Though still a fair number of tracks shy from a full OST, this second “RQ Exclusive” disc for Ar tonelico II from NIS America was the disc that you didn’t get via limited edition. The CD was available only to people who preordered the game from the RosenQueen store (hence “RQ”).
I think I had forgotten what makes this soundtrack so endearing. There isn’t a lot of powerful, epic music (battle themes, emotional event themes) like there were on the first Ar tonelico, at least not ones that stuck with me. But the day-to-day music: cosmosphere, town, and shop music all stand out now, months after playing the game, and years after having first heard the OST.
My guess as to why this is, is because the “every day” music feels so exotic, and so foreign, to my ears. There’s really something special to these soundtracks. I think a lot of it has to do with Akiko Shikata, the vocalist who also has a hand in composition. Just her influence on the franchise (as well as that of Akira Tsuchiya, who is the creative lead on Ar tonelico as a whole) helps to shape the soundscape, regardless of who composes which individual tracks.
The import OST, in all its “fullness,” is still the best way to go if you’re trying to locate this game’s music for the first time. But if you own this CD alongside the other disc that NIS America released, you basically have the full body of work. Also, this RQ Exclusive Soundtrack comes with a whole bunch of snazzy character art (Cloche, Luca, and Jacqli in different outfits) in the liner notes. Now if only I could convince NIS America to bundle full, two disc soundtracks with their games, we’d all be set for life!