Folklore Original Soundtrack
Folklore Original Soundtrack
June 27, 2007
Buy at CDJapan
FolksSoul, also known as Folklore in the West, was an action-adventure game with RPG elements, released for the PlayStation 3. It’s a very atmospheric game, full of mystery and suspense, and this was due to a combination of the visuals and music. The score was led by anime veteran Kenji Kawai, who crafts an orchestral main theme and several other cinematic works. However, Shinji Hosoe, Ayako Saso, and Hiroto Saito also offer some surprising orchestral score. Are the team able to translate this atmosphere into the three disc orchestral score? Read on to find out!
Kenji Kawai is mainly responsible for the common thematic motifs heard throughout the soundtrack. The soundtrack opens up with “The Beginning of the Journey,” a beautiful piece full of atmosphere. The piano that plays over top ethereal soundscapes effectively creates a very nice mood, while the strings lend a hand at creating a very dark piece. The woodwind usage is reminiscent of a Celtic style, which makes sense, considering the game takes place in Ireland. Towards the end of the piece, the first thematic motif is introduced through the use of dark and sinister choir passages. This motif is also heard in a variety of other themes. “The Netherworld” retains the theme and sinisterness heard in “Beginning of the Journey”, but brings with it more beauty, mysteriousness, and playfulness. Some truly astounding string work helps to accomplish this goal while some woodwind and music box elements add to the playful undertones.
“Resolution” also features this motif, but towards the end of the theme. It’s a dark and brooding theme that leads into a bit of orchestral bombast. The cello in this theme is extremely effective at creating a sense of mystery, especially when the motif is introduced towards the end. “To the Unknown World” is probably my favorite of Kawai’s themes that borrow this motif. It has a much more prominent Celtic sound, due to the beautiful woodwind work. The choir and strings sections, similar to “The Netherworld,” are a bit more focused this time around and the alternating bridges of Celtic flute and piano between the main theme help give it a bit of additional character. The last composition to feature this motif is “Truth”. This version features some choir over top some strings and harp work. There’s also a section that features woodwinds that really give it that Celtic flair and help tie in the setting of the game.
Another motif that Kenji Kawai introduces is in “A Mysterious Door”. This is a short, but very beautiful and mysterious theme that is dominated by haunting strings, piano, and choral work. “Sorrow” takes this same theme and transforms it into a touching piano and strings theme that exudes sadness. Lastly, “Distant Memories” is an absolutely stunning piece. The woodwind and vocal work are an extremely effective take on the original, giving it a bit of mysterious and reminiscent qualities. The B section, though, is what truly astounds me. The choir introduces a new melody that is extremely poignant and melancholic. This is truly the highlight of Kawai’s work on this soundtrack.
Kenji Kawai also composes two other themes on the soundtrack. “Courtroom,” if I’m not mistaken, is a very dark and brooding piece of music to accompany a cutscene. It features an effective use of bombastic orchestra and some more mysterious pizzicato strings and music box melodies. There are some haunting strings passages as well that feature some pretty nice brass accents. It’s an interesting theme — dark and with a militaristic influence — but at the same time, I’m also reminded of a dream-like quality to the music as well. His last contribution, entitled, “The Judge and the Judged,” is also Kawai’s only battle theme contribution to the soundtrack. It’s an orchestral take on the music box melody heard in “Courtroom”. The strings work is absolutely superb, adding a sinister touch to the playful music box melody heard in the original. The choir help add a bit more atmosphere and the orchestral flourishes heard throughout the piece are extremely beautiful. After hearing this, my only regret is that he didn’t compose more battle themes!
One of the more prominent contributors to the soundtrack is Shinji Hosoe. He offers a mix of battle themes, area themes, and cutscene music. “Solitude” is a very mysterious theme that also has a hint of etherealness about it. Soft woodwinds and strings are extremely effective in creating this atmosphere, as well as provide the majority of the melody. It’s a soft side of Hosoe and one that is rarely seen. “An Undertaking” is a dark and atmospheric theme that relies on suspended strings and some intermittent piano work. Some brass accents are also introduced to give it a bit of contrast.
