Exist Archive -The Other Side of the Sky- Collector’s Edition Soundtrack

existarchive Album Title:
Exist Archive -The Other Side of the Sky- Collector’s Edition Soundtrack
Record Label:
Spike Chunsoft
Catalog No.:
N/A
Release Date:
December 17, 2015
Purchase:
Buy Used Copy

Overview

Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky is a new RPG developed by tri-Ace and published by Spike Chunsoft. Continuing his long-standing collaboration with tri-Ace following the Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile series, Motoi Sakuraba unsurprisingly scored the game. A 50 minute soundtrack of his offerings (along with an artbook) was included as a first press bonus with the game in Japan, before a full two-disc soundtrack was released commercially a few months later. As someone who normally sticks with the same franchises, how does Sakuraba deal with handling a new franchise? Is this something new from Sakuraba or yet another of his symphonic rock scores?

Body

The main theme for Exist Archive is a deceptively simple one that focuses on just three descending notes. However, due to both its inherent phrasing and its striking arrangements, it manages to both capture listeners’ attentions and create a fateful undertone throughout the soundtrack. While the theme receives multiple arrangements throughout the soundtrack, the standout is “Elysion”, a composition that somehow manages to be simultaneously be grandiose, intimate, yet ethereal. The small ensemble writing is beautiful here, with standout cello and piano parts, while the ambient and choral segments bring much depth to the composition as it journeys through its dramatic arch. For me at least, this is one of Sakuraba’s greatest compositions of recent years.

Unfortunately, its exposition in “Exist Archive” is much less impressive. Like “Elysion”, the composition is reminiscent of Sakuraba’s approach on Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria with its blend of epic operatic parts and mystical ambient interludes. But its production values fail to match even those of a decade-old game, given Sakuraba wasn’t given the budget to record this piece with a chamber orchestra. While the composition has its moments, the arrangement feels heavy-handed and the potentially beautiful choral parts fall flat. While hardly as obnoxious, the closing track “The Other Side of the Sky” also suffers from an unbalanced arrangement and unconvincing synthesis, meaning it doesn’t fully captivate listeners as it should have done.

Most of the second half of the soundtrack is dedicated to action themes. These compositions tend to be typical of his other tri-Ace battle themes, whether “Fallen Angel” with its edgy bass elements, “Demon’s Greed” with its violin and band blends, or “XENO-Factor” with its motivating but jagged rhythms. They are nothing surprising from the composer, but still prove excellently composed and implemented tracks here, with each spanning some six minutes. More stylistically interesting are “Daybreakers Gospel” and “The Immortality of the Soul”. In these tracks, Sakuraba convincingly hybridises his prog rock sound with the darker operatic elements of the rest of the soundtrack. Both captivate on a stand-alone basis and are also likely to work spectacularly in the game.

Rounding off the relatively short soundtrack are several other noteworthy compositions. “Proto-Lexer” is another rendition of the main theme, this time adopting an ethereal sci-fi sound reminiscent of Deus Ex. “Star of Administrator” takes a more ethereal approach with choral and synth writing again reminiscent of Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria. Though both are a little underdeveloped, they prove quite striking nonetheless. “Anti Life Form” is a much darker track dominated by moody string lines. While its orchestration is again disappointingly linear, it will still draw in many listeners with its ever-shifting chord suspensions. Much like the rest of the soundtrack, it is nothing particularly surprising from the composer, but is still fairly competently done.

Summary

Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky is a slightly disappointing effort from Motoi Sakuraba. Much of the soundtrack follows the conventions of his other works and several compositions are poorly produced. However, there are a few major highlights here such as “Elysion”, “Proto-Lexer”, “Daybreakers Gospel”, and “The Immortality of the Dawn” that prove fresh and exciting with their operatic sci-fi sound. This particularly sampler features many of the best tracks from the main soundtrack, but the two-disc edition feels more complete and has several other highlights. There are better Sakuraba soundtracks out there, but this one at least has a heart.

Exist Archive -The Other Side of the Sky- Collector’s Edition Soundtrack Chris Greening

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!

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Posted on January 12, 2016 by Chris Greening. Last modified on June 30, 2016.

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About the Author

Chris Greening

I've contributed to websites related to game audio since 2002. In this time, I've reviewed over a thousand albums and interviewed hundreds of musicians across the world. As the founder and webmaster of VGMO -Video Game Music Online-, I hope to create a cutting-edge, journalistic resource for all those soundtrack enthusiasts out there. In the process, I would love to further cultivate my passion for music, writing, and generally building things. Please enjoy the site and don't hesitate to say hello!



One Response to Exist Archive -The Other Side of the Sky- Collector’s Edition Soundtrack

  1. Terry309 says:

    I agree a lot with a lot of what you say, though I wouldn’t consider it a disappointing “effort” moreso a disappointing result however, I personally am not disappointed at all by this soundtrack considering the game was low budget, you can tell that there was a lot of effort put into it, it just fails to maximize it’s potential. However the music does capture a lot of what makes Sakuraba so great and it’s a very ambitious attempt at something new which is refreshing considering the fact that many of the music he’s done in recent games has been the same-old same-old.

    My favorite songs are Demons Greed, Star Of Administrator and Fallen Angel

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