:12|
|12. Nagisa (Clannad)||TAM, Jun Maeda||2:26|
Review: TAMUSIC is notorious for taking perfectly serviceable pieces from visual novels, Touhou games, and anime music, filtering out all traces of what made the piece interesting to begin with, and arranging it to the blandest violin music you’ll likely ever come across. Somehow, their Angel Beats! arrange album avoids the specter of boredom that characterized their previous works, but just because this album is a massive improvement doesn’t make it good. Still, I’ll take it since Angel’s tracks succeed in catching my interest rather than put me into a stupor.
It’s still a long ways from being superb though. TAMUSIC has no grasp for composing music suitable for two violins. Their arrangement of the OP for two violins only works when the violins are playing the same melody in unison. Otherwise, good luck making heads or tails of the clashing tones in “My Soul, Your Beats!” When each violin veers off onto a separate melody, the cacophonous result is unbearable and comes pretty close to violating my musical sensibilities.
My Soul, Your Beats![audio:01 tamangel.mp3]
“Brave Song” doesn’t suffer that bad a fate, but I suspect that’s because the arrangement is more straightforward, and so, still fails to appeal to me because of TAM’s lack of creativity even if the jarring violin duo is toned down. The piece sounds like a straight-up violin transcription of the original, except slightly blander and I just wished they’d put more effort and emotion into their music.
In the Girls Dead Monster tracks, TAMUSIC doesn’t seem to realize that just because a song exists doesn’t mean that it can be easily arranged for violin and unfortunately, TAM doesn’t have the musical talent to elevate the arrangements beyond inoffensive blandness. “Crow Song’s” execution borders on clumsy at times, since it never has quite the energy that the original strove for and its melancholy take is not compelling, “Alchemy” is decent, but too close to the original to warrant notice, and “My Song” doesn’t deviate from the original much while its violins are at their most grating in this piece more so than in any other.
Crow Song[audio:04 tamangel.mp3]
The three tracks that keep this album from becoming a tedious listening exercise are the Angel versions of the OP, ED, and the insert song, “Ichiban no Takaramono.” These tracks have me utterly convinced that TAMUSIC can make good music; all they have to do is to let the piano take the reins or let one violin propel the melody forwards while the piano stays in the background. Making such pieces sound good is no easy task when you consider that Angel Beats! soundtrack itself has piano arrangements which have set a very high bar, but they have done it.
Ichiban no Takaramono (Angel Ver.)[audio:09 tamangel.mp3]
“My Soul, Your Beats!” starts out slowly, taking its time to build up and develop its melody, and as it does so, I’m swept in by how well the entire piece is put together. The piano’s pace, with its light touches, is rich in emotion as it conveys its love through its serene, poignant delivery. Its efforts at deviating from the original through a few bars of improvisation feel like a welcoming departure from the blandness of the previous tracks. “Brave Song (Angel Ver.)” isn’t that different from the original, but its intro, while long, helps set the piece’s foundation wonderfully, putting all of the loving emotions out in the open to help immerse you into its warm sentiments.
Brave Song (Angel Ver.)[audio:08 tamangel.mp3]
Angel Beats!’s music is joined by three tracks from Key’s visual novels. These pieces feel more like a return to TAMUSIC’s bad form; the violins are a bit overbearing, especially in “Promise,” which would have done better to let the piano take charge of the whole thing. “Natsukage” isn’t that bad, but I feel that TAM’s approach is a little off somehow. Perhaps its stately air feels like a mismatch and that a poignant approach would have worked better in being true to the original’s spirit. Finally, “Nagisa” has most of the touches of the original and here, the violins aren’t too obtrusive, making it a decent way to finish the album out altogether.
Nagisa (Clannad)[audio:12 tamangel.mp3]
The most surprising part about this album was that it proved to be a listenable experience though the reasons for why that is can range from them improving musically or because Jun Maeda’s music is difficult to ruin. Whatever reason it is, Angel is TAMUSIC’s best work in recent memory. Sure, that statement might not mean much, but any step towards improvement is a positive one. Now whether they can keep up that momentum, we’ll have to see.