“Endless Battlefield” is one of the area themes and is quite militaristic in nature. The main focus of this theme is definitely the percussion, which provides the tone for the piece; however, the distorted brass and strings work also provide a very nice texture to the theme. The melody is sparse, but fitting. It also mixes some industrial and quirky sound effects for a diverse blend of music. “Engraved Time” is an interesting theme to say the least. It’s very ethereal in nature and features some music box-like synths and some sporadic choir usage to create this effect. This theme also relies heavily on chimes, bell tolls, and clock ticks to give this sense of time. “Map of Penfield” is another area theme that relies on clock ticks to give this feeling of time. The gong and timpani usage gives the theme a bit of a dark atmosphere, but the real character comes from the mixture of ethnic and industrial percussion. It’s an experimental piece that also features some subtle suspended strings and brass work for a bit of contrast.
The majority of Shinji Hosoe’s themes, though, are those of the battle variety. “Menace” is very bombastic and militaristic in nature. The strings melody provides a touch of sinisterness, but the percussion is truly the star of this theme as it provides most of the power heard throughout the theme. “Avalon” is one of the boss battle themes. It’s another militaristic theme that focuses on brass and percussion. Unlike “Menace,” the power from this theme comes mainly from the brass and strings work, whereas the percussion serves more as an atmosphere setter. There is a softer section heard in this theme that relies on subtle woodwinds and chants that provide a nice contrast to the urgent nature of the theme. “Trial” is another battle theme that has a militaristic atmosphere to it. It focuses mainly on brass and percussion and has a much more intense and menacing sound than either “Menace” or “Avalon”.
“The Serpent’s Lair” is another one of the boss themes. Rather than focus on melody, although there is some, this theme features some deep piano work and some ethnic percussion. It opens with some militaristic percussion and brass in order to give the theme a bit more power, but it’s short lived. Overall, this is a very atmospheric boss theme with a very dark and sinister nature. “Showdown” is a theme that focuses on suspended strings, brass, and a variety of percussion, including ethnic and industrial effects, to create a very tense theme that also tends to focus more on atmosphere than melody. “The Darkness Within” is one of the major boss battle themes. Brass, strings, percussion, and choir combine to create a pretty epic theme. There are some subtle chaotic piano notes intermittently spread throughout the theme as well as a softer string section with some sporadic militaristic percussion and choir that serves as a nice bridge to the main melody as well as help add to the tense nature of the piece. Another major boss battle theme, “Skilled Spear” is most remembered for its strings work. It manages to create a very chaotic and tense atmosphere, and not at the expense of melody. It’s quite fantastic! There are some piano glisses, some bombastic brass, militaristic percussion, and woodwind flourishes that give it a bit more edge and color, but as mentioned before, the strings work, both haunting and suspenseful, really makes this theme shine.
Ayako Saso is mainly responsible for some cutscene music, area themes, and battle themes. “Where the Flowers are Scattered” starts off quite mysteriously through the use of choir before moving into an intense action theme full of percussion, brass, and strings usage. This is particularly effective at creating a very tense atmosphere. “A Voice from the Past” is a beautiful piano and strings theme that contains an air of mystery and sadness. The choir addition is a particularly nice touch in creating a beautiful atmosphere, but the B section of the theme, where the strings start to dominate the melody, is extremely poignant, especially when combined with the aforementioned choir. “Ancient Breath” is a haunting string led composition. It has a strong melody, but it’s rather repetitive. This one is definitely used for mood building purposes only. “Impact” meanwhile is a dark theme that opens with some piano and suspended strings passages. Throw in some creepy woodwind work throughout the piece and you have a very haunting, but beautiful, atmosphere.
Ayako Saso only contributes a couple of area themes. “The Forgotten Village,” the town theme for the game, is a beautifully haunting piano composition full of desolation, despair, and emptiness. There’s a sense of longing and desire also heard in the piece. It’s a very fitting theme for a town that is full of secrets. “In the Land of Judgement,” is another haunting piece, full of choir. There is a nice sense of danger added through the percussion that carries a bit of an ethnic flair to it. The brass and strings accents serve as a way to accentuate the melody.
