Review: Kaku-San-Sei Million Arthur Original Soundtrack

Last week we looked at Kenji Ito’s battle themes from the Million Arthur series. I referred to producer Hyadain’s original soundtrack, which we’ll take a look at now. The mysterious Hyadain had made a name for himself in the doujin scene producing excellent music and arrangements, and was later revealed to be artist Kenichi Maeyamada. His production values come through strongly in this album, featuring a blend of pop, rock, and fantasy goodness.

The first track, “Faction Selection” starts right in with some wonderfully produced J-rock and a descending bell tone melody that offers something unique. “Footsteps to Fortune” is a laid back overworld-esque theme that starts off strictly fantasy before introducing electronic elements and percussion to lend the track a cool edge. “Round Table Congregation,” one of my favorite tracks, opts for intense militaristic electronics, percussion, and strings, while “Welcome Back, Lord Arthur!” is a super cute and upbeat pop tune with Rhodes and strings that sounds like it ought to have vocals. I also love the octave-jumping bass in “Faerie Sighted!,” the ominous dungeon-sounding theme, “Wait, Could it be?,” the dark and sinister “D-O-U-B-T,” the regal and beautiful “God Save the King” with its melancholy harpsichord, swelling strings, and bell tolls, and the silly “Pumpkin Soup” with wood block and chip tones. “Sadness Shall Someday Fade” is the obligatory sad theme, “Morgan Fay” offers catchy gothic rock, and “Won’t Say Goodbye” is a glitchy upbeat electronic outro that ends on a positive note.

Hyadain didn’t disappoint, and I’d love to hear more collaborations between the artist and Square Enix in the future. If you want to pick up the soundtrack, it’s available on CD Japan.

Review: Kai-ri-Sei Million Arthur Original Soundtrack -Battle Collections-

The Million Arthur series ¬†offers some great music. Square Enix has put out a couple albums over the past two years from this series, with the score for the main title composed by Hyadain, and now this battle collection composed by Kenji Ito. You’re going to find your typical Kenji Ito rock here, which fans will appreciate.

The tracks range in style from the aforementioned rock, which falls in line with the SaGa battle arrange albums, to pop-infused electronic rock, and one track, my favorite, which sports bumping electronic beats paired with beautiful piano work. There’s a dark and mysterious track that comes in about midway through that features some great string work and a bell melody, while things get a little dancey towards the end of the album with an octave-jumping bass and gorgeous crystalline melody. The last track takes a more traditional Japanese instrumental approach with some lovely woodwinds and a ninja-esque vibe.

In all, this is a fine showcase of the Million Arthur series. I think fans will be pleased to see Kenji Ito working on the franchise, and his fans will enjoy what they hear on this album. It’s currently available on CD Japan for those who are interested.

Review: BEFORE THE FALL: FINAL FANTASY XIV Original Soundtrack

Square Enix has released another massive collection of music from Final Fantasy XIV, this time from several recent content updates. Fans were impressed with the initial soundtrack offering some months back, so it’s a bit of a surprise to get another collection totaling over four hours of music so soon. But who can complain when the new music composed mostly by Masayoshi Soken is so good!

There isn’t as diverse of a range presented on this album: it’s mainly darker and more ominous than the previous album release, but there’s a lot to love. Many of my favorites include the rock tracks that were performed by The Primals on their From Astral to Umbral arrange album, including the contemplative “Thunder Rolls” and the grungy rock “Oblivion.” Other favorites include the melancholy choir piece, “A Light in the Storm,” the exotic and ambient “The Edge,” the atmospheric and dreamy “The Warrens,” a dark organ and choir version of the vocal theme “Answers,” and the explosive orchestral track “Hamartomania,” which sounds like something out of Metal Gear Solid. That’s in addition to several references to classic Final Fantasy tunes that fans of the series will enjoy.

My favorite thing about this soundtrack, which is presented on Blu-ray disc, is that it hosts some bonus content, including live performances of piano and The Primals sets from this year’s Final Fantasy XIV festival in Japan. The footage is quite substantial, and includes some interesting moments, including Soken himself creating makeshift percussion out of cardboard boxes while he plays a track on piano and performing a duo on one piano for another.

Final Fantasy XIV fans will want to check this out. There is over four hours of music to enjoy in addition to the fantastic concert footage. Pick it up on CD Japan if you’re interested.

Review: TEKARU HECTOPASCAL

Maybe you haven’t heard of Tekaru, but I can tell you it’s one of the best videogame cover bands around. Founded by the team at noisycroak (headed by the extremely talented composer Hideki Sakamoto), the band rocks out with the standard rock ensemble plus rock organ and sometimes even vocals, the latter two of which are provided by Sakamoto himself. Tekaru Hectopascal marks the band’s third album release, and while the titles performed aren’t well known outside of Japan with the exception of Xevious and Toukiden, this music is all good. The performances are all spot on with arrangements that vary from quirky to heavy.

The album opens with Ken Woodman’s “Mexican Flyer,” which some may recognize from Space Channel 5 or Samba de Amigo. It’s an interesting choice (I had to look up the history of the track), but the synth and rock organ additions to the rock melody are a great introduction to anyone who’s experiencing Tekaru for the first time. My favorites here are the Xevious track which is entirely infectious and upbeat and the pop-laden arrangements from Shoumetsu Toshi featuring piano that tugs at the heartstrings. One of the Shoumetsu Toshi tracks even venture into electronic territory with some vocaloid vocal sections. The Juusei to Diamond track rocks out hard, and is probably my favorite track in this style, sounding almost like the recent SaGa battle arrange albums, while the Toukiden tracks are mostly serious in approach as well. “Theme from Thousand Memories” is a more contemplative track that features organ quite prominently, and is another highlight.

How I’d love to see Tekaru perform at MAGFest. That will likely never happen given the obscurity of most of the material they perform (there are some fantastic echochrome performances on their previous albums). While you’re waiting for that to happen, though, pick up all three of their albums. The artwork for all three are also great, with Hectopascal being amazingly strange and lovely all the same.

Tekaru Hectopascal is available from SuperSweep Records.
CD Japan is still offering Tekaru Mechnical and Tekaru Technical.