Game Music

Rekindled Memories: Eternal Daughter 10th Anniversary Original Soundtrack Review

May 9, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Rekindled Memories: Eternal Daughter 10th Anniversary Original Soundtrack Reviewon Twitter

David Saulesco has traveled far since his mid teens in the world of video games. Born and raised in a quiet suburb of Stockholm, the child of meatballs and Kalle’s caviar was raised in a musical family which had him bit by the music bug at an early age, and alongside his deep love for music, blossomed also a love for video games. It was almost a certainty even before he entered school that in his life, Saulesco was destined for a life of fun, friends and video games, and now in 2012, Saulesco is working on a wide range of projects, realizing his childhood dreams one after another.

His road to the video games industry had its largest step in 2002, at the age of 16, when Saulesco was given the chance to compose the music for Derek Yu’s freeware classic Eternal Daughter. A game filled with homage and heart, it gave a unique yet daunting opportunity for the young Swede to make use of his own melodies while also leaving some hints of his inspirations along the way, giving the game it’s charming sound. Now 27, Saulesco has returned to rearrange and update his very first soundtrack for its 10th anniversary.

Is the rebirth worth your time or as sour as a Swedish lime? Find out!

Eternal Daughter is a very immediate throwback to the days of the sidescrolling adventure days, with very strong and clear musical narratives to fill out the on screen activity. Therefor the music found throughout the entire soundtrack is very distinct, and never dabbles too much with it intent or show much restraint. For all intents and purposes, this is a video game soundtrack, and it never lets you forget that appropriately enough. The nature of the different songs show a great diversity between each piece, which considering they were composed by a full time student at 16 is still quite a feat to be recognized.

It is in this diversity that you truly find what is so affectionately touching about the soundtrack at its core, the music speaks in a very clear and passionate way, and the atmosphere is easy and recognizable right from the get go. Songs such as “Departure” and “A Distant Rose” tells of the unrest within a brave child, while songs such as “Desperate Fight” and “The Power of One” turns up the dials and introduces a rock flavor with a distinct beat to the soundtrack, which fans of game music will surely recognize from some other games. If you listen closely, you will actually hear Saulesco himself count down in Swedish before the song. What a silly language.

In fact, some of the music will at times will be quite familiar, with several passages being “lifted” from other soundtracks and classical composers. “The Power of One” for example will show shades and shapes of Bach and Nobuo Uematsu in the very same song, while “Trench-Coat” is at times nearly identical to “Beneath the Rotting Pizza” from Final Fantasy VII and some parts of “Aria” from Final Fantasy VI. But even though some would maybe point their finger and claim these songs teeter on the edge of plagiarism, within the context of the game and it’s many tributes and easter eggs, the music fits to a tee, and Saulesco’s own melodies shines through even within the examples given to contract and balance out the fact that this is his music, and there is no doubt about his qualities as a composer. Despite the nods to Final Fantasy games throughout the soundtrack, it has overall more of a feeling reminiscent of Secret of Mana, with nature, spiritualism and plenty of Middle Eastern influences midway through.

Being a new arrange and reworking of an older soundtrack, naturally the sound has improved, new samples are used, parts re-recorded and ideas fleshed out through a mind that has developed over these 10 years. The sound is indeed of much higher quality than the original soundtrack release from a few years back, which was made using the old library of sounds used in the game. But as any video game arrange album, the charm of the original sound takes a small hit. Eternal Daughter is a game that truly embraces its soundscape and musical backdrop through graphics and character expression, and the faux-16bit style of the original soundtrack has an undeniable charm to it that has gone missing in a few of the songs. Some would welcome the new choir samples as the old ones were very noticeably sequences (think Parasite Eve 1 style), but even at that, you could argue that it was part of its distinct character, like the opera scene in Final Fantasy VI.

Some songs have however benefited from the arrangements Saulesco applied, in particular “March of the Dungaga” and “Pain of the Universe”. The militaristic percussion of the former with the deep horns and industrial high hits gives the song a very particular strong presence, an aggressive anthem blended with a mechanical overtone, which is sometimes contrasted by a light flute lead. “Pain of the Universe” is by far the selling point of the album, and an absolute journey of joy with a driving synth-guitar lead that would make S.S.H. jealous, fused with a backdrop of organ, choir and baroque instrumentation to create a very combative yet elegant piece.

Dutch-Swedish yogurtbox member surasshu has also come onboard for this release with his remix of “Trench-Coat”, dubbed the “Dystopia Mix”. The remix is probably the most “modern” of all the songs on the album, and features a very catchy dub-step version of “Trench-Coat”, blending retro sounds and modern production flawlessly. Next to the “March of Dungaga” and “Pain of the Universe”, this song is the best standalone experience on the release.

The 10th Anniversary sounds great, with impeccable mixing and mastering as well as well-chosen sample libraries to retain as much of the original sound as possible, and the synth guitar feels great to the ears, harkening back to the mid 90’s arrange albums put out by game companies in that era. Eternal Daughter 10th Anniversary Original Soundtrack is a bit of a tough sell for some however. The music and compositions are great and should fall in taste to every game music fan out there with its rich sound, but the length and tone of these songs are very heavily molded with the game in mind, to the point where as a standalone music, there comes a feeling at times that an aspect to the music is missing, the context a bit distant. And without the prior visual and interactive experience of the game itself, some may feel that the music does not fully express itself due to the shorter length of most of the tracks.

For those who have played the game and enjoyed the original soundtrack, there is no doubt that the 10th Anniversary will warm your hearts and be a very recommended purchase, but for those who are not yet familiar, it is suggested to play the game and experience it first, so that the music truly takes its shape in your listening experience. For all intents and purposes, this is a video game soundtrack, which is its strength in the very charming compositions, but also its setback as an album even with the higher production values.

Available at: Bandcamp

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