Tales of Xillia OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: AVCD-38355~7 (limited edition AVCD-38351~4)
Released On: September 07, 2011
Composed By: Motoi Sakuraba
Arranged By: Motoi Sakuraba
Published By: avex trax
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 3 CDs (LE contains bonus 4th disc)
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Disc One
01 - Master of the Spirits
02 - The Enshrined Spirit
03 - The Four Great Spirits' Divine Protection
04 - Wishing for a Dear World
05 - Rushing After School
06 - Tales of Xillia
07 - A Royal City Enveloped by the Night
08 - Rampant Malice
09 - Clenching the Fists
10 - Delight in Victory
11 - The Root of Evil
12 - Desperate Situation
13 - Daring Sword
14 - The Lands of Other Countries
15 - Covered Truth
16 - Brief Rest
17 - A Mountain Village in the Dawn
18 - Overflowing Nature
19 - Life or Death
20 - Losing the Battle
21 - The Village of the Spirits
22 - Overlapping Ripples
23 - Creeping Shadow
24 - Captivated by the Journey
25 - A Merchant Town Full of Life
26 - Unexpected Impact
27 - Enveloped in Tenderness
28 - Milla's Theme ~Mission~
29 - Illuminated by the Sunlight
30 - A Beloved Hometown
31 - Traversing Silence
32 - Believe in Me
Total Time:

Disc Two
01 - That Sword, Dancing Magnificently
02 - A Mecca for Battles
03 - Melee Dance!
04 - Melancholic Memories
05 - A Lord's City Towering in the Mountains
06 - Gaius's Theme ~Supremacy~
07 - Devil of the Sky
08 - The Sea of Clouds Below
09 - Master of the Sky
10 - Soaking Presage
11 - That Fist, Decision in a Blink
12 - Waves of Great Evil
13 - The Lord's Invasion
14 - A Palace Bathed in Sunlight
15 - Believe in My Flag
16 - Indomitable Will
17 - The Root of the Lives Taken Away
18 - The Fleet Takes to the Skies
19 - Invading Corps
20 - Fire Rain in the Swamplands
21 - Crumbling Under the Feet
22 - The Whereabouts of the Melee!
23 - Unstoppable Plan
24 - Jin Weapon
25 - All-Out War on the Sea
26 - The Moving Gigantic Ship
27 - Her Treasure
28 - Disappearing into the Sea
29 - Words of the Genocide Spirit
30 - The Blocking World
31 - The Meaning of the Mission
32 - Between Tragedy and Hatred
Total Time:

Disc Three
01 - Jude's Theme ~Determination~
02 - Indomitable Fists that Know No Equal
03 - The Wavering Spirit World
04 - Crush the Creaking World
05 - A City of Another Civilization
06 - The World Sinking into Darkness
07 - My Sword Shall Open the Way
08 - Builders of Another World
09 - Interstitial World
10 - Krsnik's Spear
11 - Battle for a Future to Believe In
12 - Believe in People's Potential
13 - To a New Era
14 - Their Steps, and the Present
15 - Believe in Change
16 - Remote Labyrinth
17 - Take Pride on Your Present Self
Total Time:

Disc Four
01 - First Press Bonus Track
Total Time:

Motoi Sakuraba is well-known for two things: composing music for the Tales series and having a penchant for sticking to a very rigid musical formula. Tales of Xillia's soundtrack, like its predecessors, was created in Sakuraba's signature style and does little to distinguish itself from his other works. The music itself is certainly inoffensive; it seems appropriately suited to the game's atmosphere, and a few tracks dance with greatness, but the album as a whole is distressingly bland.

Several tracks, such as 1-14, 1-17, 1-21, and 2-5 have a distinctly Asian flavor thanks to gratuitous use of the flute and mandolin. I found myself unconsciously associating them with Milla and her homeland based on trailer footage of her summoning elementals within a pagoda-style room. None of the songs are especially captivating, but they express the intended feeling well enough.

I'm not sure why Sakuraba created so many different pieces to convey a sense of danger, urgency, or foreboding, especially considering they all sound similar to one another. Tracks 1-8, 1-11, 1-12, 1-19, 1-23, 1-26, 1-31, 2-7, 2-9, 2-13, 2-17, 2-18, 2-19, 2-24, 3-4, and 3-10 all fall into this category, but because there are so many tracks in this style, it's difficult to discern which songs are suited to generic dangerous situations and which should be played at pivotal moments in the story. Track 3-11 is a clear standout from the rest of these because, while it starts out quiet and ominous, it quickly becomes a stirring piece that shouts, "Rally yourselves! The final confrontation is at hand!"

Another area where the album falls a bit flat is in the excess of slower/ambient tracks. Once again, these pieces have such little variety that it's difficult to imagine connecting any of them to a particular town or dungeon in the game. Tracks 1-15, 1-16, 1-18, 1-20, 1-22, 2-4, 2-10, 2-14, and 2-21 could be used interchangeably in any number of in-game locations, and despite the tracks being pleasant enough to listen to, they come off as thoughtless and dull.

Most songs on the album utilize the instruments in Sakuraba's "safe zone" of drums, bass, and low chorus, but a few successfully experiment with piano and saxophone. Track 3-5 is a wonderfully mellow jazz piece that conjures images of a relaxed bar or restaurant. Likewise, track 3-6 exudes a film noir vibe that is different from almost everything else on the album in a very good way.

The battle tracks are by and large the highlights of the album. Track 1-9 appears to be the standard battle theme, with some synth and fast-paced guitar riffs that do a great job of pumping the listener up. Track 1-13 is a bit lighter and more playful, suited for less serious battles, but still carrying a strong melody. Track 2-1 is led by violin and might suit a battle against an elegant, but deadly foe. The adrenaline-pumping synth and guitar harmony of track 2-3 makes it sound like something that would play during a confrontation with a long-time rival. Track 2-11 is frantic piece that implies high stakes and no time to lose. Track 3-7 is somewhat slower, once again being headed by violin, and feels nostalgic while conveying a sense of unshakable resolve. Tracks 3-2 and 3-16 both have an intensity that would be appropriate for the final battle. Each track manages to have its own identity despite the relative lack of variance in Sakuraba's compositions.

As a huge fan of the Tales series, I'm surprised at how indifferent I was to much of this album. It honestly seems like Sakuraba is content to keep composing the same music over and over. Still, I have no doubt it works in conjunction with the world of Tales of Xillia. As a game soundtrack, it meets my expectations, but as individual pieces of music, most of the tracks fail to inspire.

Reviewed by: Derek Heemsbergen