Xenogears Original Soundtrack Liner Notes
Yasunori Mitsuda - Composer
It usually happens, but whenever I try new things or set large goals, I attach my hopes and fears, and caught in delusions, I cannot show my strengths. I am crushed by my lack of self-confidence and the terrible pressure of strong desires (invisible power). Although I always decide on a theme for a game and start composing before development begins, this project was unlike any other game preceding it, and I ended up creating some rather large delusions for myself. Of course, I knew that I would be under strong pressure.
As expected, there were complications during development, and the journey was more difficult than any before. I had known it would be. As we were attempting something beyond what had been done before, of course it had to be. I would untangle these internal constraints by thinking "no, I can do it and I have to keep trying" whenever I felt "that's enough," along the way, and I proceeded forward bit by bit every day. The people on the sound team gave me strength. Sound programmer Hidenori Suzuki listened to my self-indulgent requests, sound engineer Tomohiro Yajima answered my requests and corrected the sound recordings, and recording engineer Kenzi Nagashima worked day and night to ensure the effect of the sound in the movie scenes. And also Masato Kato, the event planner, whose work always moves me, director Tetsuya Takahashi, who passed his own passion on to us, and everyone's warm, encouraging letters. I was only able to come this far with all of your support. I am truly grateful. Thank you.
Well then, shall we get to the main part? How was the music? If there is even one thing that you like about these CDs, then my hard work will not have been in vain, and I will be encouraged to go on to new works, and especially to fight my strong enemy, that "invisible power".
The Fascination of Ethnic Music
Handling ethnic music is very difficult, and when Japanese people hear the traditional music of other countries, they usually reject it. I believe it is a result of the very different natures of our histories and our lands. But those differences are the most interesting, and I believe that if people were only to investigate what makes each land's music unique, they would find it easier to listen to, and become more interested. Although there are many pieces of ethnic music on these CDs, there is no precise association between the pieces and a particular land's traditional music. As the world that I felt had to match the world of the game, the music had to be arranged to some degree. I think that it would be wonderful if you who listen to the ethnic music on these CDs show interest and begin to listen to the world's music. It would fulfill of one of my dreams.
Those who Love Music from their Hearts
Doesn't it require a lot of power to create something from nothing? Truly, there is no limit to what can be said in music, but I don't know very much outside of composing and cannot say things very clearly. Sometimes, suddenly I wonder why I do something so painful at all. It resembles the situation of a woman giving birth. (Although I'm actually a man...) Although those that give birth say that they don't want to go through that pain again, they say that on seeing the cuteness of the child, one forgets the past pain entirely. Isn't that because they love sincerely?
Although I have worked with musicians overseas several times, they all shared in common a love of music from their hearts and we always want to work together again, even if money isn't involved. I also kept on composing, even in the deepest pain, so that I could look forward to working with them. It is because "those who love music from their hearts" believe that their thoughts are expressed through it. Moreover, I have met many people through music, and it would not be quite as enjoyable without that communication.
Just under 100 people worked on just the aural aspects of this game. Without a doubt it is the largest in scale of any of the projects I've done so far. Although I am still inexperienced and yet indulgent, I was able to complete a work of the highest quality, without any gripes remaining, and create music from my heart because of all of the people who enjoy this music and even now think well of me. I cannot help but be moved. The thoughts of these many people are packed into these CDs. The atmosphere of Ireland, the atmosphere of Bulgaria, and the atmosphere of this country, Japan. And on top of that, the atmosphere of the room that you are now in. I pray that the music created for Xenogears will gently support and strengthen your heart.
And here at the end I would like to say "thank you" to everyone.
December 8, 1997, 7:27 AM - Yasunori Mitsuda
Tetsuya Takahashi - Director
To be honest, I had never thought that music was that important; that is to say, I had never even been conscious of it. Of course, I had understood that music had a vital role as one element of a work, I would never thought that it could save one to such an extent.
It resembles the change to 16-bit machines from their predecessors. At the dawn of 16-bit machines, the visuals were exceeded by the sound. That shock was somewhat suprising, though that era is over now. Seven years later, we've switched to new hardware, and of course it led to an expansion in sound's expressive range, but this much is just...beyond what I expected. The expressive range of the images and visuals was also expanded, but that was expected. I never thought that I would direct a project myself, either.
While directing the project, I came to a realization. Something feels wrong. There is something strange about it. There is something wrong with my blueprint.
