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Tales of the Abyss OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: KICA-1393~6
Released On: March 22, 2006
Composed By: Motoi Sakuraba, Shinji Tamura, Motoo Fujiwara
Arranged By: Motoi Sakuraba, Shinji Tamura, Motoo Fujiwara
Published By: King Records
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 4 CDs
Buy this CD from Play-Asia
Tracklist:

Disc One
01 - abyss
02 - Prologue
03 - The place of relaxation
04 - Crisis
05 - The arrow was shot
06 - Victory!
07 - New world
08 - Wedge
09 - The Grocer's Village
10 - Cheagle Woods
11 - Serious
12 - Pleasantness
13 - Miserable spectacle
14 - Fang which wants blood
15 - Tartaros
16 - Oracle - Coercion
17 - Confrontation
18 - Awkward justice
19 - The Fortified City
20 - Fubras River
21 - Oracle - Sorrow
22 - The Frontier Fortress
23 - Van
24 - Port town
25 - Coral Castle
26 - Oracle - Conspiracy
27 - Casvelt Ferry
28 - The Distribution Base
29 - The frequenter
Total Time:
71'06"

Disc Two
01 - The Royal City of Light
02 - Kingdom of sky
03 - Abandoned Factory
04 - Meeting
05 - Desert Oasis
06 - Zao Ruins
07 - Deo Pass
08 - The Mining Town
09 - Akzeruth Tunnel 14
10 - Shurrey Hills
11 - Van - Truth
12 - Scramble
13 - Akzeruth's Collapse
14 - Qliphoth
15 - The City of Guardians
16 - Tartaros Surfacing
17 - The City of Sound Machines
18 - Wyon Mirrored Cave
19 - Wish and sadness
20 - in between 1 and 0
21 - Aramis Flooded Caverns
22 - The edge of a decision
23 - Guilt, duty and...
24 - The Lorelei Order's Base
25 - Oracle Headquarters
26 - The Silvery Snowland
27 - Casino
28 - Theor Forest
Total Time:
70'04"

Disc Three
01 - The Floating Imperial City
02 - Blue royal palace
03 - The City of Craftsmen
04 - Wing of hope
05 - St. Bynah's Collapse
06 - Nature dungeon
07 - Disturbances of War
08 - Cassadonia's Collapse
09 - Guidepost
10 - Kingdom of sky - confused
11 - Belief
12 - Tartaros Rushing In
13 - Mt. Roneal
14 - Zaleho Volcano
15 - Feres Island
16 - Game over
17 - The Hidden Village
18 - Theme of Mini Game
19 - Tales of DB Theme
20 - Tales of DB Room Guarder
21 - Tales of DB Ending
22 - Tales of DB Game Over
23 - Mushroom Road
24 - Sign of the quiet dark
25 - Relic of wandering frenzy
26 - Flow when being dammed up
27 - Arena
28 - Everlasting fight
29 - Eternal mind
Total Time:
54'41"

Disc Four
01 - The last chapter
02 - Never surrender
03 - Farthest place
04 - Farthest place - Premonition
05 - Farthest place - Threat
06 - At the time of farewell
07 - Van's Death
08 - Parting, and...
09 - Hod Surfacing
10 - Sheaf of soul
11 - mirrors
12 - A Clear Sky Opens
13 - Farthest place - Glint
14 - Happiness in my hand
15 - The Time of the Decisive Battle Has Come A
16 - The Time of the Decisive Battle Has Come B
17 - The Glorious Land Eldrant
18 - meaning of birth
19 - promise
20 - Crimson pride
21 - time to raise the cross
22 - a place in the sun
23 - finish the promise
24 - For the Sake of it All...
25 - Lorelei's Revival
26 - The Look of That Day
27 - A Song ~song by Tear~
28 - A Wish to the Starry Sky
29 - Overflowing Emotions, Reunion
Total Time:
68'58"

I was very much looking forward to reviewing Tales of the Abyss even before playing the game itself. This is, as far as I know, the first soundtrack Motoi Sakuraba has done using entirely streamed audio. As an album, it also follows his recent leaning towards tracks with a higher quality of instrumentation, and his compositions benefit enormously as a result.

