Le tresor interdit

I’ve been listening to Chrono Cross soundtrack for the first time in… ooh, years. It showed up randomly on my iPod playlist and I didn’t bother to fast-forward through it, and wow. That image above? Pretend I’m Serge and the Frozen Flame is the soundtrack. I am trying to grasp its power, but it is blowing me away. And then turning my dad into a power-thirsty furry for no clearly-explained reason.

Part of what makes it so good, I suspect, is the headphones I’m using. I picked up a pair of AudioTechnicas while I was in Japan as an inexpensive replacement for the chunky Sennheisers I’d been using for the past year. The latter sounded pretty nice and did a remarkable job of blocking out, well, everything while I was commuting, but their charmingly ugly retro look also made them uncomfortable to wear and carry. The ATs sounded just as good at the SoftMap display, albeit a bit less bass-responsive, and they were nicely compact and collapsible. So I grabbed them and, two months later, have finally broken in the sound elements.

They’re still less bass-friendly than the Sennheisers, which is to say too much bass causes them to distort horribly. I have to set the iPod’s EQ to “Normal,” because anything that boosts the lower frequencies at all results in agonizing agony. This, it turns out, isn’t actually a bad thing. I kinda miss the fat bottom girls end, but there’s merit in listening to music the way it was actually recorded. Also, the ATs do an incredible job of separating individual sounds, so each instrument sounds wonderfully clear. Admittedly not as nice as the high-end open-ear Sennheisers I use for my console setup, but for a pair of inexpensive, closed-ear, portable headphones they’re pretty fantastic. I figure if each individual pluck of an acoustic guitar’s strings makes my ears vibrate sympathetically, I’m doing OK.

Uh, anyway, yeah. Great soundtrack. I still think “Fate: Gods of Destiny” is the best tune Emerson Lake and Palmer never recorded.

Also: The Wii Fit news analysis piece I wrote for the new EGM has appeared magically online. This is one of those rare pieces I feel came out exactly the way I had hoped, and it features Shigeru Miyamoto confirming many of my personal biases about the nature of “non-games,” so I exhort everyone to give it a read.

22 thoughts on “Le tresor interdit

  1. Turns out I had bought the Chrono Chross “Original Music Selection” a couple weeks back, not the OST — so I only have five songs, and none of them are super-crazy-symphonic prog to my ears. They are symphonic, though — and really good!

    If you want more music like Chronomantique, The Bend of Time, and Magical Dreamers, look out for a 80’s “new-age” band called Shadowfax and an album called “Too Far to Whisper”. The arrangements are scary-similar and hit all the same pleasure centers.

  2. I’ve got a pair of HD 212Pro Sennheisers myself. I look like a dorkus malorkus when I wear them, but at least I know I’m listening to better sounding music then the people with their pack-in iPod headphones.

  3. Pack-in iPod headphones are a step above listening to a tiny monaural radio. But only just.

  4. I played the Chrono Cross soundtrack in a General Music class in High School (we took turns bringing in music on Fridays) and everyone was shocked that it was from a video game. Good times.

  5. I always find it amusing, Parish, that you seem to get a huge kick out of the prog-rock influence on first and second generation Japanese game music composers. And interesting too – since I don’t listen to much prog-rock, it’s always interesting to see what’s sometimes downright plagiarism on the parts of Uematsu and co.

  6. I really liked the overall style of the Wii Fit article. Miyamoto has some really solid points about focusing on the future of videogames that many players skip over, especially when it’s put in the light of other seemingly endless fads like comics and music. New times, new mediums, new markets; all need to be analyzed and focused on if you want to stay on top of (or even just in) the game.

    I never finished Chrono Cross, and I should probably kick myself in the ass and do it someday. I do remember the music being magnificent, so I’ll give you the benefit of the awesomeness doubt.

  7. Man, Chrono Cross is like, my favorite game I never beat. Nothing beats skeleton clowns and duck vegetables as party members.

    I still think “People Imprisoned by Destiny” is the best track in the game, even though it’s accompanied by that godawful fight against Miguel.

  8. I still prefer Well-Rounded Mitsuda to Hardcore-Acoustic-Celt Mitsuda, but Chrono Cross is still a good listen. I will say, however, that I feel the work he did with Sakimoto on Duel Saga is the best either of them has done since then.

  9. Sfida, Montreux is another band supposedly in the same vein as Shadowfax, but I’ve never heard their albums. I’m going to put them on my “list” though — their bassist/band leader (Michael Manring) I know from other projects, and he’s a rare talent: inventive and musical.

  10. I must have broken ears, as I don’t think pack-in iPod earbuds sound that bad.

  11. Shawn – they aren’t that bad until you listen to your music through anything else. Then they’re atrocious.

  12. The pack-in headphones with my Zune were pretty good, but then again I’m not THAT much of an audiophile…

  13. I just got done listening to the epic multi-hour analysis of the Chrono soundtracks from the “Into the Score” podcast. Good stuff. Also, it prompted me to dig out my sheet music for Chrono Cross and play through the whole thing on the piano again as well.

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