Those of you who have read my An Cinnuint review know that I took a less than favorable view of Mitsuda after listening to it. I made claims that he’d gotten too set in his style, too repetitive, too very Celtic for my taste. Now, with the Xenosaga OST, I have to change my view once more, for with the release of this soundtrack, Yasunori Mitsuda has proven that he is not only capable, but is also accomplished at experimenting and composing for a large orchestra.
I’m going to give Xenosaga’s soundtrack the highest praise I can give any game’s soundtrack: it stands on its own as an excellent album if you haven’t played the game. Often we place sentimental value on music based on the game itself, and to know that I appreciated this music without having any of those attachments is a sure sign of quality.
The opening track, “Prologue” is one of a handful of tracks performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the others being the powerfully impressive “Gnosis” and the wonderfully ominous “U-TIC Facility”. By the way, the London Philharmonic Orchestra gets mad props for actually having the good sense to be the premier game music orchestra, having also performed various Dragon Quest symphonies.
This album goes one step further, however, to have full chorus, courtesy of Metro Voices, performing some of the tracks, as well as some beautiful piano solos by Yasuharu Nakanishi, and a wonderful string quartet, Gen Ittetsu Strings. And what Xeno game would be complete without the lyrical stylings of Joanne Hogg and a traditional Celtic band? Disc 2’s “Pain” and the ending song, “Kokoro” are the two vocal songs in the album. Personally, I found “Kokoro” to be the better of the two tracks, as “Pain” left something to be desired in the melody.
The production values in this soundtrack are probably the highest I’ve ever seen in any soundtrack ever, and Mitsuda and NAMCO must, not should, MUST be given the highest accolades for their work on this masterpiece. It is nothing short of sheer brilliance which populates the silver coating of these CDs, and it gets my full respect and admiration.
To choose my favorite tracks from this album would be folly, as there are no weaknesses and only strengths to every single one. My only qualm would be the addition of Green Sleeves, the traditional Irish folk song, which beautiful as it is did not need to be on there. But I just chalked it up to the inevitable Mitsuda fascination with all things Emerald Isle.
In the final analysis, there is only one recommendation I can make regarding this album, and that is to go and buy it right now, this minute. This is a beautiful, wonderfully composed album that no audiophile should miss.
Reviewed by: Damian Thomas