Uncharted Waters II Special Edition

[back cover]
Catalog Number: KECH-1061
Released On: March 25, 1994
Composed By: Yoko Kanno
Arranged By: Yoko Kanno
Published By: Koei Co., Ltd.
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 1 CD

From Uncharted Waters
01 - Opening (Opening ~Endless Voyage~)
02 - Echoes of the Middle Age
03 - Olive Wind
04 - Southern Twilight ~ Dance on a Cape of Good Hope
05 - Ending -Seven Seas-
From Uncharted Waters II
06 - Wind Ahead
07 - Caprice For Lute
08 - Catalina
09 - The Mahout (Indian Elephant Trainers)
10 - Moslem Dance
11 - Empty Eyes ~Emerald Sea~
12 - Land of Luxury (Land of Gold)
13 - Mast in the Mist (Misty Harbor)
14 - The Chase
15 - Interlude (Interlude: Royal Palace Theme)
16 - Fiddler's Green (Sailor's Pub)
17 - Close to Home
Total Time:

Daikoukaijidai (Era of the Great Voyage) is a historical sea-based RPG series released for the Super Famicon, Megadrive, and PC, and brought out in the US under the titles of Uncharted Waters and New Horizons. In contrast to the predominantly classical European and traditional Asian motifs she employed for the Nobunaga games, for this globe sailing adventure series Kanno brought together styles from every corner of the world. The results were and still are almost certainly the most commendably diverse, ethnically oriented, and worldly soundtracks ever heard in any games.

This "Special Edition" contains all arranged music from both games in the Uncharted Waters series she composed: 5 tracks from the original Uncharted Waters Soundware CD and all 12 tracks from the Uncharted Waters II CD. The CD begins fairly modestly with the adventurous trumpet fanfares of "Endless Voyage," and Renaissance-style dance "Echoes of the Middle Ages." From "Olive Wind" on, however, the CD vaults towards the unforgettable, as Kanno's tireless creativity and matchless artistry shines forth on every track. "Olive Wind," a light, colorful piece with xylophone and clarinet leads over rhythm guitar and percussion, delights in throwing the listener's assumptions, constantly twisting through unexpected progressions and melodic turns, and fluently shifting moods from poignant to upbeat. Wonderful as it is, it's dwarfed by the aural feast that follows: "Southern Twilight-Dance on a Cape of Good Hope," a medley of two themes. Extraordinarily atmospheric, Twilight begins with an intoxicating, mesmeric sax melody backed by deep bass, piano, and a laid-back Caribbean rhythm, effortlessly invoking the image of an isolated, moonlit beach. Via a rapid percussion bridge halfway through, the beach suddenly explodes into life with a spirited, uplifting samba. It is no exaggeration to say that these two tracks alone are worth the CD.

Among the other brilliant tracks, "Caprice for Lute" a nostalgic, touching piece for solo guitar recalls the warm sentimentality of traditional sea chanteys. "Catalina" is a bewitching mixture of Spanish flamenco, ragtime syncopation, and jazz timing; and includes some of Kanno's most impressive and virtuoso piano work to date. And it is difficult to say more on the solo piano "Mast in the Mist" than that it's simply one of her most penetratingly beautiful compositions ever. One more track that begs mention is "Fiddler's Green," a wild violin and guitar jazz tune inspired by the violin jazz work of Stephane Grapelli.

Literally every track on this CD is an outrageous delight, and picking favorites is almost impossible. Uncharted Waters II Special Edition truly cuts across all boundaries, and couldn't be more highly recommended.

Reviewed by: James McCawley

This CD is a collection of music from two different soundtracks. The first five tracks are from the now impossible-to-find Uncharted Waters soundtrack. The soundtrack had other songs not present, all in arranged form (this CD is entirely arranged music, no OST stuff here). The second part is the twelve tracks of the original Uncharted Waters II soundtrack (while this original is also hard to find, no one wants it because all of the music on it is now found on this disc).

Something to note about this soundtrack: Technically, the name of this game (and thus the soundtrack) is Daikoukai Jidai, which translates roughly into "Era of Great Voyage". However, due to its being known so commonly as Uncharted Waters that even the Japanese will usually recognize by this name, this is how we will list the soundtrack.

Yoko Kanno is a favorite among VGM fans for being so diverse while still being great at everything she writes. While many of Koei's games (which are most of the games Kanno has composed for) are not RPGs, this series most definitely is. It's a good thing for us too, because most people recognize this soundtrack as one of her greatest.

I do not think it is possible to describe this soundtracks' greatness by talking generally over every track beyond what I have already said; at the same time, it would be too time-consuming to describe every track. So, to make up for this, I will show an example by describing in detail my favorite track (track 4): Southern Twilight~Dance on a Cape of Good Hope.

The first half of the song (Southern Twilight) is a slow dance track. The melody is played on saxophone, and there is some background from the guitar, with piano chiming in every now and then, and the bass and latin percussion doing a great job. The song is definitely catchy, with a melody that one could naturally write lyrics to. After a couple minutes, the song drops the percussion to have a solo piano part, which then leads into a faster part of Southern Twilight. The saxophone is now playing more outrageous notes rather than a set melody. After hearing some really nice jazzy stuff here, the instruments fade out to leave a good 40-second percussion-only solo, which will now transition to the next part of the song.

Dance on a Cape of Good Hope automatically kicks in when the percussion section is finished, featuring a nice-sized band, with a set-up similar to a standard jazz band (trumpets, trombones, saxophones, then the rhythm section described earlier in the first song). The percussion picks up as this song is much faster than the earlier song, and the piano has some amazing parts as well. There is also a flute soloing during most of this song. Along with flute, there is a guitar solo, near the end of the song (at this point the song is nearing 7 minutes!). A small string orchestra is now present, adding to the overall sound. Overall, this is one of the most well-composed dance songs in history. This song makes me want to take up professional ballroom dancing, get really good, and then go to some large celebration (such as a wedding) and dance the night away to this song.

Now that you have a good idea as to what kind of great music you'll find on here (and very few of the tracks match this style, each song has its own). On this CD you'll find a Japanese female vocal, an English male vocal, at least two tracks featuring amazing piano-playing, a middle-eastern-style track, a "renaissance-folk" track (similar to the stuff you'd hear on Orrizonte), a baroque harpsichord track, and MUCH MUCH more!

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann


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