Hiroshi Tamawari, one of Konami’s many composers in the late 1990s, put together over fifty songs for the under-the-radar simulation RPG (Other Life) “Azure Dreams.” The game, which is a primitive version of the much more successful PS2 title “Dark Cloud,” featured a unique cast of characters, beautiful environments, and a score that ought not be forgotten.
The first song to stand out is the opening “Overture” track, which makes use of some beautiful middle East instruments before breaking into a more happy and uplifting folk dance. All the while, the bass line to this song accompanies the melody and the strumming of some guitar-like instrument, and it’s enough to make you want to get up and dance.
The character themes, despite their unique designs, are a little bland. Though they have interesting names, their theme songs are just not what they ought to be. Most are in major keys, and this becomes a little monotonous.
The songs in the “Town” sections are almost all beautiful: these are the songs that really make the soundtrack. Unfortunately, there is a lot of recycling going on in these tracks. There are many “Town” tracks that use the same melody, and the “Temple” and “Hero’s House” songs do the same thing. Fortunately, as these songs are quite good, being treated to remakes of the same song isn’t a bad deal at all.
Also, each town section (parts I-V) has a few of its own unique melodies. Some of these songs don’t stand out, but I was impressed with a few of them, such as “Monster Racing.” The lighthearted feel of this album reminds me of something like Yasunori Mitsuda’s “Hako no Niwa”: perhaps Mitsuda drew inspiration from this album.
Before even listening to the section, I expected the “Tower” variations to be terribly redundant. However, Tamawari seems to have a knack for making the same melody more and more diverse. As the tracks go along, the song continues to change more and more from its original counterpart. Among the variations, I found the epitome of Tamawari’s skill in the sixth variation. This version was much more fast and whirling than the other versions, and I was again tempted to dance.
The Finale track takes the Overture theme and extends it to six minute opus of exquisite yet lighthearted enjoyment. By the end of listening to this soundtrack, I had to ask myself, how did we skip over this fine Konami soundtrack?
Honestly, I don’t know. The game didn’t sell so well in Japan or in the US, so maybe the lack of attention in terms of the game led to a lack of attention in terms of music. Whatever the case, the soundtrack stands well on its own and probably sounds even better during the game. I recommend this obscure PS1 soundtrack to anyone looking for something fun, ethnic, and unique from one of Konami’s lesser-known composers.