Sound Horizon – A Boy Takes the Sword and… / Sound Horizon


Review by · December 11, 2006

This single is an interesting conglomeration of songs from the new group “Sound Horizon,” which includes “Revo” (the folks who did the Atelier Iris Grand Fantasm intro) and some more people. It’s like a giant collection of awesome like-minded artists that are interested in the VGM industry. In other words, it’s my dream come true.

The single’s title, “Shounen wa Tsurugi wo” (which we translated as “A Boy Takes the Sword and……”), seems to suggest that there is one coherent storyline behind the three song single, even though the songs are used in entirely different videogames. It’s a strange concept album with beautiful artwork and catchy prog. rock songs.

Track 1 is the opening theme for Idea Factory’s PS2 RPG “Chaos Wars.” The song is put in a brisk 6/8 rhythm, making it sound like tons of other Atelier theme songs from the past, but the variation in chord progression and synths used helps to keep the song fresh and alive. A booming male narrator pops in and out during the song, all the while accompanied by the excellent music. Then the vocalists KAORI and YUKKI sing their parts, and the end result is nearly perfect.

Track 2 is an original piece written by Revo exclusively for this single. This song cuts to a straight 4/4 rock beat, kickin’ butt and taking names along the way. Lots of sound effects are scattered throughout the song, including the sounds of a horse galloping through the rain, another narrator telling it like it is, and then the sounds of villagers screaming in the night while a fire crackles. All of this happens while the lead vocalist, KAORI, sings her song. The melody isn’t nearly as dark as the sound effects, as the latter seems to suggest death and despair while the former is just another rock song. It’s a shame that this song wasn’t picked up and used in a game, because it may well be the best of the three vocals on the album.

Track 3 is the opening theme for ELEVEN-UP’s PC MMORPG “Belle Isle.” If the vocalist of this song doesn’t sound familiar to you, she ought to: it’s RIKKI, the singer of Final Fantasy X’s classic theme song “Suteki da ne.” How she got involved with a group like this is beyond my comprehension, but I’m glad she did. This song is a more soulful, relaxing 3/4 ballad. RIKKI harmonizes with herself for most of the song, and she is accompanied by a harp, strings, and other instruments. The slow 3/4 changes to the standard 6/8 that Revo/Sound Horizon seems to prefer, and it’s at this point that the song really picks up. The song is still slow enough to be considered a fast waltz, and I can literally imagine people dancing to a song like this. The only thing I didn’t like was the God-like narrator who sounded like he was letting out various sighs of ecstasy…if you know what I’m saying…it was gross.

The last two tracks aren’t listed anywhere in the packaging or on the internet, because they’re bonus tracks. Well actually, just one bonus track. The fourth track is only a few seconds long, and it serves as a break of silence before track five, which is a two minute piano solo piece. The song is lovely and memorable, but it’s a shame it doesn’t have a title with which one could refer to it. I guess I’m just not used to untitled bonus tracks on my VGM albums. Forgive me, Sound Horizon!

It’s really exciting to see a group like this forming and taking their rightful place in the world of cheesy prog. rock VGM. They’re filling a niche left void since the disappearance of JDK Band’s Tomohiko Kishimoto, and they’re doing an excellent job at keeping things fun and fresh while other mainstream RPG composers are turning to more conventional, film-score-esque styles instead of keeping that weird, interesting Japanese flair alive. Team Entertainment is the perfect publisher for these sort of albums too, as they are very supportive of independent endeavors. I strongly recommend this single to you, and I also recommend you take some time to learn about “Sound Horizon” and any future projects they might have.

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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.