Ciel nosurge Original Soundtrack ~Reception Records of Sound and the World Sec.1~


Review by · May 25, 2018

Once the Ar tonelico trilogy came to an end, GUST had options as to where they wanted to take the franchise. Their next stop was an interesting online “life sim” game called Ciel nosurge. Over the span of a few years, this Japan-exclusive PS Vita title received various chapter DLC. Eventually, in October 2014, a finalized offline version was made available as well. Later, a sequel to this game entitled Ar nosurge was created, and through some miracle, it was localized for English-speaking audiences.

Due to the episodic nature of Ciel nosurge, the game’s soundtracks and vocal albums were released in parts. The OSTs came in two volumes, and the “Genometric Concerts” (vocal albums) in three volumes. In this review, we are taking a look at the first OST volume. This album, with its subtitle “Oto to Sekai no Jushin Kiroku Sec.1” loosely translated as “Reception Records of Sound and the World Sec.1,” is largely the work of Ar tonelico major contributor Akiko Shikata. Shikata helped to flesh out the “hymmnos” language as a vocalist, lyricist, composer and arranger. Over time, she came to embody what the franchise was all about. A secondary composer, likely a team or unit of some sort, is also credited for the composition of approximately 30% of the soundtrack: “SSS-Solid State Signal-OOOPS TEAM WEEDS.” The team moniker has its roots in the game’s lore, but to date, no one knows who all is a part of said team.

Now, to describe the soundscape of Ciel nosurge, it’s really quite simple: take Ar tonelico, add the mid-20th century musical style of Showa-era Japan (which is a noted influence in interviews about the game), and voilà, Ciel nosurge comes to life! In some ways, the music writes itself. In other ways, I imagine that this soundtrack must have been a labor of love for Shikata. Though she always worked to evolve the sound of the Ar tonelico games with each successive entry, this game likely forced her to take a hard turn into a new and altogether unexpected direction based on the game’s planned content.

For the most part, I’d say that she handled it relatively well. This is not my favorite work of Shikata’s — not by a long shot, honestly. But given the world and game style of Ciel nosurge, I imagine it works very well. And I must emphasize that I can only imagine it; I will never have the chance to play the game itself, so I don’t have much sense for in-game context, other than watching videos on YouTube and Niconico. I will also mention that the anonymous-member team with the long-winded name did a great job as well with tracks like “Cosmic City,” “Small Flower,” and “Imperial Genometrics Resonance and Mediation Institute.” It is good that Akiko Shikata was not left with the burden of composing the entire soundtrack by herself.

If you’re looking for tracks that best represent the whole of this OST, I am hard-pressed to give one example. In terms of genre and style, this album is really all over the place. However, I do think that somewhere between “Elegant and Cold Makeup” and “Genometrics,” the nature of this soundtrack will come to light for the average listener.

Looking over Shikata’s music catalog, especially in the Ar tonelico universe, I think it is safe to say that Ciel nosurge may be the least interesting place to dig for new music. However, for fans who have already dug and torn their way through the trilogy and Ar nosurge, perhaps this is your holy grail. In that case, I urge you to find it! There are some interesting moments, some powerful music, and plenty of silly bits to go around.

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.