Xenosaga Original Soundtrack

Xenosaga Original Soundtrack. Booklet Front. Click to zoom.
Xenosaga Original Soundtrack
Booklet Front
Covers release: FPI
Composed by Ясунори Мицуда
Arranged by Ясунори Мицуда
Published by DigiCube
Catalog number SSCX-10062~3
Release type Game Soundtrack - Official Release
Format 2 CD - 45 tracks
Release date March 06, 2002
Duration 02:07:25
Genres
Оцените альбом!

Overview

When the words Xenosaga Original Soundtrack spring to mind, the word 'epic' is not far away. 'Epic' as a word is source to great ambiguity, but I consider it to reflect a vast inspiration that brings about a large-scale production yielding impressive results. The Xenosaga Original Soundtrack fulfils all three such criteria beyond doubt. This is a review of the initial release of the soundtrack, which has since been re-released in the album Xenosaga Episode I, complete with five new recordings, a revised track order, and two exclusive bonus tracks.

Body

The production of the game Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht from Monolith Soft was one of epic proportions: the game was to be heavily cinematic; it was to rely greatly upon a sci-fi based storyline; and it was intended to have extensive gameplay. Most importantly, it was to be the first of four prequels to the immensely popular Xenogears, which was released in 1998 more than four years before it to form a unit known as 'Xenosaga'. The pressure upon the Original Soundtrack was immense; the sheer scale of the game, the high quality of the production values, and the enormity of expectation from the fans of Xenogears all meant that its Original Soundtrack had to achieve mammoth results. The pressure was on...

If you read the liner notes for this album, you will see that it was the desire of Tetsuya Takahashi (the game director) that the music would overpower the graphics. In the previous games he had worked on (from Final Fantasy IV to Xenogears), the music did exactly that and he wanted this to happen again; however, with visuals being so strong and prominent in the game, this seemed somewhat like a pipe dream. Even Takahashi himself was sceptical. What was the solution? Yasunori Mitsuda. As a freelance composer, Yasunori Mitsuda was neither tied to Namco (who produced Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht) nor Square Enix (whom he split with in 1998 after the Xenogears Original Soundtrack). However, the fact his army of fans loved his work for Xenogears and wanted him to return contributed to giving him the will to agree to work on the first instalment of the Xenosaga series (along with a big pay check, no doubt).

Mitsuda's approach is significantly different to all his previous works, despite holding some comparable similarities. There are numerous attempts at experimentation throughout the score and, while a lot of the tracks are similar in style (particularly the action tracks), Mitsuda experiments nonetheless wherever he can. A wide array of styles are therefore interpreted, ranging from 'new age' to great operatic to impressionist. However, unlike certain scores, Mitsuda's experimentation is sufficiently subtle to avoid the risk of alienating his fans. These attempts therefore prove likeable to the casual listener and even better for the more thorough analyst. In addition, unlike most of his scores, which result primarily in background music being produced, Mitsuda appears to consider the programmatic music to accompany the game's cinematic sequences to be much more important. (This was probably as a result of advice from producers rather than his decision, however). This was to have mixed success in the game, however, with the non-cinematic gameplay being left heavily neglected.

Perhaps the greatest change is that the small ensemble compositions abundant throughout Xenogears and Chrono Cross are gone (all but a few exceptions) and replaced by solo instrumental tracks and full orchestral/choral ones instead. Before starting this Original Soundtrack, Mitsuda was an amateur with orchestration, making the task seem quite intimidating; however, by the end of it he was a developed professional almost resembling that of Koichi Sugiyama (whom he was influenced by while sound programming for Hanjuku Hero). It's a shame he didn't seem to enjoy the task more. The inspiration — from eager fans, a devoted director, and Mitsuda himself — was undeniably immense. The task had been set to create one of the most epic original scores in VGM history. Was Mitsuda to succeed?

As far as production is concerned, never before had a Japanese video game score been treated with an approach that reflected sheer enormity. The full-blown approach to the recording process concerned with this score played the biggest part in this. Unlike Mitsuda's earlier scores (and most other VGM scores for that matter) that used their respective game console's sound chips predominantly to generate synth sound, the bulk of this production used pre-recorded sound rather than the PlayStation 2's sound chip. The majority of synth tracks used were sequenced on Mitsuda's own equipment by Hidenori Suzuki and were recorded from there. This created synth of very high quality, and, while it obviously doesn't rival the album's live orchestral tracks, neither is it significantly undermined by them.

Live orchestral tracks, did I say? Yes, that's right. If pre-recorded synth sound and Hollywood sound effects weren't enough, nothing other than the illustrious London Philharmonic Orchestra greets us with their presence in a number of the album's tracks. In case you are somehow unfamiliar with the London Phil., this is one of the world's leading symphony orchestras and it has attained a high reputation for its versatility and artistic excellence since its establishment in 1932. Although they are more known for their involvement in film scores than video game scores, they have collaborated with Koichi Sugiyama in the Dragon Quest Symphonic Suites in the past. A full choir, the Metro Voices, is also featured throughout the score often in conjunction with the orchestral tracks. Can a production get any more epic? Actually, yes it can...

