Phantom Brave Original Soundtrack

Phantom Brave Original Soundtrack Album Title:
Phantom Brave Original Soundtrack
Record Label:
Nippon Ichi Software
Catalog No.:
SLPS-20344
Release Date:
January 22, 2004
Purchase:
Buy Used Copy

Overview

What do you get when you cross a strategy RPG with The Sixth Sense? You get Phantom Brave, of course! Released in 2004, Phantom Brave is just one of many strategy RPGs released by Nippon Ichi Software. It involves a 13 year old girl, Marona, who has the ability to see and speak with phantoms. Marona is an extremely optimistic girl and, no matter how bad the going gets, she still retains that cute charm and hope. As such, much of this soundtrack takes on a very cutesy and optimistic approach when it comes to composition. Tenpei Sato, the main composer for Nippon Ichi Software, lends his talents to this album. How does he do compared to some of his previous works? You’ll just have to find out by reading ahead!

Body

“Angel Breath” starts off the soundtrack to Phantom Brave with an excellent vocal performance by Serena. While there are no lyrics, Serena’s beautiful voice lends itself to creating an extremely captivating opening piece, created mainly by the use of an almost operatic style. It’s truly a treat to hear. As for the composition, Tenpei Sato keeps things simple and relies on the beauty of Serena’s voice. As the track progresses, you’ll hear harp, piano, layering of the vocals, and even some cute little voice additions. As the track progresses, it moves from a very serene piece to something with a bit more juice to it.

“Flower Blossom Guide” borrows the melodic motif found in “Angel Breath” and helps to create a very exotic opening, complete with harp motifs, acoustic guitar, piano, and the occasional vocal accents. As the track continues on, the section heard in the beginning serves as the accompaniment for the main melody, played on the violin. As the focus of a lot of Sato’s works, his skills with the violin truly shine. With this track, the melody is both truly captivating and maintains a very optimistic sound to it, something you don’t hear a lot of in the sea of stereotypical sad violin themes. Later in the album, “Angel’s Rest” is another arrangement of the vocal theme. The difference between the two is that the vocals are replaced by violin. In my opinion, the track is much more enjoyable than the vocal counterpart.

“The End of a Passionate Feeling” is the first battle theme to appear on the album. While the woodwind helps to convey a sense of joviality, the violin helps to add a bit of seriousness, but still retains somewhat of a playful nature. Another amazing thing about this piece is the rhythm. At times, it’s very slow, while at others, there is a sense of frenetic urgency, done in a cute way of course. “Sand Shower” is another battle theme to appear on this soundtrack and it is loads better than “The End of This Passionate Feeling.” Utilizing a catchy opening, reminiscent of the former battle track, this piece immediately hits the listener from the get-go. The instrumentation in this track is extremely lush. Exotic instrumentation, combined with standard fare, help to create a track that is both catchy and also developed. The violin creates a motivating melody while the percussion and piano help to keep the track moving. The occasional chant can be heard which helps give some depth to the track overall. Truly a masterpiece if there ever were one!

As one might expect, “Snowberry” is also used as a battle theme in the game. Unlike it’s other counterparts, this one as a much more mellow sound to it, but at the same time, it still portrays that sense of determination. In contrast, “Crown-of-Thorns Starfish” definitely has a really dark, foreboding tribal flair to it. Unlike most of his battle themes, this one focuses more on atmosphere, while still retaining its melodic nature. The instruments used in this composition, aside from the percussion, seem to take on a very serious tone. As usual, there are copious amounts of instruments, but Sato manages to make them blend extremely well, and he even adds chorals to the mix. This is a prime example of a great battle theme that focuses on the darker side of life. Continuing with the atmosphere, “A Hole in Space-Time” offers a very slow, laid-back, semi-suspenseful addition to the soundtrack. The exotic instrumentation, in combination with the more standard percussion and brass, helps to give it a unique feel. “Eyes of the Timer” borrows the thematic motif found in the previous track. The exotic flavor of the track is accentuated in this one, as is the focus on melody.

“Earth’s Step” is another stellar battle theme on this soundtrack. As the name implies, this track has a very earthy feel to it. The prominent use of percussion combined with the woodwinds help to create a very exuberant track with hints of an Asian influence. The inclusion of some chanting, in addition to some brass, helps add some development to the track, as do the electronic arpeggios heard sporadically throughout the track. It’s got a quirky feel to it, but at the same time, there is an air of sophistication. In “Strange Wind”, Tenpei Sato once again shows us his skill with the violin. The main violin melody is extremely frenetic, the woodwind and accompanying violin work together flawlessly as does the percussion.

