So here's an impossible task that lies before me right now: picking one musical genre that defines Granado Espada's score. I can't. It simply cannot be done. I've listened to a lot of soundtracks, my friends, and this game's score is literally all over the place. I don't know how or why the composers chose to toss opera, techno, electronic, international, jazz, and epic fantasy together like a bi-polar salad, but the end result is a nutritious blend of the crazy voices and catchy tunes.
Part of the... diversity on display here is the result of of a collaboration between several composers and one composer group: SoundTeMP, S.F.A., Junsung Kim, and Osamu Kubota. The game's sound department defended the decision to host a variety of composers in an interview, saying, "We took such an ambitious approach with the music in terms of different styles and the sheer quantity that we knew relying solely on a single composer would be inadequate."
Granado Espada has survived several transitions between companies and even a couple of name changes, but its soundtrack has endured just fine. It may be one of the most eccentric soundtracks you'll ever absorb, but at least it's never boring!
1. Purple Snow
So we'll begin our musical adventure through Granado Espada with a slow ballad. Heck if I know what this lady is singing about (cat food? A line-by-line reading through the phone book?), but it's eminently listenable nonetheless. Sometimes you just need a good soul-stirring song that keeps growing in intensity and power until an electric guitar has to break in and do its funky thing.
2. Death Book
Don't let the opening piano notes fool you, as Death Book quickly launches into a hardcore riff that is right at home among the great boss battle themes of our generation. You know how that is: Everything goes all crazy while some dude is thrashing on a guitar in the corner. I love it. It has such high energy and would be totally welcome in any challenging fight.
Again, this song takes place on a soundtrack with classical jazz. Just to keep it in perspective.
Let's change gears for a minute and check out a more traditional MMO fantasy piece. Forzar starts with a war-like drumbeat that never lets up. Around 1:02, terse synth horns start dog-piling on the fun, and if you aren't fighting crime or charging across a battlefield on a trusted steed by this point, you may find yourself reconsidering. Good music has a way of changing your world.
And now we're into tribal rhythms. Just roll with it. It starts out with chanting that sounds familiar if you've ever listened to a Native American relaxation tape, but this being Granado Espada, it's not going to stay all demure and normal. The track picks up tempo with a happy little flute, and before you know it -- too soon, really -- it's over.
What can I say? It's just a plain fun piece of music that has me tapping my toes and swaying back and forth when I hear it.
5. Old Speckled Reel
Speaking of happy, I think that if musical instruments had emotions, this fiddle would be fiddling with glee. The beginning of the song introduces a dance refrain that returns again and again. Between all that, the fiddle gets a bit more classical and even a touch Celtic, but that's just downtime before we jump out of our chairs and jitterbug through the town.
And now, the techno.
Overdose might not be a superb specimen of techno/dance, but it's engaging enough that I gladly listened through it several times. I just wanted to show you how this soundtrack pulls from a musical Whitman's sampler; individually, it's cool and all that, but together I have a difficult time finding a common thread weaving it together.
Oh well, who am I to judge? Wait a minute -- I'm the Jukebox Heroes guy! That totally makes me a judge! And I sentence this track to six raves and a weekend of community service at a junior high dance.
MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Every Tuesday, Jukebox Heroes will check out a game's soundtrack and feature the best tunes to share and discuss. Your DJ for the hour is Justin Olivetti, and the request line is open!