Several weeks ago I had the honor of receiving the soundtrack to Namco's rather unusual (and decidedly niche) Wii survival-action-RPG title, "Fragile". The game did only modest business (clearing only about 24,000 copies on its opening week), but the soundtrack, composed by newcomer Riei Saito, has received a lot of praise. So much so, in fact, that a full soundtrack was inevitably released.
I intend to write a full-fledged review on this album, but here's my brief impressions. This is a very good effort for a first-time score from someone who we haven't heard from; the music is melancholy in tone and often minimalistic. Somehow it manages to match with the dreary but haunting visuals for the game. The opening track is strangely reminiscent of some of Joe Hisaishi's scores for Studio Ghibli, like the first cue to "Spirited Away" mixed with a bit of the more quieter moments of "Legend of Ashitaka" from "Princess Mononoke", complete with synthesized strings and a very ubiquitous (more on this later) piano serving as the basis for the theme.
I like the music overall, but I do have one major qualm. There are LOTS of tracks which are just piano solos (hence my mention of "ubiquitous"), all of which sound strangely derivative and hard to distinguish. Not that this is bad music by any means; the piano solos are pretty, but they lack both variation and aren't anything memorable. Some of my more favorite tracks were the ones which provided a nice break from the solos, notably the two battle tracks on Disc 1.
Quibble aside, this soundtrack, like the game, may have a hard time finding its audience, but for anyone looking for something different than your typical JRPG soundtrack, then FRAGILE may be worth checking out.