If you thought that weren't quite enough, there are three other treats waiting for you. The first is that a number of acoustic piano tracks are produced, including several solo tracks, as performed by Shelagh Sutherland and Yasuharu Nakanishi. It is true that the Xenosaga Original Soundtrack uses the solo piano as an instrument much more prominently than any of Mitsuda's other solo scores. The second treat is that the Ittetsu Gen String Quartet make an appearance in two tracks, "Nephilim" and "Pain," while respectively accompanying pianist Yasuharu Nakanishi and vocalist Joanne Hogg. Yes, Joanne Hogg (best known as the vocalist in the Christian Celtic band Iona as well as the diva for Xenogears) as the diva for the album's two love ballads, "Pain" and "Kokoro." That's the third treat for you! Are you impressed? You ought to be...

Perhaps the greatest thing about the production is not its magnitude, which is clearly on par with a standard film score, but how effortlessly a number of formats come together. By including the London Philharmonic in parts of any score, it runs the risk of making the other parts of the score sound comparatively feeble; however, by using superb pre-recorded synth instead of the PlayStation 2's standard sound chip, this was reduced to a minimum. The use of recorded solo instrumental performances and an odd few small ensemble performances throughout the album also helped to reinforce the quality of the music set by the London Philharmonic. By signing up Shelagh Sutherland and Yasuharu Nakanishi as solo pianists, Leslie Pearson as a pipe organist, the Ittetsu Gen String Quartet for certain ensemble tracks, and Joanne Hogg as the diva, Mitsuda's enormous inspiration was realised by a number of able and high-profiled musicians. Its level of production is left completely unrivalled by most other game original scores and this provided a potential stepping-stone for progression. It is clear that the big budget paid off here, but did it yield the desired results?

When a work is of this magnitude, you might consider it inevitable that it will yield huge results, particularly when Yasunori Mitsuda is composing. You might be justified to some extent in saying this; however, the success of Mitsuda's work is much greater on the Xenosaga Original Soundtrack than in the game, surprisingly. It seems ironic that one of the best soundtracks of all time suffers from being the most poorly integrated soundtrack to emerge in recent history. Due to the fact the majority of the tracks (in which there are only 45 in the first place) are used to accompany the cinematic in-game sequences and are thus only used a few times (sometimes just once), there is a great shortage of other background tracks. The majority of the gameplay sequences are spent in silence. There is just music played in a select few rooms and the normal battle theme "Battle" to add contrast (and "Battle" doesn't really manage to do even that, considering the theme grows repetitive very quickly due to the little variation as it develops). This leaves major gaps — there isn't even a boss theme, for example! Industrial-style sound effects are the replacement and they are nowhere near as effective. A video game really suffers as far as memorability, enjoyment, and evocation is concerned without proper integration of a musical score. This was a major mistake as far as the game's producers are concerned.

While the music accompanying gameplay outside the cinematic sequences is not particularly abundant, when it does occur, it tends to be very welcome. This is primarily because of the diversity of styles Mitsuda has induced as a result of the daring experimentation I mentioned earlier. As a few examples, you get progressive synth chill out in the form of "U.M.D. Mode," tear-jerking string mastery radiating from "Sadness," haunting operatic malevolence with the villain's theme "Albedo," and even a classical piano arrangement of the traditional English tune "Green Sleeves." The only attempt at experimentation that didn't go so well was "Everyday." Mitsuda's poorly considered attempt at 1930's jazz felt far too blatant to be anything other than an interruptive misfit.

It doesn't take long to realize that battle and action tracks are what primarily dominates the soundtrack, however. This may strike fear into the eyes of all those who know too well that many of Mitsuda's past battle themes have suffered the classic BAD Syndrome (Boring, Annoying, Deafening Syndrome). Fortunately only "Battle" and "Followed Space Shuttle" come close to catching this frightful condition while all the other tracks remain immune thanks to their unique merits. "Life or Death," for example employs use of some outstanding metrical expansion by incorporating the "Gnosis" theme, which is discussed later, and transforming it from 3/4 to 4/4. "Panic" goes with the stridently dissonant approach by initiating with a forceful yet potentially oppressive percussion overdrive until it 'mellows' as a few melodic passages develop. While overpowering at first, it manages to be quite effective overall. Do you remember the "One Who Bares Fangs At God" in the Xenogears Original Soundtrack? Well, "Last Battle" is very reminiscent of this theme what with its peculiar, rather jocular format, although its results are very much more appreciable. It builds up rather magically from a bouncy violin and piano ostinato into a complex orchestral work featuring some great integration of male vocals. Still, while the action themes clearly boast their great individual value, their overall dominance to the soundtrack, particularly once the cinematic action themes have been added, is a mixed blessing. Although battle themes are an obvious fan's favourite and add to the epic and impressive nature of the score, there is no doubt that they can be potentially overpowering in bulk. This makes the score considerably less balanced than Mitsuda's scores for Xenogears and Chrono Cross and perhaps somewhat less subtle.

