Ys vs. Trails in the Sky Alternative Saga Collective Music Files
Ys vs. Trails in the Sky Alternative Saga Collective Music Files
July 16, 2009
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In 2010, the worlds of Falcom’s two most popular series — Ys and The Legend of Heroes — crossed over for the first time with Ys vs. Trails in the Sky: Alternative Saga. The Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. offered an action-packed rock soundtrack for the title, featuring original compositions and series arrangements performed by Yukihiro Jindo’s J.D.K. Band. The soundtrack was released with a ‘best of’ compilation of Falcom music for its album release, the Ys vs. Trails in the Sky Alternative Saga Collective Music Files, generously packaged with the first press of the game. The resultant album is largely satisfying…
The first disc of the album is the Ys vs. Trails in the Sky Alternative Saga Original Soundtrack. The soundtrack is surprisingly short, featuring just 16 tracks, though those that are featured tend to be well-developed and entertaining ones. Performed by the reformed J.D.K. Band, opening theme “D.A.Y./BREAK” immediately reflects the ‘new Falcom’ sound. Expect radiant violin melodies, flashy electric guitar solos, and an exhilarating rock backing, all performed, recorded, and mixed in an impeccable manner. That said, while the track has all the stylistic elements of a Falcom anthem, it probably won’t ever become one, due to its somewhat contrived nature and merely average melody. It’s far from bad, just not really a classic on the lines of, say, the similarly styled “Genesis Beyond the Beginning”.
The Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. build on the rock elements featured in “D.A.Y./BREAK” throughout the action-packed soundtrack. Original tracks such as “Childlike Eyes” and “Blaze at My Feet” are extremely similar in their construction to the opener, but are mainly distinguished by an emphasis on the electric guitar. Appropriately, there are also numerous arrangements of tracks from Ys games and, more substantially, The Legend of Heroes series. Fortunately, the source material tends to be underarranged material rather than the usual Ys classics. The heavy metal version of Ys VI‘s “ERNST” and a rock-orchestral interpretation of Trails in the Sky the 3rd‘s “Overdosing Heavenly Bliss” are among the main highlights.
Due to its focus on action tracks, the Ys vs. Trails in the Sky lacks the diversity of Falcom’s RPG tracks. There are few tear jerking orchestrations or frolicsome poppy interludes here, just relentless rock. That said, there are a few deviations from the norm, such as the orchestrated “Soaring in the Sorrowful Blue Skies” and electrifying “Get Over the Barrier!”; both tracks once again focus on Akiko Nagano’s violin performance, but it is treated in a very different way to build novel soundscapes on the score. “Octum’s Desire” is also impressive at the climax of the score. It’s highly derivative of gothic game music conventions, but nevertheless well-implemented. Who can resist an epic pipe organ solo every now and again?
There are two vocal themes featured at the end of the score, both sung by Falcom’s new voice Kanako Kotera. “Always on My Mind” is the more sentimental and slower-paced of the two. Falcom has a long history of making highly sentimental vocal themes and, with its pensive melody and new age instrumentals, this is a little reminiscent of their much older themes. Fortunately, Kotera’s vocals are better intonated than Falcom’s past divas and electronic elements are sometimes used artistically to create an ethereal sound. Of all the material on the score, the ending theme “Rush Out” is most likely to become the best remembered. After all, the melody is much stronger than that in “D.A.Y./BREAK” and the combination of Kanako Kotera’s vocals and the J.D.K. Band’s instrumentals, while a select taste, is potentially invigorating.
The second disc of the album, entitled Falcom Best Sound Collection -ALL in ALL-, is a selection of 21 of the best tracks from Falcom’s discography. Although numerous compilations of Falcom music have been released over the years, this one is a little more interesting than the rest for a number of reasons. For one, this isn’t just another collection of the same old Ys, Legend of Heroes, and Sorcerian tunes. Lesser-known franchises are represented with excellent selections, for example the arranged album of Zwei in “Our Future” or the remake of Brandish in the gorgeous “Ruins”. Even Gurumin is represented in the hyperactive “To Make the End of Digging”, a play on words of the Ys II opening theme, although better themes could have been chosen from that score.
Another good feature of the album is the way it features tracks from across Falcom’s 25 year history. There are interpretations of Dragon Slayer IV‘s “Theme of Lyll” and Ys‘ “Feena” in utterly adorable PC-8801 chiptunes. From the more recent selections, there are expertly arranged vocal themes, such as Zwei 2‘s “Our Future” and The Legend of Heroes VI‘s “Where the Stars Are”, and fully-fledged rock band performances, such as Ys: The Oath in Felghana‘s “The Strongest Foe” and Ys SEVEN‘s “Innocent Primeval Breaker”. The diversity is enhanced by the incorporation of samples from various arranged albums too, including Perfect Collections (“Theme of Adol 1993”), Super Arrange Versions (“Scarlet Tempest”), and even a Piano Collection (“Dulzel’s Letter”).
What’s more, there are a number of obscurities here. For example, “Illusion Creation” and “Slowly, Slowly” were previously unreleased tracks exclusively created for the VM Japan Power Up Kit. While I’m not sure they constitute ‘the very best of Falcom’, both tracks are very welcome bonuses and the latter, especially, defines the sound of the game well with its fusion of traditional Japanese elements and contemporary electronic beats. The five tracks from Sorcerian, while excessive in number, feature relative obscure arrangements from Sorcerian Online and the interpretations of “Pentawa”, “Dungeon”, and “Gedis”, in particular, have better synthesis than those in the Perfect Collection and Super Arrange Version albums. It’s wonderful to hear the unforgettable tracks from the game be presented in such a top-notch way here.
Overall, the Ys vs. Trails in the Sky Alternative Saga Collective Music Files is an excellent bonus with the first editions of the game. The Ys vs. Trails in the Sky Alternative Saga Original Soundtrack is certainly rather derivative and homogenous with its instrumental rock focus, but it’s very well-produced and there are a number of excellent arrangements and originals. The Falcom Best Sound Collection -ALL in ALL- isn’t a definitive compilation given its brevity, but it provides a pleasant introduction to Falcom’s discography to newcomers and features some obscurities too. Neither disc is exceptional on their own, but when packaged together, they are somehow irresistible.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.