We’re nearing the end with Basiscape’s massive CARAVAN STORIES soundtracks. This Japanese mobile/PC RPG’s soundtrack spans eight volumes, each dedicated to a different race from the game. Volume 7 is focused on the lizardmen, and is appropriately bleak and ominous. Composition duties are largely split between Basiscape’s Kazuki Higashihara and Yoshimi Kudo.
The album opens with the exotic and ominous percussion and tense strings of “Hugo’s Cauldron” before jumping into the pumping bass, epic bell tolls, and intense strings and woodwinds of “Bunwaii Desert” and it’s night variant with folksy guitar. The battle-like “Burning Blade” with its explosive percussion and ascending string stabs might remind you of Final Fantasy Tactics, while the electronic percussion, grandiose strings, bagpipes, and sense of tragedy in “Lloyd-Hann” is also a highlight. There’s the robot-like “Kinsfolk Fractured Zone,” marimba and bass synth in the comical yet frantic “Voracity of Chaos,” gurgling synths and pounding percussion in “Tyrant of Chaos,” intensely catchy synth lines in “Power Struggle -Inferiority-,” and an industrial sound with a wonderful chorus in “Battle with Head of Warrior.” Rounding out the album are the militaristic march, “Hero’s Trial,” a spooky waltz with a male operatic lead incorporating the main theme in “Caravan Trip -Festival of the Dead,” a broodier male vocal track with an auto-tuned backup choir in “Mansion from the Depths,” and a surprisingly serene and otherworldly version of the main theme titled “Caravan Trip -New Year-.”
There’s one volume remaining in the CARAVAN STORIES series. Watch out for that soon. In the meantime, Volume 7 can be purchased on CD Japan. It’s also available digitally on iTunes. Information on past volumes can be found here.
Basiscape is back with Volume 6 of their epic mobile RPG soundtrack to CARAVAN STORIES, with this volume dedicated to the oceanic Gessy folk. Expect beautiful waterscapes and a touch of the exotic. It all begins with angelic pads, woodwinds, and marimba in a serene opener before moving on to everything from dancing marimba and playful energy in “Temple of Pakama” and chaotic dancing accordion in “Laurara’s Dance” to watery crystalline bells and glassy pads in “Narupopo Fruit Garden -Nightscape-” and bubbly and uplifting in “Chaktek Great Rift Valley.”
The highlight of the album is easily the vocal theme, “Coraggioso! Coraggiosamente!,” a male operatic piece that is energetic and a lot of fun, giving “Maria and Draco” a run for its money. The album continues with the familiar “Iyarr’s Narrator” which is warm and full of mystery, a touch of the series main theme with whistling, twangy guitars, and bagpipes in “Caravan Trip -South-,” dangerous didgeridoo and exotic woodwinds in “A Wild Kid in a Great Island,” and intense ninja-flavored action with chugging shamisen and explosive percussion in “Sword Fight.”
CARAVAN STORIES Original Soundtrack Vol. 6 is another great addition to the series which will wrap up after Volume 8. Grab it on CD Japan if you want the physical edition or on iTunes from mostly anywhere.
Basiscape launches into the second half of their gargantuan CARAVAN STORIES soundtrack with Volume 5, this time focusing on the elves. As you’d expect, there’s a majestic and jovial character to the album, making for some of the best listening so far. It begins with upbeat and jazzy piano that will have you tapping your feet in “Luwiera’s Forest,” dreamy female vocals and running piano, acoustic guitar, and ethereal pads in “Iyarr Ancestral Song,” and harp and pizzicato strings accented by Hamauzu-esque piano and strings in “Luwiera Town.” There’s the dance-y piano lines and female vocal snippets of “The Sword of Aurous,” the beautiful yet dangerous electronic-infused “Lappi Mine,” and the angelic and triumphant “Aleia” with regal strings and harpsichord. This volume’s vocal theme comes as a male vocal ballad with acoustic guitar that has a surprise ending. There’s tense and ominous in the extremely dissonant “Dark Corridor,” mesmerizing repetitive piano runs and strings that slowly build in “Tenement of the Blue Spirit,” and descending harp and hissing percussion in the desolate and dark landscape of “Wolven Cape Rovanier.” The main theme takes us out with a whimsical opening and lovely piano and woodwinds at the end.
Volume 5 may be my favorite yet. You can grab the physical CD on CD Japan or the digital release on iTunes worldwide.
