||Catalog Number: ARCJ-60 (reprint SVWC-7040)
|Released On: January 22, 1997 (reprint October 1, 1999)
|Composed By: Michiko Naruke
|Arranged By: Kazuhiko Toyama
|Published By: Antinos Records (reprint SPE Visual Works)
|Recorded At: Hitokuchizaka Studio (Keio University)
|Format: 1 CD
01 - Into the Wilderness
02 - The Demon Tower that Pierces the Heavens
03 - Return to Ashes and Dust
04 - Burning Castle (Prologue 1)
05 - Clash and a Promise (Prologue 2)
06 - Funeral Procession
07 - The Morning the Journey Begins
08 - A Sister's Sentiments
09 - Ending Theme: "Swearing to the Blue Sky"
10 - Hope
11 - Wayfarer of the Wilderness
12 - Cold Darkness (Dungeon)
13 - Critical Hit!
14 - Town
15 - Passing through the Stormy Seas (Bartholomew's Theme)
16 - The Bird That Soars Through the Skies (Emma's Theme)
17 - Courage (Dungeon)
18 - Getting Rich Quick! (Zakk's Theme)
19 - Battle: Mid-Boss
20 - All Alone in the World
21 - Lone World
22 - Village of the Eruu
23 - Adlehyde Castle
24 - Abbey
25 - Huh? (Zet's Theme)
26 - Fake Wedding Ceremony on the Sea
27 - Don't Think I'm a Child, I'm a Young Lady! (Jane's Theme)
28 - The Warrior's Whistle (Boomerang's Theme)
29 - A Moment of Tension (Lady Harken's Theme)
30 - From Anxiety to Nervousness
31 - Rody's Companions
32 - To the Sea of Stars
33 - Battle: Mother
34 - Battle: Ziek
35 - Knight Quarters
36 - Into the Wilderness ~ Into New Voyages
The Wild ARMs soundtrack, composed by the brilliant Michiko Naruke, wins my personal respect for her successful execution of composition in a wide array of styles. Though not one of my favorite soundtracks, Naruke's use of unorthodox instrumentation combined with subtle melodies, and brilliant execution make this a very valuable and eclectic OST. Though some pieces have a general "American Western" feel, there is enough eastern presence, classical influence and slapstick comedy to distinguish it and give its own flavor without sounding redundant or over themed.
Of particular note is the opening track "Into the Wilderness." One of the most important parts of any video game is the introduction, both the visual and aural appeal have the power to key us into a fever pitch with expectation if performed well and Wild Arms gets an A+ in both. The music begins with two acoustic guitars playing quarter note chord blocks and introductive melody respectively, friendly and swaggering yet serious before it's joined by the theme, which is played by a whistle. The two instruments together have a call and return relationship and after the first exposition of the melody, the bass, strings and percussion come in for the second play through adding drive and purpose. The climax is done superbly, letting the strings take over the main melody with high woodwinds and punching brass as support, bringing even more intensity and feel to the animated video. It ends gently, with the same instrumentation it began with, bringing yearning and excitement to delve into the game.
The orchestration can be a little tiresome to listen to. Michiko relies very heavily on the whistle/flute/ocarina for melody, and the electronic counterpart to this trilling instrument can sometimes be a little too much to bear. The brass is also not as strong and powerful as it seems it should be, especially in track 17's intense "Courage" and 23's stately "Adelhyde Castle" making me wish a live orchestra had performed some of the later pieces.
Most OSTs are easier to review in that there is some general theme that ties them all together, while Wild ARMs has certain ethnic feels and certain tracks seem to run similar courses, there is no one underlying theme that seems to bridge as a current between them all. Tracks 2 and 3 "Demon Tower" and "Return to Ashes and Dust" have a very tribal sound with eastern chorus, heavy percussion and pyramidal layering, while track 18 "Small Thoughts are Worth A lot" seem to combine western jazz and calypso and track 25's "Huh?" is a combination of Latino brilliance and tongue in cheek mockery. Track 26's "Fake Wedding Ceremony on the Sea" is a comic piece that uses Mendelssohn's world famous "Wedding March" combined with a "Yo-Ho-Ho" pirates theme. Then there's my personal favorite, Track 27's "Don't Think I'm a Child, I'm a Young Lady!" which sounds suspiciously like a caped vigilante who fights evil in the night.
The game's battle music, track 13 "Critical Hit!" is great fight music. And even in this "typical" genre, there are a few unorthodox notes that the listener does not expect, but rather than diminish the quality, the little surprises bring a certain amount of flair and originality that distinguish this OST from the other tried and true fare.
Wild ARM's themes are all remarkable and pleasurable in their own way. The character themes are all unique and the event music is very fitting. Track 20's "Alone in the World" is the typical "sad piece" of the RPG, and it does succeed in bringing the listener down in reminiscence and nostalgia, especially coupled with the character themes now played more as a dirge.
This is truly one of the best OST's I've ever listened to, every track has a new surprise, a new orchestration, a new feel that the listener is sure to be impressed by the sheer variety and originality of the music. It is truly a shame that the medium seems to diminish the quality of the pieces, rather then enhance them. The CD booklet also features some cool anime pictures that aren't from the game. I bought mine from HKT for $15, due to its second release it should be a breeze to obtain from any online game soundtrack dealer.
Reviewed by: Daniel Space
Michiko Naruke is regarded as one of the best female composers in Japan, and this work is more than likely what gave her this status. The Wild ARMs Soundtrack features all the good songs from the game, with exception to the rather good American Credits Music (This CD has the original Japanese vocal credits, and it isn't all that great). There are a few little songs missing (Ruins Festival, Mother's Theme), but that's okay because it would've been somewhat a waste to have a 2 disc with only 5 minutes on the second disc, or splitting each disc into 35 minutes. Anyway, back to the Soundtrack. This CD has a high-noon western "take 3 steps and draw" sorta theme running through it. Between these themes, you'll find incredibly different songs, like tracks 2 and 3 which have these strange-sounding but appealing vocal chorus tracks. Tracks 1-8 are all orchestrated, at least I think it sounds like that... oh, and the last track is also orchestrated, a great song indeed. Track 9 is the vocal credits. All the other tracks are the regular xa-to-midi quality songs, which still aren't bad in the least bit. The very best part of the CD in my opinion is Track 5! I've listened to this track well over 100 times and I still don't consider it overplayed. It has a great start with a piano, and then it gets a guitar with a bass, and then the piano comes back in with that. Some strings kick in, it gets REALLY loud, and then it fades back to let that weird chorus finish the job. This well explains why it's called "Clash and a Promise." Oh yeah! The packaging in the soundtrack is great, with lots of sweet anime drawings that you won't find in the game at all, which is always cool. Also, this soundtrack used to be very hard to find because it was printed for a very short amount of time. Luckily, SPE decided to do a quick reprint, so you should be able to pick one up if you're quick enough. You can find this CD at Game Music Online or at Anime Nation, for about $30.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann