The Legend of Heroes V A Cagesong of the Ocean Original Soundtrack
|Album Title||Catalog No.|
|Legend of Heroes V A Cagesong of the Ocean Soundtrack -first part-, The||NW10102320|
|Legend of Heroes V A Cagesong of the Ocean Soundtrack -second part-, The||NW10102330|
Released at the end of the millenium, The Legend of Heroes V: A Cagesong of the Ocean was one of the first completely new games Falcom developed for modern PCs. As a result, the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. were able to use higher quality synth and more diverse styles than the preceding entries in the Legend of Heroes series. The sound team still composed the music in the spirit of earlier instalments in the series and probably created more compositions for this release than any of their preceding soundtracks. Yet for one reason or another, the music of The Legend of Heroes V never acquired legendary status though, barely commemorated in arrangements and overlooked in favour of modern remakes and the Trails in the Sky series. Let’s find out why through its two volume soundtrack release…
The soundtrack sets an ethereal tone for the game right from the start with “Leone Fredrik Richter – A Cagesong of the Ocean”. The composition opens with some haunting synthetic soundscaping that works beautifully with the imagery of the sea. Later on, the character is portrayed with a lonely but captivating whistle melody, before the composition takes a more heroic and anthemic twist. Another central composition is Eleiza’s theme “Recollection of Forest”. This one oozes sentimentality with its slow development, feminine melodies, and fragile accompaniment. Both of these character themes receive several reprises during the soundtrack that are generally very memorable and touching. Of course, they are eventually beautifully bonded together for the extended end credits music music too.
The first volume of the soundtrack is dedicated to most of the lighter compositions. Listeners will find few surprises in how the compositions are styled, since they closely follow the tradition of other Legend of Heroes titles and RPGs in general. For example, there are relaxing town themes, such as the folksy “Harvest” or the flute and guitar duet “A Peaceful Time”, then there are frivolously phrased ditties like “Sunlight Strikes the Hill” and “Season of Love” used during the sillier scenes of the game. There are some welcome returnees from past games too, such as a liberating version of “In the Ocean Breeze”. While much of the soundtrack is acoustic, the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. didn’t resist to put in some light rock themes too like “Never Going to Leave” and “Limit Force”.
The second volume of the soundtrack features a number of deeper themes. Almost straightaway, listeners are greeted with dark gothic staples such as “Dark Sunlight”, “Reparations of Insanity”, or “Undersea Melody”. These are pretty derivative, yet work quite well in darkening the tone of the game and are enjoyable enough for stand-alone listening. Perhaps more creative are surreal and ambient themes such as “Ripples”, “Pitch-Black Sky”, and “Dark Sunlight” that attempt to stride slightly outside RPG norms and convey the distortion of the world. There are also more action themes this time, culminating in the blistering extravagance of “Unforgivable Troublemaker”. A final highlight is the rather enjoyable, albeit underdeveloped, four part “A Cagesong of the Ocean Suite”.
Compared with earlier series’ soundtracks, The Legend of Heroes V suffers greatly from inconsistency. While there are 84 tracks featured between the two volumes, the majority of them are mediocre at best and a large number are completely unworth your time. As an example, the horrendous 17 second bugel fanfare “Lazy Tatoo” follows straight on from the opening theme and immediately stalls the listening experience. There are many other short themes scattered around the release too, such as the numerous superficial jingles to represent various characters or the pile of filler at the end of the second volume, and they really interrupt the flow of the soundtrack. There is also a lot of dubious longer material, such as “Dreadful Encounter with the Dark Beasts!” and “The Show’s Over”. These tracks aren’t definitively bad, but will be annoying to a lot of people.
The Legend of Heroes V: A Cagesong of the Ocean was produced during the creative lowpoint of the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. The release is dominated by rehashes of old styles, whether serene town themes, gothic epics, or rocking battle themes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, yet the rehashes are mostly lazy ones that don’t evolve or refine existing formulae. Between the numerous formulaic and underdeveloped compositions, there are some genuinely memorable and emotional compositions here, but the filler ratio will be too high to sustain most people’s interest. For consumers, the final straw probably comes from the fact Falcom released the soundtrack in two volumes. In doing so, they offered even less value for money and segregated the listening experience quite unnaturally. This is hardly a bad soundtrack, but pales in comparison to the Trails in the Sky trilogy and the remakes of the third and fourth games. Maybe that’s why it’s since largely been forgotten about…
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.