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Megavolt Mar 1, 2008

I've heard people mention that they like Sakuraba's orchestral side but not his prog rock/techno side and vice versa.  I'm wondering how common it is for people to like one side of Sakuraba but not the other.  I've always liked both 'sides', so I find it curious.  Such a divide amongst fans doesn't seem to occur with any other VGM composer, or at least not to the same consistent and widespread degree.  Are you on one side or the other, and if so, why?

If I had to pick a side, I might go with his orchestral stuff, but for me it's always been the way that he combines the two that makes his style appealing.  The orchestral stuff has an epic or ethereal quality that I enjoy and the prog rock stuff gets my blood pumping.  Oftentimes they're somewhat distinct from each other, but in a track like say, Around in the Wilderness from SO3, you get the sense that there's a bit of that orchestral sensibility (18 seconds in?) weaved in, and it's great.  Same goes for East Shrine from StHA.

I guess I feel like Sakuraba produces a uniquely gamey style on the whole rather than feeling like one side is rock'n enough to enjoy or that the other side is orchestral enough to respect as 'serious music'.  Yet they're distinct enough that some people do seem to favor one over the other by a good margin. (and not necessarily for the suggested reasons, though those are the impressions that I get sometimes)

GoldfishX Mar 1, 2008

Sakuraba is a composer that has just grown completely off me. I liked his orchestral and prog-rock sides for Star Ocean 2 and (especially) VP, but since Star Ocean 3, he's just been...off. I don't think I've been more disappointed in two scores than I was with SO3 or VP2 and I never found much to pick out of Baten Kaitos, outside of excellent sound quality. Even the prog-rock really doesn't cut it for me anymore. There's the occasional track (The Arrow Was Shot and Everlasting Fight were both excellent, from Tales of the Abyss...And yes, Datschge, I'm aware EF is a medley), but not really into any Sakuraba these days. At least not until I hear (or even play, but that's unlikely) something that resembles VP1.

Zane Mar 1, 2008

I dislike Sakuraba's "orchestral" side, but I'm content with some of his prog-rock stuff. Live Concert, some stuff from the SO3 arrange and Gikyokuonsou are examples of the Sakuraba I like. I'm not fond of his earlier stuff much either, and could never get into SO2. That said, I really like Forest of Glass. So... yeah. I probably enjoy about 2% of what Sakuraba puts out, but that 2% is awesome to me.

Bernhardt Mar 1, 2008

In their entirety, I like Star Ocean 2, Star Ocean 3, Valkyrie Profile 2, and Tales of the Abyss...and those are his only soundtracks I've listened to so far, so I've liked 100% of what I've listened to.

As I've introduced game music to people who'd otherwise refuse to listen it, just because it was made for a video-game, I've found Sakuraba to actually be accessible to such discriminating people, so I believe his music is really good at reaching all audiences.

And, Megavolt, I agree with you - I found his classical stuff ethereal and relaxing, and his prog rock adrenaline-boosting.

Megavolt Mar 1, 2008

GoldfishX: I haven't heard VP2 and since I haven't heard anything of his since SO3 or Baiten Kaitos, I don't know whether or not I could consider Sakuraba to be a favorite of mine at this time.  That being said, I do often consider him to be my second favorite VGM composer overall.  I don't think that would change *even if he does overextend himself* due to the fact that my fondness of his music is due to past scores and to his style in general.

Zane wrote:

I dislike Sakuraba's "orchestral" side

Do you dislike that approach in general, or just Sakuraba's version of it?

Bernhardt wrote:

And, Megavolt, I agree with you - I found his classical stuff ethereal and relaxing, and his prog rock adrenaline-boosting.

Cool.  I was hoping to find some people who felt similarly about his music despite my observations on the way that his two sides don't coexist on relatively equal standing for a lot of folks.  Interesting point about his music reaching all audiences.  I haven't tried to introduce anyone to game music in a while, but when I did, I only had success with specific tracks from different scores and Chrono Cross.

Chris Mar 1, 2008

I've definitely noticed the split, but I also like both sides of him. I feel he has really matured as a symphonic musician recently even though his work tends to be quite exhausting to consume at first. However, his rock pieces provide definite highlights on many of his recent soundtracks and I personally didn't enjoy his orchestral battle theme approach on Eternal Sonata. I should also say that I think Motoi Sakuraba produces his best work when he uses real instruments and so, unlike a lot of people here, I prefer Star Ocean Till the End of Time to Star Ocean The Second Story, Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria to Valkyrie Profile Lenneth, etc. Still, I think most of his work is decent, even the Mario Sports series, Tenshou Gakuen Gekkou Hasumi, Duel Masters,  and certain Tales efforts (still haven't heard most of those).

