Review - Xenosaga OST

Original composition by Yasunori Mitsuda

Performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra and

The Metro Voices

	The Xenosaga OST is not your typical Mitsuda score. As a matter of fact, 
the Xenosaga OST isn't even your typical video game score. A lot of it 
is quite unlike anything we've previously heard from Mitsuda, and while 
this is an evolutionary step in his career, it leaves some of us wondering 
where he's headed with his new sound. Anyhow, on with the review.

	Rich orchestral pieces abound, and the OST flows with a blistering energy 
not commonly found in RPG soundtracks. Musically, its  melodies are quite 
complex, often sounding like they'd be more at home in the background of 
a movie than a console video game. 

	The score as a whole takes on a rather menacing aura, as seen by the 
orchestral 'clamour' that spans its two discs. But it is expertly paced, 
and laced around the action cues are some wonderful choral and piano 
pieces, plus the occasional 'funky' track. 

	The opening 'Prologue' is excellent, dark and foreboding strings leading 
into frenzied orchestral crashes. 'Opening', on the other hand, is a 
little weird. Functional, but not overly pretty. Later choral tracks 
like 'Ormus' and 'The Resurrection', however, are generally excellent. 
'The Miracle' is probably the best of the lot: it builds on the theme 
introduced by 'The Resurrection' and fashions it into something like 
John Orff's 'O Fortuna' , with a climactic crescendo that could leave 
you breathless.

	The battle tracks are pretty good, with nary a weak melody rearing 
its ugly head.The regular battle theme, 'Battle', manages to keep the 
adrenaline pumping.  'Battling KOS-MOS' does even better in that regard, 
with fast-paced harmonies that whip you up into a frenzy. 'Last Battle' 
is something of an oddity - it consists of Gregorian chants, violin, 
programmed drum loops, and some rather sprightly piano. This weird mélange 
works, oddly enough. It's highly experimental, but it's also pretty 
effective. Listen to it.

	'Omega' and 'Gnosis' are purely orchestral action pieces, of which 
there are many in this OST. 'Omega' contains a driving electric guitar 
duel with the orchestra, and 'Gnosis', while it sounds in places like 
something out of a James Horner score, is ever so furious and loud, 
which makes for a very rousing listen. 'Zarathustra' is a broadly 
classical piece, with beautiful choir and emotional strings. There's 
even a percussive bit around 1:53 that sounds like the intro to 
Strauss's 'Also Sprach Zarathustra'.

	Piano pieces like 'Warmth' and 'Nephilim' are good, but somewhat 
compositionally similar to Chrono Chross and Xenogears. 'Sorrow', 
on the other hand, is a wonderful string-driven piece complemented 
by a sad, lonely piano melody.  Moving on, the funky stuff like 
'U.M.N. Mode' is very cool and ambient, easy on the ears and a nice 
change of pace. 

	'Proto Merkabah' is reminiscent of Chrono Trigger's Lavos theme with 
its powerful pipe organ notes. There's also a haunting solo vocal 
interlude that contrasts beautifully with the rest of the track. 
'Escape' is, as the name suggests, one of those 'Let's get outta here!' 
pieces, and is very well done.. even if in James Horner mode. 'Kokoro' 
is a Celtic-flavoured endpiece, with vocals courtesy of Joanne Hogg. 
This is indeed a good song, but it's certainly not a classic.

	Taking everything into account, the Xenosaga OST is chock full of 
goodness. It's very different in comparison to normal VGM, but as 
of now that's really a good thing. Let's just hope that Mitsuda 
hasn't completely eschewed writing evocative music in favour of 
flying orchestral frenzies.

	Until his next OST, this score gets a 9 out of 10. Go Mitsuda!

Review (C) 2003 by Eric Dantés