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Star Ocean Till the End of Time Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 :: Forum Review

Star Ocean Till the End of Time Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 Album Title: Star Ocean Till the End of Time Original Soundtrack Vol. 1
Record Label: Team Entertainment
Catalog No.: KDSD-00002/3
Release Date: March 19, 2003
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Written by Chris

The original score for tri-Ace's Star Ocean Till the End of Time is Motoi Sakuraba's most significant work to date. Its size was gargantuan — 77 pieces were featured across two double disc soundtracks. However, these weren't simply typical compositions from him. Instead he put a huge amount of effort into making each and every composition as accomplished and well-developed as possible. Stylistically, he both elaborated and diversified his progressive rock style, also creating many symphonic and jazz pieces. Exploiting the technical capacity of the PlayStation 2, he implemented the music with live performances by a 40 piece orchestra and a rock band. Though some Sakuraba works show more effort than others, this stands as his most refined and ambitious creation even against his other behemoths. The first soundtrack fo the title features most of the orchestral music for the game, which was mainly used to accompany FMV sequences and various areas of the game.

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) The Dawn of Wisdom (Written by Chris)

"The Dawn of Wisdom" introduces listeners to the universe of Star Ocean Till the End of Time and the epic beautiful symphonic music featured in the first volume of its soundtrack. Sakuraba demonstrates clear influence from science-fiction composers with the development of this overture while staying faithful to the sound of the Star Ocean series. It opens with an low brass melody that depicts the vastness of deep space while suspended low strings and looming percussion create anticipation for the story about to unfold. At 0:29, Sakuraba gently introduces the game's main theme on two string parts as the game depicts the development of space travel from basic prototypes to the 1960s to the sophisticated futuristic models. Sudden choir- and percussion-supported buildups and a foreboding interlude emphasise the magnitude and uncertainty of the future's possibilities.

Sakuraba celebrates the game's portrayal of a 'Coruscant meets New York' metropolis from 1:23. An exuberantly supported brass melody resolves much of the tension in the opening phrases and gives way to a gorgeous section at 1:45, where woodwinds, brass, and choir come together in cantabile character. The theme is left unresolved with a series of suspensions at 2:15. Though some will criticise this theme for borrowing heavily from science-fiction scores, it seems appropriate given the profound Star Wars influence of the cinematic sequence. Furthermore, Sakuraba's bold ensemble use and progressive rock influenced harmonies maintain the sound of the Star Ocean series and his own individuality. The main theme introduced is also very strong, depicting various aspects of the Star Ocean universe while being enchanting and memorable on a stand-alone level. A great opener. (10/10)

2) Into the Undiscovery Ocean (Written by Chris)

The title screen's "Into the Undiscovery Ocean" is almost continuous with "The Dawn of Wisdom". It portrays the main theme in a more personal way, decorating the epic strings and percussion combo with colourful harp, flute, and chorus use. The piece undergoes a gentle but affecting ascending progression over its 0:40 playtime to suspend listeners one more. Basically a romanticised version of the main theme effective in the game. On a stand-alone level, it slightly hinders the movement of the soundtrack and the thematic continuity feels a tad disorientating. (7/10)

3) Fly by Contact (Written by Chris)

"Fly by Contact" is a low-key track to represent the calm before the start. Sakuraba beautifully blends jazz and electronic elements to create an uplifting blend. It might sound like elevator music to some, but in my opinion is a good way to add some colour early in the soundtrack. Pleasant but intentionally short-lived. (7/10)

4) Starless Wavelets (Written by Andy the Drew)

Now here's where the action is. It starts off with a big percussive smash complete with timpani roll. A horn leads while some low key strings play a simple rhythmic motif. Then you hear another crash, which brings in the trumpets along with the horns to slowly build up the tension. This tension keeps on building up until the one minute mark. Afterwards, the B section of the piece enters, which is still intense, but with a slightly different melodic intent. I really love the brief woodwind that pops up at 1:08; it just pierces through and gives the piece a different sound.

