Chantelise Original Soundtrack
Chantelise Original Soundtrack
August 17, 2007
Buy at CDBaby
Before I begin this review, there’s a bit of confusion to be cleared up with how Chantelise relates to EasyGameStation’s other internationally released game, Recettear.
1) Recettear’s Japanese release was in 2007, and was released internationally in 2010.
2) Chantelise’s Japanese release was in 2006, and was released internationally in 2011.
3) Both games derive their titles by combining the names of the young female protagonist (Elise, Recet) with that of their sidekick fairy (Tear, Chante)
…OK, I’m not sure that last one clears anything up. I just thought I’d point out to EasyGameStation that I’m on to their naming convention scheme.
Fans of the Recettear‘s soundtrack will find much to enjoy in Chantelise‘s soundtrack, as will many who have never heard of EasyGameStation before. While not a direct prequel to Recettear, Chantelise certainly shares a great many thematic elements — all of which are readily apparent from the first few tracks — but it is different enough to stand out as a solid example of the musical complexity that EasyGameStation can produce.
While similar to Recettear in many aesthetic ways, Chantelise is a far more traditional action RPG, and its soundtrack reflects this. Although some of its themes capture the tender hesitance found on its counterpart — particularly the gorgeous opening “Melodies of Memories” with its excellent, breathy flute melody — the music on Chantelise is on the whole more forward and more complex. “Ragnarok” and “Willpower” conjure up some of the best mid-ninties, retro battle themes with chirping trumpet melodies blaring over simple, but effectively driving, percussion lines. Meanwhilse “He who stands in your Way” offers enough soaring strings and off-beat snare cadences to make Hamauzu blush — a great boss track, for certain, but it pales in comparison to “Don’t turn Back!” which exudes urgency from its first few notes of its piccolo melody and never relents throughout its two and a half minute run time.
“Ignan Ruins” was an interesting piece on the first listen with its very ominous, with fast string breaks between brass themes. But by the third or fourth listen, the volume and pitch of the synthesized trumpets gave me a pounding headache which almost (almost!) matched the dissonant, pounding breakdown at 1:20. Oof. Thankfully, the other ruinous track “Zephyran Ruins” is far more easy on the ears and is ruinous in name only. The laconic pace which follows the dramatic opening fanfare is still plenty ominous — think of your favorite 16-bit wind or water temple theme and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect with this track — and highlights the complex musical arrangements which are rare to find in an doujin game. This is thrown into sharper contract when “Zephyran Ruins (Symphonic Version)” is considered. While still a synthesized piece, it offers a greater amount of polish and depth of sound than its soundtrack version does, which is quite an impressive compliment. “Rage of the Wind God”, although ostensibly an action track, is a bit confusing as it is more full of foreboding than rage (unless one imagines rage as a beautiful moderato waltz of string runs).
Outside of the action tracks, Chantelise has some truly exceptional town and field tracks as well. “Cozy Town” is an infectiously upbeat, bassoon-driven track that breaks to a playful bass countermelody that will test the clarity of your sound system’s lower register in all the right ways. While listening to this track, it’s hard to not to tap your foot or imagine sunlight warming your face as you wander past pixelated NPCs walking along their fixed paths. This feeling carries over into “The Plains”, a guitar and wood flute traveling track which, while not as chipper as Recettear‘s “Fine Grass Road”, is perhaps more evocative of a day of unhurried travel. “In the Distance” is a bold and brassy counterpoint to “The Plains”, which sadly loses a bit of momentum after its overbold opening. “My Master’s Guiding Voice” introduces a pleasant variety to the soundtrack with its organ melody and accompanying auxiliary percussion. The triangle — used to provide a sense of tempo — and the sleighbells that close the phrases give the piece a not altogether unwelcome yuletide feeling.
I found “Shining Water’s Surface” to be a true surprise out of the field tracks for its adagio tempo and synthesizer melody. Although a bit slow to resolve, the entire piece is given a good bump in the volume and distortion department with its companion piece “Submerged”, a brilliant reprisal of “Shining Water’s Surface” which replaces the synthesizer with a distorted glockenspiel melody. The harp — apparently an RPG soundtrack requirement for any underwater theme — adds a wonderful level of complexity to both of these two aquatic tracks, making them some of the most memorable on the album for their thematic nature and interplay. On the topic of memorable themes, “Lost World” makes its debut appearance after being paradoxically leaked on Recettear‘s subsequent soundtrack release (“Lost World ver. RECETTEAR”) as a techno remix. In no hurry to present its main theme (which takes the better part of a minute to establish), “Lost World” begins as a tender synthesized oboe and string melody which gives way to strident percussion and brass reprisal before segueing to a harp countermelody and finally back to the oboe and string resolution. Epic and determined from the outset, it is no surprise that “Lost World” has become one of EasyGameStation’s most famous melodies, and deservedly so.
Unified in sound and feel, Chantelise is a sterling example of a solid retro RPG soundtrack that one would expect to find produced from a larger game studio. While Recettear‘s soundtrack focused more on the anti-RPG nature of the item shop owner’s quest to stay out of the poorhouse, EasyGameStation’s work on Chantelise incorporates complex action themes, upbeat field and town tracks, and brilliant thematic cohesion throughout. If you’re a fan of EasyGameStation’s work, or of old school RPGs in general, Chantelise will deliver a full and rich experience that recalls some of my fondest memories of gaming on a Nintendo 64 in all the right ways.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Matt Diener. Last modified on August 1, 2012.