Concerto ~The extraordinary world of Concerto Gate~

[back cover]
Catalog Number: NSLCD-0006
Released On: March 5, 2008
Composed By: Hiroki Kikuta
Arranged By: Hiroki Kikuta
Published By: nostrilia
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 1 CD

01 - ouverture
02 - vivace
03 - mormorando
04 - misterioso
05 - presto
06 - soave
07 - leggero
08 - serioso
09 - sonoro
10 - ostinato
11 - selvaggio
12 - appassionato
13 - lamentoso
14 - declamato
15 - coda
Total Time:

Concerto Gate is an MMORPG from Square Enix, and a spiritual successor to their previous MMO "Cross Gate." The game itself, I know little about. As for the soundtrack, it marks Hiroki Kikuta's return, in a sense. Kikuta has been doing VGM projects on and off in the last decade, but this is Kikuta's first work with Square since Soukaigi (and before that, the infamous Seiken Densetsu games for Super Famicom, one of which you know as "Secret of Mana").

You look at the track names, and you think, "oh, Italian musical terms. It must be an orchestra album!" Do you want big-production, live-instrument recordings? Too bad! With Kikuta, some well-placed synth is all you need sometimes. Fans of Secret of Mana (as well as Seiken Densetsu 3) will immediately recognize the soundscape. Okay, well maybe not immediately. After all, the first and last tracks of this album are original compositions not found in Concerto Gate. But starting with track two, "Vivace," you'll immediately be reminded of town themes from Secret of Mana. And that, my friends, is a wonderful feeling. Even without the sense of nostalgia, there's no denying that Kikuta's sound is something no one has attempted to imitate. There's something simple, innocent, and beautiful in it.

Every track on this album is brilliant. My favorite slow piece is "mormorando," and my favorite fast piece (I assume a battle theme) is "selvaggio." But I cannot emphasize enough that these so-called favorites aren't the only good tracks on here. This album is solid, and it is consistent.

Like most Kikuta albums, however, it may be argued that simple, memorable melodies are not found. Instead, rhythmic musical pattersn form around one another and take shape into something that are not naturally converted to human memory. Personally, that's exactly what I like about it. It's great music for relaxing and/or sleeping. Even the fast, intense tracks have distinct polyrhythm that can almost put one in a trance.

My only wish is that we had more music. I can't imagine this is the entire score for an MMORPG. Maybe it is...but I certainly hope not. The more we can get out of Kikuta, the better, I say! As for locating this album, it's not found at the usual outlets, but Amazon Japan does carry it. Oldschool Secret of Mana fans, Hiroki Kikuta fans, and anyone intrigued by these audio samples should consider adding this to the collection. Also, the artwork for the album is surprisingly awesome, as you can see from the front cover.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann