White Knight Chronicles Original Soundtrack
White Knight Chronicles Original Soundtrack
July 1, 2009
Buy at CDJapan
Quietly released several months after the game that it’s based on, the White Knight Chronicles Original Soundtrack marks the debut of Yumiko Hashizume and the return of Takeshi Inoue from his work on the Jeanne d’Arc Original Soundtrack. Given the opportunity to write for such a landmark title, how does the duo fare?
There are a few tracks on this album that are quite enjoyable. “Greid, the Capital of Freedom” is perhaps the greatest example. A soothing piano backdrop delicately supports a gradually evolving choir, which breaks into a flute as it reaches its melodic climax, furthering to develop the lovely theme. “Eternal Engraving” is a gentle piece, fitting for a conclusion. Similar to the preceding, it opens with a piano, but strings replace the choir. Strings soon take the forefront, creating a rather enjoyable melody between the three instruments. “Yvonne” is quite the opposite in conveyed emotion: a predominately jocular theme, reminiscent even of Nobuo Uematsu’s lightest compositions. The staccato oboe and rambunctious percussion, coupled with the slightly ragtime piano serve as a rather fun accompaniment to an above average melody.
The two vocal themes bookending the album on either end are quite spectacular. “White Knight Chronicles ~The Travelers~” serves as quite an enjoyable opening track. The vocalist’s voice easily brings out the powerful, almost piratical sounding melody, with matching percussion to accompany her. A flute is quite easily heard predominating throughout the piece as well, helping lend the track quite a unique sound. The track doesn’t tire the listener throughout its entire length, an admirable feat. “Shards of Time ~Chronicle Love~,” as the album’s closing track, is decidedly less grand, and, while not quite reaching the aural heights of its companion piece, still provides a splendid listen. The dynamics in the track are well executed, as is the song’s evolution, making up for a less enjoyable melody.
Tnfortunately, my praise of the album reaches its conclusion. There is very little noteworthy about the majority of this two disc collection. All of these underwhelming pieces generally have melodies that seem like they’re trying to go somewhere, but never really do, instead sounding more like random selections of notes lacking intelligent design, played across a spectrum of aesthetically pleasing but ultimately transient soundscapes. This fatal misstep, combined with some inferior sound samples, most notably the percussive line, melds into a boring two hour test of patience on the part of the listener. All of the area and town (besides the aforementioned) themes fall under this umbrella, as well as most event and battle tracks.
Citing some examples, “Parmo Village” continuously repeats, in its bass line, a rather obnoxious accordion sound that never quite fits with the melody and just sounds repetitive and bland, and a very simple, likewise repetitious percussive line. The melody itself starts cheery yet makes a sudden, temporary shift into the minor key that just sounds oddly misplaced, quickly returning to its original major. Similar to the preceding, “Lagnish Desert” attempts to make a rather lopsided attempt at emotion, but instead falls flat, delivering a rather dreary, unimpressive melody: an unfortunate outcome, especially taking into consideration the relatively enjoyable percussive line.
One would think that “Prelude to Battle,” being the main battle theme, would be an exception, yet this track too suffers from a melody that feels like it’s trying to go somewhere, yet never does. This piece ends up being surprisingly grating at times, thanks to its punctuated rhythm and melody that sound like the composer was trying to evoke the feel of a battle with the piece’s color rather than its melody, a tactic that proves unsuccessful. Not all the battle tracks are quite as difficult to listen to, though. The final two battle tracks (oddly placed after the track labeled “Final Battle,” a misnomer for a track serving merely as the cinematic prelude to such), “King of the Sun” and “The Devil on a Black Horse,” actually manage to be an enjoyable listen, though not particularly exemplary. The strong choir helps push these tracks above the rest, coupled with an intelligible melody and evolving percussion.
As far as event music goes, “Amille the Animal Trainer” is too frantic and seemingly random to make much sense. The melody hops all over the place with little sense of direction, and the similarly unpredictable percussion doesn’t help. “Out-of-Reach Feelings” typifies the gentler event music on the album: while there’s nothing wrong with the melody — as in, it sounds nice and lacks discordance — it utterly fails to make any impression on the listener, as well as having moments in its direction that seem very off. The dynamics don’t seem to flow correctly, and instruments fade in and out of the piece seemingly at random, resulting in a jumbled mess that only sounds nice if one isn’t paying much attention to it.
There is very, very little to like about this soundtrack. What works does so quite spectacularly, but for the most part, most pieces fall flat and cannot recover throughout their track lengths. If the reader recalls the music from the game with fondness then I suppose he or she might derive enjoyment from this album, but all else can safely stay far away. There are far greater works in the larger opus of video game music.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Marc Friedman. Last modified on August 1, 2012.