Echochrome Original Soundtrack
Echochrome Original Soundtrack
May 21, 2008
Buy at CDJapan
In 2008, Hideki Sakamoto crafted an exquisite set of string quartets, three of which contain vocals complementing the classic instrument arrangement. This served as the background music to echochrome, a puzzle game released for both the PSP and PS3 systems. The echochrome Original Soundtrack contains roughly half an hour of thirteen short quartets. How do they fare intrinsically, and how do they stack up amongst one another? How varied a sound is the composer able to create?
“prime #7,” the first genuine string quartet on the album, serves as a most excellent introduction. The violins play a lilting, classical-styled melody, melancholic at points and breathtaking at others. The listener is given the sense of an opening of a performance, a perfect feeling considering the track’s album placement. As might be expected for a puzzle game, “prime #61” is a playful piece, portrayed by the bouncing cello as the violins slide around a melody in the upper octaves. From time to time, the track sounds a bit more majestic, belying its true nature which is always revealed once again in short order. “prime #59” opens with a both elegant and lovely melody, which makes another appearance after a brief foray into atonality which itself reappears from time to time in the piece. The two melodies contrast remarkably well given their intrinsically countering nature.
“prime #19” starts with pizzicato on one violin as the viola repeats an enjoyable motif of a pause followed by two drawn out, adjacent notes. The cello soon enters the mix with its own counterpoint, and before long the second violin is heard as well, the pizzicato contributing throughout. The latter provides a sort of disjointed feel to the piece, contrasted brilliantly with the more stable nature of the other instruments “prime #313” is a faster paced piece that is also atonal at parts. As the track continues, it begins to gain a sort of epic feel, but never quite loses its atonality. “prime #457” is especially tense. The cello and viola open very frantically on the lower octaves as the violins feature some tense, drawn out chords of their own. Pizzicatos make frequent, welcome appearances as the track wears on. The foreboding atmosphere starts to fade as the piece continues as well. “prime #919” starts off rather vitriolic, as the cello plays some violent staccato, accompanied by the other instruments which themselves play short, fierce notes. The violins soon duet into more prolonged movements, all the while supported by the staccato counterpoint provided by the other two instruments.
“prime #101” is sadder in tone, featuring longer, drawn out chords. Around halfway through, the mod becomes very tense and stressed, almost serialist in its atonality. The melody quickly returns, establishing its presence in a greatly enjoyable movement. “prime #5” is sadder and more emotional. The chords struck by all four components of the quartet resonate very strongly, and the listener is left grasping for the next despite the overall slow pace. From time to time a quick movement in the violin is heard, but the track generally follows a constant, slower, rhythm. “prime #233,” the last of the pure quartets, does not quite feel like a closing in the same way that “prime #7” felt like an opening, but the track is breathtaking regardless. Faster paced than the preceding piece, this one is stressed and tense but altogether quite wonderful.
The album is buttressed on both ends and supported in the middle by three tracks that add a vocalist, Rumiko Kitazono, to the complement of instruments. Her voice is very operatic, and she lends to the atmosphere in all three. “prime #3,” the opening track to the PSP version of the game, is short and melancholic, somewhat hopeful, and ends rather abruptly. The instrumentation supporting Kitazono is rather basic, but as an opener, the track performs nicely. “prime #2,” the opening track to the PS3 version, is more or less the same as its counterpart, featuring the same melody with slightly different instrumentation and a somewhat darker tone from the vocalist. “prime #9973” is a full length, bonus piece included on the album. It explores the possibilities of a vocalist to a much greater degree than the other two. It opens with a lengthy violin solo. Soon the second violin comes in, and the other instruments and vocalist join in, the latter singing the same melody in the other pieces, but more fully fleshed out this time thanks to the added length. Another violin solo takes center stage again, bringing us to the end of the piece where it is joined by the other violin helping to draw out a quick, concluding chord.
Note that I am rather partial to string quartets when I say this, but I found this album to be absolutely stellar. The composition was well thought out and variation was present to a perfectly adequate degree. This is a collection of string quartets, so anyone adverse to this ensemble should stay away, but nevertheless there is still plenty of diversity in style and emotion. For all else, however, I would certainly call this album a worthy purchase.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Marc Friedman. Last modified on August 1, 2012.