Adam Corn wrote:
Also when you throw about terms like "bland, American VGM" I wonder if that equates to "bland orchestral VGM". Are there many orchestral soundtracks that you like?
I'm actually quite a fan of the Dragon Quest Symphonic Suites. They are what turned me on to "traditional" classical/baroque music (Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Telemann, Handel), as a lot of it can pass for quality JRPG music. And while I'm no Sakimoto fan, I'm finding on most of his soundtracks, he generally comes up with a small collection of tracks I enjoy nestled among a bunch of ones I can't tolerate (similar findings as your FFXII review). I went through Final Fantasy Tactics again recently and found it surprisingly enjoyable (mostly battle themes) and am looking forward to going through Valkyria Chronicles. And SNES stuff like Actraiser, Mystic Ark or parts of Uematsu's FF scores, of course. I also liked most of Sakuraba's synth-orchestral work (I feel like his music got really dull when he started writing for real instruments, but I want to give a few of them closer listens, like VP2 and Baten Kaitos...SO3 was as bad as I remember it though).
But there are many I don't like as well. Soul Calibur musc, Hamaguchi's overly safe upgrades where I mostly prefer the originals, most Falcom orchestral arranges, the Shining Force Suites, the OGC's are just okay, the newer Castlevania scores are junk. I just don't see orchestral music as a large part of VGM and it is largely a novelty to me within the VGM realm, whereas it is more the standard for film and some anime.
Also to be fair, I only recently (last year and a half or so) upgraded to earphones that portray orchestral music well. So now I'm hearing details that I wasn't hearing before. Atrios are good for rock music, not so good for Mozart or Sugiyama, lol. But I'm still cutting out anything that has the words "andante" or "adagio" in it...I prefer the allegros and prestos.
I've just heard too many tracks from Soule that linger aimlessly in the background to regard him in any type of high regard. The whole argument about VGM needing to be in the background and out of the way is nonsense to me and I still feel Soule is just a film composer in VGM composer's clothing. Admittedly, I haven't loathed every single track of his I've heard, but little has done a single thing to stand out. But I stand by my comments from six years ago, I just don't expect miracles from modern VGM composers anymore and generally look to the 8/16/32 bit eras for most of my VGM fix.
And my point about his "vgm being a subset of classical music" reflects more ignorance than stupidity. I don't think he is stupid enough to believe that, but I do believe he is ignorant enough to disregard things like chiptunes and other genres that VGM encompasses (since his demo was what he felt VGM "should" sound like). I am happy to see composers like virt and Souleye come onto the scene, where the classic 8-bit scores and the like are seen as real art and not just bleeps and bloops. Their style was not really common six years ago, it has been rather refreshing the past couple years.
To his credit, he is not a complete and total fraud like Tommy Tallarico. Tallarico starts out as a somewhat decent primarily rock-based composer (even boasting how he had the first live guitar performance in a VGM soundtrack with the Sega CD redbook for Terminator, being totally unaware Falcom beat him to the punch 3-4 years earlier with Ys Book I and II), now he nut hugs the idea of orchestral VGM like it is truly high-art, while it has been proven that VGL uses pre-recorded music to supplement the live show. He once claimed how excited he was to be writing an 13th century Italian opera. That's kind of hard to do when opera did not really start until the end of the 16th Century (shoutouts to Ongakusei for catching that, back in the day...a quick web search further confirms that). >_<