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Day Five: Patrick Gann's Music of the Year
Former head of RPGFan Music (at the time called "Soundtracks"), Patrick Gann is one of the biggest music fans we have at RPGFan. He's been around the musical block a few times, and has heard enough of what's out there to know what's good, so when he says you should listen to something, he's probably right.

Patrick's favorite music of 2013 brings in some Square Enix, some Falcom, along with some titles/artists you may not be familiar with (but you should be).

5) Hate Plus OST
Composed by Isaac Schankler
The follow-up to "Analogue: A Hate Story" from Christine Love, "Hate Plus" is another "navigate the mainframe and talk to AIs" visual novel. It's certainly unique, and one of its best features is the music by Isaac Schankler. This time, Schankler went the distance by including a catchy, tongue-in-cheek vocal theme called "It's Not Ero!" alongside the clever, well-layered instrumentals. Definitely worth checking out.

Favorite Tracks:
It's Not Ero! (feat. Senah Kim)
Stage
Science

4) Sora no Kiseki Zanmai
Composed by Sound Team JDK
I'm behind on my Falcom music. While I adored both Ys ZANMAI and Sora no Kiseki ZANMAI, I have yet to listen to Falcom Field ZANMAI (which, based on tracklist alone, looks very tantalizing). I've also not yet heard Sen no Kiseki. But from what Falcom music I have listened to from 2013, I think I have to give Sora no Kiseki Zanmai the nod. It brought freshness I didn't think possible to some recognizable melodies, as well as some forgotten ones. Fans of this series (within a series (within a series)) will love this album.

Favorite Tracks:
The Fate of the Fairies (The Legend of Heroes: Sora no Kiseki Second Chapter)
Sophisticated Fight (The Legend of Heroes: Sora no Kiseki First Chapter)
Hollow Light of the Sealed Land -The Theme of SORA NO KISEKI- (The Legend of Heroes: Sora no Kiseki First Chapter)

Also See Our Review: Sora no Kiseki Zanmai Review

3) Valdis Story: Abyssal City OST
Composed by Zack Parrish
Among indie game OSTs this year, Valdis Story comes out clearly on top. There can be no question. It has everything. It has quality *and* quantity. It overwhelms me. I love it. And it's written by a relative newcomer, Zack Parrish (he is exactly two days older than me, and I suspect he stole the compositional talents from the cosmos that I covet to this day!). Parrish's discography is fairly small, but Valdis Story is a breakout soundtrack that is sure to give this budding composer notoriety and credibility in the industry. Can't wait to hear what's next!

Favorite Tracks:
Beneath the Surface
Primal Instincts
Thriven With Life

Also See Our Review: Valdis Story: Abyssal City OST Review

2) Final Fantasy XI: Stolen Hearts / Nanaa Mihgo's
Composed by Naoshi Mizuta
An arranged album I couldn't have expected or dreamed up in my lifetime, this incredible hour-long arranged album contains music from Final Fantasy XI and three of its five expansions. Only eight songs are found across the hour, meaning the average track is about 8 minutes long. And it's all performed by a trio of incredible musicians. It's better than the Star Onions, but it still has Mizuta-san at the helm. I love this CD!

Favorite Tracks:
Fighters of the Crystal
Rolanberry Fields
The Pioneers

Also See Our Review: Stolen Hearts / Nanaa Mihgo's Review

1) Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII OST
Composed by Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, Mitsuto Suzuki, Nobuo Uematsu
Final Fantasy XIII-2 was a great soundtrack, but it only used Hamauzu sparingly, and mostly in reference back to the original XIII. I was pleased to see Mizuta-san take a huge leap in music-writing skills here, and Mitsuto Suzuki was awesome as always. Things get even better with Lightning Returns. Sure, there are some... unconventional vocal tracks. But there are also the beautiful VGO recordings, and plenty of orchestra-meets-electronica material to blow your mind. Unwrapping this precious musical treat only made me more excited to play the game this year. I know some fans were underwhelmed, but I've been put under this OST's spell. Hamauzu reigns, and with Suzuki and Mizuta he's in good company.

Favorite Tracks:
The Ark
City of Revelry
Divine Love

Also See Our Review: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII OST Review

Best thing to happen to game music in 2013: TIE! Kickstarter, Joypad/Loudr
Kickstarter has been making waves since 2011 in the world of crowdfunding. But the real joy of Kickstarter for game music fans is that the rewards have (finally!) started pouring in during the year of 2013. Whether it was a game music specific project like VGO's "Live At Symphony Hall" and Chris Huelsbeck's 4 disc "Turrican Anthology," or soundtracks released as a reward tier with games themselves (too many to name, but I'll mention "Lilly Looking Through" as a recent favorite!), Kickstarter has become a great way to support indie gaming and game music.

Equally important, in 2013 Joypad Records has risen to prominence. With a crack team of legal specialists that understand music licensing better than many others in the business, they've made it possible for quote-unquote "fanmade" arrangements and remixes to be sold as real music. Sure, there are some mediocre arrangements to be found, but the vast majority of what we've seen from Joypad this year, especially to RPG-specific offerings, has been a boon. And, as Joypad's primary method of distribution, Loudr has proven a great way to get music out to the fans. Its functionality is similar to bandcamp, but it also offers great grouping/bundling options and, according to many artists, maximizes the amount of money going to the artists and rightsholders.

Soundtrack I'm most looking forward to in 2014: Drag-on Dragoon 3
AKA Drakengard 3, the least-expected sequel announcement of this year. NieR blew my mind three years ago, but it didn't leave much room for a chronological sequel. Drag-on Dragoon 3 ("Drakengard 3" in Western territories) will be a prequel to the first game in the series (whose "E" ending leads to the NieR universe). The art style and music look to match the quality of NieR... and, dare I hope for it, could even be better? With Keiichi Okabe and the rest of MONACA composing the music, and the impossibly wonderful voice of Emi Evans featured again, I suspect we're in for another groundbreaking soundtrack.






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