Tag Archives: Orchestral

CARAVAN STORIES Original Soundtrack Vol.4 (BSPE-1074)

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.

CARAVAN STORIES Original Soundtrack Vol.3 (BSPE-1073)

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.

CARAVAN STORIES Original Soundtrack Vol.2 (BSPE-1072)

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.

CARAVAN STORIES Original Soundtrack Vol.1 (BSPE-1071)

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 THE ZODIAC AGE Original Soundtrack [Limited Edition] (SQEX-20035~6)

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.

Review: Untempered: FINAL FANTASY XIV Primal Battle Themes

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.

Review: NieR Music Concert Blu-ray

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.

Review: THE FAR EDGE OF FATE: FINAL FANTASY XIV Original Soundtrack

We’ve covered a lot of Final Fantasy XIV music here over the years. Each release adds a mountain of new music to the game, and as always, it’s very high quality stuff courtesy of composer Masayoshi Soken. THE FAR EDGE OF FATE comes packed on a Blu-ray disc with tagged MP3 files of the album’s 50 new tracks included. There are also many references to unexpected pieces through Final Fantasy’s storied past that series fans will enjoy.

I can’t touch on all 50 tracks, but some of my favorites include “Down the Up Staircase” withs its sweet harpsichord and swaying strings, “Dancing Calcabrina” from Final Fantasy IV with deep acoustic bass and circus-like synth work, and “Metal – Brute Justice Mode” which comes as a super hero rock/orchestral track with big brass and robotic vocals. There’s the militaristic and decisive march, “Faith in her Fury,” a reprise of the Heavensward theme with the epic and huge “Revenge of the Horde,” and the dreamy trance track “Blackbosom.” The jingly-jangly “No Sound, No Scutter” adds metallic percussion and kazoo to the mix, “The Kiss” is playful with its toy percussion and sweet woodwinds and pizzicato strings, and “Starved” brings grunge rock with electronic whirs in a very cool combination. “The Ancient City” is a somber piano concerto, “Holy Consult” sounds channels its inner Western flick, and “Teardrops in the Rain” sports constant movement and mystery with Final Fantasy IX references. The throwbacks continue with the ominous organ track, “Promises” and “Shadow of the Body,” both of which draw from Final Fantasy IX, and “Battle tot he Death,” a new spin on the Atma weapon battle from Final Fantasy VI. “Rise” sounds like something out of The World Ends With You with its male rapping and hip hop sounds, while “Penultimania” features a dizzying rolling chip line with spacious strings. The album closes with the James Bond-esque “Scale and Steel” with big strings and brass and a heavy sense of intrigue.

In all, Soken does another wonderful job. I’ll be looking forward to his next release. THE FAR EDGE OF FATE available on CD Japan if you’re interested.

Review: Kingdom Hearts Concert -First Breath- Album

Square Enix has taken the Kingdom Hearts series on tour, and this release represents the first collection of music made widely-available from said tour. A lot of fans have been greatly looking forward to this release, and as expected, they hit a lot of the highlights from across the series.

The album opens with “Destati” with its slow and intense buildup with lots of tension and energy in the brass and percussion sections. The beautiful “Dearly Beloved” gets a slow and measured version with doubled-up piano and harp and an offset xylophone that gives the arrangement a nice twinkle. “Traverse Town” is sleepy and slow, giving way to a nice jazz arrangement, while the rambunctious “Hand in Hand” features rolling snares and a marching band-esque approach. “Journey of KINGDOM HEARTS” offers a little of everything as a medley of locales that touches on tropical, jazz, and spooky. The slow sway of “Lazy Afternoons” is simply perfect, while “The Other Promise” is sometimes somber and other times foreboding, “Another Side” gets tense piano and woodwinds before rock percussion explodes onto the scene, and “Gearing Up” is made regal with big brass added to its playful and bouncy melody. “Destiny’s Union” is slow and dreamy with a doubled-up piano and harp and a flute lead, “The Unknown” is tense with low xylophone notes and steady brass stabs, “The Power of Darkness” gets big brass and percussion and cool triangle and chime work. Finally, “March Caprise for Piano & Strings” is a triumphant and bombastic march.

In all, this might be the definitive way to enjoy the music of Kingdom Hearts! The packaging is also quite nice, coming in a glossy cardboard sleeve. Grab it on CD Japan if you’re interested.

Review: Mobius Final Fantasy Original Soundtrack 2

If you enjoyed Mitsuto Suzuki’s Mobius Final Fantasy soundtrack, you should be ecstatic that Square Enix has released a massive second volume comprising three discs of all new music. Prepare yourself for more sweeping orchestral, abstract electronic wizardry, and killer vocal tunes with lots of Final Fantasy references tucked in for good measure.

I’ll start with the amazing “Capricious Cait Sith,” easily my favorite track on the album, which comes as a silly female vocal disco tune with a smooth and funky backing. Vocals are featured prominently throughout, including on the wonderful “Always There” with its ascending acoustic guitar, ethereal pads, and gentle male vocals and the cool RNB production, “Azure Memories,” which sports clean acoustic guitar and female vocals. Backing up, though, the album begins with the big orchestral sounds of “Ring of Braves” with rolling percussion and uplifting piano before diving in to the whimsical “Mogheim” with its lovely piano and Final Fantasy main theme references, the dance-y “Breaker’s Funk” with rhodes piano and funky bass synth, and “Meia’s Theme” with its cool blend of flamenco guitar and strings. There’s a beautiful Christmas version of “Sarah’s Theme” from Final Fantasy XIII-2, a Final Fantasy theme Christmas track titled “Hopebringer,” a rockin’ rendition of the Final Fantasy VII “Fanfare,” which is absolutely perfect, and the explosive metal “Bloodthirst” with powerful percussion and guitar shredding. “The Infinite Warrior” gives us upbeat rock in traditional Final Fantasy style with its bubbly approach and rock organ, and “Battle Princes,” a bumpin’ EDM track that transitions into uplifting piano and strings.

Spanning three discs, there’s a lot of music here to enjoy. I think I enjoyed Mobius Final Fantasy Original Soundtrack 2 even more than the original release. Grab it on CD Japan if you’re so inclined!