Long before Tenpei Sato started working for Nippon Ichi Software, he worked for a variety of companies. Alshark, an RPG for the PC-9801, was an RPG released by Right Stuff. The soundtrack has a more traditional RPG soundtrack than feel Sato's latest works. It is, however, a very interesting album because it contains a nice blend of styles. You'll hear rock, traditional instrumentation, as well as some electronica.
The rock section is easily the strongest part of this soundtrack. The main theme, "Alshark," spares no time getting right to the point. Full of energy, it's a nice hybrid between rock and a nice bubbly synth, reminiscent of Rockman 7. It's an excellent way to start off the album, and it really shows that Sato knows his electric guitar. The battle themes also have a rock focus. "SMaaaaaSH" has a progressive rock focus; however, the electric guitar is definitely more reminiscent of classic rock. It's another spare no quarter rock theme that starts from the beginning. "Attack! Task Battler!," while having a strangely upbeat and bubbly demeanor and lacking the electric guitar melody from previous battle themes, still manages to give off a rock vibe.
However, the gem of the rock portion of the section can be found in "Beast Bayden." This is definitely a different take on rock. There's a nice electric piano bass line with a melodic line that is almost primarily electric guitar solos. By looking at the track order, I believe this may be the final battle theme. Regardless, it's an excellent piece that is full of sick guitar work. Lastly, the vocal theme, "Shoko, My Love. We'll Meet Again for Sure!," has a very 80's rock/pop sound to it. The vocals, mainly a repeating "la la" to the melody of the track is combined nicely with the upbeat accompaniment. The synth guitar solo is pretty decent as well.
There are also some quirky pieces on the soundtrack. While "Silent Satellite" isn't the quirkiest on the soundtrack, it has a really rhythmic composition and towards the end moves towards some interesting sound effects and screamed words. "Salad Days" also some quirky synth work, combined with brass and piano. It's an interesting track for sure, entertaining and upbeat.
In addition, there are also some really slow and heartfelt pieces. "Old Times," the town theme, has a very laidback atmosphere, although it is a bit generic. I do like the woodwind work though. Of course, I can't forget to mention "Sadness City." This is probably the best town theme on the soundtrack. The layering of the melody, focused between acoustic guitar and piano, helps to create a very mystical effect. "Star Terminal" is another really slow piece, and I'm assuming the ending theme. The instrumentation helps convey a happy ending and is very beautiful, despite being a bit generic, and fits to close the soundtrack quite well.
For a regular RPG, I think that Tenpei Sato was able to capture the sound of RPGs in the past, but at the same time, also up the ante a bit with his rock themes. The slow themes are a bit generic, but also help to contrast the rock pieces on the album. The quirky ones definitely add a bit of spice to the album. Overall, this is a pretty good album, and I suggest you pick it up if you find it.