The first time I heard a clip of Parasite Eve's music it was from a scratchy, static-filled .mov file I downloaded previewing the game. I was shocked, no I was stunned by just how completely Square had succeeded in developing another musical style. This time not one for a mystical world of swords and magic (with the standard trumpets and fanfare) or even one like the techno thrill world of the future as in Einhander. This time they had designed a musical style with piano, tight synthesized percussion, and a slight hint of metal edge from the guitar. In short they had captured the musical attitude of our time.
Anyone familiar with modern music knows that the evolution of the synthesizer has melded it seamlessly into every musical genre. No more beeps, whistles, or emotionless drum beats. Now the synthesizer caries custom sounds and motifs that can't be reproduced with conventional instruments. Herein lies the strength of Parasite Eve Original Soundtrack. It captures this evolution perfectly. You won't feel like you're listening to knights going into battle, and you won't feel like you're in a techno Blade Runner world either. For instance, when listening to "Under the Progress", it's so easy to imagine you're running down a back alley in New York, desperately trying to catch Eve. If conveying emotion was the goal of Yoko Shimomura, then she succeeded brilliantly.
But it's not just about conveying that emotion, or developing a musical style is it? Are the songs good? The answer is undoubtedly yes, but with a quiet reservation. Make no mistake, you'll find yourself closing your eyes and feeling the calm of some songs, and for others you'll feel the adrenaline rush of a desperate battle. This is cinematic music at his finest. However, throughout the entire CD I can't help thinking, "Haven't I heard all this somewhere before?" For instance, the opera scenes sound hauntingly similar to the opera scenes of Final Fantasy III. And some of the songs and leitmotifs sound similar to the ones from Final Fantasy VII. Particularly, the female singing voice sounds like it was taken straight from Einhander. Chances are, however, that this problem lies at least in part on the limited sound synthesis capabilities of the Playstation.
On a side note, the last two tracks really deserve special mention; Square has orchestrated two of the best songs of the game along with the performance of an incredible singer. There is something very cool about listening to techno-opera at this level of quality.
All in all, I cannot recommend this CD highly enough. Everything from the music, to the cover art, and even its packaging is top notch. When Square advertises this as "the Cinematic RPG", they are certainly accurate about the music, which leaves me that much more breathless about the release of the game.