It is with great nostalgia that I reminisce of the times when the video game industry simply bombarded us with Japanese RPGs, thanks to which I could always count on getting some interesting albums from the eastern style of music. I count Odin Sphere as one of them, with its hand-drawn graphics and beat-em-up battle system reminiscent of the first games from the previous console generation (Valkyrie Profile). Apart from that, the game proved equally interesting with regards to its music, thanks to the efforts of the Basiscape Co.Ltd. studio.
Apart from that, the game proved equally interesting with regards to its music.
After a few years of being out of print, the album was given a re-release and thus I was finally able to get a hold of the two-disc release of the Odin Sphere Original Soundtrack. I have not heard such varied music in a long while and the album certainly lives up to the expectations, with some minor grievances. Everything thanks to the hard work of Hitoshi Sakimoto, Masaharu Iwata, Mitsuhiro Kaneda, Kimihiro Abe and Manabu Namiki who have recorded over two hours of material with the cooperation of the Eminence Symphony Orchestra.
I should start by noting that, after a long time, Hitoshi Sakimoto surprised me with the gamut of new sounds. This is likely due to his collaborators and the project itself, which was undeniably exceptional in its art direction. When writing about Odin Sphere’s music, one must mention the album’s main theme, ODIN SPHERE’s Theme, which is also sung by Norihiko Kawahare. The vocalist sings it in French, thereby giving the mystical atmosphere of the Middle Ages and Baroque periods. The melody itself returns several times in various shapes and forms.
As one might expect, Hitoshi Sakimoto, known for his predilection for using his personal sample bank, has created tracks quite unlike his earlier works. On the first disc one can hear melancholy tracks (Opening Title, World Map) based on the album’s leitmotif. However, those atmospheric melodies are not everything that Sakimoto surprised me with. Apart from them, there is also no shortage of standard military battle themes (Battle in the Land of Fire, Trial), which are only the tip of the iceberg and a prelude to what awaits when listening through both discs.
Masaharu Iwata, Mitsuhiro Kaneda, Kimihiro Abe and Manabu Namiki have written the rest of the tracks together, not straying much from Hitoshi Sakimoto’s style. Each of the composers tried to present their own vision of the mystical world which our heroes are to explore. In the case of Masaharu Iwata his role was to build, atmospheric, calm melodies, using the sound of the harpsichord in Tutorial, among others. His part in the project might have been small, but significant for the whole endeavor. The other three have presented themselves in an equally interesting way. It is Kimihiro Abe, however, who has left the biggest mark on the project, mainly with his military themes (Battle in Fairy Land, The Ruined Landscape of Nations at War), which served as his inspiration in consecutive productions of Basiscape Co.Ltd, including the Valkyria Chronicles Original Soundtrack.
On the one hand we hear folklore music typical of Irish and Scottish bands.
After listening to the Odin Sphere Original Soundtrack, I was left with mixed feelings, however. I had the impression that the album, despite its interesting, creatively-constructed melodies, while not tedious, suffers from an overabundance of motifs. The material on both discs is undeniably interesting, but that feeling lasts but for a short moment. In my opinion, what is missing is a definite decision as to what direction the project should take. On the one hand we hear folklore music typical of Irish and Scottish bands, on the other we have medieval music mixed using synthesizers. Those trifles aside, however, I believe Sakimoto and his team have recorded some music which warrants attention and maybe a place in your collection.