Klonoa 2 -Lunatea’s Veil- Original Soundtrack
Klonoa 2 -Lunatea’s Veil- Original Soundtrack
Scitron Digital Contents
August 21, 2002
Buy at CDJapan
Is this Heaven? Nope, it’s Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. I was quite impressed with the score to Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, thinking it was nearly perfect most of the time. But what happens when you go one better than perfect? You come up with Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. Now I have set the expectations quite high for this album, which has remained among my favourite purchases for well over five years since I got it. I made mention in my review of the first Klonoa score that there was just a kind of ‘cute factor’ that ran throughout that score, but that the album wasn’t just shallow fluff. The group of quite a few composers from that score, plus a few new composers to the team, have kicked up the quality a few more notches with Klonoa 2. Some pieces are so well-constructed that they may even impress even the most hoity-toity Classical-lovers. The score is literally overflowing with wonderful, memorable melodies, and nearly each track completely envelopes you in its sound world. It is a thing of beauty to be so captivated by music.
There is no dabbling around here; the album gets right to it with a joyous opening track, “Welcome to Lunatea”. It presents what will become the typical orchestration for many tracks to come: percussion, chimes, and lots and lots of woodwinds. This piece is a delightful waltz that really gets the album started on the right foot. A delightful melody is presented by oboes, and the rest of the piece develops this melody, constantly winding down until the slow, lullaby-like finale. “Opening Theme” is another terrific track, simply oozing with emotional piano writing, backed by strings and chimes, unfortunately clocking in under 30 seconds. One thing about melodies is that, usually, when a melody is very memorable, it may also mean that it, and the underlying harmonies, is very predictable. That is not the case here. Melody after melody is thrown at you, but none of them ever give in to standard musical clichés or cadences.
One technique that added a lot of intrigue to Klonoa: Door to Phantomile was that there were a few area themes that had two variations: an outside variation, usually rougher around the edges and full of interesting instrumentation and colour, and an inside or cave variation, where everything was toned down a bit, with much added resonance and ambience. Well, here the creative team behind Klonoa 2 takes that further. Nearly every other track is a new area theme with its own ethereal variation. This starts with “Seaway”, a wonderful track that immediately sets a tone of awe with soft strings and chimes providing the melody amid some busy, shaking percussion. “Calm Sea” takes this sense of awe and expands it to something nearly mystical in scope. The melody is still there, provided by some spacey electronics, with the harmonies now being provided by more malleted percussion. “Going to Lunatea” is worth mentioning because its variation is not presented until the middle of the second disc. It is a wonderful variation on the “Lunatea” main theme, first heard in the first track, provided by recorders amid some wonderful guitar writing. The variation is “The Sorrow Revives”, taking this pleasant melody and twisting it into something almost disheartening, with a solo violin providing some interesting counterpoint to the recorder, sometimes switching roles with it and providing the melody.
One of the main themes from the score is then presented, after “Going to Lunatea”, with “Lolo!” It is a theme for one of the main characters named, you guessed it, Lolo. For once in the entire score, I feel that this is one of those pieces that seems to be all fluff and no substance. The theme is presented by pizzicato strings and chimes. The problem is not the theme itself, but the presentation. It is enjoyable enough, but its almost shameless hopefulness becomes a bit annoying; luckily, the piece lasts barely over a minute, and also luckily, the theme receives much better treatment later in the album such as the twinkling variation with chimes and electronics in the heartbreaking “Shattered Past” and the poignant orchestral variation in “Thank You, Popka”, complete with swelling strings and oboe solos. Next is the theme for “Baguji the Wiseman”. With an almost Zen-like quality, this piece sways along with some interesting percussion and a sitar melody with interesting chord progressions and woodwinds providing extra colour here and there. “The Prophecy” at the end of the first disc is essentially the same piece, but slowed down considerably.
“Path of Goddess Claire” presents another main theme of the game. Usually I don’t like to describe music as ‘organic’, since I’m never really sure how something can sound organic; but if there was ever an organic piece of music, it would be this. All the percussion sounds come together to creak and shake and create a perfect image of nature with a melody carried by cello and recorder. “Cave of Glimmer Moss” is, of course, the cave-variation of the previous piece. The mystical, natural percussion is still there, but the melody is now carried by chimes, with a counter melody provided by a theremin whistle. This interesting instrumental sound will appear quite often later in the album. “High Priestess” is a very passionate variation of the same theme as the previous two tracks, by strings only. The most interesting part of the piece is when the melody drops out altogether, and we are left with just the chords, played softly and ethereally; it is at this point you realize how much depth and intrigue is in these compositions. Much later, on the second disc, “High Priestess of Sadness” presents the same idea of having just the harmonies with sparkling sound effects laid on top.
