Like so many of the game soundtracks I review, I’ve never played Grandia. Despite all the praises I’d heard and my own intent to eventually sit down with the game, I never found the chance. And after listening to this CD, I sorely regret not making the time. There is no doubt in my mind that Grandia’s soundtrack is among the greatest game soundtracks of all time, and Noriyuki Iwadare one of the most imaginative and talented composers out there.
“The Best of Grandia” is not only a collection of the best musical pieces from the first game in the series, as the title indicates, but were all selected by Noriyuki Iwadare himself. Of the combined 66 tracks from the two soundtrack volumes, only 16 made the cut, but believe me when I say Iwadare could not have done a better job of selecting these. Unlike many “best of” albums, the pieces here are truly among the best.
Colorful. Vibrant. Diverse. These are only a few words that describe Grandia’s music. Each energetic piece emanates loads of character: the town themes are quirky and fun, (especially the mariachi-like “New Palm” and Arabic-flavored “Jilpadon”), the battle themes fast, powerful and original, and event pieces touching, but never overly dramatic. Everything from the Dallas-sounding “Theme of Grandia” and adventurous “The Edge of the World” to the emotional “Farewell to Sue” is instilled with such life that it’s almost impossible NOT to fall in love with every single note.
Not only do we get the best music from the game with this CD, but a bonus in two previously unreleased tracks. “Time to Relax and Talk” and “PAVANE” are both excellently performed piano/violin arrangements, the first a parlor piece which sounds like something you’d hear in a western saloon-type setting, and the latter an endearing ballad that perfectly draws the album to a close.
As with most of Iwadare’s music, the sound quality is excellent, especially those pieces which were arranged and performed by a live orchestra (i.e., “Theme of Grandia,” “Ghost Ship,” “Leen’s Love Theme”). Normally, I’d wish the entire album were performed live as well, but truthfully, the synth of the original compositions is good enough that the thought never entered my mind. I’ve always held that the Sega Saturn had the best sound board of all three 64-bit systems at the time, and the music here again supports that belief.
Even if you have both volumes of the original soundtrack, I still recommend picking up this CD. This is one of the best “best of” albums I’ve ever heard, and if the tracklist doesn’t convince you, the bonus tracks should. For those who weren’t fortunate enough to pick up the OST’s, which may be quite a few of you since Grandia OST I is very hard to come by these days, you simply must get this CD. The music is too incredible to let pass by.
At one time almost impossible to find, the CD can be found from time to time on eBay. Take my word, this CD is worth every penny.