||Catalog Number: SSCX-10062/3
|Released On: March 6, 2002
|Composed By: Yasunori Mitsuda
|Arranged By: Yasunori Mitsuda
|Published By: DigiCube
|Recorded At: Unknown
|Format: 2 CDs
01 - Prologue
02 - Opening
03 - Battle
04 - Battle's End
05 - Starting Examination
06 - Thoughts
07 - Gnosis
08 - Awakening
09 - Shion's Crisis
10 - Fighting KOS-MOS
11 - Sadness
12 - Life or Death
13 - Game Over
14 - Margulis
15 - Followed Space Shuttle
16 - Relief
17 - Everyday
18 - U.M.N. MODE
19 - Durandal
20 - Invasion Inside an Enemy Ship
21 - U-TIC Facility
22 - The Girl Who Closed Her Heart
23 - Kookai Foundation
24 - Shion ~Memories of the Past~
01 - Ormus
02 - Nephilim
03 - Warmth
04 - Anxiety
05 - The Resurrection
06 - Beach of the Void
07 - Green Sleeves
08 - Zarathustra
09 - KOS-MOS
10 - Panic
11 - Song of Nephilim
12 - The Miracle
13 - Inner Space
14 - Albedo
15 - Ω
16 - Proto Merkabah
17 - Last Battle
18 - Pain
19 - Escape
20 - Kokoro
21 - Shion ~Emotion~
Between having a resume of soundtrack scores such as the Chrono games and Xenogears, and using one of the best live orchestras in the world for his most recent score, which just happens to be for an already highly anticipated RPG, Yasunori Mitsuda has quite a lot of expectations to live up to. Thankfully, for the most part, Xenosaga Episode 1's soundtrack fulfills those expectations as Mitsuda has made the most out of his work with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Mitsuda has been known for strong Celtic influences in his work, however, for the most part, Xenosaga takes a step away from that.
The limited first print of the OST, which is 2 discs (45 tracks) long, comes in a digipack case, which folds open, and the insert booklet is tucked away in the left sleeve. The regular edition is simply a jewel case which still includes the insert. The packaging art is simple, with bright red spheres cast against a bright blue background, with each sphere containing a different picture, be it a planet or people. Aside from lyrics and credits (including a full list of the London Philharmonic), the insert also contains notes from Mitsuda himself, and from Xenosaga's director, Tetsuya Takahashi. If you think that's a lot, there's even a note from Joanne Hogg herself, and a short explanation of each song. If you know Japanese, you have a bit of reading to do here.
To start, the live orchestra definetely gives the score a fuller and deeper sound - and often, feels like a movie score. The overall tone of the album is serious, sometimes dark, heavy and even haunting at times. There's not too many moments on the light-hearted side. The religious feel of the album is more present in Disc 2, which includes the more dramatic tracks overall. Vocal songs range from choral, "The Miracle," to regular vocal, "Kokoro," and even opera, "Albedo." Of the vocal songs, my personal favorite is "The Resurrection," a a cappella track in which the choir shows rich and powerful voices when need be. The songs that step away from the orchestra feel, such as "Warmth," which is piano-only, may come as a bit of a relief in their simplicity compared to much of the score. And, of course, there will be times one will be reminded of past Mitsuda works - the strong presence of violins will remind you distinctly of Chrono Cross; and tracks such as the battle themes and "Anxiety" echo Xenogears. What surprised me the most was hearing a piano rendition of "Green Sleeves" on Disc 2 (for those who are unfamiliar, Green Sleeves is a popular folk song known for a rather beautiful melody).
On the downside, Mitsuda is known for using a common melody in a small handful tracks of his albums. Here, the melody to "Kokoro" is used a few too many times, such as "Game Over," the last track of each CD, etc. While it remains a great tune, I found it to be a tad overused here. All the tracks still turned out well though, so there's not too much to complain about. There's also the occasional track that comes off on the bland side, fortunately, this isn't a common occurrence.
Xenosaga would make a great addition to to any game music fan's soundtrack collection, and for those who lean more towards classical and orchestrated arrangements, then it's a must.
Reviewed by: Liz Maas
Those of you who have read my An Cinnuint review know that I took a less than favorable view of Mitsuda after listening to it. I made claims that he'd gotten too set in his style, too repetitive, too very Celtic for my taste. Now, with the Xenosaga OST, I have to change my view once more, for with the release of this soundtrack, Yasunori Mitsuda has proven that he is not only capable, but is also accomplished at experimenting and composing for a large orchestra.
I'm going to give Xenosaga's soundtrack the highest praise I can give any game's soundtrack: it stands on its own as an excellent album if you haven't played the game. Often we place sentimental value on music based on the game itself, and to know that I appreciated this music without having any of those attachments is a sure sign of quality.
The opening track, "Prologue" is one of a handful of tracks performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the others being the powerfully impressive "Gnosis" and the wonderfully ominous "U-TIC Facility". By the way, the London Philharmonic Orchestra gets mad props for actually having the good sense to be the premier game music orchestra, having also performed various Dragon Quest symphonies.