Basiscape’s epic CARAVAN STORIES continues with Volume 4, this time dedicated to the dwarves. As such, expect lots of warmer sounds and reverberating cavern-esque soundscapes compared to past volumes. It begins with prancing bagpipes and mechanical clicks and whirs in “Baldu Pipe Town,” the soothing and mysterious woodwinds and piano of “Billibino Pumpland -Nightscape-,” and the energetic galloping battle tune with chugging bass and fluttering woodwinds in “Dynamic Ingenuity.” There’s ominous and dank with glitchy xylophone in “Arlosa Mine,” an explosive orchestral battle track with “Duel Battle -PV Version-,” a twangy Western vibe in “Start of Hunting Season,” and folksy fiddle, bass, and hand percussion in “Mad Cow Brewery.” The vocal theme comes as a full on death metal track with chugging guitars, explosive bass drum, and screaming vocals titled “Markings of a Lifetime,” which comes as quite a surprise. The album closes with the adventurous “Ghelbours Foothills” and its spookier nighttime counterpart, and the CARAVAN STORIES main theme with added mischief in the rolling guitars and strailing strings.
CARAVAN STORIES Original Soundtrack Vol.4 is available physically from CD Japan and digitally worldwide from iTunes.
Basiscape’s massive score to the mobile RPG Caravan Stories continues into Volume 3, which focuses on the orcs. You’ll find lots of tribal percussion, big brass, sweeping strings, and ominous soundscapes throughout, starting with the exotic and swaying “Garhudom Woodland,” and healing and folksy “Western Dogaa,” and the galloping Panzer Dragoon-esque “Muddy Warrior.” There’s the customary vocal pop song, “Oh, A World Nearby?,” the unsettling and buzzing “Fort Dogaa,” the regal “Audience,” and the rolling marimba and flying strings of “Kuaranii Cascades.” The angelic pads and layered shamisen of “Pyramid of the Moon” exude mystery, the droning pads and quirky electronic sounds of “Urdon Fungal Jungle” are ominous and foreign, and the spooky voices and rattling in the distance in “Deep Grief” are unsettling. It all ends with the grandiose Sakimoto-esque main theme with huge strings, brass, and percussion.
A physical CD can be imported from CD Japan or bought digitally worldwide through iTunes.
Basiscape has reawakened with eight volumes of music from the mobile/PC MMORPG CARVAN STORIES set to release between now and the beginning of 2019. The first volume established a whimsical fantasy atmosphere, and Vol. 2 continues on with music focused on the human areas of the game.
It all begins with a reprise of the lovely main theme with “Caravan Trip -Nightscape-,” a sweet and angelic spin with piano, bells, and woodwinds. There’s the energetic and uplifting battle theme, “The Method of Fighting,” the dreamy guitars, tribal percussion, layered brass, and soothing wildness of “Eastern Part of Denon Hill,” and the epic and grandiose “Mauriana Region” with romantic string work and folksy banjo (there’s also a twinkly sleep version). “The Light for Valmuer Street” comes as a male vocal ballad with a Spanish flair, “Waterling Main Road” sways in a grand and contemplative manner with snapping percussion, and “Scott Battlefield” is both mysterious and determined with pizzicato strings and competing time signatures. Rounding out the album is the bubbly and folksy “Reuben” with acoustic guitar, hand percussion, and Celtic instruments.
Grab CARAVAN STORIES Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 on Amazon to get the latest goodness from Basiscape.
It’s been some time since Hitoshi Sakimoto’s Basiscape Records released anything, but that drought has just come to an end. The Basiscape team has scored the massive anime MMORPG Caravan Stories for PC and mobile, and will be releasing the soundtrack over eight separate volumes between now and January 2019. The first volume includes over an hour of music and is available in digital and physical formats.
Fans will enjoy the folksy and playful fantasy style of the score, particularly the opening “Iyarr Ancestral Song” with its melancholy woodwinds, acoustic guitar, and female vocals. There’s an energetic battle theme that has a lot of fun with the classic JRPG formula in the equally-fun titled “Outpouring of Armaments,” a trippy and cool fanfare with “Victory in Battle,” and the playful and Sakimoto-esque “Iyarr’s Narrator.” Rounding out the album are the grandiose strings and percussion in typical Sakimoto fashion with “Caravan Stories” and a lovely upbeat pop ballad including vocals with “Longing.”
There’s great music to be had by the Basiscape team with seven more volumes to come. Grab Caravan Stories Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 on iTunes.
Final Fantasy XII didn’t get a fair shake when it was first released. Yes, the development was quite an ordeal and the game took a few hits as a result, but Final Fantasy XII was a pioneer in many ways, including with its grandiose orchestral soundtrack by Hitoshi Sakimoto. With the HD remake, dubbed The Zodiac Age, the entire score was re-recorded with the Video Game Orchestra, bringing all the music to life with live performances in addition to new original tracks just for the re-release, totaling a massive 102 tracks and clocking in at nearly six hours. Fans of Final Fantasy and especially Final Fantasy XII will want to give it a listen, and those who pick up the limited edition version also get an arrangement album by the team at Basiscape.
