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Ys Origin Original Soundtrack :: Forum Review

Ys Origin Original Soundtrack Album Title: Ys Origin Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Nihon Falcom
Catalog No.: NW10102720
Release Date: March 29, 2007
Purchase: Buy at VGM World

Overview

There was some joy in the hearts of fans of the Ys series when a new game is announced. Ys Origin continues the trend of the developers of the series to look inward and attempts to flesh out the story of how Ancient Ys Vanished and Ancient Ys Vanished: The Final Chapter came to happen. Here the setting is the giant Darm Tower which made up a large portion of the setting of Ancient Ys Vanished as the final dungeon. As this is a bit of a journey back to the setting of the first two chapters in the Ys adventure series, we are treated to numerous arrangements of classic Ys tunes.

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) The Guidance of a White Tower (Written by Don)

When I started playing this soundtrack, I didn't know what to expect. To my amazement, the first track instantly captured my heart (and won't let go, mind you!). The track employs a very simplistic approach to instrumentation but that doesn't deter it from the development. The piano is the main melodic pusher in this track for the first portion while woodwinds carry the melody for the second portion of the track. The use of each instrument brings a different emotion to the forefront and the accompanying strings help to add a more solemn touch to the track. By far one of the best title screens I've heard in a long time, "The Guidance of a White Tower" is a spectacular start to a spectacular album. (10/10)

2) Prologue -Ys Origin- (Written by Chris)

The first of several arrangements of the classic "Feena" theme, composed by Yuzo Koshiro for the first Ys way back in 1987. While the theme itself has always inspired some distaste in me given it is sickeningly cheesy despite its catchiness, the subtle symphonic treatment from Yukihiro Jindo, the new face of Falcom's music, makes the melody's limitations bearable. The first 30 seconds of the track are whimsical, consisting of some woodwind flutters and playful piano work. At 0:30, the "Feena" theme is first uttered by a resonant solo violin against some simple but impressionistic piano chords.

At 0:59, there is a fantastic flourish of orchestral colour before the French horn takes over the melody while the piano line becomes slightly more elaborate and additional forces are progressively added. As the orchestration becomes more and more delicious, the track becomes highly emotional at 1:48 when the solo violin returns and plays a high pitch interpretation of the them before being echoed by full orchestra as it sustains a high-pitched note. There is a reiteration of such interplay over thicker harmonisation up to 2:30, when the violin becomes even more passionate and plays over an ascending melodic progression, while timpani roll and accompanying strings resound.

After a final cinematic progression, the theme quietens at 3:00 for a sensitive reprise of the "Feena" melody and the theme is left on the suspended chords that the original "Feena" created so much impression with. "Prologue" is a fantastic and fitting theme with lush orchestration, emotional richness, and a cinematic edge. With the exception of the overly exposed first appearance of the theme, even the "Feena" melody itself delights here, largely due to the violin soloist and Jindo's amazing efforts. (9/10)

3) Genesis Beyond the Beyond Opening Version (Written by Kyon)

I just cannot deny "Genesis Beyond the Beginning", even it is only the opening version. It begins with a violin playing the main melody of the track, and then the guitarist comes in and show his stuff. The choir in this track really sounded like it is cheering for a band here, pretty cool since the track is assembled in a band form. The best part is the guitar doing some marvelous improvisations. Superb opening theme indeed. (10/10)

4) Roda (Written by Andy the Drew)

This track is an aqusition from Eternal Ys (a remake of the classic Ancient Ys Vanished for PC). It's essentially a note for note translation of the source material at first, except with added clarity of sound. This added clarity allows one to hear some of the details from the original that got lost in the ether of the synthesized sounds from Eternal Ys. I especially like the slight modifications to the instrumentation in the second half, noting the addition of the clarinet at the 2 minute mark with falling tones in the background and the changed ending to the theme at 2:20. These subtle changes give the track some new life to an otherwise stock theme. (8/10)

5) Magnificence (Written by Andy the Drew)

Short track that includes three game motifs lodged into a single dramatic cue. (7/10)

6) Bonds With Companion (Written by Andy the Drew)

This simple track accompanies the first floor of the tower, otherwise known as the base camp. Here you meet and greet the other adventurers who have come to attempt to defeat the tower's demons. Starting it off is a simple rhythmic pattern, but then it slowly builds up. The melodic line is a sweetly crafted tune that draws you in and pulls you forward. The instruments chosen are not numerous, but this isn't the type of track that doesn't need an overly large ensemble and the instruments chosen here work well together to create a rich sound. (9/10)

7) Tower of the Shadow of Death (Written by WarpstarRider)

Since Ys Origin takes place inside Darm Tower, it's only proper that the soundtrack features a new version of the classic track from Ys I's Darm Tower. Yuzo Koshiro's original composition is transformed here into a grand orchestral track backed by a marching drumbeat. The melody begins somewhat calmly, and gains intensity as it reaches its climax, before an organ gently glides it to its close.

