Game Music, Reviews

It’s Here: Granado Espada Renaissance OST Volume 3 (Review)

December 6, 2010 | | 7 Comments Share thison Facebook It’s Here: Granado Espada Renaissance OST Volume 3 (Review)on Twitter

Finally, the day we’ve all been waiting for! Well, at least some of us. The original Granado Espada soundtrack is one of my favorites of all time as you can probably tell from our Soundtrack of the Month article, but I admit I was a bit disappointed by the licensed music featured on Volume 2. Hanbit and IMC Games have fortunately corrected this with the release of the Granado Espada Renaissance Special Limited Edition Original Soundtrack Volume 3 (yes, quite a mouthful).

You saw our unboxing video last week and already know that there are two variations in the packaging, but join us as we dig into the 3-disc collection. Is it worth the wait, and will you be able to get your hands on it? Find out in our review after the jump.

First off, you’re likely wondering who’s involved this time. It’s important to note that Junsung Kim, the famous Korean film composer who created some of the most memorable themes from Volume 1 did not contribute to this album, which is quite unfortunate, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Osamu Kubota, S.F.A., soundTeMP, and TaQ have assumed responsibility for the music, and as you may recall from our interview with Osamu Kubota, S.F.A has been primarily responsible for the game since the original soundtrack was completed, making for a much more eclectic listening experience given the group’s versatility.

Yes, those of you looking for the same trancey vibe as the original soundtrack may find themselves disappointed. S.F.A tackles everything from rock to orchestral to trance, and while I admit their contributions to Volume 1 were probably some of my least favorite, they really shine here.

We get a number of rock and heavy metal tracks that I would put down as S.F.A’s specialty. “Fire Hill” gives us rock of the groovy jazz variety, while “Flag of Ghost” tackles alternate rock and “Helter-Skelter” and “Deatholic” provide some pretty convincing heavy metal. There’s gothic rock with chugging electric guitar and organ in “Resurrection,” and even a Dynasty Warriors-style track that combines strings, piano, and electric guitar into an emotional yet powerful piece called “Rapid Eye.”

From here, S.F.A goes off in every which direction possible. Let me dig into some of my favorites. “Arpeggione Sonata” combines smooth electronic and elegant orchestral sounds, which at first had me believing I was listening to an Osamu Kubota piece. S.F.A also jumps in on some soundTeMP territory with “Just to Know,” a driving techno track with mesmerizing female vocals in the background. From there, the playful “Tocatta Trance Saw” is a chip/trance remix of Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue.”

There’s a variety of other material, including a return to the impressive violin work S.F.A displayed on the Volume 1 soundtrack with “La Vistazo,” a psychedelic tropical tune with seagulls and reverberating guitar in “Ocean Dream,” and even flamenco guitars in “FLamengo Fighters.” “Halem Swanlake” is another arrangement of a famous classical composition, this time in an R&B style that is actually very enjoyable. My two favorites, however, are probably “Watersky,” one of the albums hugest surprises, and “Jazzyshow.” “Watersky” is a lovely ballad opening with piano before strings and woodwinds are added, creating a majestic orchestral backing that only seems to be missing vocals. “Jazzyshow,” on the other hand, is a playful waltz that is arranged like a variety show with different sections, all of which are amazing. S.F.A closes the album out with “In Celebration of 2006 Korea Grand Award Game of Year,” a freestyle jazzy guitar and electric piano piece that’s super smooth. I did miss “Rachada Fever” that is featured in the game but is not present here, but perhaps it was left out given its 9-minute length.

Osamu Kubota contributes only 5 tracks to this collection, but they’re all fantastic. The album opens with “Ice Symphony,” a chilling orchestral piece with beautiful female choral singing. I’d love to hear this one performed live. “Rhapsody” fuses electronic and orchestral sounds, making extensive use of the piano and sounding almost like something from Kubota’s Beatmania days. “Fame or Die” is an otherworldly, cinematic orchestral piece with some great female choral singing. Lastly, we get two fantastic vocal themes in the style of Kubota’s “Odyssey” from Volume 1 which are the highlights here. “Maya” features a repeated phrase that slowly builds in intensity, with a fiery blend of rock percussion and string stabs in the background, while “Discipline” is much more foreboding with its descending progression.” Kubota details his technique for producing these tracks in his interview with us at GDC, which is certainly interesting to read. I’ll also mention TaQ here, since Kubota brought artist TaQ on board for Granado Espada. His “Akaishic Record” appears here in all its 7:44 glory, and is one of the best tracks here. TaQ also details his inspiration for the piece in this interview.

Lastly we have soundTeMP, who offer up 6 tracks. They start us off with a dreamy waltz titled “Mother” before we get into the electronic stuff that we’re accustomed from hearing. “2Step Blue” is my favorite track of theirs on the album with its glitchy percussion, smooth saxophone bits, and catchy synth melody. “Wind Slasher” is a distinctly Asian-flavored 4/4 techno track that had me thinking of Ragnarok Online, while “Chillout Blue” goes for a more ambient approach with icy pads. “Helios” is a bit of an oddity with its tribal percussion and chanting (an even some weird throaty segments), sounding like something out of Donkey Kong Country.

Well, you already know all about the packaging, and while the music here is certainly different than that featured in Volume 1 or even Volume 2, it’s still fantastic in its own right. S.F.A really shines here, bringing a slew of genres to the table and handling them all wonderfully. Kubota’s contributions are equally impressive, and it’s great to see TaQ’s name getting out there in association with his work on this title. While the album is not for sale, and is rather only available in limited quantities (500 each of Renaissance Set A and Set B), I encourage you to seek the album if you’re able.

What do you think of the latest Granado Espada soundtrack? Do you think a Volume 4 is warranted to get great tracks like “Rachada Fever” out there in CD quality?

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