After inexplicably ignoring this album for the longest time I picked it up on the cheap as a random find at Book Off a while back. (Have I ever mentioned I love Book Off?)
First the question: What track from the OST is "Plastic Castle in the Air" arranged from, or is there one? I did a super-quick scan through the OST with no luck.
And the comment: This is a nice arranged album! Can't believe I let it slip past me for so long. Nice mix of instrumentals and vocals, lively and more quiet tracks, and all very much in the spirit of the first two OSTs. And the "Withered Earth" arrangement is *outstanding*. OST version - good, Asian Collection version - outstanding, Orrizonte version - equally outstanding but in a completely different way (closer to the OST).
The album needs another track or two the quality of Withered Earth or its other standout tracks (Amid the Silence, Captured Town, and Plastic Castle) to rank among my top favorites, but still I love arranged albums like this and Romancing Saga ~La Romance~ that take a small ensemble of talented musicians and do wonderful things with them.
FWIW this is, for me, the best Suikoden album of them all. I've heard 95% of them in passing, streamed or hanging out with my friend who is a huge Suiko-nut. I've probably bought about 30% of all Suikoden albums (OSTs and arranges). Orrizonte is the *only one* I've kept in my collection. I love every track on it. The a capella version of "Currents" gives me goosebumps, even in spite of the "Engrish" pronunciations.
I'm glad you took the time to check this one out, and lucky you getting it for a bargain price at Book-Off! I've bought Orrizonte twice over, and each time I believe it cost me at least $20, if not more.
Nice call on the original track for "Plastic Castle", Tim MC. Though I don't hear any resemblance in the main verse (maybe that part is completely original?) I can definitely hear how the chorus comes from "Heart-Softening Time" now that you mention it.
XISMZERO, I've never heard any GSIII tracks aside from the Asian Collection ones (which I found the weakest on the album) so can't comment on that.
Ramza you didn't even keep GSI OST? I've always considered the original the strongest of the Suikoden albums I've heard and just assumed it was a staple of most VGM collections.
I sold GS1 and GS2 OSTs around the same time (even had the LE for the latter with the box case), sometime during my final year of high school (fall '01 - spring '02).
I semi-regret it, and have even made offers and bids on GS1 OST in the last year or two. But hindsight only affords me so much, and really, there are only about 10 VGM albums that I bought a long time ago and still have that same copy today (Uncharted Waters II SE, Xenogears CREID, Metroid Prime/Fusion ... those are really all I can think of).
I agree with you that GS1's soundtrack is ridiculously good and well ahead of its time.
Suikoden III's soundtrack is one of the most disappointing experiences of my VGM listening career. Bland, generic and forgettable. It wasn't even good stock RPG music, much less a decent followup to the Suikoden 1 and 2 scores. It's one of the large reasons I've been so skeptical of Michiru Yamane for the longest time (although I was never the biggest fan of Nocturne in the Moonlight's soundtrack) It was literally so bad, I refused to play the game (and years later, I didn't get very far in it...I just got the storyline from online sources) You're not missing anything by just sticking to the arranged tracks.
The series hasn't really recovered its' former glory. IV is a mild step forward from III, Rhapsodia/Suikoden Tactics is about on par with IV, V has a couple good tracks surrounded in massive amounts of filler (although I enjoyed it alongside the game itself, which was a great throwback to I and II) and I didn't enjoy Tiekreis at all.