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Drag-on Dragoon Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 :: Review by Z-Freak

Drag-on Dragoon Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 Album Title: Drag-on Dragoon Original Soundtrack Vol. 1
Record Label: Marvelous Entertainment
Catalog No.: MJCG-80125
Release Date: October 22, 2003
Purchase: Buy at eBay


About a year ago, Square and Enix had the bright idea of teaming up to become one huge company. The benefits were obvious; the strengths of both companies together would make only quality products. Mixing the incredible story and gameplay elements of Enix and the graphical abilities of Square could only create good things, like Chrono Trigger. But Square Enix would not only be developers, but they would also publish some titles by other companies. One of the first companies to approach Square Enix was Cavia, a company made up of former Namco employees. This title they proposed was called Drakengard. It was described as a cross between Panzer Dragoon and Dynasty Warriors with some RPG elements thrown in for good measure.

That sounds good and all, but what about the music? Neither Square nor Enix's composers were asked to score this title. Instead, Cavia chose two of the most reputable composers in Japan — Takayuki Aihara and Nobuyoshi Sano — who had considerable links to the company Super Sweep, but were ultimately independent. Some of Sano and Aihara's best known work includes the Tekken and Ridge Racer series, among others. And I can imagine everyone thinking: "Huh? Composers for sports games doing an Action-RPG?! How did this happen?" However, the duo are incredibly eclectic.

Both composers had the luxury of working with the Tokyo New City Orchestra for the score. Recording the orchestral performance was only half of what they had in mind, however. After they were done the recording, the real fun started: they mixed everything to their own style. As techno music composers, they used more loops than you can count, and it has brought a very unique sound to the score.


The first track that catch my attention was Aihara's "Weapon Select." One of the few fully orchestrated tracks to be left untouched by their skill, blaring horns, and well-placed violin samples give this piece a very epic feel, just what you need before you start the adventure. About halfway through it takes a slightly mellow turn before returning back to the beginning pattern. The rest of the score is mostly peppered with several mixed orchestral sample loops. "Third Chapter Sky" starts off with a choir, followed by several instruments and loops. It appears bland at first listen, but gets better as it progresses. "Third Chapter Above Ground" is comprised of fast-paced violins with the occasional choir burst. It's quite an experience to hear such an odd, but original piece.

Aihara composes the "melodic" tracks while Sano distorts and twists his pieces with results that are difficult to get into at some points. The best examples of this are the Chapter 8 themes. "Eighth Chapter Sky" sticks out like a sore thumb as Sano hammers the piano keys in a completely unexpected fashion: he just holds and presses and releases very rapidly. All of that is backed up by violins and a constant drumbeatwhile trumpets wail away at the melody. By the end, Sano pulls a piano hold/press/release for nearly 10 seconds, that's just crazy!! "Eighth Chapter Above Ground" has Sano showing off in his own style; truly distorted, repetitive to boot, but still addicting enough to not make its listener skip the track. Sano continues his technique described in the before mentioned manner — it's just a matter of getting used to his unusual approach and appreciating it for its originality.


All in all, the first volume to Drakengard is extremely experimental game music. It won't appeal to everyone, and being severely open-minded is a requirement for being able to enjoy this soundtrack to its worth. In my opinion, this aggressive, pulse-pounding score has the "Oomph" that other scores such as Xenosaga completely lacked. If you feel adventurous, by all means, pick this up, as it's readily available everywhere.

Overall Score: 8/10