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Star Ocean Till the End of Time Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 :: Forum Review

Star Ocean Till the End of Time Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 Album Title: Star Ocean Till the End of Time Original Soundtrack Vol. 2
Record Label: Team Entertainment
Catalog No.: KDSD-00004/5
Release Date: April 9, 2003
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Written by Chris

The original score for tri-Ace's Star Ocean Till the End of Time is Motoi Sakuraba's most significant work to date. Its size was gargantuan — 77 pieces were featured across two double disc soundtracks. However, these weren't simply typical compositions from him. Instead he put a huge amount of effort into making each and every composition as accomplished and well-developed as possible. Stylistically, he both elaborated and diversified his progressive rock style, also creating many symphonic and jazz pieces. Exploiting the technical capacity of the PlayStation 2, he implemented the music with live performances by a 40 piece orchestra and a rock band. Though some Sakuraba works show more effort than others, this stands as his most refined and ambitious creation even against his other behemoths. The first soundtrack fo the title features most of the rock and jazz music for the game, which was mainly used to accompany the battles and dungeons of the game.

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) Cutting Edge of Notion (Written by Don)

Ah, yes. The composition that launched a thousand similar battle themes. Sakuraba is in full force with his prog-rock in this theme using pulsing percussion and an infectiously catchy synth melody. The melody is so good that is has been reiterated in at least three other battle themes. The track alternates between a bubbly synth melody and a more melodic one. Towards the end, there is some electric guitar work used in there before the loop and it helps to create a nice sense of determination. This is the definitive version if you ask me! (10/10)

2) Victory Bell (Written by Don)

This victory theme has a very peaceful sound to it. It's not overly heroic or anything, but the use of the brass and woodwinds does make it feel like you've accomplished an impossible task. (8/10)

3) Expiration (Written by Andy the Drew)

File this under, "this is a dungeon theme?" please. At this point in the game you're pretty much treated to tracks which can be found on the Vol. 1 side of the equation (although there is the battle theme, which is pretty much stock Sakuraba progressive rock). Then you enter these ruins and BOOM, you're hit with what feels much more Sakuraba-esque.

In many ways, the wildly inappropriate choice of heavy rock within a dungeon is something that stems from his previous Star Ocean efforts and Valkyrie Profile. The difference with this is that the production level feels much crisper here. The intense but scattershot efforts within his early heavily energized soundtracks are a dim memory. Here we have crisp sounding guitar work that is ever changing and even in the last seconds before the loop takes several dramatic turns. Also his transition work, which was weaker in earlier soundtracks, is much stronger here. You still have dramatic shifts in ideas, but at least they don't just abruptly drop and change on a dime; everything evolves on a much smoother curve here.

I really haven't commented on the instrumentation yet, but it's a pretty standard speed metal piece. You've got electric guitars and percussion. You really can't get much more basic than that. Quite possibly the only thing that this track lacks is more prominent usage of Sakuraba's keyboarding. It does show up, but this piece is much more driven by the lead guitarist, who is simply exceptional. The section at the minute and a half mark where the guitarist goes nuts to the end is just awesome. You can't find a better word to describe it. (10/10)

4) Malicious Fingers (Written by Mac_Tear)

The first boss battle theme. Maybe not one of my favorites and pretty standard, but it is bad at all. The instrumentation is no exeption to other Sakuraba tracks, but the development and arrangement are great in here. Jun Kajiwara plays the electric guitar with pure emotion and Toru Hasebe really shines with the percussion. Aoki's bass line is nice too. Some other trademark is the use of an rock organ which you can hear at 0:55. It really gives you the feeling of danger and energy. (9/10)

5) Fly Away in the Violet Sky (Written by Mac_Tear)

