Melody of Legend: What is it? Where did it come from? Is it any good? This review will address all these questions and more.
Melody of Legend, as a concept, is this: Take compositions from all kinds of different games, arrange them with crazy beats (most by “KALTA”, see Xenogears: CREID or Chrono Trigger: The Brink of Time) and trademark Yoko Ueno vocals (see Xenogears: CREID or Genso Suikoden 2 Orrizonte), and add the Celtic sounds of uilleann pipes (i.e. – bagpipes without the droning noise), tin whistles, and low whistles, and throw in a special-guest composer to arrange some tracks, and you have Melody of Legend.
There are two Melody of Legend CDs, this one being the first and then a second one ~Chapter of Dream~, each featuring very similar packaging, color schemes being the only difference. Actually, the front of Dream is reddish, and then the rest of Dream’s packaging is blue. The front of Love is blueish, and the rest is red. Taking these CDs in and out of their cases can become very confusing, in fact.
Each CD contains ten tracks, which feature a variety of composers. Each CD has one Uematsu track (the vocal to FFVIII and the vocal to FFIX…but, now instrumental), one Sakuraba track, one Mitsuda track (both from Chrono Cross), one track from the Thelonious Monkees, and one track from Konami Kukeiha Club.
The first four tracks on this CD are simply amazing. The first track is a nice light-hearted track that was origianlly a vocal. Track two has a time signature of 7/4 throughout the whole thing, which I really enjoy, and it loops one very cool sample throughout it. The next track, an old Suikoden favorite, sounds NOTHING like the original (as do most of the tracks), but what it does sound like is something I can’t explain. Of course, for me, nothing compares to track four, the only vocal performed as a lyrical vocal on the CD. There is something so extremely and strangel soothing about this track, I can’t explain it. They use a good Wurlitzer-sounding synth to open, and some of the sound effects used throughout the song (different blips and bleeps) WOULD be disturbing on their own, but they feel almost natural in this piece.
Track five is the first track on the CD where you have constant music coming from Ronan Browne’s fine fine whistles, seemingly going in a round. It gets somewhat repetitive, but it’s good background music for doing homework or some sort of chore. “Dawn” is the longest track on the CD (7 1/2 minutes), and my least favorite. Ronan Browne’s pipe/whistle work on this track is really good, but I feel the synths really don’t sound right with the rest of the track. In contrast comes “Castle and Dragon”, the shortest piece on the CD (2 1/2 minutes), and this is one fast and furious song. I don’t normally listen to this track because I usually turn off the CD player or skip right to RADICAL DREAMERS when track 6 comes around, but it’s still a fun little song, and if I have this CD in my car I listen to this track while driving on the highway.
Track 8’s classic Uematsu work is actually arranged by Square great Hitoshi Sakimoto. This sounds absolutely nothing like Eyes on Me. NOTHING like it at all. It has very strange percussion (some sort of African/Asian drums), and I can’t even hear the melody of the song, not even from the uilleann pipes which dominate through this song. I don’t really enjoy this arrangement much, which is a shame considering I normally like Sakimoto’s work. The next track, another Square hit for the kids, begins with a minute of solo low whistle work, and this really isn’t fun. Then, a drum beat kicks in, ambient noises such as people talking softly are added, and the uilleann pipes play the melody of the song. The real neat thing about this track is that every chord being held (in some sort of ethereal synth noise) features different 6ths, 7ths, and 9ths which make the song a little more light, not as melancholy. Later in the track the uilleann pipes wail out on a solo similar to something a saxophone would do, and then the ooh ahh live vocals are added with 45 seconds left to go in the track. It eventually cuts off.
Tie Together (or, in romaji, “Kukuru”) is a classic Arc the Lad track. Moved up to a faster-techno track with all kinds of different musical lines running through it, and still fun and upbeat, this is one neat track to end the CD with.
Overall, the idea of Celtic-influenced techno-sampled videogame music is intriguing to any fan of modern music. I personally value these CDs very much, and consider them one of the most unique collections I have. These CDs aren’t too hard to find: Anime Nation has these CDs readily available. If you like the samples, you’ll like the rest of the CD even more.