Arranged and directed by Mustin, of the now disbanded OneUp Studios, Time & Space - A Tribute to Yasunori Mitsuda is a collection of eighteen arranged tracks from the games Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, and Xenogears. The raw material — the original pieces from which this arranged album is based — was composed, of course, by the celebrated Yasunori Mitsuda. The pieces on this album are, for the most part, melody driven and based. It would stand to assert, then, that this album would only appeal to those fond of Mitsuda's melodies. And such an assertion is true, but in no way a detracting statement. Mitsuda's melodies are a joy: deep, colorful, adventurous, and fantastic. It would be safe to assume that any individual with an appreciation of music — open minded towards video game music or not — would greatly appreciate this album.
The styles and sounds of the tracks on Time & Space are numbered and varied. Most of the tracks may be categorized into one of four different styles, however. These styles are: hard nosed and rocky pieces driven mostly be electric guitar, laid back jazzy pieces carried by piano and/or saxophone, exotic and mysterious pieces with violin and/or woodwind, and finally, a number of 90's rock ballad sounding tracks. There are, of course, a few compositions which fall outside of the bounds of these categories, but for the most part, they may be cataloged.
The opening track on the Time & Space is "Scars Left by Time". An arranged recording of the original Chrono Cross opening scene music, it is a good way to introduce the album. It falls under the hard nosed action piece category — starting off slow and building in intensity. There are three other tracks which sound as this one: "A Hero's Judgment", "The Boy Feared by Time", and "The Fighting Priest". Impressively, all four of these pieces are arranged and recorded quite well. Each one has just enough power and intelligence to give them variance and charm. Particularly grand is "A Hero's Judgment". It begins with a violin's stressful intro — setting the quick and tense mood of the entire piece. The electric guitar, with percussion in support, then ruptures forth with a melody suggestive of the intelligent yet violent action of a young, male hero. "The Fighting Priest" is the other absolutely grand, aggressive, more rocky piece on the album. It is, however, quite distinct from "A Hero's Judgment" in that it features a simple, euphoric, and elating tune. Arranged from "Ship of Regret and Sleep" from the original Xenogears soundtrack, the melody is fundamentally a set of single notes, each spaced evenly apart, playing about, all within a single octave. The arranged version of the piece is little different. The lucid melody is performed four times through — perfectly and without any arrangement — picked by the electric guitar. The first two times are played slowly. The third and fourth times very quickly. The beauty of "The Fighting Priest" is in its simple melody, and the succinctness and force of its execution on this album. It is grand.
The second track on the album, and the first of the five laid back, jazzy pieces, is "Star Stealing Girl" from Chrono Cross. "Star Stealing Girl" is one of the two most notable tracks of the jazz category, actually, and gains distinction especially due to the use of the warm, cantilating, female voice which highlights the melody — true to the original, might I add. Other tracks which incorporate a jazz style include "Parallelism", "Wings of Time", "Dream of Another Time", and "Fields of Time". Relative to the rest of the album, most of these pieces — save "Wings of Time" and "Fields of Time" — are melancholy and sad. All are of grand quality, though, especially "Dream of Another Time". Arguably the finest piece on the album, it is quite supple and melancholy while voluptuous and abundantly exciting. It begins with a piano intro, then goes bossa nova with clarinet on melody. It is both wistful and charming, and reminds one of looking out the window at the rain, wishing indeed, for another place and another time — not due to pain or discomfort, but simple and childish delight in fantasy.
"Guardian of Time" is the first of the set of exotic pieces. It is disappointing considering its source material is "Frog's Theme". ith its strong melody, Guardian of Time has much potential, but the choice of instruments and poor recording render the song both weak and a little obnoxious. In addition to "Guardian of Time", exotic tracks include "The Girl Forgotten by Time" and "Star of Hope". "Star of Hope" is nice, but the use of what sounds like a bongo for percussion and an exceedingly slow tempo are poor choices ill suited for the melody. "The Girl Forgotten by Time" — Schala's famous theme — is well produced and sounds good. The use of the bongo, in combination with the flute, results in an alarmingly harmonious sound. It doesn't feature much arrangement, but for those already fond of the melody it will be of little relevance.
Final among the pieces categorized by style, there is a grouping of pieces with a particular 80's or 90's rock ballad sound to them. These tracks include "Good to be Home", "To Good Friends", and "Gentle Wind". Both "Good to be Home" and "Gentle Wind" are underwhelming and fairly sappy. Both feature the compulsory snare drum from many songs of the time, as well as the corny overdramatic use of the electric guitar. Granted, both of these pieces are relaxing, but little else. "To Good Friends" — the well known ending theme to Chrono Trigger — is a nice and well rounded piece. It begins exceedingly slowly with a synth orchestral intro, and then builds slowly from there. It certainly is interesting to see a more somber approach to the theme, and with the use of the piano, the piece somehow manages to avoid being overly patronizing or sentimental somehow.
Finally, there are three somewhat miscellaneous tracks on the album which belong to no consistent style of music. They are "June Mermaid", "Navigation is Key", and "Shake the Heavens", all of which are from Xenogears. "June Mermaid" is a depressing piece with the piano and violin. The source material was originally exceedingly gloomy, and this rendition of it is even more so. The melody is pretty however, with depth and color to it, and makes a good listen when in the mood. "Navigation is Key" is almost a comedic piece. It does features a respectable melody and performance, but is purposefully played with a bombastic and dramatic flare to communicate kind of ridiculous fun. Combine that with the sound of waves, a ship bell, and "Heave ho! Arrgh! Heave ho! Arggh!" and it becomes the only funny track on the album. "Shake the Heavens" is actually four distinct melodies played into each other to produce a long, orchestral drama. It begins with a foreboding air with piano and strings playing "Omen." From there it transitions swiftly into the first final boss theme "Awakening" with strings, brass, flute, voice, and snare drum in the rear. After meandering about there for a time, it falls into another suspenseful version of "Omen," then plunges back to a battle anthem: "One who Bares Fangs at God." "Shake the Heavens" is a long piece and quite an endeavor. It sounds fair, though the performance is a bit weak for what it strives to accomplish.
In conclusion, Time & Space - A Tribute to Yasunori Mitsuda is an absolutely excellent album. Of its eighteen tracks, nine are absolutely top notch and excellent, five are enjoyable and of good quality, and four are mere filler tracks. The range of sounds and moods to be found on the album is quite broad, including highly aggressive tracks like "A Hero's Judgment" and wistful fantasy pieces like "Dream of Another Time". It is truly a stunning album, and would be well worth a prolonged campaign and much lucre to grasp it.