The second dungeon theme is in similar style to "Expiration" only without the use of electric guitar. Once again, very Sakuraba-ish instrumentation, but the synth and rock organ sound simply amazing. It really gives awakes the adventurer inside you to explore the dungeons, for example the Airyglyph Aqueducts where it plays at first. I like the part from 0:56 - 1:05. Sadly, the melody is rather short. For the most part Sakuraba simply improves it by using his synth which can be annoying after a while. Not bad, but not as good as the first one. (8/10)

6) Frightened Eyes (Written by Don)

This is another one of the boss themes on the album. I really like the rock organ in this one. It helps give it a sense of terror. When combined with the other elements, such as the piano, percussions, and strings, the track becomes more cohesive. There are portions of the composition, mainly the slower ambient section that I find to be weaker, but the other portions of the piece make up for it. (7/10)

7) The Divine Spirit of Language (Written by Don)

This is another boss theme, played when you battle Crosell, and it's essentially a prog-rock composition without the prog. The melody holds up well, despite being played only on electric guitar, and the percussion really helps pace the track. However, I'd still say the compositional merits of this battle theme are fantastic. Sakuraba is able to do wonders with the electric guitar, from the melody to the kickass solo sections making this one of my favorite Sakuraba battle themes. (10/10)

8) Pert Girl on the Sandy Beach (Written by Ram)

This track has the same light feeling as "Fly by Contact" from Volume 1, but is more interesting than that one, because of the "jazzy" chord progressions and a nice melody. The instrumentation is rather simple. There are soft drums on the background, a jazz organ in the foreground, and some whistling near the end of the piece. Not spectacular, but a decent track. (7/10)

9) Gaiety Company (Written by Don)

"Gaiety Company" is quite the upbeat track. Describing the circus troupe and Peppita, the chipper little girl and "star of the show," this composition really combines a lot of different influences. In the end, the fusion of Asian and Celtic styles really works in its favor. The percussion is a perfect match for the tone of piece and it almost has a jig like quality to it. The instrumentation is also top-notch! (8/10)

10) Evil Shade Crept (Written by Don)

As the name implies, this piece is rather dark and ambient in tone. Sadly, there isn't much holding power for a piece like this. The brass melodic line helps to conceal the repetition found in the bass line. While all of these elements are rather interesting, by themselves and together, they drag on for too long. This makes this track rather stale in comparison to some of the other compositions on this soundtrack. (6/10)

11) Rust Color (Written by Mac_Tear)

Another unique town theme from Sakuraba, this time for the Mining Town of Kirlsa. It fits nearly perfectly to the atmosphere in the town, from the cold and emptiness to the brown textures (the rust color). The acoustic guitar is very pleasant to listen and the flute adds the feeling of loneliness to the music. Later an harmonica plays the main melody and some somber female vocals follow. (9/10)

12) Bracing Forest Wind (Written by Mac_Tear)

Well, it's quite... catchy, isn't it? It really reminds me of Sakuraba's Tales work and does absolutely not fit into the whole context of the soundtrack, unfortunately. The music itself isn't bad at all; it's quite light-hearted, energetic, and somewhat catchy, but as I said before I don't think it fits within the rest of the score. (6/10)

13) Let's Creation!! (Written by Don)

This is the theme music that plays when you are inventing things. It's quite fun and entertaining. While the music itself really adds to the whole invention system, outside of context, it's not nearly as effective. There are some nice Sakurabaisms in there though! (6/10)

14) Bird's Eye View (Written by Mac_Tear)

This is the field theme for Palmira Plains and it was one of those tracks which stuck in my head for quite a while. The overall feeling is very adventurous, energetic and uplifting. Motoi Sakuraba also uses great percussion which helps the music to be more fun to listen to. A synth melody plays the main part, accompanied by some horns in the background for the first part. After that some flute and bells play an rather innocence part. After the one minute mark the strings have their great solo performance. But one thing which disturbs me is near the end before the track loops at 2:11, where the strings straight stop. This could have been done in a better way, but it doesn't strike that much. Overall it's an very fresh and funny piece of music! (9/10)

15) What's Up? (Written by Mac_Tear)