Later in the release, “Friend” proves to be my absolute favorite vocal piece by Tenpei Sato. It has a way of drawing me into the music itself. Rei Taishi demonstrates her superb vocal skills in this piece. Accompanying her are a nice acoustic guitar and piano line, offering only subtle developments to the purity found in Taishi’s voice. As the track progresses, it develops to include some echoing vocals and a violin line. While all of these different elements going into the piece have a chance of drowning out the true potential of this piece, Sato chooses to focus on the vocal melody and let it do all the talking.

“B-A-R” is a piece of music that seems very unlike Sato’s traditional compositional style. In fact, I think this piece is rather unique for him. Adopting a jazz style, Sato helps create a scenic soundscape that reminds me of a late night jazz club. It’s got the atmosphere, that’s for sure, and also a very strong sense of direction. The instrumentation is what one would expect from a jazz performance, such as saxophones and piano, and it only helps to heighten the listening experience. This is definitely an odd track for Sato, but he pulls it off wonderfully. “R&R Junkie” opens with a Western feel to it, but it quickly changes to something a bit more upbeat while retaining that interesting flavor. The choice of instrumentation here is mainly standard Sato fare, with the inclusion of a harmonica this time around, but the jazzy way he utilizes them makes the track feel very unique.

“The Sorrowful You”, as one might expect from the title, is a track that just exudes sadness. The combination of violin and piano, while a bit clichÈd, really help to accentuate this feeling. However, it’s “Gloomy Feeling” that is by far the saddest theme on the entire soundtrack. Led by a heart-wrenching violin line, the melody just seems to conjure up the images of tears, while the acoustic guitar, vocal, and piano accents only help strengthen the overall effect of the piece. Despite it being such a sad theme, I find it very enjoyable, and it does seem to offer a slight hint of hope.

“Game Breaker” is another favorite of mine. It’s got a nice rhythm, a melody that is pretty infectious, and a lush assortment of instrumentation. From the opening to the end, there’s something about this track that captivates me. It may be the interesting percussion line, the woodwind melody with a violin line solo included later in the piece, or the way that all of these things combine together to form a very cohesive piece of music. There’s just something fun about it, but at the same time, it portrays a sense of danger and determination. “Rumbling Beat” is one of those more rhythm-based battle themes. Combining a strong use of percussion, industrial sounds, and brass with an overall tense feeling, Sato creates a powerful battle theme that doesn’t rely on a fantastic melody in order to carry it through the duration of the piece. Overall, it’s a strong battle theme, but not one of the best ones on the album.

Moving to the climax of the soundtrack, Sato proves that he doesn’t need to rely on violin to create a fantastic battle theme, or melody for that matter, with “Violent Emotion.” Primarily a rock composition with an orchestral accompaniment, there is little reason not to like this track. Sure, some may think the introductory few seconds before the guitar kicks in may be annoying, but those feelings soon dissolve once the electric guitar kicks in. In one of the strongest showings on the album, it’s a great way of summarizing what makes Sato so enjoyable. At last, the final battle theme on the album has been reached in “Endless Parade”. This is definitely another excellent display of power. Although a bit hackneyed at times, especially with the organ introduction, this battle theme still ranks rather high on the soundtrack. The heavy focus on brass and chorus helps to solidify the intense atmosphere heard within the soundtrack. The sense of an epic battle of good vs. evil, with hints of both sinister actions as well as heroic efforts can be heard throughout the composition. This is easily another winner in my book.

At long last, we’ve reached the final theme on the album, and what a beauty it is. Rounding out the three vocal themes, “Heaven’s Garden” is the longest composition on the album. In addition to its original melody, the inclusion of the vocal motif found in “Flower Blossom Guide” helps to describe Marona perfectly. Hana, the third vocalist on the album, has the perfect voice to accompany the instrumentation. The violin, xylophone, and acoustic guitar are the main focal points for crafting the melody. As mentioned before, the inclusion of choral accents, unrelated to the earlier motif, help to accentuate the melody as well as the vocalist. As with the other vocal themes, this one also features a violin solo, with some choral overlays, and helps to bridge the verses quite nicely. As the track progresses, the track gets a bit more dramatic before fading away with a closing section featuring the chorus heard throughout the piece, with a distorted violin thrown in for good measure. It’s not my favorite vocal theme on the album, but it’s also not a bad one at all.

Summary

Phantom Brave, alongside Soul Cradle, ranks as Tenpei Sato’s best work. While it focuses on a much more saccharine approach than the Disgaea series, the heartfelt melodies heard within the various sad themes and vocal performances, in addition to the exhilarating battle themes, help to make this one of the most enjoyable albums I listen to. I recommend it to any fan of Sato, and for anyone who loves great music!

Phantom Brave Original Soundtrack Don Kotowski

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!

4.5


Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on January 16, 2016.


About the Author

Don Kotowski

Currently residing in New York, I spend my days working in antibody therapeutics and dedicate some of my spare time in the evening to the vast world of video game music, both reviewing soundtracks as well as maintaining relationships with composers overseas in Europe and in Japan.



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