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Culdcept II Original Soundtrack :: Review by Dave

Culdcept II Original Soundtrack Album Title: Culdcept II Original Soundtrack
Record Label: SME Visual Works
Catalog Number: SVWC-7083/4
Release Date: July 4, 2001
Content: 2 CD Set - 32 Tracks
Purchase: Buy at eBay


During his time at Square, Kenji Ito had two failed projects behing him, so in 2001 he became a freelance composer. He found work almost immediately, when he was offered a composing role for Media Factory's Dreamcast strategy game, Culdcept II. Ito claims that this album is his best work to date, and this is certainly not surprising as its quality is excellent. The first disc holds 13 tracks, 11 of which are over 6 minutes long, mostly being split distinctly into three separate sections. The second disc sees a five further tracks forming the main album, and added to this, there are some 13 bonus tracks. Some tracks, for example "Rabbid Dance," could be described as unconventional, but they are more experimental than anything else. This gives this soundtrack a slight zest, which is good for a composer whose inspiration generally decays as we proceed through the tracks. Anyway, without further ado, let's proceed to the main review.


The album starts off with "Prologue," which is used to introduce the game. The track proceeds by moving into a passage featuring an oboe melody playing against a harp accompaniment. This melody is then played by a flute in a much more buoyant way. Many instruments build up below this, and the dynamics build up until a point where roaring timpani beats and snare drums become prominent. The track becomes a lot more grandiose, vibrant, and colourful around this point, as it reaches its climax. The track manages to tell its own story of grief, pride, and honour all in one, and we don't even have to look at the game to understand what is happening.

"Rabbid Dance" is one of few humorous themes on this album, and it is definitely the most enjoyable, too. The initial melody is extremely idiosyncratic and its rhythm is just as odd. The buoyancy of the track is certainly heightened in the second section, which is a parade march. There are frequent car horn sounds features, giving the track a unique flair, and there is also typical snare drum and brass usage. The whole theme in this part just lets you imagine a set of clowns walking down at the front of the parade. The last section is absolutely superb, being made up of a wonderful xylophone melody and tombone accompaniment. Like the rest of the track, the instrumental use here is very quirky, and the atmosphere overall is superb.

Ito has composed a fair selection of dark tracks for this album too, and "Prayer for Ruin" is probably the best example of this, probably being used to represent a ritual sacrifice. It features a solid drum bass, immediately giving a tribal feel, and our suspicions that it is a sacrifice are further raised through the continual beating of a gong and the entrance of some low-pitched vocal chants. Fortunately, the second part of the track is a lot more upbeat, but feelings of darkness are still portrayed due to the dominance of bass and percussion instruments. Though a cute melody occasionally appears, it is continually drowned out by the bass, almost like an innocent victim to the slaughter. The last section is the darkest part of the track, and it is once again dominated by the bass part. The melody has been dropped down an octave from what it was previously, giving it an even darker feel.

By the time we reach the track "Epilogue," we have already seen a massive amount of diversity from Ito, and we get the impression that maybe he can't offer any more to us. Yet, in this track, he proves us wrong and it is perhaps his most diverse track on the album. The first part of the track features a suspended violin note and synthesized vocals, which create a feeling of dismay before the track transitions with an upwards spiral of glee into the next theme. In the next section, the original melody from the first section is repeated grandly on trumpets and brass instruments, and the melodies used throughout this passage are very sweet. The build up at the end of the section is superb, as the melody becomes emphatic. Soon after, we reach the final section of the track, which is played during the final section of the credits. This is a solemn piano arrangement of what we have just heard with some string accompaniment. It is a short but sweet section, which wraps off the main album well, and leads us into the thirteen bonus tracks.

The bonus tracks show a variety of nice themes which weren't included in the game. The best tracks here are the Brave Story tracks, numbered one to seven. My favourite of these is "Brave Story #2 - Escape," which is a rather fast-paced piano and accompaniment track. Some other good tracks are "Chat! Cepter! Chat!," "Shocking?," and "Heaven's Melody," yet they are all relatively short compared to the rest of the album. The last three tracks are prefixed by the word bookmark and all share the same melody. "Bookmark #1" is a music box arrangement, while "Bookmark #2" is a glockenspiel and piano arrangement and "Bookmark #3" is an orchestrated version of the theme. These sweet bonus tracks were definitely beneficial to the album, even if they are not as outstanding on a stand-alone basis.


Ito claims that this is his best work to date, and he might well be right, though Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Original Soundtrack is probably slightly more worthy. Ito provides us with a wide range of tracks here, from extremely fun ones to hellishly dark ones. Initially, after listening to the track structure, it might seem like the album won't go anywhere. Yet, as one proceeds further into it, it is obvious that this immediate assumption is wrong, as the album is full of surprises. The worst thing about this album is the way that each theme needlessly repeats twice before moving onto the next section. Ito just doesn't develop his melodies enough, and although the melodies are great, it seems pointless to repeat a theme without any variation to it. Overall, this as a fine work, and one which shows the potential of Ito superbly, despite a few bland moments. It's another must buy, though it is very difficult to find now it is out of print.

Percentage Overall Score: 92%

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