This album goes one step further, however, to have full chorus, courtesy of Metro Voices, performing some of the tracks, as well as some beautiful piano solos by Yasuharu Nakanishi, and a wonderful string quartet, Gen Ittetsu Strings. And what Xeno game would be complete without the lyrical stylings of Joanne Hogg and a traditional Celtic band? Disc 2's "Pain" and the ending song, "Kokoro" are the two vocal songs in the album. Personally, I found "Kokoro" to be the better of the two tracks, as "Pain" left something to be desired in the melody.
The production values in this soundtrack are probably the highest I've ever seen in any soundtrack ever, and Mitsuda and NAMCO must, not should, MUST be given the highest accolades for their work on this masterpiece. It is nothing short of sheer brilliance which populates the silver coating of these CDs, and it gets my full respect and admiration.
To choose my favorite tracks from this album would be folly, as there are no weaknesses and only strengths to every single one. My only qualm would be the addition of Green Sleeves, the traditional Irish folk song, which beautiful as it is did not need to be on there. But I just chalked it up to the inevitable Mitsuda fascination with all things Emerald Isle.
In the final analysis, there is only one recommendation I can make regarding this album, and that is to go and buy it right now, this minute. This is a beautiful, wonderfully composed album that no audiophile should miss.
Reviewed by: Damian Thomas
In the last few years Yasunori Mitsuda has established himself as one of the top videogame music composers in the industry. He is now being mentioned with the likes of Nobuo Uematsu, Koichi Sugiyama, and Noriyuki Iwadare as a legend in his field thanks mostly to his work on high profile soundtracks such as Xenogears and Chrono Cross. His latest work comes courtesy of Xenogears' "sequel/prequel" from Namco, the much anticipated Xenosaga. Is Mitsuda's latest effort just as good as his previous work or is it a step down from his previous compositions? Read on to find out.
Let me first comment on Mitsuda's previous works a comparisons. Personally, I didn't think Tsugunai's soundtrack was that good. It wasn't bad but in my opinion it wasn't Mitsuda at his best. Because of that I was a bit concerned before listening to the Xenosaga soundtrack. I thought that maybe Mitsuda's work would start to go down in quality like Uematsu's work has been going down in quality in the last couple years (in my opinion). I hoped that wouldn't be the case here.
My favorite Mitsuda soundtrack would have to be Xenogears. Some people seem to have preferred the Chrono Cross soundtrack, but I personally favored Xenogears. But, maybe that's just because I have played the game and have the "nostalgia" factor. I have not played Chrono Cross, so maybe the music does not have the same effect on me for that reason. I thought that Chrono Cross had a larger amount of "filler" tracks that didn't have the same quality as the rest of the best tracks. Then again, that could be normal given the amount of tracks in Chrono Cross compared to Xenogears. Xenogears also had a few tracks that were only average, but for the most part, Xenogears' soundtrack was great and fit the game very well. It still ranks in my book as one of the best soundtrack for an RPG.
So, does the Xenosaga soundtrack live up to the hype and the prestige of Mitsuda's previous work? I'm glad to say that it does. I have not played the game yet so this review is based solely on the music itself and I'm sure the enjoyment would be even higher if I had actually played the game.
The one thing that surprised me the most from the Xenosaga soundtrack is that out of the 45 tracks I can't really find one that I didn't think was good. That's a pretty impressive feat. I can't say that for any other OST's that I've heard before. Most games have at least a few tracks that aren't impressive or get on your nerves or something, but I personally can't find anything like that on the Xenosaga OST.
The other impressive aspect is the sound quality and the instrumentation of the soundtrack. You won't find any midi or chip-generated music on this soundtrack. It seems like everything is done by an orchestra or with real instruments like guitar, piano, violin, etc. The songs that aren't done by a full orchestra still sound close to being done by a full orchestra, and I think they sound better than most Xenogears or Chrono Cross songs (in terms of instrumentation, I'm not talking about composition here).
I would say that this soundtrack sounds more like a movie soundtrack than an RPG soundtrack. That can either be a good or a bad thing depending on your taste. When you listen to Xenogears or Chrono Cross music, you can easily tell that it's from a videogame, even though the quality is very high; it still sounds like music from a game (not that it's a bad thing). Xenosaga has a more "epic" soundtrack that has more in common with an action movie score, or soundtrack from a game like Metal Gear Solid, than a normal classic RPG OST. Some people might be disappointed by the fact that there aren't many "mellow" songs on this soundtrack. I had a hard time trying to find any village or "atmosphere" music as most of it is fast paced and very epic in style. You won't find many (if any) happy, light-hearted songs on this soundtrack.
What this soundtrack is, however, is a fast, furious, epic, emotional soundtrack that sometimes feels like a movie score. The second disc does contain a few more mellow tracks, but they are more like "sad piano songs" than beautiful melodies; you won't find any love songs in there. This isn't that kind of game. However, this is a soundtrack that I definitely recommend as it has beautiful orchestration, great composition, and a great overall feel. Mitsuda is really cementing himself as the premiere videogame composer of the last few years with this soundtrack, and I can't wait to hear some more of his work. I definitely can't wait to play this game after listening to the soundtrack.