The main melody soon restarts, but with a slight shift in instrumentation. While the opening was first performed by the brass and wind sections with a pizzicato-string ostinato, this time the strings carry the initial melody while the ostinato is played by the winds. The other instruments give way, as the first half of the melody is completed with a beautiful violin solo, before they return for the second half. After a short pause, the organ plays an altered version of the opening phrase, then returns it again to its normal key before the orchestra arrives to march the track to the finish. The melody closes this time around in a more subdued way, carried by softer winds and brass instruments. The track ends with a final reprise of the opening rhythms.

While the original "Tower of the Shadow of Death" melody is very brief, this arrangement's variations in instrumentation are very effective at extending it to 4+ minutes without it sounding too repetitive. (9/10)

8) Confrontation (Written by Andy the Drew)

This track plays whenever whatever player character you happen to be playing runs into one of the evil villains. At first it appears to be a merely ambient track which piles upon a series of intricate rhythms in succession. But then at 0:22, a melody appears. It is a very fragmented reiteration of the theme "Tower of the Shadow of Death", which is a fitting underscore for the villainous rogues who plague either of the two protagonists as they climb the tower. Unfortunately the track doesn't really go anywhere spectacular (being just over a minute long without the loop). It's a shame, because this track had potential. (7/10)

9) Oboro (Written by Andy the Drew)

If I remember correctly this track plays during one of the early confrontations with one of the villains that plagues you. I'll have to check back and see, as I can't place this track in my mind. No matter now. Moving on to the music itself. I like the bouncy energy of this track to start and the underlying synth guitar being part of a nice upbeat rhythmic underlay. And then the first main melodic line come flying in at 0:17, a frantic string lead (I think it's a violin, but it could also be a viola because of it's deeper tone) takes center stage, completely upstaging those who hold up the background. At 0:45, what sounds like a synthesized keyboard takes over playing a slight variation on the original melodic line. Then a repeat of the original A melody returns and to finish off the track a weird finishing touch nearly derails the process (1:55). It's frantic, and energetic, but feels too over the top in an already over the top track. (9/10)

10) Water Prison (Written by Don)

"Water Prison" is one of the better Ys Origin pieces on the soundtrack. I really love the natural feel that this track gives off. It's very rhythmic and the use of the percussion is very helpful in keeping the pace of this track quite well. The woodwinds adds a very natural sound, and in this case, does so quite successfully. The overlaying of the vocals adds a bit of a haunting aspect to this track and the use of the flute creates a more jovial atmosphere. I think that the meshing of these two atmospheres was done quite well. I imagine this track playing in some Chinese movie like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It has the ability to carry you away from reality. (9/10)

11) Scarlet Tempest (Written by Chris)

The soundtrack's third rock theme and the BGM for the territory of the Guilty Fire (floors 10-15), "Scarlet Tempest" exemplifies once more what Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. does best. After a stimulating introduction from rapid drum beats and a hard bass riff, the main melody makes its entrance but, unlike "Oboro" and "Genesis from the Beginning", electric guitar as opposed to violin leads. The secondary phrase is more melodic and nicely decorated by fast-paced synth arpeggios that remind me of good ol' fashioned '80s cheese. At 1:18, there is a keyboard solo that, while based on simple sequential progressions, is highly invigorating and impressive nevertheless. What's unforgivable, however, is that this immensely catchy theme doesn't loop despite the soundtrack hardly being jam-packed with music — the first disc having a playing time of 45 minutes. This qualm aside, "Scarlet Temple" is a highly enjoyable theme; hard, fun, melodic, well-paced, and decorated with great solos, a loop is the only extra thing I could have asked for. (9/10)

12) Feena (Written by Chris)

