X Original Soundtrack II
I haven't found the first X soundtrack yet, so I suppose this, the second volume, will have to suffice for the time being. It has a nice mix of vocals and instrumental tracks, and the music is all easy to enjoy, though I'm not sure how many people listen to classical music in their car. Luckily, you can pluck the vocal tracks from the disc and make a nice compilation of anime music thanks to Pioneer's flood of new CD soundtracks. I'm just waiting for ADV to do the same so that we can have more anime goodness.
Sorrow tinged with resolve. That's the feeling I get from "Strength", the first vocal track on the X soundtrack. It's quiet and a bit morose, but the rhythm keeps moving steadily along. Kohei Koizumi's haunting vocals add much to the gentle melody, and its title is more than appropriate.
"Battle", which is, obviously, the fight theme, would fit well in a video game RPG, moving fast with furious strings and horns blasting away in competition with each other. It also makes good driving music, though you might want to have a radar detector turned on while listening to it.
After the fast-paced battle music, "Requiem" slows everything down with a soothing piano melody that leads into the TV theme, "eX dream". The vocals for this were performed by Myuiji, and it has the honor of being one of the more peppy songs on the disc.
Another action song highlight was "Hyper Battle 2", which sounds almost as if it came from one of the elder three Star Wars films, but in a good way. It's very symphonic, but the beat is dominated by crashing cymbals and some very energetic music backing them up. Track 12, "Last Battle" is also pretty cool, especially if you grew up playing RPGs. The music is inspiring, but I think I'd feel a little silly if I used it to motivate me while vacuuming. Maybe painting, or washing my car...
Later, we have another vocal track from Kohei Koizumi, the edited for TV version of "Secret Sorrow". It sounds more like lounge music than the other tracks on this disc. It's a bit more relaxed than others, rounding out the sound of the disc. The final vocal song, and also the last track on the CD, has a similar mood to it. It's long, running on past six minutes in length.
Even more diversity is encountered with the "Suite of the Dragons of Earth", which starts off with rough techno and leads into the more traditional sounds of strings and brass instruments.
I couldn't help but think that this soundtrack was video game music, although, from me, that's a high compliment. The quality of the recordings, the composition, and the arrangement are wonderful. However, each song sounds like it was written to emphasize something specific (which they were), and thus they seem somewhat compartmentalized into themes. This is not a complaint, just a statement, and if anything, it makes the CD that much more enjoyable to listen to. I like it when there's a large difference between each track on a CD.
Even if you haven't seen the series (which you should), this is a good soundtrack for fans of Japanese music. The four vocal tracks are very good, and the background tunes make for great study or painting music. As with many anime soundtracks, there is an impressive blending of styles, mixing the orchestral instruments of the West with Eastern melodies, techno, and sometimes with rock and roll. It works well, and has inspired me to seek out the first disc in the set.
If you're a fan of CLAMP, then you should add this to your collection - it's worth it!