April 15, 2006
Buy Used Copy
Hiroki Kikuta had seemingly disolved into thin air for a long time in the world of game music. I personally hadn’t heard of anything high profiled since Koudelka back in 1998. That was a shame for me as I had always enjoyed his works. However, in 2006 he quietly released Lost Files, a collection of unused songs he and written that were never placed in games or released on a soundtrack.
“Mona Lisa Overdrive” opens up with Kikuta clearly stuck in the early 1990s synth mood, setting the mood for the album. With a very typical arcade sound, it’s a clunky and offbeat electronica rush that is slightly confusing and doesn’t really make sense. However, “Newromancer” is a classic piece sounding like it should have been used on something like OutRun! A lead electronic guitar gives the main theme with overactive organs giving all the action hamming up in the background. Great stuff. “Burning Chrome” sounds like it came from Soukaigi only it, once again, is synthesized not performed. Again, it is very good track with some fun tweaks to it. “Catch A Falling Star” sounds like a Mega Drive era piece; it strangely and cleverly plays a happy quirky melody with minor chords for accompaniment; refreshingly off kilter all the time. “Oceanic” closes the first section of tracks with a beautiful crystallised melody reminiscent of Seiken Densetsu 2 somehow crossed with Shadow of the Beast!
We are then presented with a ten minute epic “Something Wicked on the Way”. It opens like a cheesy 1980s synth-pop track and stays that way slowly evolving with different verses but coming back to the same chorus. It’s a nice track, but it is indeed a tad too long. It does make you a happy bunny, though, if you like synth music.
“A Long Trip To Teatime” is another happy track using the same synth set again which reminds me of traditional arcade music. If you do not enjoy those sounds then sadly this CD is not for you at all. “Knight Moves” is more of a battle piece with heavy percussion and bass and not a lot else until a very funky piano riff kicks in. “The Einstien Intersection” is another weird track using brass stabs as a large part of the arrangment which completely throws the rest of the complex track out of proportion. The basis of the track is good indeed, if not called Seiken Densetsu era music but the brass stabs just jump from nowhere! Maybe it will grow one me… “A Scanner Darkly” gives a small arabian tinge to the music with rolling adagios throughout before unexpectly “A Small, Good Thing” gives us an acoustic guitar led track – the first real slow track of the album and its much needed too even if there’s not much to it, its still a nice simply melody.
Phase three of the soundtrack is a six track flowing piece. Each section is called “Mysterious Story of the Island of Souls” followed by its part number. The synths are now updated to pretty much Soukaigi level. The opening part is very typical of said game actually and suddenly the album leaps into to a new level after the early tracks were good but nothing special. Part 2 is a fun sneaking piece with some funky bass and electric piano. Part 3 sounds like a percussive heavy battle track with some vocal ad-libs thrown in for good measure and reminds me slightly of his Koudelka battle works. Part 4 is an excellent work of giving scope with not many instruments. It reminds me a bit of the Chrono Trigger arrangements for some reason — the same beats and jazz workings. Part 5 is another fast paced piano led battle track before Part 6 gives us a beautiful stadium rock finale to the section — a piece that really uplifts you.
The final track of the section is “The King to Elflands Daughter”. Here we have what seems to be a very up-to-date synth track. Its elegent harps, strings, and flutes are backed by big percussive thuds. It’s really quite something and I’d actually say this is my favourite track from the CD.
Hiroki Kikuta’s Lost Files faces a similar problem as what similar collections do. They are unreleased and marketed as never-before-heard-gems. While some of the tracks are very good, a few of the earlier tracks on the album are let down because of the synth work chosen. I am a huge fan of very early game music, however I think the tracks here could have benefitted from being upgraded to today’s standard of technical genius. Sometimes the cymbal crashes just hiss too much over the main tune, or the ambient pads are too harsh to be calming. However, it has wet my appetite for more Kikuta and his latest solo album Alphabet Planet.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Simon Smith. Last modified on August 1, 2012.