Amongst the assortment of Ys soundtracks in game music land, "Music from Ys - Renewal" seems to get lost in the shuffle. The album isn't orchestral like the Ys symphonies, nor is it guitar-laden power rock as in the Perfect Collections. Perhaps the best comparison would be to the regular Music from Ys CD, in that it features many short tracks based closely on the original versions. However the synth instrumentation in Renewal has been upgraded substantially, and though it's still not on the level of the best Ys albums, it's good enough to warrant consideration from Ys fans.
As Falcom's own web site once stated, Renewal contains the original compositions from Ys I in a more "futuristic" tone. In tracks like the ever-present "Feena", this means whispy, airy-sounding synths with crisp percussion and synthey bass. "Tears of Sylph" features a synthetic hybrid of wind and angelic chorus. Mega Man fans will be surprised to occasionally hear drum samples straight out of that classic series.
People who can't stand synth will surely not appreciate the sound. Most of Renewal's synth bears little resemblance to real instruments, and some of the synth horn samples in particular can sound obnoxious, as in the very anime-like "See You Again". However the synth flute and chime samples are captivating at times, and some of the purely electronic instruments do manage to impress.
Many of the themes here have been arranged in the Ys symphony and Perfect Collection albums, and though Renewal's versions generally fall well short of those others, in a few instances they do serve as interesting alternate takes. Most impressive is Renewal's version of "The Last Moment of the Dark", where a wicked-cool bell sample and a smorgasbord of electronic sounds make for a catchy new rendition, while maintaining the original theme's ominous presence.
What should really appeal to Ys fans is the second half of the album, which consists entirely of "lost tracks" from the first Ys that had rarely if ever been arranged. Fans who have only heard the symphonies and Perfect Collections might be surprised at what they're missing. Tracks like "Fair Wind", "Over Drive", and especially "Sub-Mission" are trademark Ys - upbeat, energetic, and ultra-melodic. Capping off the collection nicely is "In the Memory", a melodic, sorrowful piece with instrumentation so much better than the closing tracks from the first half ("The Morning Grow" and "See You Again"). In fact the annoying synth samples from earlier in the album rarely surface at all in the second half, making it an entirely more enjoyable listening experience.
I wouldn't recommend Renewal to newcomers to the Ys series, for whom Ys Perfect Collection, one of the symphony albums, or the CD audio from the game itself would be a better place to start. However Ys fans who want to hear the whole musical story from the first game and don't mind a return to basics should consider Ys Renewal.