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Star Ocean: The Second Story Arrange Album

Well, I don’t think game music fans can ignore Motoi Sakuraba much longer, and this album certainly proves that. While I owned the OST to "Star Ocean: The Second Story", I was debating whether or not to purchase this, since it was still the synth similar to the original, as opposed to a genuine instrumental or orchestral recording. In the end, however, I decided to purchase it. I would probably have liked to have a couple of orchestrated tracks, especially for “Theme of RENA” and “We Form in Crystals”. I don’t know why none of these were orchestrated. Perhaps Tri-Ace doesn’t have the money, but I would assume that the composer himself opted for the synth.

Anyway, as far as arranged albums go this is probably one of the best I’ve heard. Mr. Sakuraba truly must be a musical genius if he can arrange a song in techno and have *me* enjoy it, because I *hate* techno! But I sure love every track on this album.

The original soundtrack consisted mostly of lush melodies with techno and rock occasionally rearing their heads just to keep things interesting, and to be quite honest, not much has changed as far as that style is concerned. The lush, epic stuff is still here, for which I’m quite grateful. The fluctuation between styles certainly keeps things interesting, so it’s easy to listen to the whole CD straight through.

While “Theme of RENA” is most definitely my favorite track (one of the finest fantasy styled tracks ever, with a melody to die for), the rest is generally even more enjoyable than the OST, with the possible exception of “Stab the Sword of Justice”. Mention must be made about “Pure a Stream”, which is nearly as powerful as “Theme of RENA”. As far as techno is concerned, the two tracks I must mention are “Integral Body and Imperfect Soul” and “Mission to the Deep Space”, which are quite beefed up from their OST counterparts.

Tracks 5 and 8 are brand new compositions not heard on the OST at all, and while they are excellent compositionally and a nice bonus, they aren’t quite up to par with the other tracks. One odd thing about this soundtrack is that, as far as I can tell, the final track, “We Form in Crystals”, hasn’t been changed from the original at all apart from the fact that it is oddly one minute longer.

In the end, I suggest this for everyone who is a fan of Star Ocean 2 or its soundtrack, even those who own the original OST. There’s enough great stuff here for everyone.

1. Silent the Universe 5:24The first two and a half minutes of the main title are identical to what is heard on the OST. The remaining three minutes are excellent, and I especially like the percussion that's added to the new material. A nifty synth choir is added as well, and the original melody, which may be seen as bland by some, is altered in a few key areas giving it a very fresh sound.
2. Sacred Song 6:20This begins in a similar fashion to the original only with the choir entering after a single instrumental playing of the intro. This in turn gives way to a very odd "funky" arrangement of the melody played by strings with electric piano accompaniment. The style continues in an interesting progressive format. Although this is a good listen for some, I'd say that not many people would appreciate it. This track is definitely not for the average film score fan.
3. Stab the Sword of Justice 6:20I don't really like this arrangement as well as the original due to it's less frenzied nature. Also, like the preceeding track, this is not for everyone. This adds the rock element to the already existing techno from the original soundtrack complete with awesome wailing electric guitar riffs. The further this track progresses, there are little snippets from different instruments used to follow the progressive nature of the disc. As mentioned, I don't think this is nearly as exciting as it's OST counterpart, but I still enjoy it.
4. Resolution - Pure A Stream 5:40The first track to take a respite from the rock and techno heard thus far. This begins with a completely new intro played on piano leading into an extended playing of the Resolution track from the original. After a minute or so a synth choir is added, building up for a segue into an incredible version of the town theme Pure a Stream. The lush and enchanting melody is given a couple beefed-up spins with wonderful crescendis. This eventually quiets down into a final statement of the resolution theme with more piano.
5. Lavender 6:05This track was not heard on the OST. I'm not sure if the composer wrote this for the arrange album or if it was meant for the original and scrapped. Anyway, this is another techno piece featuring wonderful piano with bass arpeggios in the background and even adds a harpsichord near the middle. Different instrumentation is added but this is unfortunately not as good as any of the tracks from the OST.
6. Theme of RENA 6:57This just has to be one of the finest achievements in music history. As stated in my review for the original soundtrack, this is based on my favorite game music theme thus far. This *breathtaking* seven-minute piece is done in the same orchestral style as "Pure a Stream," only with much more influence on highs and lows in volume. The eerie synth vocal solo adds to the emotional impact and leaves the listener in an absolute state of awe. Rather than explode in a huge finale, the melody shifts to music box and quietly fades away, leaving anyone who hears it starving for more. As stated, this song alone is a monumental achievement and I wouldn't hesitate for one second to recommend the CD for this single track.
7. Integral Body and Imperfect Soul 6:03We're back in techno country. A very heavy and thundering version of the final boss theme from the game. This track is thankfully much better that it's in-game counterpart.
8. This Fragile Life 5:32Like track 5, this was not heard on the OST. This new piece features many different instrument solos, which pile up on top of one another. Overall, this is much more intersting than "Lavender" because it's not techno and offers more variation.
9. Mission to the Deep Space 6:35This is very similar to the original soundtrack version. This played in the cave of trials in the game, and sounds very similar here. In fact, the intro is the exact same. Changes are offered later, and my favorite part comes at exactly 2:20 when a bass solo hits the forefront. This is one of the better tracks and I really like the rock-n-roll finish.
10. We Form In Crystals 6:29So far every track has had plenty of new arrangement added to make it stand apart from it's OST verion. Unfortunately, that is not the case with this track. This is identical to the original only with a second statement of the choir section after the violin solo, making it one minute longer. Other than that, this track is just as good as the original, only not too creatively different.

If you don't already own the OST, I would suggest skiping it and picking this up. If you already own the original, then I would still suggest this. The variations on the originals are wonderful.

Star Ocean: The Second Story Arrange Album is copyright 1999 First Smile Ltd. JAPAN. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn and does not reflect the opinions of Tripod.