Culdcept II Original Soundtrack
Culdcept II Original Soundtrack
SME Visual Works
July 4, 2001
Buy Used Copy
In 2001, Kenji Ito left Square to become a freelancer after being assigned a host of minor projects — Chocobo’s Dungeon 2, Chocobo Racing, Wild Card, and Gekikuukan Pro Baseball. The score for the Dreamcast strategy game Culdcept Second is Kenji Ito’s most significant non-Square work to date. Described by the composer as his best work at that point, Ito was responsible for all aspects of the production, including sound programming. The first disc holds 13 tracks, 11 of which are over six minutes long, mostly being split distinctly into three separate sections. The second disc sees a five further tracks forming the main album, and added to this, there are some 13 bonus tracks. While most adopt a traditional Itonian style, some tracks, for example “Rabbid Dance,” could be described as unconventional, giving the album an interesting zest, helping to separate the score from his sometimes bland RPG soundtracks.
The opening theme, “Prologue,” proceeds from its minimal introduction by moving into a passage featuring an oboe melody playing against a harp accompaniment. This melody is then played by a flute in a much more buoyant way and many instruments build up below this. Dynamics build up until a point where roaring timpani beats and snare drums become prominent, as the theme becomes a lot more grandiose, vibrant, and colourful before reaching its climax. The track manages to tell its own story of grief, pride, and honour all in one. Listeners don’t even have to look at the game to understand what is happening.
“Rabbid Dance” is one of a few humorous themes on this album and perhaps the most enjoyable too. The initial melody is idiosyncratic thanks to its odd rhythms and quirky chromatic ramblings. The buoyancy of the track is certainly heightened in the second section, which is a parade march; here, there’s frequent car horn sounds, providing unique flair against the more typical snare drum and brass usage. The last section is absolutely superb, comprising of a wonderful xylophone melody with tombone accompaniment. Like the rest of the track, the instrumental use here is very fun and while the melodies are quite conventional, their treatment makes them highly enjoyable. The whole theme just lets you imagine a set of clowns walking down at the front of the parade. Freaky but gripping!
Ito has composed a fair selection of dark tracks for this album too, and “Prayer for Ruin” is probably the best example of this. It features a solid drum bass, immediately giving a tribal feel, and our senses are further raised through the continual beating of a gong and the entrance of some low-pitched vocal chants. Fortunately, the second part of the track is a lot more upbeat, but feelings of darkness are still portrayed due to the dominance of bass and percussion instruments. Though a cute melody occasionally appears, it is continually drowned out by the bass, almost like an innocent victim to the slaughter. The last section is the darkest part of the track, and it is once again dominated by the bass part. The melody has been dropped down an octave from what it was previously, giving it an even darker feel.
By the time the we reach the track “Epilogue,” we have already seen a massive amount of diversity from Ito, though he still has more to offer with the most diverse track on the album. The first part features a suspended violin note and synthesized vocals, which create a feeling of dismay before the track transitions with an upwards spiral of glee into the next theme. In the next section, the original melody from the first section is repeated grandly on trumpets and brass instruments, and the melodies used throughout this passage are very sweet. The build up at the end of the section is superb, as the melody becomes emphatic. Soon after, the listener reach the final section of the track, which is played during the final section of the credits. This is a solemn piano arrangement of what the listener have just heard with some string accompaniment. It is a short but sweet section, which wraps off the main album well, and leads us into the thirteen bonus tracks.
The bonus tracks show a variety of nice themes which weren’t included in the game. The best tracks here are the Brave Story tracks, numbered one to seven. My favourite of these is “Brave Story #2 – Escape,” which is a rather fast-paced piano melody with accompaniment track. Some other good tracks are “Chat! Cepter! Chat!,” “Shocking?,” and “Heaven’s Melody,” yet they are all relatively short compared to the rest of the album. The last three tracks are prefixed by the word bookmark and all share the same melody. “Bookmark #1” is a music box arrangement, “Bookmark #2” is a glockenspiel and piano arrangement, and “Bookmark #3” is an orchestrated version of the theme. These sweet bonus tracks were definitely beneficial to the album, even if they are not as outstanding on a stand-alone basis.
Ito claims that this is his best work to date, though Romancing Saga Minstrel Song Original Soundtrack is probably slightly more worthy. Ito provides us with a wide range of tracks here, from extremely fun ones to hellishly dark ones. Initially, after listening to the track structure, it might seem like the album won’t go anywhere. Yet, as one proceeds further into it, it is obvious that this immediate assumption is wrong, as the album is full of surprises. The worst thing about this album is the way that each theme needlessly repeats twice before moving onto the next section. Ito just doesn’t develop his melodies enough, and although the melodies are great, it seems pointless to repeat a theme without any variation to it. Overall, this as a fine work, and one which shows the potential of Ito superbly, despite a few bland moments. It’s another must buy, though the reprint may be a better item overall.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Dave Valentine. Last modified on August 1, 2012.