Game Music, Reviews

Rediscover Motoi Sakuraba With The Infinite Undiscovery Original Soundtrack (Review)

December 19, 2008 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Rediscover Motoi Sakuraba With The Infinite Undiscovery Original Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

Alright, so maybe I was picking on Motoi Sakuraba a bit in our review of Valkyrie Profile and the stab we took at the game’s Norse mythology theme in our Yggdra Union review. I’ve actually been a fan of his for years, but with few exceptions, the large quantity of material he’s been putting out over the past couple years haven’t done it for me. While many of us are familiar with his multi-disc, progressive rock approach, I think Infinite Discovery shows signs that he is perhaps mellowing out a bit.

Infinite Undiscovery is one of two of Square Enix’s recent Xbox 360 titles, and I was worried that Sakuraba’s 3-disc soundtrack was going to be more of the same. However, you’ll be surprised to hear there is little to no rock music here, as the score clearly focuses on orchestral and even cinematic styles. Needless to say, I was surprised and impressed by many of the pieces on the album, and am glad that the Square Enix North America store decided to stock an album that I may have otherwise passed up.

Hit the jump for complete impressions of the Infinite Undiscovery Original Soundtrack.

I’ve been told that the orchestral approach here is similar to Sakuraba’s Star Ocean 3 Original Soundtrack, which I’ll admit I skipped. Orchestral themes dominate right from the start, with the powerful “Supernal Epic” with heavy orchestral hits and the choir that we’ve come to expect from Sakuraba, but with the elegance of full orchestral instrumentation. The sound is actually convincing more often than not, and I wouldn’t have thought twice if I was told that the score was supplemented with live performances, although none are listed in the credits. Also of note is the fact that Sakuraba works in some unifying themes throughout the score, which is a nice technique to keep continuity across the three discs.

You’re even going to find some warm acoustic sounds here. “Dewdrops in the Morning Wind” starts with an upbeat acoustic guitar melody that is accompanied by dueling woodwinds. Taking on a more Baroque approach, “The Azure King” and “Air of Authority” both feature harpsichord (which I’ll remind you is my favorite instrument of all time) along with woodwinds and violins, respectively. The traditional nature of these pieces reminds me of Koichi Sugiyama’s work , which is one of the highest compliments I can give. In another change of direction, “Beguiling Mirages” effectively conveys the setting of a desert oasis with exotic and seemingly out of tune plucked instruments and woodwinds that layer over one another and harmonize to create a rich and intriguing sound.

“Towering Behemoth” is another piece that screams of traditional classical music with some amazing string work and choral accents. The unifying theme I mentioned earlier makes an appearance in this piece. Next, coming in like a victory fanfare, “Divine Wings” sports a catchy and upbeat melody. It sounds like more of a jingle, but the extended length and airy atmosphere of the piece make it an enjoyable listening experience.

There are a number of rather melancholy pieces that really stand out in the mix. “Town in Despair” is a fitting title for this track with its thin strings section that is accented by disorderly harp and flute notes that create an eerie atmosphere. “Pure Alabaster” is a beautiful yet solemn piece that makes use of bell harmonies and pizzicato strings with a somewhat distraught string backing. The downcast guitar and flute melodies in “Forgotten Bard” remind me of Sakuraba’s work on Beyond the Beyond, which, if you’re like me, was a pleasant surprise to hear. “Lullaby” is one of the last tracks on the album, and is somewhat ominous with its cool choir pads and foreboding string melodies.

Another awesome track, “Cavernous Corridors” features a repetitive descending piano melody that slowly builds in volume and intensity as strings are added to the mix to voice a rather epic melody. The piano melody appears throughout the piece, driving home the tension. There are also a number of piano solo pieces that are reminiscent of Sakuraba’s recent Forest of glass album.

Regarding the cinematic sound I mentioned earlier, there is a series of three tracks, starting with “Misshapen Form” that are sparse but immediately conjure up a feeling of dread. The scattered percussion and deep piano notes in “Moonless Depths” are particularly unsettling. This dark, looming atmosphere pervades various portions of the score, which again is a nice change of pace for Sakuraba.

The final verdict? This is one of Sakuraba’s best work in my opinion. The score runs the entire spectrum of emotions, and I really enjoyed the acoustic sounds and the use of the harpsichord. There are some surprises here for sure, as I would have never expected some of the cinematic stuff that makes its way onto the soundtrack. As far as the packaging is concerned, the 3-disc soundtrack comes housed in a dark stained cardboard sleeve with both English and Japanese track titles included, which is also a nice touch. If you’re interested, feel free to head over to the Square Enix Store to pick up a copy.

Did you playing Infinite Undiscovery and enjoy the game’s soundtrack? Do you feel this orchestral approach suits him better?

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