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Hiroki Kikuta – Koudelka OST Review

Koudelka OST is a dark horse. Of the 34 songs on the album only 10 have names and are over say a minute long! Behind the seemingly uncaring approach lies a beast of a soundtrack. Visually divided into four sections of music, each has its own individual purpose and feel.

“Requiem” opens the album with a haunting choir girl singing alone in a eerie tune. Aiding to the atmosphere a bass drum and little jangles of triangles are added. Its a chilling start. “Ubi Caritas et Amor” sees the lone girl joined by the rest of the choir for a beautiful choir piece that sounds like it came from heavens church. The singing is angelic and inspired. “Dead” ends the first section of music with a sorrow felt string quartet carefully treading through another bitter sweet piece of beauty.

However its all change for the next section as we enter the battle songs. “Waterfall” is an 8 minute epic battle song which is actually quite scarce and understated for a battle track. The tune is relatively pleasant for the first 3 minutes before getting a bit more frantic and darker later on. “Incantation Again” keeps the same tribalesque drum beat but with a much more frantic and blood rushing tune and despite being different from most RPG battle tracks – its different in a refreshingly pleasing way. “Patience” keeps the same basis as the previous battle tracks but has a fast paced tune in amongst all the drum breakdowns. “Kiss Twice” is the final battle song and once again uses the same premise of drums and instrumentation but has more of it that the others. It almost like each song is slightly more geared up than the last to offer more in the ear of the listener. Its another quirk to this soundtrack.

The next section of music comprises of 24 tracks which are just named as “#Scene ?” with ? being a number. These are more effector scene’s than anything else. Each is full orchestrated with the odd choir piece thrown in for good measure. Some of them are excellent little pieces of music and remind me very much of the little musical pieces that you’d get walking into a new room in say a “Tomb Raider” game and are put together like the “Final Fantasy IX Plus” CD. Some of them are eerie and/or dramatic, some of them are beautiful and some of them are just empty sound effect pieces ala “Silent Hill”. Its a mixed bunch but makes for delightful listening.

The final section is a trio of songs taken from the 1999 Zepp Tokyo show in which Koudelka showcased some music. “Live Waterfall” actually sounds like a completely new song altogether choosing the arrange it with a rock band and some little game show keyboard effects. In fact the only remains of the song easily picked out is the lead guitar playing the main tune to the song. “Live Incantation” is a stonking piece of music. With a choir opening it quickly assembles into a dramatic frantic event with a singer actually performing the main tune! It gives it a completely new level and eerie effect which is added to with some excellent instrumentation and a superb build up to a climatic finish. The closing track “Live Patience” turns the battle song into a beautiful acoustic guitar ballad which is poetry in motion and simply beautiful.

Koudelka OST is a strange beast full of originality and quirks that set it apart and you can see the origins of what would later offspring the stunning Shadow Hearts series, even in this music you can see where it was going. This is a little gem if you enjoy original flare, slightly religious sounding and organic instrumentation and dramatic scores. I recommend it – especially for the live tracks which are stunning.

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