The name Yasunori Mitsuda became well-known after composing one of the most popular RPG soundtracks in the 16-bit era – Chrono Trigger. These days, you don’t quite hear Mitsuda mentioned so much since Xenosaga Episode I, but it is not for lack of composing, or his loads of talent dropping off. If he’s not working on music for lesser-known games titles, such as World Destruction, he contributes to original albums such as Ten Plants 2, which other video game composers also contributed to. In 2005 he also released KiRite, a solo album that was based on a storybook and artwork by Masato Kato, which never quite became a game.
The Colours of Light vocal collection highlights one of my favorite things about Mitsuda – his ability to write memorable vocal pieces. They don’t come off as cheesy, are not sung by the J-pop artist do jour, and usually suit their game well. Most of the material here will be familiar, but fortunately the collection does feature plenty of tracks that don’t necessarily have Joanne Hogg on vocals (as great as her voice is on the Xenogears and Xenosaga soundtracks), so even the most diehard fans will find something new. Not so fortunately, the first track (Sailing To The World, from Seventh Seal), is the weakest on the album, as it seems less inspired than the others and doesn’t go anywhere. Of course, this also means the album gets better from there. Out of the music that was new to me, Time’s Arm from World Destruction stood out with its beautiful, but simple vocals.
Here, it seems like Mitsuda has a style that he doesn’t deviate very far from, as the listener doesn’t get an idea of his more dramatic in-game themes, such as from Xenogears. At first listen to someone less familiar with him, tracks might sound alike. But the music, the collection’s title, and even the packaging all keep within a theme – light, colorful, nothing fancy. Even Radical Dreamers from Chrono Chross feels like a strangely appropriate end to the album. It has the simplest arrangement out of all 15 songs here, and is still my favorite vocal piece of Mitsuda’s. Believe me, picking a favorite is not an easy task.
Although it’s not as if there is a massive library of vocal music to choose from, if I were to add an extra song that I felt belonged on Colours of Light, it would be Melkaba – an arranged version of the Babel Tower’s theme – from Xenogears’ Creid album. While the collection has more than its fair share of Xenogears, Melkaba’s complex, lively arrangement would have been a perfect fit here. Otherwise, Colours of Light belongs in any Mitsuda lover’s library, no natter how much you might already own.