Music From The Legend of Xanadu II is one of those odd soundtracks that sneaks up and takes you by surprise. Although I wouldn’t consider it one of Falcom’s best albums, it had the potential to be. It amazes me that very few people talk, or even know, about it. I’m not quite sure if it’s the game’s obscurity or the high price tag that keeps buyers away. Whatever the reason, those of you who’ve been avoiding this soundtrack are missing out.
Before I go ranting on about how great the music is, let me get the bad (disc one) out of the way. Featuring the PSG, in-game music, the compositions are very good, but sorely hindered by the horrible sound quality. Almost 8-bitish, I had expected more from the samples coming out of the PC-Engine’s soundboard. However, if you can get past the lack of quality samples, you’d find quite a gem. The compositions are excellent, some of the best from Falcom, especially the heart-pounding, energetic battle themes. It’s everything one would expect from Sound Team JDK. If only they recorded with better samples, I may have been inclined to call this the best album Falcom has created to date. Sadly, this is not the case.
Disc two is an entirely different story. Tracks 1-24 contain the music from the PCM selections (movie/special event sequences), and are in one word, AWESOME. Although the synthesized orchestra is not as good as Ys V Orchestra Version’s, or even Legend of Heroes IV: Electric Orchestra’s for that matter, the sound quality is a rather large step above those from the first disc, I could not believe this music came from the same game.
At parts sorrowful, others majestic and adventurous, these pieces encompass what I love best about game music, the emotions that the wonderful melodies inspire. The beautiful “Invitation for the New World” starts the disc with a tranquil piano piece. “Triumphal Hymn” is a great military/march arrangement; having never played the game, I can just imagine this music being performed in the great hall of some majestic castle. The absolute best track is “The Last of Dragon Slayer.” Full of power and adventure, an excellent orchestral arrangement in itself, it almost brings tears to my eyes whenever I listen to it. The rest of the PCM tracks are equally enjoyable, but it is the last five pieces on this CD that make the entire package worth the price.
The remaining five tracks on disc two are JDK Band arrangements of various tracks from the first disc, and are absolutely incredible. This is what the first disc should have sounded like! Fast, hard, and everything I would have expected from Tomohiko Kishimoto and the JDK Band, anyone who is a Falcom fan will love these tracks! Listening to them, I can just hear the similarities to other great Falcom games including Ys, Popful Mail, and even Legacy of the Wizard. This is pure Falcom rock at it’s best. “Supremacy Title,” the first of the band’s arrangements, is a funky piece that is VERY catchy. “Hard Pressure” is just that, hard and full of blood-pumping power rock, including guitars. The slowest and most mellow of all the arrangements, “Sea Breeze Town,” is a soothing piece that breaks the tension of the other four tracks with its wispy melody. “Blind Man ~ Over the Desert” combines two tracks beginning with the slow, somber, and almost sorrowful “Blind Man,” and jumping into the harder “Over the Desert,” which is the perfect accompaniment. Lastly, “Brave of Blaze” ends the album with it’s furious synthesizers wailing out some of the best music Falcom has ever composed!!! After hearing these, it almost makes me cry knowing that the JDK Band will never arrange the rest of the music from the first disc. If they did, it would easily be my favorite of the Falcom albums.
Although Music from Legend of Xanadu II starts off with a rather disappointing first disc, the second disc of music more than makes up for it. One of the most underrated of Falcom’s soundtracks, it’s worth the high price you’ll have to pay for it. If you ever come across a copy, I highly recommend picking it up.