What's up, Mr. Sakuraba? Did you take some drugs or drank too much beer when you wrote this? It's an rather silly piece of music. Well, the piano isn't that bad, but the synth bass is so damn annoying. It could have come out of one of those 70's movies... Nah, skip it, it ruins the whole beautiful score. (4/10)

16) Adventurous Spirit (Written by Don)

"Adventurous Spirit" is a composition of mixed feelings. There are sections of it that I absolutely love, but at the same time, there are portions that really irk me. For example, I really don't like the repetitive harp in the bass line. It seems to stick out over the beautiful orchestration and melody crafted. On that note, I think the instrumentation on the whole is superb. The composition itself really gives off the feeling of adventure, through the heroic brass sections or the mysterious woodwind sections. Truly a great piece after such a weird and quirky one. (9/10)

17) I am the No. 1! (Written by Don)

This piece is definitely a clichéd one. However, at the same time, Sakuraba adds a bit of his own charm to the generic Western franticness. The bells and electric piano are really nice, especially the solo, but on the whole, this track doesn't impress too much. (6/10)

18) Around the Wilderness (Written by Bryan)

This piece relies solely on atmospheric rock influences and is not untypical of the field themes Sakuraba crafted for the game. It doesn't really have a melody to discuss, just hard guitar riffs with a certain synth taking over the would-be melody. I like this piece, as it sounds a bit different from the usual Sakuraba-tron themes. A bit samey, but still enjoyable! (8/10)

19) Robe Under the Cover of Darkness (Written by Bryan)

Wow, talk about emotion. Something evil is surely going down in the game during this track. It has a generic evil sound with the piano and orchestra complementing each other to create a frantic if directionless mood. It's one of the best tension builders on this soundtrack, but can't hold it's own due to everything being all over the place. As I've said before, though, Sakuraba is second to none with his emotional pieces and this one takes the term "evil" and runs with it! (8/10)

20) So Alone, Be Sorrow (Rhythm Ver.) (Written by Don)

This is one of the three arrangements of "So Alone, Be Sorrow" on the score. In addition, this is also the only progressive rock version. While I prefer the other versions, this version still has some merit. It features the standard Sakuraba progressive rock. The futuristic accompaniment, combined with the flute and strings, makes for a very nice fusion of the original and Sakuraba's preferred techniques. The melody itself stands out amongst all the various sounds. Definitely a great piece on the second volume. (9/10)

21) Preemptive Attack (Written by Bryan)

The feeling in this album changes with this piece. Things move away from the typical Sakuraba sound to become very futuristic. There really isn't a melody to discuss as the piece is built on layers of tension; ever several seconds or so, there is a new addition to the previous harmony. With each layer, the tension builds more and more. It's very effective in context and the jazzy touches are also well done, though isn't a stand-alone favourite of mine. (8/10)

22) Moon Base (Written by Bryan)

This is exactly what I wanted to hear in the last track! It's a bit more generic for Sakuraba in the melodic department, but the futuristic feeling comes out strong in this piece. Very few composers can hook me with a dungeon theme, but this one does it. To set the scene, this track plays in a colony that has been attacked by "something". Therefore, there is only one safe area and you are sent out into the core of the base to do "something". One thing about this piece is the tension that it builds for the soon to come events. This is the last area before the major plot twist and this piece does well in creating the mood for the events to come. I just can't say enough about this piece, but I'll stop now and leave you with this. Listen now, you won't be disappointed. This is one of my favorite Sakuraba dungeon themes. (10/10)

Disc Two

1) Twisted Base (Written by Don)

While "Moon Base" definitely had a more energetic approach, its counterpart "Twisted Base" has a much more serious sound. The futuristic sound of this composition, mixed with hints of a melody and some of Sakuraba's progressive elements, results in a very entertaining track. While it serves as a dungeon theme, a particularly effective one at that, it is very enjoyable outside of context as well. (9/10)

