Radiant Historia Original Soundtrack
Radiant Historia Original Soundtrack
December 15, 2010
Buy at CDJapan
2010 has shaped up to be one of composer Yoko Shimomura’s busiest years yet, between writing a few new tracks for two new Kingdom Hearts titles, headlining the Xenoblade score, contributing to the new Parasite Eve title The 3rd Birthday, and composing entire soundtracks for two original portable titles: the PSP’s Last Ranker, released in the summer, and the DS’ Radiant Historia, released by Atlus just a month ago. The former of these two original soundtracks was already reviewed quite favorably: can Shimomura continue to impress with the Radiant Historia Original Soundtrack?
The soundtrack begins with “RADIANT HISTORIA”. At first a deceptively simple piece, a music box plays a nice little melody, soon to the accompaniment of strings. Halfway through the strings take over entirely and Yoko Shimomura utilizes them to weave an exquisitely evocative yet gentle piece. An excellent theme to start the album with, and one that sets the mood of the album as having rather serious, dramatic undertones, a setting that persists throughout the rest of the soundtrack.
“Mechanical Kingdom” is the first of the many town themes present, and its name describes it quite well. The strings (which alternate at times between violin, cello, and a general string section) sound somewhat synthetic, playing over both a very specific range of notes, beside a similarly mechanical sounding harp and beat. It’s somewhat soothing, eerily unsettling, yet nonetheless enjoyable. “To the Battlefield” is more of a militaristic town theme that, disappointingly, is given little time to develop properly, instead feeling repetitious and irritating.
There are some diverse other highlights on the soundtrack too. Kingdom Hearts fans will get a shiver of déjà vu from “Dreams Showered by a Cloud of Dust,” a Middle Eastern style piece. However, it thankfully isn’t a rehash of Agrabah’s arguably overused theme from the aforementioned franchise, but instead something entirely new, proving that Shimomura still has tricks up her sleeve for this style of writing. “Beyond the Wilderness” is a fascinating forest theme due to some curious instrumentation, including the sitar and accordion. It’s rather simple, yet it develops quite well over its playtime. “Shadows Dance in the Darkness” utilizes some rather enjoyable dissonance in its opening, atmospheric half, until its graceful melodic conclusion.
Focusing on some personal favourites, “The Garden Where the Celestite Lie” is a slightly more playful piece, owing to the pervasive usage of pizzicato and oboe, though the melody is just as solemn and dramatic as the rest. The orchestration here makes the piece particularly memorable. “The Melody Connecting the World” is a beautifully haunting composition, and would perhaps be one of the composer’s best had it been given more time to develop. As it stands, it’s merely an interesting curiosity. “Wildness and Toughness” meanwhile features a harp playing an addictive, relatively fast paced melody while strings portray a more graceful atmosphere in the foreground working in quite a delectable unison, especially when the piece reaches its melodic climax.
The most hopeful, happiest tracks on the album are found mixed amongst the event themes. Most notably, “Forever Proud” is a heroic theme that utilizes its relatively lengthy track time to great effect, evolving constantly and consistently. Other contributions include the more militaristic “To the Future that Awaits Ahead” and the exuberantly playful “Unending Clear Blue Sky,” yet there are quite a few sadder event tracks as well. “Where the Wind and Feathers Return” is chillingly serene and beautiful, as is “Interrupted Moment” and “Affectionate Moment”. These aren’t as impressive as Shimomura’s Last Ranker compositions, but are still serviceable and evocative in context.
There are four battle themes on the album. The main battle theme, “Blue Radiance,” contains a rather pumping beat that evolves rather fluidly during the track’s duration, at first accompanying the relatively gentle strings in the foreground, later picking up its pace to match their unfolding melody. The track as a whole develops quite well, creating quite the memorable theme. “The Edge of Green” starts off quite dramatically with a virtuoso segment on the violin, which soon makes way for the brass and woodwinds, and an absolutely delectable piano playing arpeggios. A church organ introduces “The Red Locus,” yet it doesn’t stick around for too long, abandoning the majority of the track to the rest of the orchestra. This theme might not develop as well as the two preceding, but it gets the job done satisfactorily.
“Memories of the World,” the final dungeon theme, is stirring and rousing, and overall thoroughly enjoyable. It features a section with an interesting rhythmic scheme, building up to its dramatic climax which utilizes a piano most effectively. “An Earnest Desire of Grey” is, without a doubt, one of Shimomura’s greatest final battle themes. The violin and accompanying strings play a dramatic melodic passage, the heights of which are spellbinding, and intelligently reflect the track’s opening motif. Meanwhile, supporting instruments, most notably a percussive instrument sounding like a celesta, effectively augment the main event.
The album concludes with “-HISTORIA-,” the game’s vocal theme. This is certainly one of the composer’s greatest vocals, with its addictive melody and the inspiring voice of Haruka Shimotsuki. The orchestration is well done too, including usage of violin, piano and guitar to reflect a wonderful mood. While not her most creative vocal, the intrinsic value of this piece should not be lightly regarded. This track is followed by the instrumental version of the preceding, which is just the same track with the vocals removed.
This album contains some of Shimomura’s greatest and most evolved tracks, but also contains a number of uninteresting and merely average ones. Given the relatively low number of tracks on the album, this is an issue that cannot be totally ignored. Regardless, this is a surefire hit for anyone considering themselves a fan of the composer’s works, though newcomers would be better served picking up one of her more highly regarded albums.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Marc Friedman. Last modified on August 1, 2012.