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JRPG Glory Renewed? Rainbow Moon Melodies (Review)

August 2, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook JRPG Glory Renewed? Rainbow Moon Melodies (Review)on Twitter

Rafael Dyll is no stranger to the game music scene. He’s done five game soundtracks in as many years, mostly for really intense, awesome shmups. But is Dyll ready to plunge headfirst into the realm of longform, fantasy RPGs?

Our interview with Dyll suggests he faced the prospect with some trepidation, but courageously nonetheless. (Congratulations, by the way, to the OSV/FB contest winner Dek on the free soundtrack!)

After the jump, I’ll be passing judgment on Dyll’s first foray into the world of RPG-dom, a full month before its retail release. Rainbow Moon Melodies, GO!

Every good RPG has a good title screen track. Think about it: Kingdom Hearts, Secret of Mana, virtually every Final Fantasy, Tales of Phantasia, and so many more: their title screens set the tone for the RPG.

Dyll’s title screen music for Rainbow Moon suggests something in the Sakimoto/Sakuraba range of musical vocabulary. The above track is the full version of the title screen, and it is … well, it sounds sacred. As in “Sacred Song” from SO2 sacred. It gives me chills.

So we’re certainly off to a good start. However, one song doth not a full soundtrack make. And there are many more emotions to explore and settings to … um, set? Let’s see where Dyll goes next.

The first nine songs, our “single-digits” or “starting line” for the OST, are all fantastic. In order, after the Main Title, we have the following:

“Once Upon a Time” — a lovely prelude piece that takes advantage of many traditional, orchestral instruments, but features a synth lead alongside violin for the heavy lifting (i.e. melodic work).

“A New World” — A bright, bouncy, optimistic “first town / map” kind of theme. The whole “one and (rest) and one and (rest) and” syncopated part that the string ensemble provides is lovely, and the melody is instantly memorable.

“Wheel of Fortune” — I’m not even sure what the context is for this track, but it’s a great, intense little jazz number with this awesome keyboard sound (I tihnk it’s some kind of reed-based organ, but I’m not sure). This is the shortest of the starting line, just over a minute in length.

“Crossing Blades” — The game’s first battle theme is a great one. I’m tempted at this point to compare Dyll’s style to the newer, younger Falcom sound team jdk, specifically in regards to the Sora no Kiseki trilogy. This battle theme definitely gives me that vibe. I’m also tempted to compare it to Iwadare’s classic battle themes from Lunar and Grandia. Yeah, it’s that good. It’s also 4 minutes in length.

“Mysterious Caverns” — We’ve reached the first dungeon theme, and it tickles me in all the right ways. Putting the water-droplet effects into the song was great. The synthesized female lead voice is great too. A series of random phonemes, akin to Module’s “Amethyst Caverns” (from Shatter), but decidedly more operatic and less electronic. The lead vocals pull away eventually, making room for an all-female “ahh” choir. Beyond that, it’s piano and strings. Some of the best “Labyrinth” tracks from Yuzo Koshiro’s Etrian Odyssey soundtracks would also fit this description.

“No Sound of Reason” — What’s this?! Another battle theme, so soon?! Actually, I don’t know whether or not it’s a battle theme, but it sure sounds like one. A boss battle theme, to be exact. The frantic 16th-note arpeggiated runs in the background of the A section only break when the guitar comes in for a solo, and even then, only for a few measures before it’s back to business. This is a fun, fast-tempo track that is probably one of the few times Dyll’s writing for shmups came in handy for this fantasy RPG.

“Frozen Artifacts” — A “chilling” track if ever there was one, this song reminds me of some of the great dungeon/mystical area themes from Gust’s Atelier series. I could imagine this track being placed against a huge variety of backdrops for a huge variety of games. It’s music like this that makes me want to get off my duff and play the darned game. Which, after about three listens to this soundtrack, I realized I simply had to have the game as well. Usually these things happen in the other order, but for us music nuts, we tend to work backwards. Soundtrack first, then game.

“Labyrinth” — Didn’t I just mention Etrian Odyssey‘s labyrinths like … two tracks ago? Yeah, this track doesn’t remind me of those. Instead, I must again make the comparison to Noriyuki Iwadare. This track sounds like it could have fit right alongside the Lunar 2: Eternal Blue soundtrack. The synth quality is similar (which is to say, fantastic) and the compositional style is wonderfully catchy, thanks in large part to the song’s strong, rhythmic backbone. Polyrhythm GO!

So, those are just the first nine tracks. And while the rest of the soundtrack doesn’t hold up quite as well as the starting line, it isn’t like there’s some terrible slog through the middle. Tracks like “Tales of Conflict,” “Trisha’s Tune,” “Engarde,” and the harp-centric “Eternal Sound of Luna” (below) leave a lasting impression.

I have no idea how this soundtrack will be welcomed among the community over the next month or two. Will it surpass in popularity Söldner-X, The Last Hope, and Gunlord? Can Dyll break into composing for longform adventure/RPG titles after Rainbow Moon? I’m afraid I cannot predict the future. But I will say this: if this album doesn’t catch on among VGM lovers, I’ll be saddened. As of today, it is a contender for my personal top 3 for 2012, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it held tight to that coveted place in my heart even as December approaches.

Planned for a September 2012 release, Rainbow Moon Melodies will be available in physical and digital formats. The CD will be available directly from eastasiasoft, as well as from Play-Asia. The digital form will be available on the PlayStation Store. Be sure to check back at OSV, or keep the vgmdb listing bookmarked, as the time draws closer to the retail release date.

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