2) People Inside a Fence (Written by Mac_Tear)

This is a very peaceful and calm piece. The use of acoustic guitar, harmonica, and flutes is brilliant here and reminds me a little of Tales of Symphonia) is brilliant here. The theme again demonstrates Sakuraba's skills to create very fitting pieces. It may be not as deep as "Rust Color" heard on Disc One, but it's beautiful on its own and very pleasant to listen to. (8/10)

3) Air Harmony (Written by Mac_Tear)

Wow, this track is another classic. It features some of Sakuraba's old-school synth melodies and no classic or acoustic instrumentation like other themes before. Its also very similar to some pieces of Star Ocean: The Second Story, for example "In a Lightsome Mood" and if I remember correctly this is the music for Fun City. The feeling is very happy and light-hearted. I somewhat like the little harpsichord passage at 1:06 and the sitar at 1:54 which gives the track more variety. Nice. (9/10)

4) Bitter Dance (Written by Chaos777)

I would classify this battle theme to be highly experimental. It is a combination of a wierd electro melody with offbeat vocals. This track is by no means bad because melody is highly original, especially towards the middle where the development begins of making the synth higher a more sublime. It does reach a climactic spark at the end when the vocals heighten the melody by moving a few key steps higher along with a transformation of a basic electronic beat to something more graceful. I would not say that this is one of my favorites, but I do think it works a lot better than expected, especially since the harmonics of the vocals could destroy this song depending on who is singing it. (8/10)

5) Powerbroker (Written by Chaos777)

Ahhh yes. We have finally arrived. This is the epitome of dissonance with a perfect blend between crying and howling female voices with a concrete male bass voice. The melody utilizes the bass with utmost majesty as each darkening chord fleshes out the feeling of evil and despair. This highly atonal and enharmonic piece is truly a masterpiece in the way accelerandos and crescendos are handled near the end of the piece, bringing the listener to a musical climax. If you were to classify this piece with historical styles, consider techno fused with the Baroque era; otherwise a futuristic presentation of the past. It's unbelievable how the female chanting tells a tale of sorrow with sudden rushes of percussive turbulence near the repeating phrases at the end. Truly magnificent in its execution and only greater through its listening. (10/10)

6) The Virtual Image (Written by Don)

Continuing with the futuristic soundscape, "The Virtual Image" is a fantastic dungeon theme. The incorporation of the female chorals over top the synth melody and the rhythmic bass line is wonderful and helps give some substance to what would have been a mediocre composition. While this composition doesn't really do anything new, it does manage to win my heart just because of all the various synth sounds, the female chorals, and that bass line. (8/10)

7) Mission to the Empty Space (Written by Don)

Mimicking "Mission to the Deep Space" from Star Ocean: The Second Story, this final dungeon theme is one of my favorites from Sakuraba. While I find "Mission to the Deep Space" to be more enjoyable of the two, this theme isn't without merit either. Heavy on the prog rock, Sakuraba is able to create a very gripping theme. Piano, electric piano, percussion, and synth blend together quite nicely. The futuristic soundscape created, like its name, gives off a sense of determination, but at the same time, a sense of hollowness. Throw in some jazz elements and a bit of brass and we have a bona fide winner. (9/10)

8) Do Evil (Written by Bryan)

Wow, this is a crazy battle theme even coming from Sakuraba. The beginning starts out just as any other boss theme of his would with jarring synth and loud percussion. The track makes a quick turn toward the softer side through having the strings come in for a slower melody. Then all hell breaks loose! After a slow build-up with a synth cello, we are treated to what sounds like an improvised synth solo by Sakuraba. This rotation continues to the end of the piece with different improvised solos each time after the string build-up. I'd have to say that up to this point in the album, this is the most developed battle track here. It never repeats, only making the 4:20 of this piece even more enjoyable. (10/10)

9) Moody Goddess (Written by Bryan)

