Tales of Asteria Original Soundtrack
Tales of Asteria Original Soundtrack
February 14, 2018
Buy at CDJapan
When it comes to Tales of soundtracks, most people think of Motoi Sakuraba or Go Shiina. However, when it comes to their mobile spin-off titles, the soundtracks are usually handled by other composers. The Tales of Asteria Original Soundtrack features the work of KLab Sound Team (Yasuhiro Isoda, Tasuku Matsukura, Sadaki Naoe, and Kimihiro Abe, formerly of Basiscape) and Takao Ogi. How does this spin-off soundtrack, which features all original music from all four chapters of the game, compare to the flagship titles of the series?
Upon listening to the first tune, “Distant Legend,” a mysterious and contemplative piano tune with ethereal synth that gives off a very atmospheric vibe, I came to realize that this might very well be a different type of Tales soundtrack than typical. While it wasn’t the most inventive tune, it still managed to sound fresh compared to years of mostly Sakuraba et. al contributions that adhere to a very strict guideline. Similarly, “Star Fragments,” with its heroic and adventurous tone, yet maintaining a quaint charm with its accordion and strings driven tone, managed to succeed thanks to its enjoyable melody. Of course, there are more surprising tunes as well. “Peaceful Premises of the Temple” is ethereal, incorporates chill synthesizer, soft piano to create a wonderfully atmospheric piece of music. “Eternal Journey” is a jovial tune with a militaristic sound that also incorporates a Celtic inspired soundscape. “The Guard of the World is also surprising, taking orchestral tones, progressive drum pads, and synthesizer and blending it together to create a mysterious and tense tune that also incorporates a slow rock section that is quite beautiful. “Tower of Droplets” is a dynamic piece with a romantic violin lead that gives off a heroic sound, but also one of tension and chaos, depending on how the violin is utilized. “The Guide to Destruction” blends electronic, rock, and orchestral elements with vocals to help carry a tense, yet beautiful, melody that also boasts a pretty nice brass solo.
Of course, there are also tunes that sound like they do belong in a mainline Tales game. “Intermingled Bonds” is a tune that reminds me of a flagship Tales tune with its jovial and upbeat melody accompanied by militaristic percussion. “Savior of Light and Darkness” is a tune with an upbeat and inspirational sound with a nice melody that does take a typical Tales-esque approach. However, tunes like “Sorrowful Fate,” with its melancholy strings and piano comes off as generic while “Looming Crisis” features generic orchestra with a brass focus. “Because We’ll Meet Again Someday is a romantic theme with piano and strings that features a typical RPG sound. Same goes for “Feelings Unreaching.” “The Usual Place” is upbeat and bright but doesn’t really distinguish itself from standard Tales of music. Also upbeat is “Hard-to-Forget Memories” with its pop flavoring alongside woodwinds and strings. It has a decent melody but comes off a bit too saccharine. A lot of the event related music does tend to trend towards earlier Tales of games when Sakuraba wasn’t working on them solo, so mileage may vary in terms of overall enjoyment.
The biggest difference I observed was definitely in the battle themes. “Unyielding Pride” and its blend of rock and synth, despite being common in Tales games, is atypical in its approach, leaning less towards prog and more towards a straight rock piece. There are some tunes like “Dashing Fight Spirit” that are more reminiscent of Sakuraba’s prog work, but utilizing lead guitars to play the melody that don’t make the prog rock sound quite as similar as Sakuraba’s approaches. “Wall in the Way” is a tune that combines orchestra and rock, while keeping a general Tales of sound, but giving it more of a J-rock flair. Likewise, “Let’s Take Back These Bygone Days” also features a J-rock sound but does feature a nice melody. The end result is a decent tune, but not one of the standouts. Even tunes like “Running Through the Line Between Life and Death,” a synth rock tune with a tense nature and a great blend of sounds overall features an excellent melody and a dance vibe, a less typical battle concept in the series.
“The Blink of a Sword’s Flash” is a bass heavy battle theme that utilizes Japanese instruments, strings, electric guitar, and electronic elements to create an entertaining tune with a dance vibe to it. “Prepared to Clash,” on the other hand, uses distorted synth, drum pad, e. guitar, shamisen to give off a determined sound with an excellent melody. Towards the end of the release, there are three related tunes, all preceded by “Fighting Together.” The first, “Fighting Together [Confronting a Large Enemy]” is an intense rock tune with a heroic melody. The end result is quite engaging. Second, “Fighting Together [Bring Bonds Together]” is more of a synth rock tune that is, at times, gritty and, at others, more determined in nature. Lastly, “Fighting Together [Encounter with the Unknown]” is a mysterious orchestral/electronic hybrid with jazzy piano chords, slap bass, and plenty of fun synth solos. The battle themes mentioned above are mostly all composed by Takao Ogi and they provide a fresh take on the series’ battle music, even if some of them come off as not as inspired as others or lean towards standard fare.
While only a spin-off title, Tales of Asteria Original Soundtrack makes for a surprisingly entertaining listen. While it still falls into some of the Tales of sound, plenty of tunes manage to sound fresh, mostly due to how certain themes are approached, such as the battle themes. While I don’t foresee this type of sound infiltrating the main series in the foreseeable future, it does make me hope that going forward the series can be a bit more open to its musical sound. That aside, the soundtrack is a mix of highs and lows, but balancing out to make this worth a listen, especially if you’ve played the game and have liked what you’ve heard.
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Posted on March 29, 2018 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on March 29, 2018.