Yes, this track is something that could easily be found within an action movie. But contextually, this piece plays when the resort planet that the hero is staying on gets attacked by alien invaders. So this tense approach works well within the framework of the game. The whole scene has a very sci-fi action feel to it. This really is a great early track within the game. (10/10)

5) Imbalance (Written by Mac_Tear)

This track is one of those tracks which may capture you from the very beginning. At the first listen I thought it was boring, but when I listened again, especially focusing on strings, my conclusion was that it was amazing. There is no action in here like the track preceding it. Instead it's pure tension. The string melody goes up and down, develops with each passing second, and pulls the listener into the scenery of a frightening hazard. I really like the last part from 1:15 to 1:50 where the strings build up to a nice climax. This haunting track really portrays the feeling of mystery, grief, and the immense power of the enemy. (8/10)

6) Misted Moon (Written by Mac_Tear)

The game over theme is one of the longest I ever heard in a video game but one of the most beautiful too. The feeling created is very sad, serene, and mystical. This is the first track where we can hear some of now typical Sakuraba voice samples. A woman sings some tribal-sounding phrases which adds the feeling of loss and grief into the theme. The rest is typical Sakuraba too. There is some harp in the background and an oboe plays the main melody. Nothing special compared to later followed tracks, but nice on its own. (7/10)

7) Lakes and Marshes With Doubt (Written by Don)

"Lakes and Marshes with Doubt" is a very peaceful ambient composition. The bell and piano, while being extremely subtle, deliver quite an effective soundscape. This is one of those tracks you can sit back and relax to. It may not have the compositional merit of other tracks on the album, but it holds its own in the listenability category. There's definitely some magic behind this one. (8/10)

8) Fallen Leaves (Flute Version) (Written by Don)

This is an extremely beautiful composition as well. The flute and piano craft such an amazing melody that is very reminiscent in style, but not composition, to "The Venerable Forest" from Star Ocean: The Second Story. There are some acoustic guitar accents within the piece which help to bring a bit of contrast, but by far the most evocative element is the chorus. The chorales help bring a sense of awe to the composition as a whole and work quite well with the piano and flute harmonies. (10/10)

9) Chrysanthemum in Winter (Written by Bryan)

A very somber dramatic field theme would be the best way to start off my description of this piece. The melody is beautiful, pouring emotion right into your ears, letting you know that this area might have something sad or bad happen in it. Towards the end, that feeling dissipates for a short while and the melody takes on a new feeling — one of hope. While Sakuraba has always been very good with his area themes, I feel that this is his easiest one to read. The moment you start this piece a picture will be painted in your head, and I'm willing to bet it will match perfectly to one of the areas this track is used for in-game. This track here was proof that Sakuraba can write stories without any words, paint pictures without any paint, and evoke emotion from a simple piece of video game music. While it's not his best track ever, it truly sits at the top as one of his most emotional pieces in my eyes. (10/10)

10) The Desolate Smell of Earth (Written by Bryan)

Here we have one of the first town themes of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. Again, like the previous track, I believe Sakuraba is attempting to tell us a story here. A story of a troubled town going through some sort of despair. Unlike the last track, however, this one comes across as a more "generic" piece with its Germanic approach. I still enjoy it though and anyone who is a true fan of Sakuraba-san will agree with me. (8/10)

11) Dreams (Written by Don)

This is the inn theme for Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. It's short, as expected, but it carries an air of bliss and lightheartedness.

12) Till the End of Time (Written by Don)

This piece is a really mysterious and somber composition. The woodwinds give off a very sorrowful feel. Combined with the harp, the piece seems to slowly move along. As the piece progresses, the introduction of vocals adds a whole new layer of harmony as well as depth. This is truly a masterpiece in every sense of the word. It's seductive in sound and melancholy in nature. (10/10)

13) Sail Against the Wind (Written by Mac_Tear)

This is another action piece like "Starless Wavelets" only a little slower and heroic. It begins with a crisis motif played by harsh piano chords and trombones. When the strings start to play the feeling is very emotional yet tragic. At the one minute mark the strings build up a nice climax and the best part begins at 1:16 where they play a beautiful and melancholy melody. Also the piano does its part shortly after the two minute mark, which adds a nice and interesting effect to the overall theme. Compared to other orchestral action themes this may be one of the weaker ones, but that doesn't mean that it's bad. It fits the scenery extremely well and is another good example of Sakuraba's new orchestral style. (9/10)

14) Take Off from Home (Written by Mac_Tear)

When I first listened to this theme, I thought "Wow, this could be from Mitsuda's Xenosaga, but I listened again and the overall feeling was very Sakuraba-ish after all. The heroic melody is typical and the military percussion as well. The best on this track are clearly the strings, which build up every second and make this track very exciting and heart-warming in nature. Compared to later Sakuraba projects, this one sounds like nothing new, but it works in the game pretty good and that is mainly what matters. (8/10)

15) Into a Storm Not Memorized (Written by Don)

