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Bahamut Lagoon Original Soundtrack :: Review by Dave

Bahamut Lagoon Original Soundtrack Album Title: Bahamut Lagoon Original Soundtrack
Record Label: NTT Publishing
Catalog Number: PSCN-5046
Release Date: February 26, 1996
Content: 2 CD Set - 40 Tracks
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Let's face it, who dares to step back into Nintendo's world of blips and bleeps, nowadays? The sophistication of today's consoles has opened doors and created so many opportunities for music to expand in the gaming world in ways that most would have thought impossible. Inevitably, the Nintendo days are becoming forgotten, fading away into the past, only kept alive by the odd emulator, and thankfully, beautiful albums such as the Bahamut Lagoon Original Soundtrack. This is a true representation of the Super Nintendo's sound capacity, and although most will frown upon hearing this, I hope that many of you will also consider the ingenuity of the composer behind the themes, forever battling against the system and pushing it to its limits. Each theme is lovingly rendered, tamed to please the listener and enhance the game's atmosphere, which, in my eyes, would have been an enlightening one, considering such musical accomplishment.

The Bahamut Lagoon Original Soundtrack is amongst Noriko Matsueda's earliest works for Square, with only Chrono Trigger and Front Mission preceding this title, and it is truly amazing to see what this 'newcomer' produced. This album marks Matsueda's earliest collaboration with Takahito Eguchi, too, and I hope that most of you will know of this rock solid partnership from games such as The Bouncer or Final Fantasy X-2. Eguchi's arranged tracks really bring Matsueda's compositions to life here, and definitely add something special to this album. Super Nintendo music is monumental, and it should be respected, as far as I am concerned. Don't be distorted by today's masterpieces and step back into the past with me to experience one of my favourite Super Nintendo scores, the Bahamut Lagoon Original Soundtrack.


The album starts off with the awe-inspiring "Opening," a track that will satisfy just about anyone's creature comforts. Strings play a flowing melody to a brass accompaniment that soon becomes the main feature of the track, just before it shifts to the dominant key. Here we see the birth of a quaint, patriotic section led by the strings. Matsueda wraps everything up tightly here as the theme spirals into something even more grand, and indeed, conclusive. "Kanna" is nowhere near as joyous, but the presence of a solid timpani line instantly suggests that it will be just as patriotic and militaristic. The steady pace of the theme gives it a rigid backbone to lie on as the trumpet lines weave in and out of the underlying parts, and, if we look at later themes on the album, such as "Requiem," it becomes a style that is used to quite a great extent. I'm sure that you won't be surprised to hear that "Kanna Army" takes upon the same steady beat and slow flowing melodic stance offered by these early tracks, and that it is the "Rebel Army" theme that becomes subject to a new style, instead.

In a word, "Rebel Army" is upbeat. It is filled with glorious dips and highs, tailored by Matsueda, who threads her melodies together in an attempt to get that one last sparkling button fastened into place. The theme takes the melody from "Opening" and expands it to a great height, and indeed, it is only the melodic line that receives any great amount of treatment in this track, and this is no different for the next army theme. The other army themes are also treated very differently. "Orerusu Salvation Army" creates an image in my head of a toy army, or something from Kodaly's Harry Janos Suite at least, which is probably the only thing that I remember from my earlier school days. Perhaps it is the sharp, precise synth that the melody is played upon that creates that almost tin like effect, but, whatever the weather, the track turns out to be a classic army theme. The "Granbelos' Imperial Army" is far more battle-like than the rest of the army themes, and this is no wonder, since it represents an evil army, fighting for darker intentions. It is fascinating to see how something as simple as a battle theme can take so many different forms, which Matsueda just flaunts to a great extent.

The character themes are also undeniably varied in nature, ranging from the downright inspirational to the edgy and militaristic. "Sauzer's Theme" and "Matelite's Theme" are very similar, with both themes taking upon a militaristic style with very little else happening anywhere other than in the melodic line. "Guldorf's Theme" reminds me of an early dungeon theme from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, as it centres very much on a series of suspended chords, which just seem to be further emphasised by their partnership with the melodic line. "Jojo's Theme" is easily one of the best tracks on the album, being both inspirational and well-developed. Admittedly "Jojo and the Sacred Dragon" is a far better track, varying both with its instrumental use and rhythm. Few will recognise the name of Gizaemon de Furuta, though some will know of him from the Chrono Trigger: The Brink of Time. Here, he was responsible for the superb orchestrated version of "Jojo and the Sacred Dragon." "Jojo and God Dragons" starts with a quaint oboe line, lovingly licked by a bassoon part, which is then placed amongst an inspirational string section. In comparison to Eguchi's "Theme of Bahamut Lagoon ~ Opening," de Furuta's theme may not be as epic, but it sure is an improvement upon the original theme, drastically bounded by the console's sound capacity.

