Ys I & II Eternal Original Soundtrack
Ys I & II Eternal Original Soundtrack
February 10, 2001
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Over the years, the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. have been responsible for four major versions of Ys I & II‘s music: the original PC-8801 versions from 1987, the resynthed Renewal versions from 1995, the PC remake arrangements from 1998 and 2001, and the PSP remake performances from 2009. Over this timespan, the music has evolved in synth and arrangement quality towards definitive results, leaving most preceding versions superfluous. This extends to the soundtrack of the PC remake, the Ys I & II Eternal Original Soundtrack, which was barely accomplished for its time and certainly exceeded in the decade since. It’s still an enjoyable listen thanks to the might of the original compositions yet less than recommended for those looking for a version of Ys I & II‘s score to buy.
Right from the opener “Feena”, it’s clear that the Eternal arrangements are of limited maturity. The initially descending progression is well done with its choral focus, but the subsequent rendition of the melody sounds tacky with its harp focus and pop percussion backing. The tone is suitably ethereal and relaxing, yet the means that achieved it will be difficult to stomach for more analytical listeners out there. Another butchered piece is “Palace”, which suffers from overly detached synth and plodding piano backing. This strips the once ethereal composition of its atmosphere and it’s a big pity since the subsequent development is wonderful. In the interpretation of the town theme “Fountain of Love”, the sound team awkwardly blend retro synth sounds with more modern piano samples. Were the lead samples chosen as a retro tribute or because nothing more suitable was available? Truthfully, I don’t know. However, these sorts of fusions continue to occur in pieces such as “The Syonin” and “First Step Towards Wars” and the result always sound clumsy. Retro tributes are fine, modern arrangements are fine, but something inbetween is just perplexing.
As with the Renewal arrangements, the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. choose to treat many of the originals with a rock basis. The resultant arrangements of tracks such as “Palace of Destruction” and “Tower of the Shadow of Death” capture much of the spirit of the series’ music with extravagant keyboard lines and firm unobtrusive backing. However, they once again leave much to be desired in terms of implementation and do not reflect the quality of synthesizers back when the remake was produced. In fact, it was perfectly feasible for the sound team to stream instrumental performances given the remakes were written for the PC. There are a range of other rock-influenced tracks too that bring new facets to the score, such as the gothic-tinged interpretations of “Devil’s Wind” and “The Last Moment of the Dark”, the harder battle themes “Holders of Power” and “Final Battle”, and a poppy end credits theme “See You Again”. At the end of the disc, several of the MSX and Lost Tracks from Music from Ys are arranged and used in supplementary contexts during the remake.
Moving to the Ys II Eternal soundtrack, Jindo gets straight to the action with “To Make the End of Battle”. The arrangement places sufficient focus on the catchy melody from the original, though the answering synth leads are very weak and the opening orch hits are obnoxious. For these reasons, it is probably my all-time least favourite interpretation on a classic theme. There are further disappointments with the brief interpretation of “Lilia”, which is yet another note-for-note resynthing of the original, and the appearances of more out-of-place retro synth on “Too Full With Love”. And whatever happened to “Noble District of Toal”? The forefront of the theme sounds meek and dull while the background almost sounds like random sound effects. The original composition is actually quite dignified yet it has been transformed into something bizarre and pathetic through the implementation here. Yep, there’s no improvement in the musical quality of the Ys II remake.
The Ys II Eternal features a larger rock influence than in its predecessor. This is particularly reflected in the likes of the racing “Over Drive”, abrasive “Moat of Burnedbless” and surreal “Protecters”. However, these tracks remain a far cry away from the Ys I & II Chronicles versions, lacking the charismatic instrumental performances and dazzling electric guitar solos. Even “Termination” sounds worryingly tame this time around; the rhythm guitars might be loud and fast, yet they don’t have that underlying drive or aggression that defines its best interpretations. At least one can’t accuse the remake soundtrack of lacking quantity. After rounding off with “A Still Time” and “Stay With Me Forever”, the disc includes a few arrangements of Ys‘ lost tracks, such as “Battle Ground” and “Fair Wind” that have been incorporated into the Ys II remake instead. It seems that the sound team paid a little extra attention when arranging these, as evidenced by how awesome “Battle Ground” now sounds. It’s a pity this didn’t carry over to the rest of the soundtrack.
Evidently the evolution of Ys I & II‘s music was very slow. It’s difficult to believe it took 14 years to produce something of the quality of the Ys I & II. The arrangements are mostly uninspired and lazy while the synth is atrocious for 1998. The soundtrack reflects the work of the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. in the middle of their very weakest era, when they mainly used outdated technology to rehash even old tunes. Perhaps miraculously, Ys I & II‘s music has finally moved on and there are now far more definitive versions available such as Ys I & II Chronicles. The Ys I & II Complete arrangements are also superior to the Eternal arrangements, so it’s peculiar they weren’t released on this album instead. Unless you’re a hardcore collector, it’s best to stick to the original music or the modern remake, as Eternal reflects the series’ music during a transitory stage.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.