Those who’ve never heard the soundtrack before are in for a real treat right out of the gate with Sakimoto’s signature spin on the Final Fantasy theme, followed by the explosive “Boss Battle” theme and the sweeping fan-favorites “The Dalmasca Eastersand” and “Giza Plains.” “On the Riverbank” is adventurous yet sweet, “Eruyt Village” is soothing and full of mystery with its strings and woodwinds. There are other Sakimoto takes on Final Fantasy classicss such as the chocobo and Gilgamesh’s themes, exotic woodwinds in the desert-esque “The Stilshrine of Miriam,” and tribal percussion and beautiful piano and choir in “The Salikawood.” Rounding out some key themes that listeners will want to check out are “The Final Act” with its tense and decisive sound reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics, “Struggle for Freedom,” a new piece that is absolutely terrifying, and “The Zodiac Age,” a lovely cinematic piece. And don’t forget the beautiful harp-laden “Game Over,” which you’ll be hearing a lot!
As mentioned, the limited edition comes with a CD of arrangements, which includes a music box/dance hybrid of “The Zodiac Age” by Sakimoto himself, exotic bagpipes and woodwinds on “The Dalmascan Eastersand,” and an excellent piano solo of “The Barheim Passage.”
The limited edition is still available on CD Japan and belongs in every Final Fantasy fan’s collection.
As a special treat for Tokyo Game Show last year, Square Enix released a collection of “primal battle” music. That is, the tracks that play when you battle the summoned monsters. The music has been released throughout the various soundtrack releases to date, although one of the tracks has yet to hit an official soundtrack album. In addition to the battle music, the two-disc set also features some lovely artwork on a sturdy slipcase that covers the DVD-sized packaging.
Lots of fan-favorite tracks are here, including the brooding “Fallen Angel,” the exotic and epic “Ultima,” and the grungy metal tracks “Through the Maelstrom” and “Oblivion.” There’s a version of “Battle on the Big Bridge” here, the iconic The Nightmare Before Christmas-flavored “Good King Moggle Mog XII,” and “Battle to the Death,” a killer arrangement of the Final Fantasy VI battle theme by the same name. “Thunder Rolls” is somber and dreamy with its female vocals, “Footsteps in the Snow” combined beautiful piano and choral work with desperate string stabs, and “Unbending Steel” sports gritty male vocals that would be right at home in a Western film. The memorable Heavensward themes are represented, along with the industrial “Fiend” that will have you thinking of Nine Inch Nails, the pop-flavored “Equilibrium,” and a new track, the majestic and adventure-filled “Beauty’s Wicked Wiles,” which I imagine will make it onto a soundtrack release in the future.
In all, this is a solid collection of music for people who don’t already own the various soundtrack releases. Those who do own them may be interested for the artwork and the in-game items that Square Enix is serving up for buying it. Grab it on CD Japan or the North America merchandise store if you’re interested.
The NieR soundtracks have been wildly popular, so it should come as no surprise that the music has enjoyed multiple tours throughout Japan and one-off performances as parts of other game music concerts. This Blu-ray features recorded performances from all seven shows from the 2017 Japan tour, and this is required viewing/listening for any NieR fan.
The performances feature vocalists Emi Evans, J’Nique Nicole, and Marina Kawano, but the unique voice of Nami Nakagawa is absent due to other obligations she had. That made the shows even more interesting thought as Evans and Nicole learned her songs and performed them with a different twist. Essentially every song with vocals was performed at the event, along with a hefty load of vocal drama read on-stage by the actual voice cast. The drama is presented in Japanese, and had members of the audience in tears by the end of it. Those looking only for the music will also be moved by the beautiful renditions of “Peaceful Sleep,” “Vague Hope,” and “Weight of the World,” where the audience is invited to join in. The duet version featuring Evans and Nicole on “Song of the Ancients – Atonement” is a real treat to see, and the child singer on “Pascal” is also super cute. To top it all off, they perform several tracks from the original NieR as an encore, which should leave any NieR fan completely satisfied.
As to the arrangements, there’s a wonderful string quartet along with composer Keigo Hoashi on piano. They have guest guitarists and of course the beautiful vocals. Various electronic elements are played from a source rather than performed live, which is a bit of a bummer, but the performers who are on stage are all top-notch. Keiichi Okabe himself emcees, and is visibly moved by the audience reactions. Having been in the audience for the final show (the default performance when you press “play” on the Blu-ray), I can tell you the level of excitement was through the roof.
Go grab it on CD Japan. The slip case is especially cool as it reflects the game’s Chaos Language depending on how the light hits it, creating a really cool effect. It’s definitely worth checking out.