Rogue Galaxy Original Soundtrack
Rogue Galaxy Original Soundtrack
January 25, 2006
Buy at CDJapan
Tomohito Nishiura had already made a name for himself as quite a capable composer due to his work on Level 5’s Dark Cloud series, so it was only natural that he’d be called upon to return to compose for their new title, creating the Rogue Galaxy Original Soundtrack. The game was already an interesting blend of classic medieval RPG and space exploration: how would Nishiura complement this odd fusion?
Introduced in an almost ominous fashion by the ethereal choir, “The Theme of Rogue Galaxy” turns into a predominantly hopeful theme with the advent of its main melody, aided by some intelligent chord changes. It’s certainly a very capable theme, though it lacks a bit of creative luster. But that minor flaw should certainly not be used against it. Rather, what’s most notable about this entire album is that, while each individual piece is exactly as expected, they are each put together quite well, and mix to create quite an unexpected milieu of styles.
Reflecting this feature further, “Hazardous Desert” is a very typical desert theme, with well developed counterpoint between the sitar and the flute, but it’s immediately followed by “Timeless Town”, a mournful, yet not sappy, town theme, comprised of a simple melody on flute with some guitar accompaniment. Both tracks are typical of Japanese RPG albums, but their juxtaposition and intrinsic level of quality helps prop them above the norm. The listener is taken to all sorts of exotic locale: “Planet Zerard”, with its sweeping synth, is a rather well developed futuristic sci-fi theme, yet “The Jungle of Jyuraika” fits perfectly with the sounds of the jungle, with its simple rhythm and flute melody. Indeed, it’s very early on that the listener realizes that he or she cannot predict what the next track will be, and leaves one in a state of well deserved suspense.
There are some rather notable tracks beyond the norm. “The Galaxy Public Corporation” develops rather well, starting with a simple piano motif that constantly finds its way back into the instrument, even as the focus shifts to the strings and arpeggiated synth. “Vargoku’s Theme” paints a rather impressive picture of a character in the game: with its deceptively cheerful tone, it offers a brilliantly devious villain’s theme. Regardless of its placement in the game, the theme’s basic motif masterfully develops throughout its length, utilizing the trumpets to great lengths to portray a prominent figure. “The Labyrinth”, while mournful, is also quite peaceful, thanks to a well developed fusion between glockenspiel and flute, and some interesting chord progressions.
There are two operatic vocal themes found during the second disc. The first, “Le Marie Glennecia”, contains merely one irritating flaw: its short length is quite depressing considering how enjoyable the track is. Yayoi Ono’s voice perfectly complements Nishiura’s tactful chord choices to create a rather stirring composition. Fortunately the same flaw does not plague the album’s highlight, “The Relic’s Song”, a relatively lengthy and brilliantly original final battle theme. Katsuyuki Yamasaki’s deep, harsh voice perfectly contrasts with Ono’s lilting song to create a strikingly poignant and chilling piece: a perfect accompaniment to the dramatic tone of its intended location in the game. This is one of the more creative final boss themes I’ve come across, certainly deserving of a listen, though the reader should know it’s also more experimental than most.
The ending theme, quite appropriately titled “Dreaming on my Way ~ Ending Theme” falls into a pitfall deftly avoided throughout the rest of the album: it’s rather irritatingly sappy. Simple piano chords accompanying Barbara Kessler’s nice, though somewhat overbearing, voice do not help add complexity to a piece that sorely needs it. Still, I’d be loathe to label this a bad track; it does fulfill its function well enough as an ending theme, though more development would have been nice as well.
If the reader has played Rogue Galaxy and recalls the music with fondness, it’s certainly more than nostalgia talking. The music is generally well developed and pleasing to listen to. The album’s biggest flaw is a lack of creativity in the tracks themselves, beyond the intrinsic creativity of the different styles found in each, though this certainly isn’t a trend featured throughout. Overall, a solid album that can be enjoyed by any fans of the Japanese RPG music genre.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Marc Friedman. Last modified on August 1, 2012.