December 1, 1999
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Koudelka‘s soundtrack is a dark horse. Of the 34 themes on the album, only ten have names and are over a minute long! Behind the seemingly uncaring approach lies a beast of a soundtrack. Visually divided into four sections of music, each has its own individual purpose and feel.
“Requiem” opens the album with a haunting choir boy singing alone in a eerie tune. Adding to the atmosphere, a bass drum and little jangles of triangles are added. It’s a chilling start. “Ubi Caritas et Amor” sees the lone boy joined by the rest of the choir for a beautiful piece that sounds like it came from heaven’s church. The singing is angelic and inspired. “Dead” ends the first section of music with a sorrowful string quartet carefully treading through another bittersweet piece of beauty.
However, it’s all change for the next section as we enter the battle themes. “Waterfall” is an eight minute epic battle theme which is actually quite sparce and understated given its purpose. The tune is relatively plesent for the first three minutes before getting a bit more frantic and darker later on. “Incantation Again” keeps the same tribalesque drum beat but with a much more frantic and blood rushing melody and, despite being different from most RPG battle tracks, it is refreshingly pleasing. “Patience” keeps the same basis as the previous battle tracks but has a fast paced tune amoungst all the drum breakdowns. “Kiss Twice” is the final battle theme and once again uses the same premise of drums and instrumentation but has more of it that the others. It’s almost like each piece is slightly more geared up than the last to offer more in the ear of the listener. It’s another quirk to this soundtrack.
The next section of music comprises of 24 tracks which are just named as “Scene ?” with ? being a number. Each is full orchestrated with the odd choir piece thrown in for good measure. Some of them are excellent little pieces of music and remind me very much of the little musical pieces that you’d get walking into a new room in, say, a Tomb Raider game. Some of them are eerie and/or dramatic, some of them are beautiful, and some of them are just empty sound effect pieces ala Silent Hill. Its a mixed bunch but makes for delightful listening.
The final section is a trio of pieces taken from the 1999 Zepp Tokyo show in which Koudelka showcased some music. “Live Waterfall” actually sounds like a completely new piece altogether, Kikuta choosing the arrange it with a rock band and some little gameshow keyboard effects. In fact the only remains of the piece easily picked out is the lead guitar playing the main melody. “Live Incantation” is a stonking piece of music. With a choir opening, it quickly assembles into a dramatic frantic event with a singer actually performing the main tune! It gives it a completely new level and eerie effect which is added to with some excellent instrumentation and a superb build up to a climactic finish. The closing track “Live Patience” turns the battletheme into a beautiful acoustic guitar ballad; poetry in motion and simply beautiful.
Koudelka‘s soundtrack is a strange beast full of originality and quirks that set it apart. You can see the origins of what would later offspring the stunning Shadow Hearts series,. This is a little gem if you enjoy original flare, slightly religious sounding and organic instrumentation, and dramatic scores. I recommend it, especially for the stunning live tracks.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Simon Smith. Last modified on August 1, 2012.