Despite the music for gameplay being very limited, Mitsuda's effort spent on the cinematic sequences certainly pulled off in both the game and its soundtrack, however. As game director Tetsuya Takahashi remarked seeing the finished product in all its glory, "The music overpowers the visuals" hence fulfilling his dream. The very first track in the soundtrack, "Prologue," for example, builds steadily from an ambient sci-fi passage featuring strings and clarinets into a typical aggressive passage only to conclude with a soothing chorale. However, while highly successful on a programmatic note, it has to be considered that Mitsuda clearly didn't inject it with as great a musical substance as other tracks and the London Philharmonic's performance was actually surprisingly weak. Fortunately "Opening" is better, however, with synth programming being carefully administered to create a delectable blend of 'electro-acoustic' (in inverted commas, considering it actually entirely synth) music. This theme is crucial for engaging the gamer and listener initially to the sci-fi theme presented in the game and its soundtrack.

If you're looking for magical synchronisation with the game's visuals, the fully orchestral action track "Gnosis" is the greatest highlight of the score. It sounds utterly tremendous thanks to the brute force of the brass dominating the track. Mitsuda avoids making this action track unmusical however, by carefully balancing the overpowering, characteristically fff passages with quieter interludes. Such a technique is carried over for the powerful "Durandal" and the extraordinary non-cinematic "Fighting KOS-MOS" as well. His approach with "U-TIC Engine," possibly the best track on the Original Soundtrack, is distinctly different. This ghostly martial march is blaringly dissonant throughout (not a good thing for some people), but is made pleasing and imaginative by the use of timbres throughout. A variety of textures are experimented with from tremolo strings to flutter-tonguing flutes to even deathly chanting from tenor vocals. Mitsuda is sure to use the London Phil and the choir to their fullest here and this achieves repulsive yet somehow striking results within the game. "Omega" is again very different in approach against "Gnosis" and "U-TIC Engine." Its wide range of instruments — a solo trumpet, full orchestra, full choir, Hollywood sound effects, an acoustic guitar, and even an overdubbed electric guitar — make it perhaps the most ambitious track. Still, despite its unusual instrumental combinations, it manages to be one of the greatest pieces of electro-acoustic music I have so far heard. It just works. The last action track of the game, "Escape," doesn't manage to be quite as unique on a musical note as the other tracks, but it still manages to build up a climactic feel thanks to its intense orchestration and its numerous rasping leitmotifs.

The cinematic sequences aren't just about action, however. The game boasts three chorales sung in Latin by the Metro Voices that really stand out for their celestial charms. The a capella "Ormus" is the most complex of the three. It is stunning how a number of tonal colours and contrasting passages flawlessly combine together here to create a work unparalleled for its richness and musicality in the score. "The Resurrection" is certainly less complex and is little more than a capella Gregorian chant; however, it remains mesmerising nonetheless thanks to the warmth of its intricate polyphonies. It is unfortunate they found no place to include it within the game. "The Miracle" is definitely the most outwardly impressive of the three. It uses similar structures to that of "The Resurrection," however the driving rhythms of the accompanying strings and the heavily punctuated articulation of the vocals make it much more agitated. In the latter part of the track, the entrance of some fierce timpanis marks the start of an alarming climax that you cannot help but enjoy (and tremble at). Two other tracks worthy of mentions would be the ambient gems "Anxiety" and "Awakening." The former is particularly well done and, while dominated almost entirely by piano and strings, their original use and synchronisation gives way for some haunting textural contrasts as the track develops.

The firmest fans' favourites would definitely be the sensitive music that accompanies the game's soppy cinematic sequences. "Beach of the Void," for instance, is a synthetic string ensemble track that manages to do so much out of so little. Its disjointed melodies, unvaried harmonies, and fragile textures all play a part towards establishing a great sense of loneliness and emptiness throughout the track. The numerous instrumental renditions of the "Kokoro" main theme are often touching too despite my indifference to the vocal version itself. "KOS-MOS" and "The Girl Who Closed Her Heart" have very similar and rather simple arrangements of this theme yet differ in their timbres, considering the former is a pipe organ solo as performed by Leslie Pearson, while the latter is a piano solo performed Shelagh Sutherland. Both interpretations are truly agonising to listen to, however, and this is thanks to the magnificent performances from these two soloists. Both shape the phrases of the original melodies with so much subtle and musical sophistication. The versatile timbres of the pipe organ return for the highly decorative introduction into "Zarathustra" from where it develops into a striking classical piece that is host to some of the most poignant and dramatic passages featured in a video game. It features the strongest string use in the Original Soundtrack and boasts extraordinary use of a full choir and Eimaar Quinn's solo chorus. You don't get much better than this!