Reviewed by: Eric Farand
This eagerly anticipated soundtrack has proven, at least for me, to be worth the wait. It is stylistically quite similar to Mitsuda's previous Xenogears OST, and yet also quite a departure from his Chrono Cross OST. It is quite clear that he has adapted some the experience he gained working on Shadow Hearts and Tsugunai to fit into the Xeno universe, one that is unique in it's preoccupation with religious and philosophical themes. I can distinctly feel a heavy religious undertone (generally Catholic in nature) in many of the tracks present on this OST, something which I especially love. Several tracks make use of a church organ as well as a hauntingly beautiful choir. One track is even an arranged version of "Green Sleeves", generally acknowledged as being a Christmas melody. I will now move on to give details on some of my favorite tracks, although I may as well detail all of them since they're all so phenomenal.
The soundtrack starts out with "Prologue", a song somewhat reminiscent of the Xenogears OST opening track. The track frequently changes in mood to fit with the in-game scenes it accompanies and features an especially beautiful choir section towards the climax. The next track "Opening" begins with a choir that is soon joined by bass synthesizers that maintains a rhythm throughout the rest of the track and is interspersed with strings and brass segments. Immediately following that is "Battle", which I assume to be the main battle theme. This track is quite similar in parts to Mitsuda's earlier work (one section reminds me of "Dream Watch of Time" from his Chrono Cross OST), and is very effective in inspiring a sort of "legendary battle" mood, akin somewhat to the battle themes in Soul Calibur. "Gnosis" maintains the adventurous, brass heavy style which reminds me of Wild Arms; the orchestration in particular is wonderful. Later on the disk, the tracks "Durandal" and "U-TIC System" are similarly evocative. "Battling KOS-MOS" begins startlingly loud, and yet remains beautifully melodic throughout, particularly in the slower paced strings interlude; one of the best tracks on the first CD. "Sadness" and "The Girl Who Closed Her Heart" are the type of heart wrenching pieces that epitomize Mitsuda's greatness; the tracks themselves are quite similar in mood and instrumentation to the haunting "Tears of the Stars" from Xenogears OST.
The later half of the first disk is stylistically quite different, and itself very diverse. "Everyday" is a very tranquil song using piano, guitar, percussion and synth. "U.M.N. MODE" is an extremely unique, beautiful track using perfectly chosen synth sounds accompanied with a faint bagpipe that chimes in a few times. "Kookai Foundation" is another incredible track, very similar in feeling to the world map song from Xenogears.
The second disc opens with the Gregorian chant-influenced "Ormus", which many people have already heard in previews, a beautiful track. The second track of this CD is probably my favorite on the entire OST: "Nephilim". This track is dominated by a solo piano that is later joined in by a string ensemble, and the melody is absolutely enchanting; I can't wait to hear how this track is used in the actual game. "Warmth" is another tear-inducing piano solo. "Anxiety" reminds me a little of "Jaws of Ice" from the Xenogears OST. "Beach of the Void" is a fine example of what makes the live performance of this soundtrack a must: multiple cellos and violins play different melodies that somehow come together in an outstanding, cohesive whole. "Zarathustra" begins with a divine sounding church organ solo that plays during the intro trailer, and the track later builds up into a full choral and orchestral piece. "KOS-MOS" again uses a church organ, this time in a mellow, somber scale, and I can faintly hear part of Emeralda's theme (from Xenogears) in the melody towards the end which always sends chills down my spine. "Inner Space" is a very ethereal track that reminds me of one of my favorite pieces of music of all-time, "Omen" (the music that plays in Babel Tower in Xenogears), except it's sadly just under two minutes long. "Albedo" is a rather sinister sounding track, with a lone, powerful tenor solo accompanying the orchestra, with a couple of beautiful but brief piano and flute solos.
I cannot even begin to describe how great the last six tracks are; they round out the OST in a highly epic fashion. That's not to say they are mere John Williams styled generic epic tracks; Mitsuda experiments with instruments to great effect. "Omega" has electric and acoustic guitars playing along with the orchestra, and the result is impeccable. "Proto Merkabah" is very divine sounding, with a choir and organ carrying the melody along with the orchestra. The "Last Battle" tune easily lives up to Mitsuda's previous landmark final battle tracks in my opinion, and I can't wait to experience the final battle along with this track. Many will be familiar with the two theme songs, "Pain" and "Kokoro" from the trailers that have been released. Both are beautiful songs with vocals by Joanne Hogg of the Irish group "Iona", which put any Final Fantasy theme songs to shame in my humble opinion.
I find this soundtrack to be quite wonderful, although I can't quite say if it is on the same level as that of Xenogears until I experience the music within the context of the game itself. As stand-alone music however, I feel this is one of the best all-around albums ever released, let alone "game-music" albums.
Reviewed by: Old Maison