Super Robot Wars Gaiden -The Lord of Elemental- Sound Storm
Super Robot Wars Gaiden -The Lord of Elemental- Sound Storm
May 25, 1996
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Super Robot Wars Gaiden -The Lord of Elemental- Sound Storm features the score for the 1995 SNES spinoff to the long-running Super Robot Wars series. In addition to the original synthesised tracks, there are . Unlike most scores in the series, this album doesn’t feature arranged theme songs from mecha animes, and is instead almost exclusively dedicated to Daisuke Fujimoto’s original tracks. The resultant album is particularly impressive for its time, for the reasons which I will now discuss.
This soundtrack (or “sound storm” rather) opens, and closes, with renditions of the soundtrack’s stronger pieces by arranger Takaai Yasuoka and guitarist Bijyomaru Sakagawa. The first arrangement, “The Wind of La Gias” is a rock arrangement of the orchestral original. The track features some impressive guitar work, a strong drum line, and a manic accompaniment; these forces are used in an impressive way during the extensive development sections, resulting in a solid overall arrangement. “Endless Battling” is much the same; with a powerful melody and prominent guitar, it’s another strong arrangement with fascinating twists and turns.
Unexpectedly, the third arrangement on the album, “Indian Summer” is an easy-listening track which adopts the form of a slow ballad. With quaint instrumentation, including a piano, it creates a much more laid-back atmosphere, and provides a nice detour from the fast-paced rock at the start of the album. The last track on the album, “Ending”, seems to combine the opening rock arrangement style with the laid-back tone created in “Indian Summer”. Listeners are faced with cyclic shifts between rock and easy-listening segments due to the skilful implementation. It is the best arrangement featured here and, as a result, a very powerful end to the album.
The majority of the soundtrack features similar styles explored through the arrangements. In regard to the rock tracks, they feature the sort of manic music which you would normally associate with mecha animes. The furious character theme “Scirocco! Gale! Cybuster” by Tanaka, for example, is extremely fast in tempo and includes a timeless, epic melody which is particularly invigorating. Fujimoto’s “Flame of the Chinese Gym Teacher” isn’t too far off the mark either, with another powerful melody to represent Masashi. We are also presented with the original versions of “Endless Battle” and “The Wind of La Gias,” two classics which are just as effective and enjoyable as their arranged counterparts; “Endless Battle”, in particular, is one the Super Nintendo’s best battle themes, igniting all the passion to succeed against the enemy.
Following these rock tracks, Fujimoto then moves onto a string of melodic orchestral themes. “King of Kings” and “Prologue” are the first instances of this, and successfully create feelings of grandeur and pride through their prominent drum backgrounds and strong melodies. “Holy Emblem” uses similar musical devices, but also makes use of a brass section to create a march-like track. The most successful orchestral piece on the album in my eyes though is “Opening,” even though it is one of the soundtracks’ shorter themes. The use of a variety of instruments, including both pizzicato and arco strings, is fascinating and, when put together, the melodic yet ominous tone created is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Considering the track’s length, it’s amazing how powerful this theme is, and I’m actually quite sad that it hasn’t received an arrangement on this album.
There are also more ominous tracks on the album which draw techniques used in both the orchestral and rock themes on the soundtrack. For example, in favour of the orchestral technique, “Great Darkness” utilises a march-like drum beat and prominent brass to create a fast-paced, dangerous tune, which certainly sets the scene of a catastrophic event. An example of rock influence on these ominous themes, in contrast, is “Fallen Gods”. Mostly though, with these themes, the use of rock and orchestral techniques are blended, much like in “Nameless Master,” “Protectors,” and “Bad Premonition.” Out of this selection, my favourite is “Nameless Master,” since it seems to explore a funkier sound which isn’t especially explored elsewhere on the soundtrack to effect (except in “Shadow Stalker”) and uses an appropriate blend of subtle melody and invigorating slap bass. Perhaps it’s the combined powerful qualities of rock and ambient qualities of Fujimoto’s orchestral techniques which make these so successful.
Lastly on the soundtrack, there is also a selection of easier listening themes. “Wanderers Souls,” for example, features a hypnotic xylophone melody and firewire synth to create a ghostly atmosphere. “Blessing of the Gods” also utilises a similar rising and cascading xylophone melody, akin to the Final Fantasy series’ “Prelude” composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Undoubtedly, each of the laid-back themes on the album is uncluttered and simple: rarely is there any exploration of harmony or need for development, yet they are still functionally effective. “Undying Sadness,” is a classic example: it is slow, focuses on a simple melody, and its accompaniment is mostly made from a walking bass motif, yet it really grows on you and becomes an especially effective track. Perhaps the most successful (and lively!) easy-listening theme on the soundtrack is “Spring Breeze Presia,” a track which seems to encompass everything jolly and cheesy. Once more, we see a slap bass used as a main instrument in the track, with the typical airy synth laid over the top of this, to create something delightful rather than something atmospheric. It is intriguing to see how Fujimoto has created such addicting themes by doing so little.
Though this album isn’t exactly a “sound storm,” it is still a creative and impressive blend of music from Fujimoto, especially for an early soundtrack. Fujimoto has explored, to a good extent, more styles than many modern day soundtracks and offers surprisingly high production values on the Super Nintendo. I always have the utmost respect for early game music composers, who had to overcome the barriers of the consoles they composed for, due to limited sound capacity. I seriously recommend this soundtrack to all of retro game music fanatics, regardless of previous atachments to the Super Robot Wars series. Moreover, take a look into some of this series’ other amazing soundtracks as well, with major additions from music production company Salamander Factory and super-group JAM Project. You won’t be disappointed!
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Dave Valentine. Last modified on August 1, 2012.