Now this is a bizarre concept. The Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Deluxe Pack came with a mini-album and an incense set. The contrasting scents of the five incense sticks are meant to complement the infusions found within each of the five pieces of music. Although the incense concept won't be worthwhile for most, there are nevertheless some exclusive tracks to be found within the package. Could it be possible worthwhile buying even for those who don't bother with olfactory rituals?
There are two tracks on this release taken directly from the game, "Heretic Mansion" and "Title Loop 2". Both were quite accomplished in the first place, so perhaps there was no need to improve them, although it seems somewhat lazy nonetheless. Equivalent to the "Cathedral of Shadows -Bright-" theme, the former is a clichéd yet excellent organ-based theme. Contrary to Tsukasa Masuko's themes in the past, it sounds like Kenichi Tsuchiya has complete command over the instrument and the counterpoint is very well done this time. At the end of the release, "Title Loop 2" provides enjoyment with its upbeat electric guitar work and soothing soundscapes. However, there are sinister undertones throughout that culminate in a particularly chilling section.
There were also two arrangements exclusively added to the release. "Kabuchicho" is a straightforward rendition of the original chillout except with a faster pace and more percussive edge. A few forces are added during the five minute playtime to ensure a relatively dynamic soundscape although it does become quite repetitive. The faster variation of "Recovery Spring" has a little more going for it. The core of the track is built around exotic woodwinds, gorgeous piano chords, and relaxing beats, though there are violin and guitar solos to add to the colour and variety. These arrangements may have been too conservative for a prospective arranged album, but are about right for a bonus package — definite enhancements yet still recognisable.
Finally, there is "Ikebukuro's Disco". This track was used during the appropriately named event scene in the game, but was never released on the actual commercial soundtrack. It's a shame too as it's a pretty exciting piece featuring a blend of techno beats and industrial noise. Given Meguro is the composer behind it, it tends to have quite a unique identity rather than being derivative, although it does get repetitive after a while.
It certainly takes an unusual consumer to care for the contents of the Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Deluxe Pack. I have no idea why someone would choose to burn incense while listening to dark music, but it sounds very much like a select interest to me. Likewise, there are probably few out there who would really treasure the album. It feels like a sloppy compilation of previously released and unreleased original tracks and arrangements rather than a true insight or enhancement of the original score. Most can safely skip this release in favour of the full soundtrack, though obsessive dual collectors of soundtracks and incense sticks really should pick this one up. Anyone out there?