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Popolocrois A New Departure Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Popolocrois A New Departure Original Soundtrack
Album Title: Popolocrois A New Departure Original Soundtrack
Record Label: SPE Visual Works
Catalog No.: SVWC-7142
Release Date: August 21, 2002
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Following the cult success of the Popolocrois series on the PlayStation, Sony Computer Entertainment took the series to the PlayStation 2 on Popolocrois: A New Departure. While the game did not necessarily improve on its predecessors overall, it did enjoy a considerable boost in terms of graphical and audio presentation thanks to the more liberating hardware. The soundtrack proved particularly likeable with its organic flavour and humorous feel.


Following the disappointment of Popolocrois Story II's soundtrack, the returning team on Popolocrois: A New Departure thankfully restore the series' creative flavour on the original compositions. For instance, "Popolo Plains ~ Day" is a surprising blend of Celtic and Latin instrumentation, complete with catchy steel drum solos, while its nighttime variation is filled with all sorts of twilight sound effects and zany interruptions. Other twists on familiar formats include "Morning of the Travel" with its streamed soprano saxophone lead, "Dragon Shrine" with its Morricone-influenced flute work, and "Once upon a time" with its intimate small ensemble performance.

The composer team further establish continuity with the original Popolocrois Story with a number of inspired arrangements. At the very start of the soundtrack, the classic themes for "Popolocrois Castle" and "Popolocrois Castle Town" receive arrangements. Both interpretations stay rather close to their originals, but enhance them with higher quality implementation. Yoshiyuki Sahashi personally performs the acoustic guitar parts, which are central to both themes, and this ensures the tracks are both expressive and realistic. The arrangement of "Takinen Village" is somewhat more fleshed-out with its lovely and nostalgic blends of country instruments.

There are also some fascinating approaches to the stereotypically darker themes on RPGs. Those who appreciate excellent ambient soundscaping will enjoy Yoshifumi Iio's tracks used to represent the four sacred regions in the game. They each maintain a degree of continuity with the more light-hearted setting themes, while adding a range of dark and spiritual elements. Tetsuo Ishikawa's "Battle I" and "Battle II" maintain the series' reputation for having utterly silly battle themes, but are styled in such a way that they aren't complete misfits out of context. There are darker variations on this format to represent Phantonesia, the King of the Everlasting Darkness, and Yazumi, in each case blending tuned percussion work with foreboding electronic beats.

The soundtrack ends with the most mature vocal theme in the series to date, "The Door of the Eye". The vocalist marhy lives up to her reputation with a deep yet understated performance that blends vocal stylings inspired by the schools of jazz and pop. The acoustic guitar-based instrumentation projects the vocalist's voice while adding an element of continuity with the in-game tracks. However, the latter half of the composition is more elaborate with some exuberant use of backing singers, children's choir, and even an electric guitar. The resultant track is an ethereal delight that proved so popular that it also received a vocal single release.


At last, listeners receive a soundtrack in the Popolocrois series that combines inspired and elaborate compositions with high quality production values. This soundtrack is certainly the most impressive in the series, building on the thematic and stylistic foundations of the original game, while offering creative new directions. Overall, a recommended listening experience.

Overall Score: 8/10