The extent to which you appreciate the two ballads, "Pain" and "Kokoro," that conclude this Original Soundtrack depends strictly upon whether you were a fan of Mitsuda's previous vocal themes; the format, style and instrumentation used in these themes are practically identical to those of the vocal themes from Xenogears and Chrono Cross. They prove perfectly amicable and enjoyable from the point of view of their strong melodies and benefit from the fact that Joanne Hogg's vocal use is so commendable. However, if you are looking at this score in the light of a progressive achievement for VGM then these carbon copies don't really have a place in the score. If this doesn't bother you and its other features are sufficient to win your approval then so be it.

The outcome of this Original Soundtrack is in some ways quite variable: On one hand Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht boasted some of the best programmatic music written for VGM as far as the cinematic sequences are concerned; however, the music to accompany the non-cinematic gameplay was insufficient in quantity to provide a full musical backing to the game, and it was therefore foolishly ignored. Nonetheless, Mitsuda's music is a source of endless delight here: the action tracks are breathtaking (though a little too dominant); the emotional tracks are strongly heartfelt; and the other tracks present expand upon the great diversity of styles integral to this score. The fully orchestral tracks and the three chorales certainly prove the most established tracks in the soundtrack. Whether this is because Mitsuda's composition is genuinely better here or whether the London Phil. and the Metro Voices simply add an extra intensity to Mitsuda's composition that a synth track cannot commit is a matter of personal contemplation. Still, no track is undermined by the quality of the next, with tracks for solo instrumentals, small ensembles, large ensembles, and pre-recorded synth all coming together to create impressive and highly distinguished results.

Summary

Hopefully my review brought you round full circle into assessing the heroic voyage none other than the Xenosaga Original Soundtrack. The soundtrack's elements — Yasunori Mitsuda's ever-inspired composition, the grand scale of the production processes, and its impressive impact on both on the game and in its own right — make it definitely worthy of the title 'epic soundtrack'. Do not let DigiCube's recent bankruptcy be a reason not to purchase this distinct gem, as with the recent release of the Xenosaga Episode I soundtrack from Sleigh Bells, which carries all the themes from this album plus a few extras, this is no longer a problem. It would be inexcusable not to pick the album up if you have the opportunity to buy it.



Album
8/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Chris Greening

Overview

Take one of the most popular game music composers, Yasunori Mitsuda, buy him a plane ticket to London, England, and set him up with that city's own Philharmonic Orchestra and what do you get? Easy, a work of pure genius and one of the most epic scores ever written for a video game, or any musical score for that matter. It has it all — intensity, emotion, variety, power.

Body

Disc One starts with "Prologue" which sounds way too much like an opening for a movie, yet it has the "Sci-Fi" feel in it. It's a very powerful and awesome opening theme, and it's performed by the orchestra. At the end we hear some interesting vocals, although I can't make out what they're saying.

Usually Mitsuda is not known for making outstanding battle themes, but he proves otherwise with "Battle." It gets you right off. There's lots of violin samples here folks, with a bit of drum on the side. You probably can't tell, but it's not orchestrated, yet it sounds so good you won't care if it's synthesized or not. Last but not least, this battle theme is pretty intense, and does give the impression that you're fighting something real nasty.

"Gnosis" starts off quietly but soon the trumpets roar their way into the piece, backed up by bells and drums, this gives the impression of a powerful nation or something, very epic and of course, very good. "Battle with KOS-MOS" is certainly an action theme, but woah, it's really powerful. At some point we get a quiet interlude, then the track repeats, which makes it really stand out.

"Followed Space Shuttle" is a fast paced theme which mostly comprises of violins, trumpets and drums. It gives off the feel of urgency, that something really bad is going on... "U-TIC Engine" is really weird. It uses a technique known as the flutter-tonguing on the flute and has a good deal of chants. I don't why, but I happen to really like this track. Anyhow, Disc One has more goodies, but it's up to you to discover them.

Disc Two contains more choral tracks and other really outstanding tracks. First off we get "Anxiety," a 4 minute long piece. It has a lot of variety, starting off from very calm music and going to a fear-inducing passage featuring some piano, some violin, and some other instruments which I can't identify. It is very enjoyable to listen, and definitely one of the high points of Disc Two.

"Zarathustra" is a very powerful piece: very poignant, very sad. It starts off with some organ, then some voices join in, in which the saddening factor is increased greatly. I can't listen to this without nearly shedding a tear, it's that emotional. It must be used for a saddening scene obviously. "The Miracle" is the best choral piece in the entire soundtrack. The Latin lyrics makes it sound sacred, but when the drum joins in and the chorus gets louder, it only gets better. "Albedo" is worthy of a mention. It is an operatic piece and at a point the voices get very loud and intense. It's quite creepy but it must fit its purpose really well as a villain's theme.