At last, we are presented with our first battle theme! It is also the first time we are presented with some very techno elements in the score. Some gnarly ambience plays above a heavy beat and percussion while the theremin trills its way through the melody. It is probably one of the most inventive battle themes I’ve ever heard, taking the peaceful, almost otherworldy, and beautiful whistle of the theremin and turning it into a steady and threatening battle tune. After this, we are back to more adorable pieces, starting with “Element”, which begins in a grand and magical fashion with some interesting chord progressions by strings and tons of chimes; in a way, it reminds me a some of Joe Hisaishi’s work, whenever he uses the same technique of dissonant chord progressions with twinkling orchestrations. “Joilant” is a surprisingly familiar dance/marching tune. A distinctly French feel is given to the piece through its use of romantic strings and, especially, the accordion. Then comes one of my favourite melodies of the score: “Tutorial Tat”. Like “Joilant”, it is a theme that is almost instantly familiar, presented by the xylophone with a march beat provided by piano and percussion; be warned, though, this is one of the most catchy themes perhaps ever written. It will get stuck in your head!
Next is the haunted-house trio of pieces, “Bugbear’s House”, “Pay One’s Debts”, and “Make Believe Ver. 1” (strangely, there is no “Make Believe Ver. 2 “). The first piece is the most overtly ‘spooky’ of the trio, with a gothic atmosphere provided by xylophone, harpsichord, and glockenspiel. A melody is provided by some strange, distorted voices, making it sound like a 1970’s B-horror/sci-fi flick score. The second piece, “Pay One’s Debts”, is my personal favourite of the three. Constant motion is kept by the glockenspiel while a melody emerges on the harpsichord; it is perhaps the most Classically-oriented of the pieces as well, relying on a sense of mysticism more than horror. “Make Believe Ver.2” is deliciously cheesy-sounding, expanding on the soundscape first introduced in “Bugbear’s House”, but with some funky 70’s sounds leaking in via electronics and more gothic melodies being provided by solo strings.
Now we’re onto the Jungle trio, “Jungle Drums”, “Jungle Cruise”, and “Jungle Cruise Afro Mix”. The first piece presents a fragment of the Jungle melody by steel drums along with much other percussion. “Jungle Cruise” is quite strange in that it perfectly captures the feel of a Jungle cruise, although I’m not sure I can say why. It is an infectiously cheerful piece with a sense of adventure, and a jazzy melody provided by trumpets amid strings, percussive piano, and a drum kit. The piece takes a refreshing interlude from its rambunctiousness with almost epic strings and playful winds before taking off with more, heavier percussion. The ending is great: it runs directly into the next piece, which is, essentially, the same piece but with a massive arsenal of added percussion. It literally shakes the ground with so much beating, shaking, and pounding. These pieces are great fun and quite catchy. Then we’re onto more Tat music with “An Ugly Tongue”, “Run! Run! Run!”, and “Caterwaul”. The outer-pieces have the same, funky 70’s sounds as “Bugbear’s House” and “Make Believe Ver. 1”. The former has a strangely cocky tone that fits the scene perfectly (Tat is, after all, taunting the heroes of the game with her ugly tongue); the latter has a slightly off-kilter and clumsy sound with strange synth-effects and added dissonance. “Run! Run! Run!” is my favourite version of the theme. It is relentless in its rhythm and joy, scored for drums, xylophone, harpsichord, and accordion. Such an interesting choice of instruments, along with strings and piano heard just barely, coupled with this familiar theme makes one of most intriguing pieces in the score. One of the bonus tracks on the second disc, “An Explosive Band” is yet another variation of this theme, sounding slightly American because of its jazzy touches, including the banjo.
After the Tat “trio” comes the second battle theme of the score, and what a battle theme it is! “Leptio the Flower Clown” is one of those pieces I referred to where I think even a Classical music snob may even be impressed. Brass begins this hectic piece with lots of heavy percussion and cymbal crashes. After a quick interlude for woodwinds comes one of the most inspired choices of instrumentation in the piece: the accordion. Yes, the accordion works wonders in this battle theme. Pounding timpani bring the piece to yet another exceptional section: woodwinds begin to develop a melody, adding more and more instruments until the brass and the accordion come in, and we realize that it is a distorted version of the “Jungle Cruise” theme. This is followed by an interesting, but short, waltz section for strings, and then yet another inspired choice for this piece: the chimes, and brass and percussion, are heard in a rhythmic fashion, the brass and percussion being at the low, booming end of the spectrum and the chimes being nearly ear-piercingly shrill. And then it repeats. There is just so much going on at all times. It is pieces like these that elevate this album from being standard or shallow video game music. Next we are presented with a theme for the villainess of the game: Leorina. “Leorina’s Theme” is a short theme with gothic instrumentation, strings, and harpsichords providing a constant underscore of shifting textures. The piece “Leorina” adds more strings and percussion to the mix, although it takes a much different turn after the theme is presented. There is a very saddening second-half, so full of drama with its use of cello and oboe and piano. Ironically, the Leorina battle theme, “Cursed Leorina”, does not feature her theme at all. It is full of heavy drama with brass and strings and much orchestral percussion before taking off on a kind of rock/classical fusion with drums and racing strings and eventually a grand, but subtle choir. With Leorina’s defeat comes “Masked Strength”, which also does not feature her theme, oddly. It features chimes and piano and soft washes of strings presenting interesting harmonies.