Zane Mar 1, 2008

Megavolt wrote:
Zane wrote:

I dislike Sakuraba's "orchestral" side

Do you dislike that approach in general, or just Sakuraba's version of it?

Hmm. That's a damn good question. I'm going to say a little from column A, a little from column B. I'm not really a fan of orchestral stuff in general, but Sakuraba's approach is a little too bombastic for me. I enjoy Kim Jun-Sung's orchestrated stuff from Granado Espada and some of the FF orchestrations (for familiarity's sake), but when Sakuraba orchestrates something and it follows the usual formula (low brass, dramatic build up, some light percussion, etc) it really turns me off. But that said, I usually skip over other orchestral stuff, too.

Ashley Winchester Mar 1, 2008

I enjoyed SO2 a lot but after that I think the prog-rock stuff got out of hand in SO3. While it has to do more with the games themselves, I think having a ten minute monster like "Highbrow" play during a fight is a little much considering you're more worried about staying alive in the battles it plays in rather than listening to the music. I think listening to it on the soundtrack is the only way it can make sense.

I find Sakuraba's orchestral side more appealing but it I'm not a big fan of orchestral numbers... he can be a little by the numbers like Zane said, loud brash intro and such.

Qui-Gon Joe Mar 1, 2008

I like both sides of him, but if forced to choose, I'd have to go with the orchestral side.  Baten Kaitos is definitely one of my absolute favorite game OSTs of all time, but if it were ALL orchestral, I don't think I'd like it.  I think that one has a really good balance of all kinds of styles.  For me his work varies on a case by case basis, and I can't really say why I like some of it and don't others.  I mean, if I prefer his orchestral stuff, why do I love Shining in the Darkness so much more than Star Ocean 3.

I will say that my least favorite stuff of his is the Tales of ~ stuff, though.  Perhaps that could be attributed to the other composer on that series, though (the name escapes me at present).

XLord007 Mar 2, 2008

I like whatever side of him did VP2 and the first BK.  I don't like whatever side did SO3 and BK2.

layzee Mar 2, 2008 (edited Mar 2, 2008)

As far as genres go, I like all sides of Sakuraba whether it's orchestral (e.g. A Motion of Finishing Blow [VP2]), rock (e.g. The Divine Spirit of Language [SO3]) or anything in between.

As far as the games he composes for goes, for me it consists of two categories: bad music (anything from the Tales of... series) and good music (everything else).

Probably a case of quantity over quality since most Tales of ... soundtracks are 4 discs long and there are a lot of games in the series.

Qui-Gon Joe wrote:

I will say that my least favorite stuff of his is the Tales of ~ stuff, though.  Perhaps that could be attributed to the other composer on that series, though (the name escapes me at present).

Or perhaps I could blame Shinji Tamura instead.

Datschge Mar 2, 2008 (edited Mar 2, 2008)

In any case his Camelot works need more exposure than Tales, especially considering they usually never make it onto some OST release. So here's a We Love Golf! recording.

Arcubalis Mar 2, 2008

I don't feel that it's either "side" that is the problem.  The problem is that he writes so much music that a lot of it starts to sound the same to me.  I think he released Tales of Symphonia, Baten Kaitos, and Star Ocean 3 right around the same time, which were all 3-4 discs.  I just think all this writing has sapped some of his creativity.

My favorite work of his is Shining the Holy Ark, which is mostly the prog rock stuff.  smile

Datschge Mar 2, 2008 (edited Mar 2, 2008)

Arcubalis, thanks for updating the year of Sakuraba's first solo CD after all. smile

Cram Mar 2, 2008

Don't have too much Sakuraba experience, but ToS and the two Baten Kaitos games stand out as some of my favorite VGM soundtracks. I'm a fan of catchy melodic vgm, aka FF Uematsu and these Sakuraba soundtracks.

Zane Mar 2, 2008

Datschge wrote:
Arcubalis wrote:

The problem is that he writes so much music that a lot of it starts to sound the same to me.

There we go, again. Maybe we should add a second question about why additionally to the "divide" people are rather quick to call Sakuraba's work samey in a negative way while he isn't the only composer to call a distinctive style his own. Stating that is due to him composing a lot sounds like a weak excuse to me considering he always had a comparable workload...