The rest of Saso’s contributions are battle themes. “The Fairy Waltz” has a very evil carnival-esque soundscape that is created via the various dissonant brass sections, both melodically and as an accompaniment. The melody is superb and the addition of the haunting choir helps to cement this very creepy image. “Escaping the Myth” is one of the boss battle themes. The brass usage here creates a very powerful tone and the flurry of suspended strings help bring a nice textural richness to the composition. The woodwind sections and choir accompaniment are a nice contrast to the overall atmosphere. It’s a very good theme, with the brass and choir taking the spotlight. “Land of the Gods” is probably my favorite Saso piece on the soundtrack, though. It’s also a bit of an unorthodox battle theme. The melody is quite intoxicating, created through the use of some tribal chanting and the tribal percussion is used to create an awesome rhythm. Suspended strings and brass are used to reinforce the melody and atmosphere. “Those Who Must Fear” serves as the theme for the first part of the final battle. The brass melody dominates the theme, giving it a very epic sound. The strings work that accompanies is fantastic as well and gives a nice furious touch to the theme. It’s a powerful theme full of energy and the percussion and choir help give it a bit of sinisterness and menace. It’s a very fitting part of the final battle suite.
Hiroto Saito contributes the least to the soundtrack and is mainly responsible for cutscene and battle theme music. “Awakening” is a short theme, but within its timespan manages to create a sinister and epic sound through the use of choir and orchestra. It ends on a somewhat mysterious and brooding note. “Crisis” meanwhile is an epic action theme with focus on choir, strings, and percussion. The instrumental bridge heard in the theme gives off a bit of mystery, particularly through the use of the chimes. It suffers from repetition, but all the elements for success are present, just not utilized to their fullest. “Resurfacing Past” meanwhile is a mysterious and poignant strings-led composition that is full of atmosphere. The melody is very striking and has a certain fairy tale like quality to it. The piano section and ethereal background are especially effective in giving the piece some great texture and atmosphere. “Between Life and Death” is an accordion piece that starts off with a very melancholic nature, but it quickly turns into a gypsy-like theme with some exquisite violin work to create an amazing melody. “Determination” is another intense action theme with some piano, choir, and bombastic orchestra soundscapes. It’s a shame that it’s so short, though.
Although Hiroto Saito doesn’t compose many battle themes, the two he does both happen towards the end of the game. “Sovereign Vessel” serves as one of the major boss battles. Booming percussion, choir, and an adventurous and ominous orchestral sound really give it a nice edge, yet, at the same time, it also manages to take on a very haunting atmosphere. However, the true gem in Saito’s contributions is “Collapse”. Serving as the last part of the final battle suite, it truly astounds me. The piano work is absolutely stunning, filled with a variety of chaotic passages. It also seems to take on a minimalist quality to it. The suspenseful orchestral soundscapes and choir that accompaniment it give it a very evil energy. This truly is an amazing theme and it’s very fitting for the final battle theme.
The soundtrack ends with “Where the Soul Goes”, credited to all four composers, although given the fact it’s a medley and not all composers are featured, I’m sure one or two of them have more of an arranging role. This medley is beautifully mixed too! Opening with “To the Unknown World”, the mysterious and Celtic nature of the soundtrack is exhibited. The transition to “Resurfacing Past” helps tie together some of the story elements present in the game as well as provide a very beautiful theme to top it all off. Following that, “Distant Memories” is introduced, but rather than use the “A Mysterious Door” motif, it focuses on the beautiful and haunting choir B section. From there, I believe it moves onto a section of “A Voice from the Past” that also helps to tie together some of the story elements and capture a bit of atmosphere as well. The medley ends with a more upbeat version of the main theme heard in “To the Unknown World”. This is truly an epic theme and one that really manages to capture the essence of the story driven themes.
Kenji Kawai, most known for his anime work, manages to create a truly mesmeric main theme and really helps tie together the album with his cinematic work. Although his contributions aren’t the most prominent, Hiroto Saito manages to create some important battle themes as well as add to the cinematic flair created by Kawai. Both Shinji Hosoe and Ayako Saso move out of their comfort zone to deliver a very good orchestral score,with a few mishaps along the way. In the end, this album manages to capture the atmosphere of the game exquisitely and it really shows off the diversity of the mainly electronic composers. This album is highly recommended for those who aren’t a fan of Ayako Saso and Shinji Hosoe’s more electronic-focused compositions as well as those who want to hear a soundtrack that truly captures the essence of the game for which it was created.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.