"Omega" is another of the really good tracks. It starts off with Sci-Fi sound effects, but soon we hear some chorals, as if to imply 'This fiend is NOT to be messed with.' Afterwards it gets really intense when the acoustic guitar, the violins, and an electric guitar make their entrance into the track. It only gets better and better. You get the epic feel of a mighty boss battle, but there's more — the electric guitar returns backed up by some violins, trumpets, drums, the works, then it suddenly stops. It's a shame the track dosen't repeat, because it is VERY good.

"Last Battle" is very similar to "Those who Bare Fangs at God" from Xenogears, but this time, Mitsuda adds a bit more variety to the track. At one point you'll hear a chorus, at another point some wicked organ, and then some violin. Wow!! This really sounds like the battle to end all battles. It's very powerful, and though not as intense as "Omega," it's good nonetheless. After the "Last Battle", we are treated to some fantastic vocal songs. Yep, Joanne Hogg who made her first appearance on Xenogears returns in Xenosaga, and she delivers two of the most beautiful songs to be heard in a video game, "Pain" and "Kokoro." So there you have it, folks!

Summary

Should you buy this soundtrack? Essentially, yes. You have no excuse not to listen to the score. However, take note that this particular soundtrack is no longer available due to DigiCube's bankruptcy. Fortunately, however, Mitsuda has released Xenosaga Episode I under his own label; this features every item on this score, plus a few extra goodies. Get it now, if you haven't already!



Album
8/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Luc Nadeau

Overview

Xenogears Original Soundtrack was one of my favorite albums of all time, but when I received my copy of the Xenosaga Original Soundtrack and played it all the way through, I had mixed feelings and thoughts. For one, it had some truly outstanding pieces and the London Philharmonic Orchestra's performances of some of the tracks boosted my respect for the album. But on the other hand, some of the tracks were too dark and empty, thus putting people off the album. Let's take a more in-depth view at some of my favourite tracks.

Body

The album starts off strong with "Prologue," the first theme performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It represents a change of style from Mitsuda's Celtic charm with strings, choirs, brass, and more. After the strong predecessing track, we are treated to "Opening," an electronic fusion track with a hint of orchestral flair. It may take a while to get used to this track, but it is a work of genius. Also early on in the album is the action-packed "Battle," which sounds similar to Xenogears battle theme "Stage of Death". Expect to hear loud horns, exploding strings, and a medieval-like solo towards the end of this track. The introduction of the album is topped off by the Egyptian-inspired track, "Gnosis". It is magnificently performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and represents the Gnosis character well.

Further into the soundtrack, considerable diversity becomes evident. "Everyday", a 1950's jazz piece, is a great little theme that is the lightest on the album. "U-TIC Engine" is the third track performed by the London Phil. and by far the best track on the album. The ominous feeling it produces is very effective while the choir completes the feeling by singing some inaudible Latin phrases. Also included are three solo solo choir performances. The first of these, "Ormus," is slow but complex in its own right — a very serious and thoughtful experience overall — though "The Resurrection" is perhaps stronger given it evokes human emotion much more with its rich phrasing while "The Miracle" is much more aggressive. To emphasise diversity further, the haunting "Nephilim" and the traditional English piece "Greensleeves" are two of several solo piano pieces that both boast beautiful melodies. There are also two vocal ballads, "Pain" and "Kokoro," that are similar in style to Xenogears' themes; they do their job, but nothing more.

The latter half of the soundtrack is a darker experience overall. As examples, "Anxiety" is a well-developed ambient gem, "KOS-MOS" is a melancholic pipe organ solo performed by Leslie Pearson, and "Panic" is an intense and percussive action theme. "Zarathustra" is the biggest highlight, though. Opening with a cool organ solo, Mitsuda develops it into a dramatic and mysterious full-orchestral masterpiece performed by the London Philharmonic. "Albedo," the main villain's theme, utilises highly effective synthetic operatic vocals in conjunction with dark strings to interpret the sinister character. "Omega" is the definition of epic. It starts off with wailing choirs and then turns vicious with fast strings and an overdubbed electric guitar performed by Tomohiko Kira. "Last Battle" is arranged in a similar way to the controversial "The One Who Bares Fangs at God," but takes it to a new level. The piece starts as a quartet of piano, two sets of strings, and harp before becoming more intense as a drum beat and organ enters.

Summary

After all those great pieces and good news, sadly there is some bad news. If you are a fan of Chrono Cross or Chrono Trigger, you are probably not going to love this album as much because it lacks melodic variation in comparison. Further, if you a fan of Xenogears, don't go buying the album thinking it is similar, as it's much darker, less melodic, and less sentimental. Nonetheless, all this is made up for the fact that creativity, originality, and pure genius combine to create some truly outstanding themes and an overall epic experience. It's reprint, Xenosaga Episode I, is the best way to buy this. Do consider it!



