Video Game Music w/ the James Episode 7 : Ys Seven Soundtrack (Part 2)

You can check part 1 out over here, where some of the game’s first great tracks were covered.

Settling down from one of the most badass desert themes in existence, we reach the second dungeon of the game.  It feels like a nice, slow rock ballad, particularly toward the end of the loop after the piano section where the guitar sound comes in.  Appealing to my more sensitive side as a gamer, it’s refreshing to hear softer tracks from a series better known for more hardcore sounding tracks.  Also, there’s a lot of instrumental variety going on, a big plus in my book.

Probably the most festive song in the game.  The first thing I think of doing every time I hear this track is getting up and dancing.  Beginning fast and furious, the mood gradually settles to a quiet section which doesn’t last very long.  There’s a little section that serves buildup purposes, and from there the party begins.  A blissful smooth jazz sounding melody takes over and carries the track to a stopping point that just feels too soon.  That’s what the repeat button’s for I guess.

The rhythm section has some cool stuff going on, there’s a touch of harp and some other stuff, it’s a blast from beginning to end!

I might be the only person fascinated by this track, but I don’t care.  It reminds me of something from a certain N64 Zelda game.  In that track, you have repetitive supporting melodies, and even the main melody can carry the repetition so far.  They loop so fast, that it gives the aural impression of everything spinning round and round, which is what they were going for, me being crazy and all can sit and listen to that track for hours, and have been known to fall asleep keeping it on repeat.

Here, the looping is a little less extreme, taking place in the stringed instrument that I’m too culturally unaware to remember the name of.  The thing is that there’s actually other stuff going on in the track, but I constantly find myself fixated on the jarring loop that overpowers the flutes and everything.

This gives a particular enjoyment of the short passage where the ostinato breaks briefly and everything just feels suspended for a few seconds so the flute can finally provide its share of sticking out.

Weird, but it’s just so fascinating.

I know this is supposed to be a dungeon song and all, but my god, it’s just so beautiful!

The piece is introduced with a slow, but emotional and expressive passage.  It isn’t meant to sound particularly sad, rather something to be admired like the feeling when the air becomes still. A sweet flute melody quickly establishes the main theme which sounds an awful lot like it belongs in Titanic, but the way that it penetrates makes me get over it really fast.

Everything has emotion to it : the string support, the wind melody, whatever the fuck you want to call the instrument doing the counter-melody.  There’s a lot of love in the recorded instruments, and it shows.

If you happen to watch a lot of anime (specifically the ones heavy in drama content), you might have come across a variety of tracks that are slow and introspective in nature.  For example there’s that really slow instrumental theme in Air that while relaxing also provokes an opportunity for bittersweet reflection.  As my specialty is not anime music, however, I’m not about to dig up some track I don’t know the name of, so forgive the physical lack of an example.  You’ll probably know what I’m talking about in a second anyway.

This track follows suit; very introspective, very bittersweet too, it’s made to represent a town isolated from the rest of the world.  One of my favorites when I’m feeling a little down in the dumps and need a little time to think.

Here we go closer to the festive song from before in mood.  The main sax melody really drives the piece forward, and there are abundant cymbal crashes used to accent the melody at just the right points.  It might not be as festive as the other piece, but it has stronger pronunciation when it comes to adhering to the rhythmic pulse.  At a point in the game where things start rapidly coming to a close, tracks like these are needed to keep player interest so they stick the whole way through.  I’m glad they didn’t use all their big guns up the first half (although they expended most of them, as there’s only a handful of tracks that I really like from disc 2)

Before getting into the music, it would help to mention that this is either the largest or second largest dungeon in the game going on at this point.  It’s a grand dungeon with a long series of outdoor cliffs leading to a giant tower that you have to climb in order to reach the boss.

Things start off with a large emphasis on rhythm and percussion.  It’s hard to tell where the piece could go, but eventually a wind melody comes in to brighten the mood up and give some direction.  At first it sounds pitiful, and depressing, but the melody repeats and as it does, a brass support comes in giving the whole theme a feeling of grandeur.  The best part is listening to how things slowly develop into that grand state from nowhere.

It’s evident by now if you played Ys Seven that I skipped over quite a few battle tracks and a couple of dungeons especially along the second half.  It’s not that they’re bad or anything, more along the lines of I have too little to say and they are far from my favorite material in the game.

How much did I skip?  We now arrive at the final dungeon.  While the piece overall has a heavy techno influence to it, it can be broken up into three sections (not counting the introduction segment).  The intro establishes a pretty steady pulse, with light choral voices strangely enough supporting it.  The first part continues with that pulse with a main melody pretty low in register (I hate high register techno music — you know that ear-splitting shit) and doesn’t overstay its welcome.  A transitory segment is there with some bells added, pretty basic besides that.  The final section takes the original pulse and adds a heavier melody which draws everything back to the intro/bridge.

While there isn’t much to say about the structure, it’s a good song to fist pump to and pretend I’m in some night club while in reality I’m chilling in “the James lounge” a one man venue where my horrible music appreciation rituals (head banging/shaking, fist pumping, muscle flexing) can go by unnoticed by the outside world.

Skipping some tracks for spoiler fears, we arrive at the first part of the final battle.  It’s short and sweet, but I only bring it up for one reason : it contains a motive crucial to getting the most out of the next track.

This is it, the final battle track, the piece that makes every other battle theme pale in comparison.

It starts off with an ominous choral section making it sound all spooky and stuff.  Really cool intro actually, followed by a rather lengthy period of silence.  From there it’s pandemonium as an organ comes out with some guitar and work for the first passage, with sudden rhythm breaks and choral bursts.  After a small cadence there’s a meter change from duple to triple meter, one of the few examples of meter change within video game music. A strong melody repeated in two different instrumental environments takes place leading to a ritard (at least it sounds like a ritard, if wrong, feel free to call me a retard).

Following the ritard, the melody picks up again returning to duple meter.  With a strong harpsichord flavor.  It’s also here that the big climax of the song occurs. Where the motive I mentioned from the previous song comes in the form of almost heavenly choral voices.  The high B that they reach within the passage is arguably the most glorious moment of this battle theme.

This track hits hard, from the beginning and never lets go.  By far one of my favorite battle tracks of all time.

That’s it, I was going to put one more track in from part of the ending for good measure and because it always makes me teary eyed, but fuck it, I’m ending on this high note.

Hope you enjoyed the music and see you around for next Video Game Music w/ the James!

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