It’s official. I’ve lost interest in Gust Sound Team.
I first found interest in 2005 when I discovered the beautiful Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~ soundtrack. I worked backwards and found a few other gems (particularly, Viorate and Elie). And as time went forward, there were many great soundtracks released in the official “Atelier” series, as well as the Ar tonelico series. But the quality dwindled, slowly but surely, over time.
For me, Atelier Lina (another DS game in the series) is a definitive point. I will continue to check out the soundtracks in the series, but the quality has been so consistently “down” over the past two years that I just don’t care anymore. Between this, Rorona (officially the 10th game in the Atelier series), and Ar tonelico III, I’m done. I can’t bring myself to get excited about it anymore.
Lina brings back together Nakagawa and Achiwa, the two staple composers at Gust. The two of them have split to take on different projects, and that has, in my opinion, resulted in a lack of variety and lack of depth. Bringing them back together gave me hope that this DS soundtrack would be, at the very least, a jump up in quality from recent outings.
The saddest part of all is that I found the most joy in hearing the few tracks from Atelier Marie on this soundtrack. Marie music, written by Toshiharu Yamanishi, appears in most of the Atelier games. In many ways, I’m tired of it. But it was like an old friend when I heard it near the end of the disc. After all this derivative boredom I heard on the Lina OST, that simply cannot touch the first Ar tonelico, or the two (proper) Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~ soundtracks, I needed a change of pace.
The vocal tracks are some of the weakest I’ve heard in the series. The instrumental stuff, even the key tracks (“The City of the Sun,” “Cyclone,” etc) bored me. Are the composers just getting lazy? Are they burned out? If so, Gust needs to give them a break so they can come back strong. Until then, I guess I’ll have to continue expecting mediocre quality.
Next in line after this soundtrack is a remake of the Atelier Judie OST (which, I’m hoping, still sounds as good as it did a decade ago) and then Atelier Totori, which will probably have more music in the style of Rorona. After listening to the Lina soundtrack a few times, I can happily forget about those other soundtracks until such a time that I feel I should report how they sound: objectively, and with no desire or expectation to find something remarkable.