"Into a Storm not Memorized" is a very cinematic composition. Throughout the entire piece, there is an air of tension created superbly through the implementation of militaristic percussion and brass. The softer sections of the composition only help to accentuate this feeling of tension by adding hints of sadness as well. At the same time, there seems to be an idea of heroism floating around, even it if is drowned out by the dominating tensile nature of the composition as a whole. This is a beautiful work! (9/10)

16) The Outbreak of War (Written by Don)

Akin to the former track, this piece takes the war-like moniker and elaborates on it. The brass and string combination combine wonderfully to create a piece truly worthy of describing an impending war. However, despite all the seriousness of the composition, the lilting woodwind passages really help to spruce up the charm of the piece. In the end, it's not the strongest orchestral offering on the soundtrack, but it does satisfy. (8/10)

17) March for Glory (Written by Mac_Tear)

"March for Glory" is in similar style to the previous track and reminds me a little of "Feudal Guardian" from Baten Kaitos and "Kratos" from Tales of Symphonia. It could also perfectly fit into one of John Williams' Star Wars soundtracks. The orchestration is brilliant again. The strings and horns are playing with full emotion and give the track the right military and gloomy feeling of glory. (9/10)

18) Requiem for a Saint (Written by Mac_Tear)

Ah, I really love this piece. It's so serene and beautiful that words hardly can describe the feeling it creates. Just listen to it and try to follow my lines. It starts off with some somber and serious string lines that sound very tragic and sad. After that a horn accompanies the strings to add more power to the melody. At 1:12 the feeling has a rather twilight tone until the climax at 1:46, where we can hear some tubular bells and the strings and horns playing the most celestial part. After that, the feeling goes through mystery and grief back to the beginning of the song. Motoi Sakuraba illustrates perfectly the image of an holy town and tells the story of Arias, where this piece is played. Wonderful and dynamic. (9/10)

19) Stafflower in the Castle Town (Written by Mac_Tear)

Here we have another adventurous and catchy theme from Sakuraba. The title surmises a town theme, but I don't think that it's one; it plays during a cutscene in Arias, if I remember correctly. The style is typical with marching drums, violins, and trombones. It may be an successor of "Shower of Blossoms" from Star Ocean: The Second Story because of the similar style and name. After the one minute mark, the percussion holds for a few seconds, so that the violins can take part of the melodic line. At 1:35 there is a nice rendition of the theme before it loops. (9/10)

20) Collapse of Frailty (Written by Don)

This composition features a dominant use of brass. Most of the melody is comprised of brass in conjunction string accents. There is a nice militaristic approach to it as well given the use of percussion. The combination of woodwinds and strings towards the end give that sense of frailty, but the overpowering brass, in essence, emulates the feeling of collapse. Quite a masterful piece and enjoyable to boot! (9/10)

21) Lively Step (Written by Don)

"Lively Step" is another town theme by Sakuraba. It has a nice playful air to it, sounding almost renaissance in execution. The woodwind melody, accompanied by the clapping and strings, really results in a beautiful piece of music. This is another composition that is reminiscent of Star Ocean: The Second Story. Sakuraba really does a great job closing out this disc. (9/10)

Disc Two

1) Ice Crystal (Written by Bryan)

"Ice Crystal" is a stunning start to the second disc. There is so much sadness, yet at the same time, such peacefulness to be extracted from the piece. The chilling piano and violin freezes the listener in time and one can not help but be utterly amazed at such beauty. One of the most poignantly crafted melodies on the soundtrack, "Ice Crystal", despite its name, is sure to melt your heart. It surely did mine! (10/10)

2) The Future of Blood-Stained Blade (Written by Mac_Tear)

After the great introduction of the second disc, the good tracks keep on coming luckily. This is another very emotional and epic orchestral piece from Sakuraba used in one of the most dramatic scenes in the game. It starts off really dark and cold, but soon the music changes to become dramatic and sad when the traditional flute is playing. At 0:56 the strings and horns create a very strong passage. It has really the feeling of determination to stand and fight. I like the transition between heroic and calm very much. Excellent piece! (10/10)

3) Calm Mind Reflected in the Pupil (Written by Mac_Tear)

First, this is a really cool and unique track title. The music itself is hard to describe, but it's one of the most beautiful and serene pieces of music I ever heard in a video game. Used to accompany one of the most aesthetic places in the game, the Sacred City of Aquios, the place really comes to life with the beautiful graphics together with the music. In the A part, the main melody is carried by some beautiful female chorus accompanied by gentle strings and later an serene harp. The melody is simply amazing. The B part is dominated by some traditional flutes and harp, while the vocals are held in the background. Motoi Sakuraba really hit the mark with this great piece. (10/10)

4) Reflected Moon (Written by Don)