This was a bit of a surprise for me. Going from that killer battle track to this was an odd transition to say the least. Let me explain. This is a jazzy battle theme featuring melodic sections being led by a saxophone and complex accompanying piano work. Both forces are simply stunning in this piece. It is a fresh look into Sakuraba's style, as it is something I haven't heard from him before. This just proves how versatile Sakuraba really is! (9/10)

10) Highbrow (Written by Don)

At long last, we've arrived at the epitome of Sakuraba battle themes. To say that "Highbrow" is an epic composition would be robbing it of all its glory. While some say that it is too long, and that given extreme leveling conditions, you finish the battle before you actually get into the meat of the composition, I'll be looking at it from a stand-alone basis.

As with any final battle theme, you need that opening that sucks in the listener. Well, Sakuraba definitely gives us that. The ominous organ and percussion, combined with some lighthearted and chaotic piano leads the way into this chaotic piece of music. In fact, there is so much going on in this piece that it's really hard to review like a normal piece of music. Sakuraba inserts and re-inserts compositional motifs into this piece so often that you feel like it starts over at times, however, in the entire 10:38 seconds of this battle theme, the track never really truly loops. It's quite amazing really.

But let's back away from that for a moment. To me, "Highbrow" is by far the least 'game sounding' composition he's done. In fact, it reminds me more of his Gikyokuonsou album from 1991. That was Sakuraba truly having fun, and this composition seems to mirror that almost perfectly.

To dive into the meat of this track is no small feat. You'll hear hints of standard progressive rock, bits of jazz, bits of electronica, bits of orchestration, hints of rock... basically, hints of almost anything you can imagine. Each of these pieces, while different from one another, comes together beautifully to take us on a rollercoaster of musical stylings. In addition to fusing all of these various styles together, Sakuraba also improvises a lot of this composition towards the end. Having seen videos of him in concert, it's amazing to see how he actually plays these improvisations. At times, he glisses the keyboard, at other times, he forms fists and strikes the keyboard, all of which can be heard to some extent in this composition. While some may not like the improvisation that occurs in this piece, I think it gives it a sense of uniqueness.

In the end, this is by far my favorite Sakuraba battle theme, and to be honest, he's set the bar extremely high for the final battle theme in the upcoming Star Ocean The Last Hope. Sakuraba-san, I expect another epic achievement such as this. Glad to see you are still having fun with your compositions! (10/10)

11) Star Ocean Forever ~ Jazz Ver. (Written by Chris)

Another fantastic accomplishment on Star Ocean: Till the End of the Time is the arrangement of the Star Ocean main theme "Star Ocean Forever". Audaciously, Sakuraba decided to arrange it in the jazz style hinted at throughout the soundtrack, but it works fantastically in context. Like "Highbrow", this composition is very well-developed over 7:10 encompassing a bold big band introduction, an epic orchestral take on the main theme, a ethereal synth and piano interlude, and a daring and very cheeky coda. Nevertheless, the composition retains a jazz focus for the most part and Sakuiraba shows that he is very competent at a style he rarely otherwise uses. Overall, a fun, emotional, and impressive composition despite loss of coherency. (9/10)

12) Mission to the Deep Space (Written by Don)

Originally featured in Star Ocean: The Second Story, "Mission to the Deep Space" is by far my favorite Sakuraba final dungeon theme. In this updated version, the first thing that is noticeable is the remastering of the sound. The synth used is much more bearable at times. In addition, the focus of this arrangement is rock and jazz. Saxophone is the prominent melody maker. Combine that with some interesting rock sections, including a pretty killer solo, and you have a pretty perfect match. Of course, this isn't Sakuraba without a bit of his progressive rock influence. This is obviously seen through the use of electric piano and the aforementioned synth. In the end, I find this to be an awesome arrangement and a fantastic ode to one of his best works. (10/10)

13) The Incarnation of Devil (Written by Don)