Meh. It's very appropriate that the prequel to Ys features the "Feena" theme, but that doesn't mean that I enjoy being subjected to it for a second (and, soon enough, third) time on this disc. The treatment of the melody is nothing as amazing as "Prologue -Ys Origin-", but nevertheless quite nice. The oboe resonates with the melody well and the harp and suspended strings accompaniment adds to the sentimentality. I feel the primary melody shouldn't have been repeated the second time, particularly with sickeningly gushing strings, though. The entrance of the development section at 1:34 is much more welcome, though the choices of instruments was a bit misjudged here. Overall, a straightforward arrangement of the "Feena" theme to represent a brief encounter with the twin Goddesses. It's pleasant and obligatory, but, to me at least, basically unwelcome. (7/10)

13) Devil's Wind (Written by Don)

The first thing I thought of when I first of this track was an evil carnival or circus. The instrumentation is extremely unique in the beginning of this piece, utilizing both a bell motif, and an interesting string synth. When the electric guitar enters, playing some pretty nice riffs as an accompaniment to the melody, the track really blends into an extremely evil atmosphere. The counter-melody produced by the organ make for another development that is very interesting to hear. While I love the development in this track, I can't help but notice a bit of repetition. (8/10)

14) Feena (Written by Don)

This short track basically utilizes the Feena melody heard previously. It's an extremely short track and while the instrumentation is nice, it's far to short to garner much of a score. (5/10)

15) Silent Desert (Written by Josh Barron)

This tune is another rock composition and it is quite solid. However, this doesn't sound fitting for a desert theme. Perhaps it might fit in context with the game, but for now, I can't really imagine a desert here. Other than that, this progresses pretty well. The chords are of standard Falcom rock, and reminds me of the old Sonic music for some reason. Overall, this is a nice rock piece, but due to its lack of expressing a "silent" desert, I can't fully enjoy it. (7/10)

16) Tension (Written by Josh Barron)

This track is one of my absolute favorites here, and is the MOST catchy battle theme from Falcom since "To Make the End of Battle". I love the jazz/rock beat here. The only thing wrong with this is that it doesn't loop again! I can't get enough of that melody in the trumpet! It really makes me want to play my horn again. (10/10)

17) Samsara and Paramnesia (Written by Don)

This track is definitely an interesting one. I really enjoy the opening guitar riffs, especially when the melody starts to overlap. The melody itself gives a hint of motivation, but also at the same time, a hint of sinisterness. The electric guitar melodic portions do wonders for this track. My only gripe is that it is a little on the repetitive side and wish it was developed a bit more. (8/10)

18) Scars of the Divine Wing (Written by Don)

"Scars of the Divine Wing" is one of the better tracks on the first disc. I really love the melody produced in this one. It's invigorating, motivating, and quite catchy. The underlying guitar riff/synth accompaniment really helps add to this track. While repetitive, it's still quite catchy, and the invigoration behind the track can help distract the listener from this. (9/10)

19) So Much For Today (Written by Chris)

After all that rock, Disc One concludes with a laid-back acoustic track. "So Much For Today" was originally a Ys II track and the original's arpeggiaic movements across familiar chord progressions is well-preserved here. The harp suitably provides the arpeggios and, at the 0:30 mark, become accompanied by suspended strings and doubled by chimes. At 1:05, the sound is reinforced once more by a solo violin adding to the melody. The arrangement here is very simple and sentimental, but nevertheless concludes Disc One appropriately. (7/10)

Disc Two

1) Prelude to the Omen (Written by Don)

"Prelude to the Omen" opens up the second disc with a nice return with the rock style most of the previous disc employed. While the opening is a bit slow to start, once the piece gets moving, it is quite enjoyable. The use of the synth piano (I may be mistaken) to play the melody, with the light accompaniment of percussion and melodic overlaps really make this track quite an opener. The instrumentation is something that Ys Origin puts together really well and while this is not the best Ys Origin track on the album, it's far from the worst. (8/10)

2) Movement of Wicked Energy (Written by Chris)

Awesome. Yukihiro Jindo is back and this time focuses on an ol' RPG clich´┐Ż: an organ-led 'evil event' theme. The organ work is actually very good; the chord progressions are well-considered and intricately decorated, giving an overall feel of ascension of tension throughout the theme. The occasional timpani rolls and supporting brass melody add to the dark epic feel. At the 0:54 mark, the track suddenly becomes full-orchestral nature and becomes thicker, darker, and more climactic. Following, there is a series of ascending chord progressions and string lines that, together with a quickening tempo, leads to a booming climax a minute later. Ys fans will notice the references to the classic "Over Drive" here. Excellent programmatic music and another fantastic addition to the soundtrack. I'd love to hear it in context. (9/10)