I felt that looking at the various images. I knew that it didn't come together, somehow. Time, nature, understanding of intent: I knew that some physical barrier had grown out of these insufficiencies and gave rise to that feeling that something was wrong. I can't keep going like this, I thought, knowing full well that I couldn't simply rush it through and fix it afterwards.
When I felt like nothing would help, I chanced to hear some of the music that had been completed again. Hm? Whoa! These images are this good? They're actually not bad at all. I'm getting goosebumps. Somewhere coiled up in a corner of my consciouness my impressions had brightened. And again, I realized that the visuals had lost to the sound, to the music. Directing my own work, I realized that various people are supporting me. Of course, it's not as if I wasn't betrayed by anyone I had trusted. When it comes down to the wire, some people have different intentions. When it was someone I trusted, I lose faith in people. I have probably been able to get this far because of the few people who have supported me.
One of the people who has supported this project, Xenogears, is Mitsuda. Without Mitsuda's music, I would have fallen far short of the goals I had set, and probably would not have had the energy to keep going.
This soundtrack contains, in condensed form, everything that supported this work and helped elevate it.
The three vocal pieces are particularly spectacular. Paired with the visuals from Square, they are good enough to beat any other work's music hands down. It goes without saying, but I am proud to release this work.
Masato Kato - Champion of Justice
To the screeching shards [Editor's Note: Referring to the subtitle of Small Two of Pieces.] Since I was told I could write what I like, I will only write about what I like. I've been pretty indulgent lately.
"Do you still remember?
About when we met,
and about our many adventures..."
I've worked together with Mit-chan on three projects, Chrono Trigger, Radical Dreamers, and now Xenogears; sometimes we laughed together, sometimes we were angry together. Whatever the expression, we would hear it millions of times in our creative process, over and over. Many of those words will continue to echo quietly within me. Forever.
"Everything was like a dream in those distant days of summer.
We would run like the wind.
You fell from the sky
A fragment of a star."
I am concerned about and fear things which I do not know, and despite that found strange respite and joy upon receiving those expressions. As I thought...
"That must be because living inside of you is someone who liked this music long ago..."
Even though you aren't Doctor Citan, don't you want to hold such warm thoughts? With one ear inclined to the night, finding mysterious "words" on these small silver discs...
Now, in your hand, is a gift which Mit-chan has poured his heart into.
Thank you. And congratulations.
Farewell. I look forward to the next time we meet.
"Ah... I always have to return home.
No longer to return to those distant days...
If I close my eyes like this
Softly whispering your name in the night...
(Radical Dreamers ~The Jewel that Cannot be Stolen~)
Hidenori Suzuki - Sound Programmer
Hello, this is the sound programming director Hidenori Suzuki.
I moved into a new house this year, and there's a bit of space in my room. I'm very happy about it. Although it's a lot of work, I think I'll recreate the N-scale train model layout I set up a long time ago. But my new house is far from the train station. I'm getting a big workout from the bike I bought a while back. It's only helping my out of shape body a little bit, though.
I directed three sections on Xenogears at the end. Usually my work is done quickly, but this time there were a unusual things that needed to be worked on. File management, tools to convert data, sound programming, and such. There were quite a lot of files to work with, the programming became complicated, I started to say whatever I felt like...and so on. Each section gave me quite a bit of trouble. There's usually no time between projects, but I couldn't go while these kind of changes still had to be made, so since it looks like there will be time before the next project, I'm going to fix all of them.
When Xenogears is finished, it looks like I'll be able to finally take a break.
Interview with Joanne Hogg
Yasunori Mitsuda: When you first heard about the project, what did you think?
Joanne Hogg: Let's see...I was very interested. It was completely different from anything I'd done before. But it looked enjoyable. It was also the first time I'd received this much money. (laughs)
Yasunori Mitsuda: Did you like the songs?
Joanne Hogg: I loved them! But unfortunately I didn't really know the game's story, so I wasn't fully able to understand what the lyrics were referring to. Since you shouldn't stop at simply translating a phrase directly from one language to another, without altering the melody line, I went and changed the lyrics so that I could sing them better. The melody had a Celtic feel, didn't it? (laughs) I personally felt it went very well.
Yasunori Mitsuda: How do you feel about today's recording?
Joanne Hogg: It was short, but I think it went very well. I hope everyone is satisfied with it. It's very important, after all. I gave it my best. It was great, and everyone was so nice. It was easy work.
Yasunori Mitsuda: Do you have a message for your fans in Japan?
Joanne Hogg: What should I say... (laughs)
Yasunori Mitsuda: To buy Iona's albums, perhaps?
