Game Music, Reviews

The Sweetness That is La Tale: Korean Synth Pop At Its Finest (Review)

October 2, 2008 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook The Sweetness That is La Tale: Korean Synth Pop At Its Finest (Review)on Twitter

My love for the Korean music studio soundTeMP is widely known, and from the first time I heard La Tale, I knew immediately that they were involved with the game’s music in some way. While they didn’t work on this game as a group, soundTeMP member Jinbae “ESTi” Park, who you may have heard in Granado Espada or Ridge Racer 7 is a part of the team responsible for La Tale’s awesome soundtrack. Some composers I’m not familiar with also contributed, including DINY, be, NieN, and jo.

What’s La Tale, you ask? It’s a new 2D MMORPG by Actoz Soft in Korea that is being published by OGPlanet in the United States. After digging around for information about the game’s soundtrack, I discovered that the Korean website not only confirms the involvement of ESTi and the others, but also hosts the almost three hours of music featured in the game for free download.

Find out if the soundtrack lives up to the soundTeMP name after the jump.

You’re going to find lots of sticky-sweet synth pop here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Between the pop, you’ll hear pumping techno (still with a pop edge), lovely ballads, and even some traditional Asian sounds, all of which are well produced. La Tale has a lot to offer, but the focus is always on creating a fun and exciting atmosphere.

ESTi opens with “MAY be happy,” a track with bendy synth lines and playful melodies, which appears to be the game’s main theme. It is immediately followed by DINY’s “MAY be happy (arranged ver.),” which takes a more electro-pop approach with steady techno percussion.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “A Courageous Step,” which is credited to ESTi’s alter alias, silhouetti. It sports a thick, groovin’ bassline with an upbeat woodwind-like melody that calls out along with regal bell tolls, sending players off on their adventure. He follows with “viridianscape,” which features an ethnic flair with rhythmic percussion, beautiful synths, and accordion melodies with lots of reverb, giving them a wide open sound. DINY once again provides an arranged techno version that appears later.

ESTi follows with “Green Green” and “Green Green Blue Blue,” the first of which has a warm sound with acoustic guitars and a fat, enveloping bassline, while the latter is a relaxing piano and belltone arrangement. Taking on an Asian sound, the thick pads and beautiful zither melody in “AKAI ITO” provide a contemplative atmosphere.

DINY offers the largest number of pieces to the soundtrack, starting with “Where am i?,” a catchy tune with a nice swing. “Dear HyeJin” is a playful track with clapping percussion, clean acoustic guitars, and a fun interplay between flutes and funny bits of brass. He follows with a fun track called “I Love PSG!!!,” that sounds like it could be a casino track, composed using a PSG sound set. “Owl’s Castle” is a powerful trance track that starts with the startling cries of a wolf before driving percussion and bass take over, with a dancey zither and wailing electric guitars carry the melody. “Dance Away,” which is credited to DINY’s alter ego, iNID, sports a similar style, and could actually pass for a DDR track. Finally, “Townfortal” takes a smooth jazz approach with electronic percussion with a dreamy pad progression and piano melodies with lots of reverb.

Composer “be” finally makes an entrance with “Shanghai Runner,” which has a distinct Asian-influence with rapidly moving woodwind melodies, and “Wind from the Far East,” which is a moving woodwind, acoustic guitar, and strings track that is highly reminiscent of Wild ARMs.

We finally hear from Jo on “Behemoth,” which is a jazzy synth rock track with some awesome jazz organs alongside an ominous string progression and synth bass. “Cookie Garden” takes a playful approach with a bouncey bassline and a rich belltone melody that sounds like something from Yoshi’s Island.

NieN’s sole contribution is a rockin’ track titled “Bird Against The Storm,” with heavy rock percussion and electric guitars that sound like something from the Dynasty Warriors series. The guitar melodies are quite catchy, giving it a place among the rest of the music on the soundtrack.

The final two tracks are some of the best. ESTi’s final contribution is “Dolphin’s Dream,” which features an encompassing sound with large atmospheric pads and a contemplative guitar and piano melody that slowly plods along. The final verse, played on solo piano lets the memorable melody shine through. The final track takes the album back to where it began, with iNID’s “MAY be happy (winter ver.),” revisiting the theme one last time with in a dance style with a fat bassline and a crystalline belltone melody. Occasional sound effects are thrown in to give the piece a playful feel.

I really appreciate what Korean game composers have been putting out over the years. This soundtrack is on par with a lot of their recent efforts, but revisits the poppy style that many know from Ragnarok Online instead of the trance style that ESTi helped create for Granado Espada. While I would love to have La Tale in a physical format, I hope the fact that it’s available for free turns more gamers on to what composers in Korea are doing. There’s something here for everyone, from rock, to jazz, to pop, to electronic music, so I highly recommend downloading the soundtrack and giving it a listen.

Have you been following La Tale or have you given it a try now that it’s available internationally? Do you think the three hour soundtrack is a cool freebie?

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