3) Dreaming (Written by Chris)

"Dreaming" just screams Falcom. The light rock bass line, the 'new age' synthy treble, and the cheesy melody all seem immediately associable with the company's older music. Personally, I've never liked this aspect of Falcom and the timbre here is one that I find barely tolerable. However, this piece itself isn't bad. It feels entirely appropriate for dreaming — ethereal, buoyant, and active — and has a decent enough melody, again a reprise from Ys I. While a whole album of this would frustrate me no end — as it has done so many times with my experiences with Falcom in the past — one appearance of such a style isn't merely tolerable but, for me at least, rather enjoyable. Another facet of diversity in the soundtrack, despite its familiarity to Falcom enthusiasts. (7/10)

4) My Lord, Our Brave (Written by Don)

Now this is what I'm talking about. Heavy guitar riffs, interesting piano accents, and a motivating string melody all come together to make this successful track. Each instrument is carefully placed in the piece, and while the guitar riffs mainly serve as an accompaniment, it only makes the other two instruments stand out much more. The strings are prominent as the main melodic pusher and the interplay between the piano in portions help to give an evil aura to the entire track. (9/10)

5) The Pain of Separation (Written by Don)

Why am I a sucker for piano and violin tracks? Because they are always emotional! The melody the violin plays is tearjerking and definite evokes a sense of separation within the listener. The piano accompaniment is a perfect addition to the track because it helps to add on the emotion. I'm sure that this track is played in a very sad situation during the game, and after hearing this, I'm sure it fits perfectly. (10/10)

6) Beyond the Beginning (Written by Don)

This arrangement is just like the Genesis version heard previously, but it doesn't have the violin. The instrumentation here is fantastic. The rock element is a bit toned down from before, but the percussion is still strong. The rock elements have been replaced with some fantastic synth, but the chorals are still where this track shines. They add such emotion to the track and keep it from getting stale. While this isn't as good as the Genesis version, it's still a worthy listen. (9/10)

7) The Root of Darkness (Written by Chris)

As the soundtrack approaches its dramatic climax, the Falcom sound team resort to a barrage of diminished chords to demonstrate the root of darkness. Though predictable evil music in its progressions, the piece is excellently mixed to mix baroque and prog rock elements; especially good are the echoing bell arpeggios that are heard throughout the first half. The entrance of an electric guitar solo reminiscent of early Castlevania scores in melody, but not sound quality, gives the piece an epic touch that has bags of nostalgia in-game. Unfortunately, the piece is underwhelmingly brief at 1:23 but nevertheless another quality item in this consistent soundtrack. (8/10)

8) Overdrive (Written by Chris)

Probably the most frenetic piece on the soundtrack, but still highly enjoyable to listen to. This one is fast-paced hard rock once more and gets straight to the action with aggressive drum lines and yummy power chords. The piece is led by a dirty keyboard line, but it never seems to play much of a melody, in favour of placing endless ascending anacrusi and rapid arpeggios. The main section, though drawn out, still creates a lot of tension and the B section basically makes up for lack of individuality or focus with a great violin solo. It doesn't take a genius to write something like this, but the effect is nevertheless intense and delightful. (8/10)

9) The Last Moment of Dark (Written by Don)

This is a very ominous track. The use of the organ, in addition with the harpsichord really opens up the track really nicely; however, the track really shines with the introduction of the strings and percussion. It definitely adds some nice melodic moments, and a very militaristic style, but at the same time, portrays a sense of hope. This is a very nice way to transition into the final battle track of the album. (9/10)

10) Termination (Written by Kyon)

Prepare yourself with this track. If you really a sensible one, you should be overwhelmed by how Yukihiro Jindo transform this track. Instead of writing in a hard rock fashion, he opted for an orchestral approach. Yeah, turning a catchy track into a slow orchestral track, can Jindo do it? Yes, he just did. He not only turn it into an orchestral track, he also turned it into "Concerto for Electric Guitar and Violin - Termination". I can say that it could rival Hamauzu's "Decisive Battle" in Final Fantasy X.