Album
8/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Harry Simons

Overview

I am a somewhat peculiar specimen in the vast industry of game soundtrack reviewers. While it seemed that everyone and their mother was praising Xenogears as one of the greatest soundtracks of all time, I actually found it to be quite disappointing. Maybe it was the hype. Maybe it was the style. Don't get me wrong — I'd take a bullet for Yasunori Mitsuda any day of the week. I just didn't think the Xenogears Original Soundtrack was as good as, say, Chrono Trigger's score. I would even rank Mitsuda's work for the Mario Party games as better stuff than what was seen in Xenogears.

I've figured out that what first got me hooked on Mitsuda was his light, whimsical music. Chrono Trigger was choke-full of it. While it had its share of sad and angry tunes, very few of the tracks could be called "heavy" or "hardcore". (The same goes for the Mario Party games, but even more so.) The Xenogears Original Soundtrack was a surprising move away from this kind of music, and what let me down so much was not that Mitsuda was trying something new, but that he hadn't quite let go of his old style. And the light-hearted tracks of Xenogears tended to be the ones I clung to, probably because they were the ones that reminded me the most of Chrono Trigger. I was afraid to embrace this new, serious Mitsuda, and I have a feeling that Mitsuda himself wasn't quite comfortable either.

In the Xenosaga Original Soundtrack, Mitsuda finally takes hold of a style that he could only faintly grasp in Xenogears. This is serious stuff. It's a delightfully dark, foreboding style that combines traditional movie-style symphonic pieces with some heavy industrial instrumentals. With some twists thrown in there, too. I grouped some of the more notable so tracks in this soundtrack into groups according to their style. This is not to say that the tracks are divided. The dark atmosphere binds these pieces together and gives them a cohesion that Xenosaga lacked. The track arrangment is also quite good, so that one style does not get repeated over and over again.

Body

While listening to Xenosaga, you feel that the whole time this soundtrack is building up to something big. For the mood pieces, foreshadowing some sort of eerie plot twist, this goes without saying. The battle themes do it too — while listening to them, you feel like you're taking part in somesort of nightmarish, never-ending series of fights. There is rarely any release to this tension, so the battles always feel like there is "just one more baddie to go". The same is true for the soft pieces and the small number of happy victory themes. Of course there are exceptions, like the aptly named "Everyday," which is a nice relaxing piece that evokes a calm, beachy mood. But in general, the Xenosaga Original Soundtrack keeps you waiting in anticipation of the next piece. Sometimes it's creepy and foreboding, sometimes it's more of a cry of despair. But there's always this ever-building tension there, pulling you in deeper and deeper as you listen, and continually raising the bar for each successive track.

Just popping in the first disc and listening to the "Prologue" should put you in just the right mood. It starts out with a very conventional symphonic opening that is a bit like John Williams' mood music for Star Wars. Then the whole brass and percussion sections start a revolution in motion, followed by the strings and their weird off-beat rhythms. Pretty soon the whole orchestra is in a frenzy. A choir of voices then comes in to soothe the anxiety for a while, wrapping your ears up in a soft musical blanket. But even in this sweet passage, there is something that is not quite right — a hint of dissonance that leaves you ready for something a bit darker. A bit of side story about this piece: the first time I heard it, I was riding in a car on a lonely road in Sequoia National Park at night. I can't imagine a more appropriate setting for this piece. Don't ever try this unless you like feeling on edge. It's very creepy stuff!

"Opening" introduces the industrial side to this soundtrack. It's quite a contrast to the narrative "Prologue" and is definitely more ambient, which is not surprising for slow industrial music. (Note that I use "industrial" rather loosely, just as most people probably use the term "metal" loosely.) You've got to love those instruments, from the electronic tones to the factory sound effects, to the droning voice "hum". These two tracks are actually a great representation of the basic tone of the soundtrack. If you're not sure about buying Xenosaga, see if some nice person would be willing to send you samples of these two — and if you like them, you're bound to love the rest.

There are many fine examples of the symphonic and industrial styles on both discs. The ones on Disc One tend to be more instrumental and menacing, building up to some unknown climactic terror. Sometimes they are vague and ambient, like the symphonic "Shion's Crisis" or the industrial "Starting Examination." Other times, they are right there in your face. "U-TIC Engine" sounds like an evil army is on the march, and it hides none of its sinister character — it even has a chorus of evil laughs at the end. It's also a great fusion of both the symphonic and industrial styles. Fusion pieces such as this one are found all over Xenosaga, especially in the second disc. Some of them are quite unusual, such as "Omega" on Disc Two, which features an electric guitar.