Like the previous track, "The Incarnation of Devil" originally appeared in Star Ocean: The Second Story. As before, the remastering of this track is quite apparent. However, unlike "Mission to the Deep Space," this sounds like more of an updated version rather than a full arrange, although there are some clear new sections that sound like improvisations. In this version, Sakuraba is in full force with the electric piano and synth highlights. The percussion used in this version is very exciting and helps to push the track along. In the end, this is as good as, if not better than, the original. (9/10)

14) Confidence in the Domination (Written by Bryan)

This is yet another theme taken from another Sakuraba album, this time from Valkyrie Profile. It is arranged slightly and I prefer it to the original in most cases. For those that haven't heard it, it is a typical Sakuraba battle theme with some improvised synth work in the meat of the piece. I will say that introduction was butchered in the transition from the original to this track, however. The bombastic nature of the original is gone here, replaced by a "jazzier" feel. While this isn't a bad thing for most of the sections, it did ruin the introduction along with a few other short parts in my opinion. Overall, I feel like this is a decent take on one of Valkyrie Profile's best battle themes. (7/10)

15) The True Nature of All (Written by Don)

Out of all the Valkyrie Profile compositions, in my opinion, this is the best one. Sakuraba definitely gives this one a facelift, considering it's length is three times that of the original. This arrangement opens up with a very percussive, organ, and harpsichord dominated melody. As the track progresses, synth mainly dominates the track. A nice touch added to this arrangement are the choral accents. They make the composition sound all the more sinister. Towards the end, jazz influences can be heard in the electric piano section. The arrangement ends just as it starts with a very sinister focus on organ, chorals, harpsichord, and the introduction of the synth melody. This piece is absolutely stunning. (10/10)

16) Moody Goddess (Another Ver.) (Written by Bryan)

This is essentially the same as the last version with the brass taking more of a lead here. I prefer the original's emphasis on the piano a lot more, but if you like Sakuraba jazz, you will prefer this version. (7/10)


Written by Don

The second volume of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time features the compositions in which Sakuraba has built his fanbase. Featuring his progressive rock and electronica compositions, this volume is sure to please his fans that prefer these types of compositions. His battle theme, "Cutting Edge of Notion," was so good in his eyes that he used it in future games as well. You'll also hear some of his best prog-rock battle themes ever created on this volume as well, in particular "Do Evil" and "Highbrow." The dungeon themes are also something that are tons of fun in which to listen. If you like prog-rock, this album is definitely for you. (9/10)

Written by Mac_Tear

The second volume of the Star Ocean: Till the End of Time score is mostly dominated by traditional progressive rock songs and electronica tracks which Sakuraba fans are familiar with. The battle themes are worthy of listening, especially the normal battle theme "Cutting Edge of Notion", which features some notes of Star Ocean: The Second Story's battle theme "Stab the Sword of Justice", or "Bitter Dance", an interesting mix of electronica, hip-hop and involuntarily funny male vocals. "Do Evil" is a wicked battle theme full of power, tension, and delicious moments, "Moody Goddess" delivers an unusual jazzy style with big band atmosphere. The final boss theme "Highbrow" is the top notch battle theme around all. With nearly 11 minutes of irrepressible power and development, this is one of Sakurabas most original battle themes and can even match Nobuo Uematsu's epic "Dancing Mad" from Final Fantasy VI.

The rest of the soundtrack is also enjoyable with typical progressive rock themes like "Expiration" or "The Divine Spirit of Language", nice acoustic tracks like "Rust Color", "People Inside a Fence", and even some out of place tracks like "I Am the No.1!" or "What's Up?". Pieces like "Air Harmony" or "The Virtual Image" easily could straight coming out of previous Star Ocean scores with classic synth arrangements. And what is Star Ocean without his trademark themes "Mission to the Deep Space" and "Star Ocean Forever", both nice arranged and polished up? So what more can I say? Even if this set contains some weaker tracks within, it's totally worth of listening, not only for Motoi Sakuraba fans. (8/10)

Average of Summary Scores: 9/10