Joanne Hogg: Maybe. Iona is very different, after all. For Iona, I write the songs and their lyrics, so I feel I express more of my own individuality, what kind of person I am, in them. This time, the work didn't come from me... But if there are people who enjoy these two songs, they might enjoy Iona as well.
Yasunori Mitsuda: Have you worked with anyone outside of Iona?
Joanne Hogg: I did a dance music project once, with this group called Hydro from the UK. That was very different. They do ambiant dance music.
Yasunori Mitsuda: What was the name of the band?
Joanne Hogg: Not really a band...
Yasunori Mitsuda: Unit?
Joanne Hogg: Yes, unit. They're Hydro. Originally, they sampled the acappela vocal track from Iona and mixed it into a dance track. Well, they started writing their own music, and I sang for it. This is only in the peliminary stages, but next year I might participate in a project with Rick Wakeman. We're thinking of remaking hit songs from twenty years ago and I might sing on them.
Yasunori Mitsuda: Back when Cat Stevens was singing. Hits of the 70s.
Joanne Hogg: Right. Songs from 1977.
Yasunori Mitsuda: Thank you so much for your time. It was only two days, but it was very enjoyable work, and I'm glad I got this chance. More than that, I would always love to record again. It's unfortunate that I can't really speak English, though... (laughs) I'll be studying.
Joanne Hogg: There are many things that can't be expressed in words. Music is the universal language, after all.
Interview with Davy Spillane
Yasunori Mitsuda: When you first heard about the project, what did you think?
Davy Spillane: When I first heard, I was very excited. First, I'm an artist contracted to Sony...and of course there's a connection between Sony and the PlayStation. But I was more interested because I actually love computer games myself. I figured it would be a very stimulating project. I've done a lot of recording sessions, but this one felt very different from the usual; I was so happy that I laughed.
Yasunori Mitsuda: Did you like the music?
Davy Spillane: I particularly liked the one that we did first today. (When I play the melody after the bridge.) I enjoy that a lot. It's the type of melody I like personally, and political elements aside, it's the type of music I write. The last part is quite beautiful, I think. I'd love to try writing that kind of melody for future instrumental pieces. The chord progressions and such are really superb. I think it's a wonderful song.
Yasunori Mitsuda: What are your thoughts, now that the sessions are over?
Davy Spillane: I feel good about it. The session recordings are out of my hands now, but I don't know whether or not the sounds that were recorded match with the ones I wanted and conceived. If you're satisfied with the sessions, then I'll be satisfied, and quite happy. It was my job to make you happy, after all.
Yasunori Mitsuda: Will you play the game?
Davy Spillane: Of course. I'm in the process of switching over to the Playstation right now. I have a lot of computers, including two Macintoshes. The Macintosh is good for games, and I like it. I write music on Digital Performer. Let's see, I like flight simulator games the best. I also have a Pentium and a lot of games for that, but I might be selling that. It's a bit expensive for gaming. My mistake.
Yasunori Mitsuda: Do you have a message for your fans in Japan?
Davy Spillane: A message, huh?
Yasunori Mitsuda: This album (holds up Davy's CD) is coming out in Japan soon. The cover will be different though.
Davy Spillane: Oh, that's the first cover we used (points to the CD). It's the first album from my contract with Sony. The first year I had to learn this and that about the company. For the next album, I want to go various places and maybe win over some new fans. I'd really like to go to Japan. If you look around my house right now, about half of the stuff in there is made in Japan. I'm interested in "samurai". I want to go to Japan and learn about them. For example, I need to bring the samurai philosophy into the music scene.
Yasunori Mitsuda: But samurai have been gone for over a hundred years and aren't around anymore.
Davy Spillane: Of course. That's why their philosophy...
Yasunori Mitsuda: Their way of thinking?
Davy Spillane: Yes, I'm interested in their way of thinking. I don't really know much about it, though. I'm a little bit different from most Irelanders. I like studio equipment, and I'm not the type to go to pubs. I think that's why I'm so interested in Japan.
Yasunori Mitsuda: Today was really great. I've been a an for a long time and have heard quite a few of your recordings.
Davy Spillane: Really? That's wonderful. I'm really grateful. Today, I've become a fan of yours.
Yasunori Mitsuda: In today's recording we captured that particular warm sound of yours. It turned out great.
Davy Spillane: Really? That's the important part. I really want to thank you from my heart. I'd think it would be great to work together on something in the future. Something other than just PlayStation. I'll be in touch. I hope these CDs get me to Japan. It'd be great if we could meet there.
Liner Notes Translated by Ben Schweitzer. Do not republish without written permission.