Disc Two also features some fantastic choir work, blending a religious motif with the hard symphonic and industrial stuff that is introduced in the first disc. I assume the game features a similar blending of themes (which isn't surprising, given that Xenogears did exactly this). "The Resurrection" is a beautiful joyous song, going against the dark grain of the soundtrack for a bit. "Zarathustra" and "Song of Nephilim," however, are quite the opposite. Then there's "Proto Merkabah," with its white noise sound effects blended with a single voice crying out in despair. And then there's my personal favorite of the entire soundtrack, "Albedo." I can't describe the full effect of this track, so that means you've got to go out and listen to it. It features a tenor singing as though he were part of some dark opera, backed up by a full orchestra, which is pretty unnerving in itself. The end of his passage is this haunting "oooh oooh oooooowoooooh," which is sure to send shivers down your spine. But it gets better. The singer and the whole orchestra immediately drop out, and all that it heard is a single piano playing this back-and-forth sequence of minor chords, and the creepiness factor increases tenfold. Not even Sephiroth was this creepy.

It is a testament to Yasunori Mitsuda's skill as a composer that he is able to effectively combine so many different styles of music into a single "uber-style" that makes a single unified impression. Xenosaga would be quite a robust Original Soundtrack even if it stopped with the symphonic and industrial stuff (plus the fusion), but it goes even further than that. There is a healthy helping of solo piano pieces, plus a few other tracks that feature piano as a major instrument. Disc One has "Sadness," "Shion ~Memories of the Past~", and "The Girl Who Closed Her Heart." The last of these is one of my favorites, as it sounds just like one of Chopin's Nocturnes. Disc Two has "Nephilim," "Warmth," and "Shion ~Emotion~." All of them are quite well-done, some of them in the style of classical composers, though you'll realize that both of the Shion tracks are piano renditions of the soundtrack's main theme "Kokoro," which I'll get to in a moment. An interesting addition to Xenosaga is Disc Two's "Green Sleeves", which is a piano rendition of that famous ancient song. While I didn't think Mitsuda's version was anything special, I have to admit it was a nice unique touch.

The action themes are also very well-done, borrowing a bit from Xenosaga's equally-dark cousin, Final Fantasy VII. "Battle" is obviously the normal battle theme, a nice motivational piece with a moderate tempo. "Battling KOS-MOS," "Life or Death," and "Durandal" are also action themes, though they are not used as battle music. And then of course, on Disc Two, we have "Last Battle". This one bears some special attention. It has some fantastic instrumentation, moving from one rhythm to the next, keeping a repeating piano chord in the background, and building upon it with a rich chanting choir and a violin which plays a theme introduced in a Disc One track, "Gnosis."

Now we get to the vocal pieces — not the choir songs, but the tracks performed by Joanne Hogg, the same artist who sung the awesome "Small Two of Pieces" in the Xenogears Original Soundtrack. "Kokoro" is a theme heard several times earlier in the soundtrack, in the piano "Shion" pieces plus a chime version on Disc One's "Emotion" and Disc Two's organ remix titled "KOS-MOS". A couple of these are not exact copies of "Kokoro," but rather variations on a slightly different harmony. Sadly it is a lesser follow-up to "Pain," the vocal track that precedes it, and I would have felt just fine leaving off the soundtrack entirely. "Pain" is not quite as good as "Small Two of Pieces" in my opinion, but I imagine that personal preference will be a pretty big factor here.

Summary

Xenosaga's biggest strength, aside from Mitsuda's successful fusion of several musical styles, is its enormous power. It just builds, builds, and builds, heading for a climax that seems unimaginable. And unfortunately, it remains unimaginable, since the ending tracks prove unable to give this beast a proper finishing job. This should not be taken as an insult to "Pain" or "Kokoro" (well, maybe a little bit to "Kokoro") but rather as a compliment to the bulk of the Original Soundtrack. It simply raises the bar so high that it cannot surpass itself. To write a proper ending to Xenosaga, Mitsuda would have had to kill himself with the effort. There are a couple filler tracks here and there, but the vast majority of the Xenosaga Original Soundtrack is simply too good to pass up. It's well worth your money, believe me. If you liked the serious side of Mitsuda that was glimpsed in Xenogears, then Xenosaga will be quite a trip for you. Even if you prefer his lighter stuff, like I do, please give Xenosaga a listen. You just may find a place in your heart for Mitsuda's serious side, and if you start with Xenosaga intead of Xenogears, you'll get a much better impression. Xenosaga is the soundtrack that Xenogears *should* have been.



Album
9/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Kero Hazel

This is the first published version of the Xenosaga soundtrack. It was discontinued per the bankruptcy and closure of DigiCube. However, Yasunori Mitsuda (through his publishing company, Sleigh Bells) has continued to make the music available to purchase via a new album version (SBPS-0004~5) with two bonus tracks.


