Blake Robinson apparently developed a taste for full-length album arrangements. After Super Metroid Symphony and Banjo-Kazooie Symphony, the British arranger chose Chrono Trigger as his next challenge. Mitsuda’s much-acclaimed work has had its fair share of interpretations, although they were mainly partial and incomplete. Robinson, on the other hand, vowed to create a full orchestration of the entire soundtrack divided into three parts: a deed worth of a live orchestra. Volume 1 proves that he is, indeed, a man of his word.
Iconic themes, graceful sounds and vivid melodies – Chrono Trigger OSV is one of the classic Japanese SNES bastions. The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra attacks it with the arsenal of its great-sounding samples. In the realm of arrangements, there’s but a thin line between staying on the safe side and letting loose of the reins of imagination, so yes, on the one hand, we get A Premonition and Chrono Trigger, but on the other hand, there’s still plenty of room for tailor-made music. Robinson infuses Chrono Trigger with his own style, but in a subtle, non-overwhelming way, respectful of the original. What we hear wafting from the speakers is a richness of sounds, which don’t sound synthetic at all.
There are more radical changes as well, and these add some spice to the whole album. The catchy, if a bit “crude”, Gato’s Song became a theme worth of Symphonic Fantasies concerts, and the jingles were developed into full-length tracks (A Prayer To The Road That Leads, Goodnight, Huh). The composer generously ornaments the music with fanfares, keyboard and wind instruments, and knows exactly where to add choir parts (A Prayer To The Road That Leads, Frog’s Theme, Manoria Catherdral).
Mitsuda’s classic SNES tunes are a priceless gem of the game music canon, which doesn’t mean you have put in on a pedestal and be afraid of ever touching it. When it comes to music interpretations, it’s no holds barred (OCRemix, ‘nuff said), it’s the result that matters. Robinson approached Chrono Trigger with due respect and conservatism, but not without leaving himself some room for creativity, necessary to breathe a spirit of innovation into some of the tracks, long forgotten by arrangement makers. The fans of the original music have no reason to be disappointed: Chrono Trigger was given a new life. The album is also a must-have for those whose appetites were whetted by the Symphonic Fantasies suites. It is sure worth waiting for Volume 2, which is coming in September.
Special thanks to Marcin Moń (FTL Translations).