"Reflected Moon" is a composition that seems to bestow upon the listener a feeling of holiness. The dramatic tone of the music, the seemingly somber melody, and the instrumentation all make for a fantastic work. This is another one of those pieces that reminds me of Star Ocean: The Second Story. It also seems be more cinematic than some of the other compositions. Quite the treat to listen to if you ask me! (9/10)

5) Manifestation (Written by Don)

This short track is solely used for dramatic effect. It features motifs of "Dawn of Wisdom." While the orchestration is really nice, the melody could have been developed so much more. Powerful, but lacking any real lasting power. (8/10)

6) So Alone, Be Sorrow (Piano Ver.) (Written by Don)

Out of all the "So Alone, Be Sorrow" renditions on this soundtrack, the piano version is definitely my favorite one. I've always appreciated Sakuraba's piano works and this one is no exception. There is a distinct feeling of solemnity coupled with sorrow. The changes in pace, tone, and effect all contributing to what makes this composition really shine in my eyes. This serves as a standard when it comes to his Forest of Glass solo album. (10/10)

7) Imperial Garden (Written by Mac_Tear)

This is the first example of Sakuraba using a church organ and harpsichord combo. Later games like Baten Kaitos, Valkyrie Profile 2, or Tales of the Abyss also featured some tracks like this. And he does a great job! The mood here is very anxious, creepy, and basically pure evil. As it plays in the Shrine of Kaddan it really fits into the scenery with the religious atmosphere. In the background we can also hear some haunting male vocals, which I can't understand, but it sounds really cool and gives the track a lot of tension. Remember "The Castle" from ol' Final Fantasy VIII? Well, both are very similar, but this one is more serious and more gothic. The solo harpsichord passage with the haunting choir near the two minute mark is very good. I personally don't like pieces with church organ too much, but this one here is fine and works in game extremely well. (9/10)

8) So Alone, Be Sorrow (Written by Don)

Ah, the original version of this theme finally arrives. As with the other arrangements, the original carries with it a sense of mystery and sadness. Young Mio Sakuraba contributes her voice to this piece as well, similar in style to that of her Baten Kaitos and Trusty Bell vocals. In addition, her vocals are echoed by a much more mature voice. The instrumentation is superb with the strings and woodwinds mixing wonderfully to create a very nice soundscape. Add some brass for a touch of dramatic effect and you have yourself a winner. "So Alone, Be Sorrow" is definitely one of my favorite themes on the soundtrack. (10/10)

9) Influence of Truth Appearance (Written by Don)

At last, we reach the boss theme. Unlike most of the battle themes in this game, this one is fully orchestrated. Expect to hear very bombastic brass fused amazingly with strings, percussion, and woodwinds. The force behind this track is motivating and definitely pumps me up for battle. There are areas in the piece used for dramatic build up. These sections rely heavily on a crisis strings sound interlaced with some softer brass before breaking the tension and continuing with the piece. Well, to say this is entirely orchestral would be a lie, considering the addition of a crazy electric guitar motif near the middle of the piece. All in all, this is one of my favorite orchestral Sakuraba battle themes. (10/10)

10) Brass Wings (Written by Chaos777)

As the name implies, this track spends a large amount of time delving in the bass with marvelous touches of sublimity in the treble. What starts as a mesh of broken harmonies and low beats with a succession of tuned chords ascends into a greater multitude connected melodies that eventually establish a concrete theme as we move into the track near the first minute. The piece is best described as climbing into the sky, accentuating the treble by leaving the melody in a high register with the bass in full support. Expect a large use of electro synth. However also expect something natural and freeflowing, not something artificial and mechanic. (10/10)

11) Like Squashing Grape (Written by Chaos777)

Dissonant. Very dissonant. A wonderful, deceptive organ with more synth use combined with a melacholy voice creates despair and utter madness. Notice how the voice opens wide and hollow, releasing breaths of fear through at around 2:05. There are slight horns which add tremendously to the melody giving us a break from the organ before it reenters with a magnificent set of key progressions halfway through the piece. While scary, it is by no means overwhelming, and therefore I deem this track a top scorer. (10/10)

12) Interval of Freezed Time (Written by Don)

"Interval of Freezed Time" is one of those compositions that just strike your soul. Sakuraba is able to create an extremely haunting and mysterious melody. The operatic female vocals, the looming piano line, and the high pitched synth amalgamate perfectly to create this soundscape. If only Sakuraba composed a bit more like this rather than some of his duller orchestrations in other soundtracks. I love it! Dark, intense, and sorrowful, this composition is held in high regard by me. (9/10)