The next trio is for the Volkies of the game. “Humming of Volkies” presents, with drums and upright bass, the bassline for the melody that is expanded upon greatly in “Volkies Song” by brass and saxophone. It is one of the only overtly jazz pieces on the album, and it is wonderfully fun. “Under the Frontline” is the cave-variation, bringing back in the upright bass, with the melody provided by flute and rock-organ. Another variation on these pieces is found in “Volk Burning”, adding all manners of discordant, swirling textures by electronics, electric guitars, and organs, making the piece a sort of rock variation on the theme. It is a ‘hurry’ theme, and therefore it is relentless in rhythm and dissonance. Two other pieces for the Volkies are “Volk Factory” and its cave variation “Echo of the Factory”. These are the pieces to test your sound system with. All manners of clanging, metallic percussion come together with dissonant brass melodies to make these pieces simply splendid, with the cave variation adding heavy doses of pounding bass. Some of the harder pieces to appreciate on this score are “Biscarsh” and “Burning Biscarsh”. They are almost like atonal rock pieces, bringing together electric guitars and dissonant brass writing.
Thankfully, after this intense set of pieces, the score is back to a more peaceful setting. “Ark’s Birth” sets the tone magnificently for the beautiful, larger-than-life setting of a kind of modern-day Noah’s ark (although the only creatures being harbored are the heroes of the story) with theremin, chimes, and harp. “Ark Ver. 1” is a highlight of the entire album, keeping largely the same formula as the previous track, but also adding some percussion and, eventually, the entire orchestra. The cellos carry an absolutely rapturous melody, and, after a short interlude for piano solo, the piece goes back to the beginning. It’s simple enough, but highly effective. Also, in congruence with the ark of the game, there is the sound of blowing wind used throughout the piece, furthering a sense of flying. Then “Ark Ver. 2” comes, albeit much later and into the second disc. It is essentially the antithesis of “Ark Ver. 1”. Whereas that track was peaceful and magical, this one is urgent and brutal. A constant ostinato is kept up as percussion and the piano join in with crashing figures. Swirling brass figures also aid the sense of urgency. A melody emerges on the recorder, and when it repeats, the whole orchestra comes in to provide some dramatic harmonies. Just like “Ark Ver. 1”, however, there is a momentary respite for piano before it’s back to the harrowing drama.
“Stepping Wind” is the closest the album comes to having a misstep, but even this piece is pure fun. It is a rock piece with heavy electric guitars, electronics, and drums. Unfortunately, the vocals sound as though they have been provided by Klonoa himself — meaning the vocals sound like they were sung by a small child, slightly strangled, slightly nasally. The theme itself is rather catchy, though, and it’s hard to refrain from shaking your head or finger or whatever it is you like to shake when dancing. Ironically, the closest the album comes to a misstep is followed by the most fantastic piece of the score. Dissonant recorders, followed by a bouncy bass line, then percussion, and finally strings come in, bringing “Moonlight Museum Ver. 1” to its melodic content. The melody is heard by the theremin, floating so lightly above the harmonies and echoing with such exquisite beauty. Some electronic sounds are added to the mix, doubling with the theremin on the melody, and then it comes to the bridge where an oboe repeats a single, simple figure as the strings keep climbing and climbing until they reach their final cadence, leading the piece back to the beginning. I could put this piece on repeat for hours. “Moonlight Museum Ver. 2” is basically the same piece, but with some distorted electronics added on top. Then come the two “Polonte” tracks, which turn this delightful melody into two battle tracks. The “Polonte Ver. 1” still retains some interesting orchestrations, such as rhythmic marimbas and swaying percussion along with soaring strings and smooth electronics providing the melody. “Polonte Ver. 2” takes the melody and turns it into a half-jazz/half-electronica piece with great results.
