01 - EG Expression I - Ryuvane's Wind
02 - EG Expression II - Will
03 - EG Expression III - Emergency
04 - Sunbeams Streaming Through Leaves on the Hill
05 - Sounds of the Cavern
06 - Buying Goods at Palmira
07 - Castle of Regression
08 - Howl
09 - Alcrest
10 - I Saw It in the Circle
11 - Red Gale
12 - Stab the Heavens
13 - The Edge of the World
14 - EG Expression IV - Parting with Shiena
15 - EG Expression V - Omen
16 - Grace ~Bonus Track~
17 - EG Expression 0 ~Bonus Track~
Evergrace was an action RPG released during the PS2's earlier days by "From Software." This game is regarded as one of the worst games ever to be released on the console: I have played the game myself, and I agreed that the game felt rushed into an early release. To its defense, the game was originally planned for PS1, and the port over to PS2 may have done a lot of the damage.
But, regardless of the game's content, the soundtrack is one of the most outstandingly original CDs I have ever listened to. Without a doubt, the one thing that mark's Kota Hoshino's strange musical score is the insane use of vocal synths. There are three good "e" adjectives to describe the vocal synth on this OST: exotic, eccentric, and erratic (no, erotic didn't make the list). The first time I gave this soundtrack a thorough listening, my general response was annoyance. "What is this supposed to sound like, because it doesn't sound any good to me!" - I recanted my initial impressions later.
Take a listen for yourself of the samples: note the strange, almost ethnic sounds of the male and female vocal synths. Listen to the traditional Asian instrumentation happening in the background. Try and keep up with the wonderfully complex percussion on "Stab the Heavens." For a softer sound, check out the sample of the last track. There is really something special about this soundtrack.
Special or not, there are some sounds that simply are not pleasing to the human ear. Listen to track 4: do you hear the bending of pitch on what sounds like a sitar synth? It is not the result of RealPlayer encoding. When I first played the game, I thought it was an error in the disc reading the music: as if it was slowing down somewhat. However, listening to this OST proves that it was designed to sound that way. It's a neat idea, but it also seems to be the mark of an amateur: no melody-loving human being could really withstand listening to that pitch-bending for too long without going insane.
It is a shame that Evergrace's sequel, known as "Forever Kingdom", never had an official soundtrack release; I have heard it, and Forever Kingdom's music is basically a much more epic and refined version of these style of songs. However, those who are interested in taking a gamble and willing to listen to something new really ought to give this soundtrack a chance. I found myself choosing this CD over a selection of many others when I went on long road trips: I didn't know why, but I did know that it felt good to put down the windows, drive just over the speed limit, and blast music that people simply weren't used to. I beg you to open your ears to this strange new sound produced by Hoshino: you may end up liking it in the end.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann