Star Ocean -The Second Story- Fantasy Megamix
Star Ocean -The Second Story- Fantasy Megamix
First Smile Entertainment
October 18, 2000
Buy Used Copy
The Star Ocean Perfect Sound Collection was the first arranged album from the Star Ocean series, and strangely, it came out before the soundtrack, which was released a whole nine years later. Star Ocean -The Second Story- Fantasy Megamix is the second arranged album in the series, but luckily, it was released at the same time as its original score, so there was no wait here. When I first heard of this album back in 2004, I was told to expect nothing special, but I can assure you that my sources were otherwise misinformed. The variety of genres on this album is excellent, ensuring the album offers far more than the Star Ocean Perfect Sound Collection. With a blend of rock, jazz, techno, and orchestral music, the original melodies are developed with great mastery and there is truly something for everybody. The arranger for this album is not Sakuraba, but Yoshihiro Ike, a prolific orchestra anime composer and rock guitarist.
The soundtrack opens with a compelling rockestral version of the overworld theme “Field of Nede”. Reflecting various aspects of the RPG experience, strong contrasts are created between the ominous string bass, the glorious guitar melody, and the bright orchestration. There are numerous contrasts in texture and dynamic during the track’s development, ensuring an even greater scope. Ike shows further flair for transforming Sakuraba’s creations into rich fusions with “At the Crack of Dawn”. It certainly captures the feeling of a space epic, with the vast and conflicted orchestral melodies. Mixing synthesized elements with true performances, it is also a step above the original in terms of production values.
“The Incarnation of Devil” is a synth rock track that provides a fresh interpretation of Sakuraba’s action themes. The opening is somewhat disorientating with its repeated bass notes and underdeveloped melodic fragments. However, the track takes off from the 2:55 mark with Masanobu Fukuhara’s awe-inspiring guitar work. The closing solo is especially impressive, spanning every octave that the instrument can offer over a short time. Moving to “Fateful a Moment”, this is another impressive rock arrangement that brings the most out of the original theme. While the accompaniment blasts out some ominous chords, the electric guitar emits a vigorous sound. The only problem with this track is its length, as with it being the second shortest on the album, there are certain aspects of the track that could have been developed upon.
“Silent the Universe” will come as a surprise to many, as with two powerful themes either side of it, it seems dwarfed in comparison. Ike explores a unique timbre throughout this track, combining a female vocalist, an electric guitar, a synth orchestra, and a drum kit. During the subtle development, many emotions are explored and some sections are particularly sad and isolating. It’s certainly a refreshing take on the original. In contrast, “The Venerable Forest” is a wonderfully Celtic track featuring duets between piano and woodwinds. It certainly provides a refreshing insight into the original piece with its gorgeous timbres and intricate harmonisations. Most who played the game will surely remember the intense scenes the original played in.
The opening part of “The Ultimate Terror” is threatening and typically rock-styled, but the most beautiful soprano voice comes in after the minute mark. Her voice is particularly effective around the 2:25 mark, enhancing the tension when a rising scale filled with accents and sforzandos is performed. When placed in conjunction with the military elements, a real sense of terror is portrayed and some parts seem inspired by concentration camps. Finally, “Resolution” is a beautiful track that resolves the album with its fresh organic timbres and subtle acoustic vibes. The best part of the track lies around the 1:20 mark where pianist Taiki Oyama adds a jazzy swing to the melody and manipulates the theme flawlessly.
There isn’t a single bad arrangement on this album, and with each track adopting a different style to one another, Ike offers a wide range of emotions. The tracks are impressive both as arrangements of the original material and musical creations in their own right. Indeed, this album is self sustainable, and with tracks like “The Ultimate Terror,” “Star Ocean Forever,” “Resolution,” and “Field of Nede,” this is hardly surprising.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Dave Valentine. Last modified on August 1, 2012.