The setting themes are another highlight of this album, and once again this is down to the diversity of styles that Matsueda successfully implements. "The Green Continent Campbell" is a relaxing theme that generates so many images of nature and its glorious miracles, so it becomes hard to hate. I would have expected "The Water Continent Maharl" to have been a lot more mystic than it actually is, but it is easy to see that Matsueda succeeds here through other means. The water-like synth in this theme is fascinating and it really brings the best out of the continent. Instrumentation is a determining factor here and Matsueda certainly doesn't forget this when we arrive upon "Magical City Godorando" and "Desert Daphira," two very different, but similarly mastered, pieces. The main instrument in "Magical City Godorando" is of an Indian origin, and through this, it is really easy to imagine this enchanted city and its inhabitants. Hidenori Suzuki's expertise in sound programming really lets Matsueda do what she wants here, and if it weren't for this, tracks like "Magical City Godorando" would surely fail. Similarly, the raw emotions that "Desert Daphira" would lose are unbearable to imagine, as it is a perfectly mastered theme with sand sound effects attached.

Quite a few, decisively evil themes fill up this album too, so everything isn't as light-hearted as it seems. "Monsters" is militaristic and filled with fear enhancing pauses and shock chords, whereas "Altyre's Monsters" is much more random, and highlights a sense of action and unpredictability. The next theme, "Boss Battle" has one of the most random bass lines that I have heard, taking upon a trotting rhythm whilst also jumping octaves. This certainly adds quite a bit of character to the track and provides that all so important underlying tone that makes it as evil as it is. Without the bass line, the uncoordinated mess that is the melody would just seem to spiral off into the air, very much like a kite without somebody to hold it back. "Bahamut" is another evil theme, and when combined with "Bahamut Lagoon Arutairu," it becomes all the more the meaningful, too. Each theme carries the other, and we get to see some classic manipulative skills from Matsueda here. "Tension" is the last evil theme before the grand finale of the album and the final boss. Crescendos and diminuendos are cleverly placed throughout this track to enhance the feeling of tension that the title ever so clearly suggests, and with the rest of the theme being equally as mastered, we are set up nicely for the last few tracks on the album.

"Battle with Alexander" is a classic penultimate battle theme, featuring a cluster of chords that work superbly together. The drum beat in the background of the track is strangely another key feature too, as with the majority of the other drum holding tracks on the album being held back by the slow tempo, this time the speed of the timpani makes it seem as if the theme just wants to rush on. The next theme, "Decisive Battle!", is just one of those final battle themes that will make sure that you are totally captivated by the game play; it sings out so loudly and with such passion that it almost steals the show on the spot, but actually manages to convert its energy into game enhancing power. Matsueda's skills become clear in this track, one which would be hard to arrange, since there is virtually nothing to improve upon. The ending theme is amongst the best that I have heard on the Super Nintendo, and certainly lies amongst my favourites to date. It starts off in a subtle nature, and as more and more instruments are added, it just releases so much flair and non-stop action. This theme ends the album, and the game, in the best way possible.


This is an album that you will most certainly not want to miss, but it's a pity that my review has arrived too late. The soundtrack pops up on eBay every now and again, but don't expect to have an easy time bidding, since Matsueda's score is long-lasting, inspirational, and highly sought after. It is hard to find a single flaw in this album, but there are two that really do stand out. First of all, the total lack of harmonic variation means that most of the themes were made to develop melodically, or in some cases, not at all. This can get pretty tedious after forty tracks, although it is a good job that a number of different atmospheres are introduced to keep it alive. As well as this, sound capacity is another major issue. Indeed, expert sound programming makes this a pleasurable listen, though some will find it hard to overcome the quality when moving from today's orchestral scores. This has always been the main problem with music from the Super Nintendo, and is ultimately the main reason as to why it isn't so popular. This is one of my favourite albums from Matsueda, who doesn't fail here at all. So, take a few steps back in time, and consider buying this soundtrack. You won't regret it.

Percentage Overall Score: 90%

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