Editor's Note: If you're wondering, "where is the review for the Volume 2 soundtrack? You skipped from 1 to 3?" The answer is that RPGFan does not review digital-only releases, and that's exactly what the Vol.2 soundtrack was. Strangely, the Vol.3 soundtrack was printed as not just a physical CD album, but it comes in two packaging varieties.
Admission of bias: whenever Japanese and Korean composers work together, I'm immediately intrigued. The tension and sense of competition between these countries, particularly in the realm of gaming and other media, has always bugged me. I'm much more interested in cooperation than in competition and the ego-trip that comes with it.
That's why I like the DJMax rhythm games, and it's also why I like the soundtrack for the MMORPG Granado Espada. Osamu Kubota, S.F.A., and others worked together on this soundtrack. Talk about a win!
But what about the music itself? Perhaps you're not like me, and you don't give a rip whether or not bridges are built in working on game music. Well ... you're in for a strange treat.
There is no one cohesive musical style, but let me try and paint a picture. Start with Baroque-era instruments: organ, harpsichord, violin/viola/cello, flute, and of course choirs (gender-specific or mixed, your call). Throw down an ambient dance/trance beat. Spice it up with some piano solos. Allow one voice from the choir to take center stage and become the soloist.
That method, and variations upon it, account for about 50% of the music on this three disc set. The rest use at least some pieces from the aforementioned list, but will either add a touch of East Asian instrumentation or will go a completely modern/postmodern electronic route.
Let me point you to one of the strangest songs here: "Discipline." The focus of this piece is a unique male-only choir. At times singing, at other times chanting, and always repetitious, this piece of music challenges my very understanding of "what works" in game music scores. I don't love it, but I certainly do admire it.
Final verdict: this music is very good, but it's often quite weird. It may irritate some listeners, and it's not a personal favorite of mine, but others (especially Granado Espada players) are sure to treasure it.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann