Wow! That's all I can say about Xenogears: Creid. Yasunori Mitsuda takes his place as a top video game composer with this collection of 10 arranged tracks from Xenogears. You've never heard anything like this, folks, and probably will never again.
Mitsuda combines Celtic music and new age rock and mixes them in a way that is completely enthralling to the senses. He brings together such diverse instruments as harps, congas, bagpipes, fiddles, and accordions and combines them into a masterpiece of sounds and emotions. At times it's simply beyond words to describe it. I'll try anyway.
"Melkaba", with its rocking drums and strings, starts with a soft Celtic harp string accompaniment, then kicks in with Uilleann pipes, guitars, congas and bongos! What you get is a cool, slightly undulating musical melody that is both frenetic and orderly at the same time. You almost want to headbang, but it's not as intense as the Konami rock tracks. It will still make your body move.
By far my favorite track on the disc is "Stairs of Light". It absolutely rules! A pair of clattering castanets, accompanied by an accordion, acoustic guitar, and fiddle, make it sound like you're in the middle of a Xenogears jam session! It has a truly awesome bass solo halfway through which must be heard to be believed. The vocals, sung by "Tenchie", are cool, even though I can't understand a single word. She has a really playful voice that has only been matched by Risa Ohki in "Have You Ever Seen Me?" from Final Fantasy: Love Will Grow. Tenchie does it with more power. The only problem I have is that it's only 3:44 long! Way too short compared to the monster 7:24 running time of "Melkaba".
"Stars of Tears" is a great song, with howling low whistles, electric guitars, drums, and keyboards. The vocals - in Japanese (so I of course don't understand them) - fit the song very well, and are very catchy.
"Lahan", an instrumental piece, is very energetic, with a cacophony of instruments (accordion, fiddle, congas, bag pipes, etc.) all coming together with a chorus of voices and hand clapping, as well as a laughing noise, courtesy of "People at The Hardcourt Hotel's Pub" (so says the liner notes). It sounds like a jubilant celebration going on all around you. It makes for really good party music.
The whole feel of Xenogears: Creid, I think, is expressed in the "Lahan"... a communal, party-like musical experience, with diverse instruments and people (the artists on the CD come from Ireland, America, and Japan) coming together to create something very special, and very new and unique. Everybody involved in the production of this CD is obviously enjoying themselves, and this rubs off dramatically in the recording. The music carries with it that kind of energy. I had absolutely *no* idea what I was getting myself into when I bought this - Celtic music wasn't really a love of mine, and the term "New Age" that's associated with it scared me as well. But I took a chance on this CD (I never played the game or had really listened much to the OST beforehand) and wasn't disappointed. I think it's so good because it's so easily accessible to your ears and mind. Do yourself a favor, and go get Creid *right now*! Don't wait! This album will be looked upon in the future as a turning point in arranged soundtracks.