Ys Origin's "Termination" is used as a final battle track, where you used "The Claw" to fight the boss to free the goddesses. The track begins with a ominous choir and an electrifying guitar solo from Masaru Terumae, which I think sealed the fate for this track. The choir is basically follows with the choir-solo-choir-solo sequence, with the orchestra provide accompaniment throughout. The main "Termination" melody is played for three times, two with the electric guitar and once with the violin. Not only that, Jindo also treated us with some improvisations and solos where the violinist and Terumae shined with their virtuosity. (10/10)

11) Memory of Salmon (Written by Don)

This is a very poignant melody played on a music box. As a result, the track itself is very linear and really doesn't develop too much. The addition of some background strings helps to keep the track from being entirely static, but they also don't help much. At least the melody itself is decent. (7/10)

12) Disappearance of Threat (Written by Don)

This track gives off quite a hopeful and holy atmosphere. This achieved by the use of synth chorals and some nice string / brass instrumentation. Despite this, I feel that the track suffers from a bit of linearity, but the other elements in this piece make it enjoyable and listening material every once in a while. (8/10)

13) Fair Skies (Written by Don)

"Fair Skies" is a piece with a very interesting melody. The piano line, used as the main melody producer, is an excellent way to portray such a heartfelt track. The addition of the the violin and woodwind sections to further promote the melody, as well as offer some astonishing accompaniment, makes this track all the more enjoyable. One of the few non-power rock tracks on the album, I suggest everyone give this track a listen. (9/10)

14) Determination (Written by Chris)

This ending theme offers Falcom's trademark synthy and poppy sound for the most part. The electric piano provides a laidback and comforting introduction to the track while other instruments are layered on top. It's only at the 1:08 mark that any sort of melody comes in, provided by an acoustic guitar, but it reinforces the atmosphere while increasing the sincerity of the track as one of the few non-synth instruments to be used. By 1:55, an ethereal synth solo takes over but provides a lovely peak to the track before things gradually subside. Overall, a pleasant theme if you can tolerate the somewhat tacky timbre. (8/10)

15) To the Next Generation (Written by Don)

This track has a very epic feel to it. The combination of the strong percussion, the piercing violin melody, and the accompanying string sections make for a very memorable track. As the track picks up in pace, the percussion section becomes more dominant and militaristic in nature, adding some nice contrast to the piece. The subtle brass heard in the track is also a nice addition. (8/10)

16) A New Legendary Opening (Written by Don)

This track starts off with a brass presence to give the feeling of adventure. After the introductory brass, the track shifts to piano and string synth playing the melody heard in "The Guidance of a White Tower." This rendition is almost as moving as the original, but the introduction of some not-so-great vocal synth utilizing the same melody is introduced really hurts the track. While I can see what they are trying to attempt, I don't feel it was necessary. Better synth may have helped in that regard. Fortunately, the vocals don't last long and we are taken back to a fantastic arrangement of the theme and while some vocals are introduced again, they are drowned out by the bombastic brass and percussion to finally close the track. This is still an excellent track and I suggest everyone listen to it. (9/10)

17) Believing (Written by Don)

"Believing" is a very short piano track that utilizes the same melody in "Guidance of a White Tower." It's quite moving and, while it is fairly simple, it still holds a magic about it that captivates me every time I listen to it. (9/10)

18) Genesis Beyond the Beginning (Written by Don)

Probably my favorite of the hard-rock tracks on the album, "Genesis Beyond the Beginning" utilizes a plethora of instrumentation, ranging from percussion and electric guitar to violin and chorals. The track starts off with a piercing violin line with subtle choral hints and quickly moves into heavy percussion, electric guitar with a more substantial choral pattern. The blend of percussion, electric guitar, and violin seen in portions is also a nice concept and works wonders, especially when the violin and electric guitar take turns playing the melody. And did I mention a sick guitar solo as well? Overall, this is a very fitting end to the soundtrack because it ties together the aspects of the entire album. (10/10)

Summary

Written by Chris

The soundtrack to Ys Origin is a well-rounded and highly enjoyable achievement. Yukihiro Jindo shines here by arranging the more mature tracks on the disc ensuring a mixture of beautiful and epic orchestral themes. There's also no shortage of rock action themes, though the instrumentation tends to be more convincing here than in Falcom's typical trademark synthy creations. Still, appropriately for a prequel, the past is not forgotten. The soundtrack nicely integrates plenty of classic Ys tracks and still retains Falcom's trademark synthy-sentimental and synthy-rocking feels in a few pieces. Overall, this album is evolution with the mixture of continuity, change, and a few dubious creations one would expect from that. Highly recommended even if you're not a Falcom fan like me.

Average of Summary Scores: 9/10