A Motoi Sakuraba fan will sooner or later grow accustomed to a certain déja-vu-feeling: Certain arrangements, especially the battle themes, sound similar on several of his albums, he uses the same orchestral samples again and again (and again), and especially the fake solo-voice samples really start to annoy me by now… On Baten Kaitos II OST, some filler, orchestral, and ambient tracks are boring, and what is worse, they are mixed with the better tracks resulting in a very unbalanced sequence of songs.
I could go on pointing out negative aspects of this soundtrack, but I’d rather not. And that’s because between all the mediocre stuff are some really outstanding tracks. I feel Baten Kaitos’ OST was by far better than some of Sakuraba-san’s Tales-compositions (since he used more live instruments), and the Baten Kaitos II OST lives up to my expectations. The opening song “Le ali del principio”, wonderfully performed by Mio Sakuraba, and scored with real instruments combined with synth orchestra, sounds a little like the PSO III Theme and is even slightly better. I think it’s one of Sakuraba’s best tunes in years. “The valedictory elegy” is another standard battle theme, but performed with violin and a top notch solo part, it is also kind of special. There are several rock-tracks on CD1 and they wouldn’t be out of place on an arrange-album, that’s how good they sound :-). Track 8 and 9 simply rock (and sound a bit like “Guilty Gear”-music). I liked Baten Kaitos’s “guitar tracks” very much, and fortunately this style is found on the successor’s soundtrack as well (e.g. “Ruins” and “An Encounter”). There are some awesome piano-pieces, too (“The Boundary Between the Wind and the Earth”).
Of the three CDs, number two is probably the weakest. Highlights include the wonderful Mitsuda-esque “Deep Red Pastures” and the Star-Ocean-esque “The broken manas…” and “Rainclouds”. A beautiful violin-solo can be heard on “A Boundless Autumn Evening Breeze” and “Village of Abundance”. (All of these tracks are sandwiched between filler tracks, though).
The third CD starts of with two wonderful, quiet pieces, only to continue with some rock-tracks (we are nearing the end of the game, so things are heating up, of course!). “Powerful Voice of an Old Soul” doesn’t offer anything new, but the use of electric guitars makes it sound fresh. “Tears of compassion” is another Valkyrie-Profile inspired piano solo. “A road to the dignified future” and “Bitter Enemies in the Same Boat” are some of the better orchestra-compositions on this album. “The Peaceful Four Seasons” is also very nice, but you’re going to hear it three times in a row (a total of 9 minutes) (with increasing use of orchestra-samples) Perhaps the tracks should have been split between the three discs.
The ending theme “The Shadow of the Moon on the Water” (a reprise of the title theme) is a varied 7:49 minutes track, and a fitting conclusion to this OST. You’d better stop the CD Player now, because there’s only one short track and a pretty downbeat and forgettable orchestral track left – a strange choice indeed.
The sound-quality is fine, even if the orchestral tracks lack dynamic range. I chose only good tracks as sound examples – so keep that in mind if you buy the CD, you will get a fair share of mediocre stuff as well, but the good tracks outweigh the bad (and not all the orchestral tracks are boring…). Not essential, but more interesting than, let’s say, the FF X OST…