Having a distinctive style is one thing; writing the same song a dozen times is another thing altogether. Copy and paste, change a few notes and violá - a "new" battle theme!

Datschge Mar 2, 2008

Zane wrote:

Having a distinctive style is one thing; writing the same song a dozen times is another thing altogether. Copy and paste, change a few notes and violá - a "new" battle theme!

I don't know what you're talking about.

Zane Mar 2, 2008

Datschge wrote:
Zane wrote:

Having a distinctive style is one thing; writing the same song a dozen times is another thing altogether. Copy and paste, change a few notes and violá - a "new" battle theme!

I don't know what you're talking about.

I think you might be the only one.

Datschge Mar 2, 2008

Zane wrote:

I think you might be the only one.

I'm glad you are capable of talking for others.

Smeg Mar 2, 2008

Zane wrote:
Datschge wrote:
Arcubalis wrote:

The problem is that he writes so much music that a lot of it starts to sound the same to me.

There we go, again. Maybe we should add a second question about why additionally to the "divide" people are rather quick to call Sakuraba's work samey in a negative way while he isn't the only composer to call a distinctive style his own. Stating that is due to him composing a lot sounds like a weak excuse to me considering he always had a comparable workload...

Having a distinctive style is one thing; writing the same song a dozen times is another thing altogether. Copy and paste, change a few notes and violá - a "new" battle theme!

I don't hear him using violas frequently.

Stephen Mar 3, 2008

I like both sides of Sakuraba's work, but I only like certain songs.  He is a prolific composer, and after hearing several albums he has done, I think there is a certain sameness to his music.  When you write so much music, your creative output can't be all top-notch.

I have to agree with Datschge that his music tends to sound more creative (fresh) when working with Camelot.  Perhaps he is given more creative freedom on those projects.

Bernhardt Mar 3, 2008

Ashley Winchester wrote:

I enjoyed SO2 a lot but after that I think the prog-rock stuff got out of hand in SO3. While it has to do more with the games themselves, I think having a ten minute monster like "Highbrow" play during a fight is a little much considering you're more worried about staying alive in the battles it plays in rather than listening to the music. I think listening to it on the soundtrack is the only way it can make sense.

I can see why Sakuraba made "Highbrow" as long as he did; the last battle is one DAMN long battle; I know I heard the song loop more than once!

Datschge Mar 3, 2008

Stephen wrote:

I have to agree with Datschge that his music tends to sound more creative (fresh) when working with Camelot.  Perhaps he is given more creative freedom on those projects.

The interview in Nintendo Dream which contained the Mario Sports CD implies this to be the case indeed.

interview snippet wrote:

ND: How do you talk when Uno requests Sakuraba to compose music? Without showing him screens, do you give descriptions such as "the track like ***" and "the character who ***** appears" or something to that effect?
Uno: I have gotten along with him for ten or so years, haven't I? Just one sentence is enough. If it's a sea stage, 'sea'. If it's a desert, 'hooot desert'.
(laughter all around)
Uno: Of course, at the start I always tell him the outline, such as the content of the entire game or the spec. However, Sakuraba doesn't quibble that much. Some would often say "Please make thing like that track of certain artist", but that's nonsense (laughs). I may say 'like Mario' or something, at best.
ND: Do you talk via e-mail or something?
Uno: Mail or phone.  SUBJECT: More Addition Please  BODY: a victory jingle   ...period (laughs).
ND: Sakuraba, do you work for other projects in the same way?
Sakuraba: No...
Uno: Only I ask in such a way?
Sakuraba: Y, Yes...
(laughter all around)

Translation thanks to Cedille.

KujaFFman Mar 3, 2008

I am very fond of both sides of Sakuraba's style. In that respect, I think Star Ocean 3 might be his masterpiece: the orchestrated side is absolutely stunning, and the progressive rock side has some amazing battle and dungeon tracks. But he also developed other styles, such as the very inspiring contemplative approach he chose for Valkyrie Profile 2. I really love the peaceful dungeon themes in this game.

Megavolt Mar 3, 2008

KujaFFman wrote:

But he also developed other styles, such as the very inspiring contemplative approach he chose for Valkyrie Profile 2. I really love the peaceful dungeon themes in this game.

Peaceful?  As in the opposite of the energized dungeon themes of the original Valkyrie Profile?  Contemplative sounds interesting though.

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