Cross Hermit Soundtrack :: Review by Don
Although I'm unfamiliar with the game itself, I have come to really enjoy the Cross Hermit Original Soundtrack by Hiroto Saitoh. Published by the artist's label LILT Records, this album contains an original soundtrack, as well as eight arrangements on a separate disc. It is definitely worth picking up if you are a fan of Saitoh's jazzier compositions.
The album opens up with the title theme, "Cross Hermit." Piano and vocal work serves as the introduction to this theme and really help paint a very magical atmosphere for the listener. However, as the theme progresses, the solemn approach heard in the music is exchanged for one of exuberance and vibrancy. The majority of the theme is quite upbeat and features a world sound that features some Middle Eastern sounding chanting, Spanish twang in terms of the main melody and accompaniment, and even a dash of big band jazz. Overall, it's an amalgamation of styles and one that is quite fitting. There is an arrangement of this theme on the second disc entitled "Passion in my Chest." For the most part, it's pretty similar, with some updated sounds, but there is an extended section that has a definite Indian flair to it.
Next on the list, "Voices of the Forest" is an exquisitely crafted theme that features, as one might suspect from the title, a variety of vocal samples. Capturing the overall sound of the album, it fuses together some tribal percussion with some distinct Middle Eastern/Indian flavors, primarily through the use of the sitar. The vocal samples featured also have an Indian sound to them, but at the same time, Saitoh also employs some more tribal vocal samples as well. The theme provides a nice upbeat accompaniment that brings a bit of a modern touch to the overall theme. In the end, this is an extremely well-crafted theme that shows off Saitoh's penchant for fusing a variety of world sounds together quite nicely. "Noble Humans" is the arrangement of this theme featured on the second disc, but this is mainly an extended mix of the original.
One of my favourites, "Walking in Town" is an extremely upbeat and vibrant piece of music that features some fantastic woodwind work, with a bit of Celtic flair to it. Although the accompaniment seems rather juvenile, it really helps create this feeling of hustle and bustle. The arrangement on the second disc, "Would You Accompany Us?," stays pretty true to the original, though there is a stunningly beautiful slower and more peaceful section towards the end. "Setting Off Positively" is also an upbeat theme that definitely has a jazz influence, although it's not going to scream "jazz" in the traditional sense of the word. The operatic vocal samples that are heard from time to time help give it a bit more contrast. The arrangement on the second disc, "To That Place," features some updated synths, but I also love how there are some additional electronic elements thrown into the mix to help give it a bit more of a futuristic vibe.
"Dawn" is an extremely simple theme, consisting of harp, brass, acoustic guitar, and operatic vocals. It really doesn't become anything too exciting, but it does give off a pleasant atmosphere. I do think it is one of the weaker tracks on the album though. Similarly, "Recollection" is a theme that focuses on harp, piano, synth, vocals, and violin to create a very playful, but also melancholy theme. It doesn't really do a lot, but it does provide a bit of contrast for the more vibrant themes on the soundtrack. On the other hand, "Laughter in the Early Afternoon," is extremely Celtic in nature. It has an extremely bubbly approach. There is such happiness heard in the violin and synth melodies. In the end, it's a very jovial track that really helps contribute to the overall worldly sound the soundtrack carries.
"Severe Earthquake" is also one of my favorites on the soundtrack. It features a variety of sounds, ranging from mysterious piano accompaniment, to a steady, rhythmic, and intimidating bass line. Throw in some grand orchestral passages and exotic vocal samples and you have an extremely diverse composition, despite its brevity. The arrangement, "Exceptional Artistry," is one of my favorites on the second disc. It features a fuller sound, opens up with poignant piano passage, and a crisper beat. In the end, I think it's a fantastic taste on the original, particularly when the exotic vocal samples are introduced.
"Fearful Investigation of the Shrine Grounds" is an extremely atmospheric piece of music that features exotic percussion and vocal samples. In addition, there are some industrial sounds, like clanking metal, to really give a heightened sense of awareness. I really like the electronic beat that is thrown into the mix, which give a bit of dynamism to the overall theme and a slightly Japanese sense of style, in part, due to the vocal samples featured. A theme in a similar vein, "Underground Gravekeeper" is an interesting fusion of sounds. There is the ambient and atmospheric approach as heard in "Fearful Investigation of the Shrine Grounds," primarily in the accompaniment, but it also has a very dreamy, 1970's quality to it, through the use of the distorted synth and vocal samples. In the end, it's quite an interesting theme that manages to do quite a few things successfully.
"Time for Battle" is an upbeat battle theme, or what appears to be one, with brass and strings done with a bit of a jazzy influence. It's an interesting theme for sure, and definitely has a lot of energy, but I don't find it super appealing. The electronic beat though is nice and really helps strengthen the theme. The arrangement of this, "Raise Up Your Head," is much more enjoyable. The techno presence is much stronger, as are some of the samples. In the end, I find this one to be a much more satisfying listen compared to the original. Lastly, "Even If We're Far Apart," closes the album. This theme follows the traditional "the adventure has ended" theme with its vibrant orchestration that just gives off a feeling of accomplishment. I really enjoy the brass harmonies during this theme. Of course, there are some slower sections that help give off a sense of closure. In the end, it's a great theme definitely worth a listen.
In the end, I think that Hiroto Saitoh was very successful in creating a soundtrack that fused together a variety of worldly sounds. Although not all themes are as successful as others, I do think this one is worth a listen. There is great craftsmanship here and its definitely worth checking out, especially if you are a fan of Hiroto Saitoh and want to hear him tackle something a bit different than his normal jazz infused soundtracks.
Overall Score: 8/10