Music of the Year 2012

Neal Chandran's Awards

5) Attouteki Yuugi Mugen Souls Attouteki Soundtrack
Composed by Tenpei Sato and Kenji Kaneko
Kenji Kaneko + Tenpei Sato = peas and carrots. Each composer has a distinct style, but both styles come together to create one of the most enjoyable soundtracks I've heard this year. The beauty is in how each composer's music complements the other and the way everything is sonically balanced. Some multi-composer soundtracks sound like too many cooks ruining the stew, but if just one composer had written this soundtrack, it wouldn't have sounded nearly as good as what's presented here.

Favorite Tracks:
Flying Candy
Attack of Delusion
In Sequence

4) Record of Agarest War 2
Composed by Kenji Kaneko
Record of Agarest War 2 was probably my biggest surprise of 2012. Not only was it a solid JRPG, but it had one of the most engaging soundtracks I've heard all year. I loved it all: the standard opening vocal song, the J-pop style vocal theme following the prologue, the other "Easter egg" vocal songs peppered throughout the game, the rocking combat music (particularly the Gai Desert battle theme), the shimmering save/load music, all of it.

Unfortunately, this soundtrack doesn't feature all the game's music and, as such, my favorite themes such as the Gai Desert battle theme and all the vocal numbers are not present. If this were a complete soundtrack, it would rate a lot higher, especially since I find this to be some of Kenji Kaneko's absolute best work.

Favorite Tracks:
Rise A Knight
Those Who Love Nature
Refresh Our Memory

3) Dust: An Elysian Tail
Composed by HyperDuck SoundWorks and Alex Brandon
Dust is the indie darling of 2012 for good reason. The game is visually stunning, loads of fun to play, and has an absolutely stirring soundtrack. Each piece is lush, complex, and captures the unique beauty in the game. With talent like this, it won't be long until we see HyperDuck Soundworks' name on a marquee AAA grade title.

Favorite Tracks:
Abadis Forest
Last Sanctum
Glick 16

2) Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers Arrange Sound Track
Composed by Toshiko Tasaki, Shoji Meguro, and Tsukasa Masuko (Arranged by Atsushi Kitajoh)
This brief, but excellent, soundtrack features arranged versions of some already butt-kicking pieces from the game Soul Hackers. After 17 minutes of some of the coolest music I've heard all year, I was left breathless and wanting more. I want to hear more arranged Soul Hackers songs and play Soul Hackers in English. I can't say anything intelligent beyond, "this music is awesome!"

Favorite Tracks:
Opening Movie
Naomi Battle
Hotel Gomaden

1) Genso Suikoden Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki OST
Composed by SOLIDTUNE/Seiichi Takamoto and Miki Higashino
Suikoden is a series that has consistently had stellar music and this game is no exception. The music presented is epic in scope, just like any good Suikoden game. Every composition is stirring, complex, lush, and an absolute treat to listen to. The battle themes get your blood pumping, the location themes reflect diverse cultures, the event themes draw on the right emotions, the few character themes give a good sense of their respective characters. Even the lighter and happier pieces stay grounded while conveying a moment of levity in a time of war. This is everything you expect an epic RPG soundtrack to be.

Favorite Tracks:
Door of Truth (Title BGM)
Violent Soldier of Rage (Crimson Axe Battle BGM)
Theme of Joy (Event BGM)

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