The opening tracks, Prologue, The Place of Relaxation and Crisis sound subdued while gathering pace for the oncoming adventure, and set the tone of the album well. The main battle theme of the game, The Arrow was Shot, is a fantastic fast paced and upbeat piece that, while fairly bland compared to most Sakuraba battle themes, never goes over the top and gets too confusing to enjoy. He follows it with examples of his typical work, with Wedge using heavy synths reminiscent of tracks from Star Ocean 2 and Valkyrie Profile.

Sakuraba is then interrupted by the first of a number of blocks in the soundtrack containing tracks by relatively unknown composer Shinji Tamura. Tamura's tracks are softer, partly because he seems to have been relegated to composing town themes like The Grocer's Village and open lighter 'dungeons' like Cheagle Woods. Unfortunately, next to Sakuraba, Tamura is often hopelessly overshadowed. I get the impression that Tamura must have lost a lot of games of rock-paper-scissors to be assigned tracks like the less-than-epic Theme of Mini Game. These sections of the soundtrack, and there are many, feel unwelcome for the most part. This is undeniably Sakuraba's game, and the sections of tracks just by Tamura make parts of the album seem weak and somewhat featureless in comparison. Nevertheless, some are suitable ambient, in particular I found Zaleho Volcano, Abandoned Factory and Aramis Flooded Caverns to live up to their descriptive track titles. And it is somewhat disappointing that, once the last disc kicks off the last act with The Last Chapter, Tamura is replaced as the secondary composer by Motoo Fujiwara of Bump of Chicken fame.

Unsurprisingly given the nature and size of this soundtrack, Sakuraba does a lot of what on other albums would be 'filler tracks.' Here, he treats every track as if it will play during the most climatic part of the game. The three Oracle tracks, Oracle Conspiracy in particular, manage to cram so much foreboding into a single track that it's almost hard to take seriously. Still, these are easier to listen to than Tamura's filler tracks. Confrontation, which follows the aforementioned track, is almost painful to listen to. That said, Sakuraba himself writes so much tracks of this album that it's inevitable that some of his track are less stirring than others, and Van is one of these. For the theme of the main villain, even a sympathetic one, this track is fairly uninspired, and the result sounds more like a town theme. Indeed, even the town themes are more impressive, and tracks like Kingdom of Sky are full of trepidation.

Unsurprisingly, Sakuraba's talent is most evident during the battle tracks, and there are a number of great tracks, like Awkward Justice, that manage to be long without becoming dull. The Edge of Decision, another 'special battle' track, is probably the best track on the album, that combines his signature electric organ with a guitar and haunting choir samples in an electrifying mix. One of the most memorable tracks on the album is the seven minute epic Everlasting Fight. The first thought that struck me when listening to this was that it was going to be another Highbrow, and while I'm pretty sure it doesn't loop at all, the track remains with one single style, and Eternal Mind follows on so naturally that they may as well have been the same track.

While the soundtrack seems to lose pace during disc three, the fourth disc reinvigorates the mood and increases the sense of urgency. A stellar battle track, At the Time of Farewell, stands out in the midst a host of cutscene tracks. These are followed by the pieces The Glorious Land Edrant and Crimson Pride, which are used for the final areas in the game. Here Sakuraba is in his element, managing to evoke strong feelings of both foreboding and reminiscence as only he can.

Somewhat bizarrely, Motoo Fujiwara, who composed the main theme, also composed a number of decisive battle tracks, and though all are worthy tracks, it seems odd that he would be picked to do them over Sakuraba. They appear rather quiet, and less epic when compared with Sakuraba's battle themes. Even the final battle, Finish the Promise, is actually less exciting than the normal battle theme. They aren't bad, but the difference is more noticeable when standing next to the epic battle tracks earlier in the soundtrack. Sakuraba returns for the ending theme, The Look of That Day, which is very mellow compared to what he usually composes.

Overall, for people who've listened to Motoi Sakuraba, this will not be anything new, and fans of his work may find the all too frequent sections composed by Tamura difficult to listen to. For those who are unfamiliar with Sakuraba, I wouldn't recommend this as an introduction to his work, but as a Tales soundtrack it is effective and manages to stand on its own. It would be dismissive to describe this soundtrack as just good background music. The fantastic battle themes and foreboding filler tracks help ignore the slightly lackluster dungeon themes and make this a worthy addition to fans of Sakuraba.

Reviewed by: Vincent T. J. Sier Chorley



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