After this, the score takes a noticeably darker turn with “Swerve”. The piece is nearly all atmosphere with flute fragments appearing here and there above grungy ambience. One notable thing about this piece is that it has no cave variation. There is an inside region to the area in the game, but instead of being presented with a variation on the first piece, it is a new piece altogether. The theremin is the main instrument here, whistling its way through this eerie piece amid plucky, dissonant textures. “Lightning Bug” is another dark piece, full of ambience and a slow cello melody. There are twinkling sound effects used throughout the entire piece as well as some more bizarre sounds. “Lightning Moo” adds much resonance to the mix and replaces the cellos with a kind of ethnic string instrument. “After a Convulsion” continues the streak of darker, dissonant, perhaps even slightly atonal pieces. “Ope La Ship” is basically a track filled with nothing but sound effects, although the theremin from “Ark Ver. 1” makes an appearance a few times. “In Ruins” is another piece filled with dark soundscapes that gives us a good introduction to the final area before we are thrown into it. Once you hear “Hyuponia / Ruin of Sadness”, you will know what I mean when I said you are literally thrown into the sound world of the final area.
It is difficult not to be completely engrossed by that piece, as disturbing as it is. It is definitely the longest track of either disc, clocking in at 8 minutes. It begins with deep bass ambience with a hopeful, muted recorder melody on top. All throughout this piece, the recorder keeps on with the melody with piano and guitar providing the background above the ever-present grungy bass. The sound of wind is also present throughout the entire piece, ushering in seemingly new pieces simply laid on top, like memories being regained and lost just as quickly. While the recorder melody is still playing, you will hear snippets of Lolo’s theme, Baguji’s theme, and in one case you even hear Klonoa’s theme (it happens to be the first and only time the theme is heard on the album; the theme is used liberally throughout the score to Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, making its inclusion here very unexpected). Are you ready now for one of the most exciting pieces of the score? It is “Mirage”. The music begins with an interesting mix of brass and woodwinds alongside some techno beats and electronics; the sound of laughter is heard faintly in the background throughout the piece. A single melody is played by recorders and developed in interesting, sometimes disturbing ways, such as when it is played by percussion only, also allowing the laughter to come to the forefront. Towards the end, you can hear the words, faintly, of the King of Sorrow from the game.
“King of Sorrow’s Theme” is surprisingly hopeful sounding, even after a dismal beginning for chimes and harp. When some punchy strings come in under a cello melody, the piece takes an interesting turn with lots of electronic sounds and ambience. “King of Sorrow Dubmix”, for the first part of the final battle, certainly has a final and epic feel to it. It features a relentless rhythm kept by strange electronic sounds in ostinato; trumpets occasionally come in with short blasts, and even the recorder and sitar join in occasionally. “King of Sorrow” is a more intense version of the shorter, previous track, developing somewhat of a melody in the low brass. Eventually, all the busy soundscapes drop out, leaving a calming ambient setting of the King of Sorrow’s theme. The dissonance keeps stacking up, and the percussion becomes more and more booming. After this come the ending themes. As the game is wrapping up, we are presented with “Farewell Again”. I don’t quite understand the significance of the “again” part of the title, but it is still a nice piece, perhaps the best statement of Lolo’s Theme. It is a bittersweet way to end, but still effective nonetheless. “Traveler”, the staff roll piece, is quite nice. It marks the return of the theme for Lunatea, not heard in full since the beginning of the first disc (and heard in a distorted fashion in “The Sorrow Revives). It is, for the most part, a fully orchestral piece — no sound effects or ambience with this one. Some constant Latin percussion starts the piece with piano as the recorder comes back with the melody along with some string counterpoint. The theme repeats until it is finally presented by piano and strings in a cheerful fashion. Ideally, this piece should be the end of the album, but we are presented with a few more short pieces such as the “Good Night”, “Continue”, both characterized by lovely chimes, the “Title” music, complete with some grunts from Klonoa himself and some more funky 70s sounds, a fun honky-tonk piece with “Quenchless Curiosity, and a karaoke version of “Stepping Wind”.
This album is an absolute treat to listen to. The sheer number of memorable melodies warrants the purchase alone, but luckily there is so much more to it. Nearly every battle track is wholly unique, and the area themes, and their cave counterparts, are quite lovely, particularly “Moonlight Museum”. It’s easy for me to go through and describe my enjoyment of each piece in this score, but when faced with summarizing the whole product, I am utterly speechless. All I can do is let you know that it is completely recommended, surely a must-buy. There’s something for everyone, not only in terms of genres but also in the emotional content. Honestly, my words will probably never be able to describe fully just how splendid this score is. The best I can do is to give it a number rating.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Duncan MacIvor. Last modified on August 1, 2012.