Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

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GoldfishX Mar 19, 2017 (edited Mar 19, 2017)

Awhile back, I stumbled upon this little tidbit in one of the Suikoden 1 Original Soundtrack reviews here:

"As an extra note, I strongly recommend an American CD by David Arkenstone as an accompaniment to the Suikoden soundtrack. The CD is titled "Return of the Guardians" and is very similar to Suikoden and may even be better in some ways! If you love Suikoden's music, you'll love this! The best thing of all is that it can be purchased easily in America."

It took, oh, say...18 years for me to finally heed this advice but wow, am I glad I did!

While I don't necessarily agree that Arkenstone's work sounds EXACTLY like classic Suikoden music, it has many of the same characteristics - instrumental, ethnic-fused themes, dripping with catchy melodies that run the gamut in terms of moods, instruments and boasting outstanding production. I own 6 of his CD's now (with more on the way) and I have yet to stumble across a single lackluster track. Even "Barcelona Nights", a CD I bought because it was cheap and had zero expectations for, has found its way high up on my "repeat this NOW!" list.

His music appears to be classified as "new age" and I can't say I agree with that classification. It's too catchy, too well-thought-out, too adventurous. I must have flipped through over 100 "new age" artists (as well as "contemporary instrumental", "worldbeat" and "ethnic fusion" artists) and no one seems to have anything on this guy. It's soothing without being out-and-out relaxing. It's more...soothing and fun? It's like EXACTLY what I like hearing from classic Japanese VGM.

He does have a few game soundtracks under his belt (primarily related to World of Warcraft), but the bulk of his work seems to be his stand-alone releases. My favorite release so far is "Island" (one of his earliest works).

Edit: Well, I know at least ONE person is familiar with him. smile … tp5049?p=2

Adam Corn from 2009 wrote:

Interesting, I wasn't aware that David Arkenstone had composed for the Warcraft series.  It's not a soundtrack per se but I recommend his album "Return of the Guardians".  In fact I almost reviewed it here back in the day just because it's so much like a video game arranged album, with a nice mix of traditional instrumentals, ethnic, New Age, and contemporary elements.

Pedrith Mar 19, 2017

Hi.  I learned of David Arkenstone through the Taverns of Azeroth cd.  I only own one other cd at the moment  titled: Beneath a Darkening Sky.  Goldfish if you have a moment can you list all the ones you have and if you have a favourite one to recommend that would be great.



Adam Corn Mar 19, 2017

I can't remember if it was Jeffrey (the writer of that review) who turned me on to David Arkenstone or vice versa. One of my fondest VGM-related memories is meeting him and one of other early members at STC for E3 in Atlanta, driving around listening to David Arkenstone, Vanessa Mae (who I think they also recommended to me), and Konami Battle big_smile

I'd also be interested in hearing which albums of his you've heard and which are your favorites. Despite enjoying Returning of the Guardians it's still the only album of his I've heard. Looking now on Spotify and Wikipedia the man's discography is absolutely insane, averaging an album a year from 1987 to 2000 and two or three per year since then. It's hard to imagine anyone keeping a consistently high-quality output for that frequency and volume.

GoldfishX wrote:

His music appears to be classified as "new age" and I can't say I agree with that classification.

Yeah, "new age" seems to be an all-encompassing categorization for anything soundtrack'y that isn't a soundtrack. Or at least it used to be, I'm not sure if a new term has sprung up in the past decade or so.

GoldfishX Mar 20, 2017 (edited Mar 20, 2017)

I have Island, Barcelona Nights, Taverns and the three albums that make up the "Return of the Guardian" trilogy, with a number of others on the way (his discography is massive...and cheap, thankfully!). To be 100% truthful, I have not listened to the Guardian albums as closely as I needed to (I plan on giving them a closer listen this week), but both Barcelona and Island have been on constant repeat for the past couple days. A lot of my listening has been flipping through random Youtube tracks of his but usually when I do this for an artist, I don't expect every track I hit to be good.

But yeah, Island. Get Island. The one before that (Valley in the Clouds) is ambient electronic stuff (pretty much "real" new age music, not bad, just generic), Island seems to be where he came into his own.

Edit: I have Parisian Nights, Italian Nights, Caribbean Nights, Spirit of Olympia, Citizen in Time, Frontier (a soundtrack for a documentary about the American Revolution) and Winter Fantasy all on order. I figure that's enough for awhile.

Edit Edit: Here's a random track I found. This one just seems to scream Xenogears to me, for some reason.

And...stuff from Island:

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