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Brandish FM Towns & Renewal Original Soundtrack :: Review by Bryan

Brandish FM Towns & Renewal Original Soundtrack Album Title: Brandish FM Towns & Renewal Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Nihon Falcom
Catalog No.: BR-OST-FR
Release Date: March 19, 2009
Purchase: Buy at eBay


"A long time ago, a small kingdom called Berimya was built around a lofty tower, which pierced the sky. The inhabitants of the city, guarded by a mighty Dragon, lived in peace and abundance. However, King Berebus, the ruler of Berimya, desired to expand his kingdom. He ordered the scholars to research the Tower. Soon, one of the scholars brought a tome written in an ancient language from the tower to Berebus, which they started deciphering. As they were deciphering the tome, some scholars feared that they might be laying their hands on the forbidden knowledge of the ancients. When the scholars decipher the tome, it read, 'The Great Guardian of Berimya, the Dragon, and the Essence of Power lies in the top of the Tower; the one who possesses the Essence will possess all'."

"Undaunted by the otherwise ominous words of the tome, Berebus decided to make the Essence of Power his own. He secretly organized an army, which soon seized the Tower and raised their swords against the Dragon. Even the Dragon could not resist the power of Berebus' army. As Berebus grasped at the Essence of Power, the Dragon gave up its own life to destroy the Essence of Power. The Essence, losing control, transformed the King into a hideous monster and sank the entire kingdom of Berimya, including the great tower, under the ground. All people on the surface of the earth forgot about Berimya and the Tower in its center, and a thousand years passed."

"A mysterious swordsman, known as Varik, is pursued by a sorceress named Alexis (Dela Delon in Japan) who seeks revenge for the murder of her master. When Alexis catches up with Varik and attacks, her magic causes the ground beneath them collapsed and both fell into the Ruins of Berimya."

And thus the story of Brandish begins. Reading that quoted excerpt gave me everything I needed to know to seek out this soundtrack. I'm glad I did, as it turns out to be one of Falcom's more revered and classic scores to date. While I wouldn't place it on top, it shows that, even with limited capacity, the company's musical heavyweights Mieko Ishikawa and Atsushi Shirakawa can write some amazing tunes. I quoted that so you could walk through the soundtrack and understand just how good a job the music does to tell the story of the first edition of this best selling game. Read on for my opinion on a few select tracks from this groundbreaking score.


First of all, it should be noted that this album features two sound versions. The first disc features the FM Towns version from 1991, which features retro synth of impeccable sound quality and surprisingly expressive features. The Renewal version from 1995 loses some of that clarity since it features the typically muddy synth of the PC-9801. However, it is a vast improvement on the 1991 PC-9801 version previously featured on the second disc of Falcom Sound Team '93 and is slightly remixed too. Indeed, this commemorative bonus album for the PSP version is the first time Brandish's original game music has been given a stand-alone soundtrack release and the offerings of two sound versions basically provide the best of both worlds.

Those familiar with the Ys series of albums will see this as an extremely similar effort. Alexis' theme, called "Dora Doron" on the album, has the classic Ys sound with its own randomosity in the form of a chaotic progression of instruments. "Hardress", one of the boss themes, also has a very familiar synth vindictive of classic tunes only heard from Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. The progressive rock nature of the track gives off a huge sense of urgency for all the trials ahead.

There are also many tracks on the album that pull away from other more familiar tunes and rely on melodic lines that give off a heavy medieval tone. "Tower" is the first one worth mentioning on those regards. The marching percussion fused with the airy synth paint a perfect picture of Varik climbing the tower to face the dragons. The latter part of the melody becomes largely heroic and conveys a sense of hope. "Cave" also uses the same synth but in a much darker tone. Fitting, considering caves are dark and mysterious. A pretty lame conclusion, but that's what happens when the track in question fits this well.

The final boss and ending themes on these renditions of the game's soundtrack are some of my favorite versions of the themes, as far as the ending themes go anyway. Starting with the first of the final battle themes, "Ajitaker" is a creepy synth loop with an ominous harmony that makes you really thing the boss is approaching closer and closer. It is a really neat effect! The other one I want to mention is the closest thing to Ys on this whole album. "Ending II" begins with a flowing electric guitar intro which is quickly followed up by a progressive rock theme that really doesn't sound of resolve, as an ending theme should. It also boasts a really cool synth solo highly worth checking out.


Enjoying this album could be compared to enjoying a fine wine. Most high branded wines taste better as they age, and Ishikawa and Shirakawa have proven just that with this album. However there are some people who don't like wine at all, so listening to this album might just be an acquired taste. If you enjoy old Falcom music or just really like the classic game music sound, then this album will come with high recommendation from me. As I said for the PSP remake version though, it is an album worth trying out first. Those introduced to Falcom in the more recent years might find this a little dull. For someone who appreciates the classics such as the original Ys albums will have no trouble taking this one in!

Overall Score: 8/10