13) Fallen Leaves (Written by Chaos777)

I find this track to be much more lighthearted compared to the other tracks on this CD. This is good thing, because I feel Sakuraba's experimentation with the various amount of percussion truly creates a surreal atmosphere. The high yet soft feminine voice adds a lovely ornamentation to the melody; this is fairly simple with a blissful nature that prevents it from being repetitive. The music describes something holy and sublime, moving away from the melancholy nature of the last one. I also find it attractive because it presents a nice contrast from the majority of the soundtrack which features electronic compositional methods. This definitely revels in simplicity of letting different percussive elements work together. Truly magnificent. (10/10)

14) Dark Flare (Written by Chaos777)

Come on....let's go. They won't see us... "Dark Flare" does not focus on melody, but deals more with musical gestures like a pulsating bass, gentle yet uncertain percussion, and a slightly electronic sound to create a sense of deviousness. You can definitely feel the musical heartbeat of the mood flowing continously accompanied by an ascending treble line to create a sense of rising tension. Even though it might not be the most unique track, it fulfils its emotional purpose quite well. (8/10)

15) Divine Indignation (Written by Don)

The start of "Dark Indignation" focuses more on shifting paces and tones and later progresses into a more coherent and grandiose melody. As the track starts, we are greeted with an extremely sinister sound produced by strings and choir. While this section is short-lived, it really draws the listener in with its high energy and speed. However, the slower more developed section truly shows what Sakuraba can do with an orchestra. Implementing harp, adding additional string sections, keeping the choir for accent purposes, and offering some brass highlights makes this such a peaceful section with a tone of heroism. In fact, I think this is the start of the ending theme sequence. It's beautifully done. (10/10)

16) Despair Road (Written by Don)

This piece is quite somber as one can expect. The composition opens up with a harp motif playing "The Dawn of Wisdom." In addition to the harp, some subtle string and choral work is introduced. Overall, this piece is quite mysterious towards the beginning, but as the track progresses, this mysteriousness transforms into something more of a dramatic flair. The interlacing of "The Dawn of Wisdom" throughout the entire piece makes this one of my favorite ending sequence themes from Sakuraba, given his opening for this game is one of my favorites. (10/10)

17) Brilliant Future (Written by Bryan)

Wow, this is a beautiful electric piano piece. Sakuraba has a great talent of grabbing the listener by the heart when it comes to pieces like this. All of the typical "ending theme" emotions are here: Happiness, hope, and closure are all very apparent here. A very minimalistic piece, yet still very pleasing to the ears. I cried the first time I heard it, if that's any indication. (8/10)

18) Brass Wings (Another Ver.) (Written by Bryan)

Not really a whole lot to say about this piece. It's basically the same thing as the original with the intro removed. The meat of the piece has something a more triumphant fee, but other than that, it's the exact same track. Still a very enjoyable piece. I like this one better, as the introduction from the original changes the mood of the entire thing. (9/10)


Written by Don

Star Ocean Till the End of Time Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 is one of Sakuraba's more solid works. The orchestral works contained within are some of the most poignant, bombastic, and brilliantly crafted he's done. There is certainly a composition for every mood, whether it be the onset of war or the retelling of a sad event. His "So Alone, Be Sorrow" compositions truly speak great things for Sakuraba and his piano / arrangement abilities. In addition, his high energy "Influence of Truth Appearance" is one of his best orchestral battle themes to date. A few of the compositions found on this album are very reminiscent of Star Ocean: The Second Story. This album shows how Sakuraba has matured in creating more serious compositions and bodes well for his work in the fourth installment of the Star Ocean series. (9/10)

Written by Mac_Tear

With the first volume of this score, Motoi Sakuraba walks a new path in his wide career and diverges from his progressive rock style for once, which is mainly provided in the second volume. His orchestral style shows that he has matured a lot within the years. As for the game itself, which came out five years after Star Ocean: The Second Story, the music changed with the developement. This score is the beginning of what Sakuraba delivers in these times and features some of his finest compositions. Motoi Sakuraba shows his diversity of composing and arranging in different styles and variations from epic pieces like "The Dawn of Wisdom", "The Future of the Blood-Stained Blade", or "Brass Wings", melancholy and haunting ones like "Calm Mind Reflected in the Pupil", "Interval of Freezed Time", and "So Alone, Be Sorrow", the folkish "Lively Step", or the wicked "Imperial Garden". If you like orchestral and cinematic work, this is definitely one of those golden pearls in the video game soundtrack world and highly recommended. (9/10)

Average of Summary Scores: 9/10