Granado Espada Original Soundtrack Volume 1


Review by · December 9, 2008

A lot of the MMORPGs in the last few years, particularly those from Korea that have saturated the market, have very generic soundtracks. But Granado Espada is an entirely new and different animal. Released in North America as “Sword of the New World,” this MMORPG features developers from Korea, Japan, and all over the world, making it a truly international effort. You’ll notice the cover artwork is the same style (and, I believe, the same artist) as some of the Romancing SaGa / SaGa Frontier character art.

From the musical end, this four disc soundtrack (for volume one) features composers from Korea and Japan. Note that a digital-only “Volume 2” soundtrack was released, and it featured techno artists from Europe. So, again, international effort is the key to this game’s production. But let’s talk about the composers.

The first composer is technically a group of composers. Similar to Falcom’s “Sound Team JDK,” we can’t be certain who’s responsible for which tracks, but we know that they’re an awesome team of musicians. That’s right: it’s SoundTeMP! This group was first recognized for Ragnarok Online, and while this is still their most recognized score, they’ve done plenty of other soundtracks in the last five years. Their songs are very techno-influenced, but with traditional game/RPG melodic structure to tether in the music and keep it from getting too abstract. The SoundTeMP contributions on this album are top-notch. If you liked Ragnarok Online’s score, you’ll love what SoundTeMP has for you on this album.

The next composer is a former member of SoundTeMP that went solo, but still decided to work with SoundTeMP on this particular soundtrack. He goes by the moniker “S.F.A,” and his style is (unsurprisingly) similar to the rest of SoundTeMP. Of all the composers represented on this album, I think S.F.A was most willing to use nontraditional synths to carry the melodies he composed. Many of his songs are intentionally artificial, and do not attempt to emulate “real” instruments. This surreal sound really helps add to the diversity of the soundtrack.

Next up Junsung Kim. Kim may be understood as the “face” of this soundtrack’s crew, as he was the one who composed many of the important themes for the game, including the beautiful, piano-centric title track “Granado Espada,” and the final track “Nangman Waltz.” Junsung Kim adds the most real, traditional sounds to the score. He is the polar opposite of S.F.A, at least for this soundtrack.

And then there’s the wildcard composer, Osamu Kubota. Kubota-san is the Japanese member of the crew, and he’s also the most flamboyant by a longshot. This guy makes Tenpei Sato look normal. Kubota, known best for his Bemani is celebrated as VGM’s greatest transvestite composer. And his sense of fashion and identity carries over very well into his strange, lovely music. The opening track “Beyond the Mountain” is one of Kubota’s additions. In this track, the ethnic flair of the strings combined with the consistent march of the percussion, and then the surprise electric guitar jumping in, sounds like something that Rachmaninov, Liszt, and Chopin would have put together after a wild night of drinking, using psychadelic drugs, and hopping in a time machine to be granted the technology we have now. Happy times.

Techno, jazz, traditional European orchestra, traditional Asian ethnic ensembles, and pop-style vocal ballads can all be found from each of the four composers here. The sheer amount of music composed for this MMORPG is fantastic, but the fact that it’s good makes it even more worthwhile. But now it’s time for the bad news: this soundtrack was published as a limited edition, promotional item. That goes for the original (Korean), and the reprint (East Asia and Australia). You can’t find it in most online stores. Perhaps that will change over time, but for now, this four disc set can only be found through used shops, and venues like Yahoo! Japan Auctions. I highly recommend it. To all the collectors out there: good luck!

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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.