Music Composed & Arranged by Yasunori Mitsuda

Sound Programmed by Hidenori Suzuki (PROCYON STUDIO)
Synthesizer Programmer : Yasunori Mitsuda & Masaaki Kaneko (PROCYON STUDIO)

Orchestrated by Yasunori Mitsuda
Conducted by Steven Lloyd

Mastered by Ichiko Furukawa (Bernie Grundman Mastering)

Disc 1

001. Prologue
Performed by LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Additional Musician...
Chorus : Eri Kawai

007. Gnosis
Performed by LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

021. U-TIC System
Performed by LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

022. Closed Minded Girl
A.Piano : Shelagh Sutherland

024. Shion ~Past Memory~
A.Piano : Yasuharu Nakanishi

Disc 2

001. Ormus
Original Lyrics : Tetsuya Takahashi
Latin Translation : Ukon Kurisawa
Performed by METRO VOICES

002. Nephilim
A.Piano : Yasuharu Nakanishi
Strings Quartet : Gen Ittetsu Strings

005. The Resurrection
Original Lyrics : Tetsuya Takahashi
Latin Translation : Ukon Kurisawa
Performed by METRO VOICES

007. Green Sleeves
Music : Traditional
Arranged by Yasunori Mitsuda

008. Zarathustra
Performed by LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA & METRO VOICES
Additional Musicians...
Chorus : Eimear Quinn
Pipe Organ : Leslie Pearson

009. KOS-MOS
Pipe Organ : Leslie Pearson

012. The Miracle
Original Lyrics : Tetsuya Takahashi
Latin Translation : Ukon Kurisawa
Performed by LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA & METRO VOICES

015. Omega
Performed by LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Additional Musicians...
A.Guitar & E.Guitar : Tomohiko Kira
Snare : Maki Susukida

018. Pain
Original Lyrics : Tetsuya Takahashi
English Translation : Takeshi Mogi & Matthew Zuckerman
Vocal : Joanne Hogg
A.Guitar & E.Guitar : Tomohiko Kira
A.Piano : Yasuharu Nakanishi
Low Whistle : Davy Spillane
Drums : KALTA
E.Bass : Hitoshi Watanabe
Programming & Keyboards : Yasunori Mituda
Strings : Gen Ittetsu Strings

019. Escape
Performed by LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Additional Musician...
Snare : Maki Susukida

020. Kokoro
Original Lyrics : Tetsuya Takahashi
English Translation : Takeshi Mogi & Matthew Zuckerman
Vocal : Joanne Hogg
A.Guitar & E.Guitar : Tomohiko Kira
A.Piano : Yasuharu Nakanishi
Low Whistle : Davy Spillane
Drums : KALTA
E.Bass : Hitoshi Watanabe
Programming & Keyboards : Yasunori Mituda
Strings : Gen Ittetsu Strings

021. Shion ~Emotion~
A.Piano : Yasuharu Nakanishi
Album was composed by Ясунори Мицуда and was released on March 06, 2002. Soundtrack consists of 45 tracks tracks with duration over more than 2 hours. Album was released by DigiCube.

CD 1

1
Prologue
04:32
2
Opening
04:02
3
Battle
02:59
4
Battle's End
00:42
5
Startup Test
02:19
6
Reminiscence
03:14
7
Gnosis
04:22
8
Awakening
02:23
9
Shion's Crisis
01:54
10
Battling KOS-MOS
03:15
11
Sorrow
03:43
12
Life or Death
03:15
13
Game Over
00:42
14
Margulis
04:24
15
Pursued Spaceship
03:33
16
Relief
02:43
17
Everyday
01:55
18
U.M.N.MODE
02:39
19
Durandal
02:32
20
Invading the Enemy Ship
00:39
21
U-TIC Organization
02:45
22
The Girl Who Closed Her Heart
02:13
23
Kookai Foundation
01:55
24
Shion ~Memories of the Past~
01:11

CD 2

1
Ormus
02:27
2
Nephilim
02:31
3
Warmth
01:42
4
Anxiety
04:08
5
The Resurrection
01:54
6
The Beach of Nothingness
02:28
7
Green Sleeves
02:25
8
Zarathustra
03:06
9
KOS-MOS
02:27
10
Panic
02:21
11
Song of Nephilim
01:04
12
The Miracle
01:52
13
Inner Space
01:47
14
Albedo
03:45
15
Ω
04:07
16
Proto Merkabah
05:25
17
Last Battle
05:05
18
Pain
05:36
19
Escape
02:30
20
Kokoro
05:35
21
Shion ~Emotion~
01:19
You can't post comments, you need to sign up and authorize. Or you can use one of these services 

  STATISTICS
  • Album has no ratings. Be the first!
  • Page views: 5882
  • 1 person have this album in collection

  USEFUL LINKS
INFO
  VGMDB.net
  COVERS

Popular