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Strawhat -ICO Respect Arrange Album – “Misty Wish -Hope in the Castle-” (wata)

September 11, 2010

ICO is still one of my favorite soundtracks, despite the fact it only has about four real songs in it. The beautifully named album, Castle in the Mist, records the short but sweet soundtrack where melody punctuates darkness and discord, making it all the more treasured. A group of Japanese composers also found the soundtrack and game worth praising through the arrange album Strawhat -ICO Respect Arrange Album. The CD contains mostly electronica, with a little dance music, but it does contain a few outstanding pieces such as “Misty Wish -Hope in the Castle” by doujin mixer wata (MOTHER +LOVE, We Love Retro Kirby!). Like most doujin, it is out of print, sold only at the Comic Market in August 2007 in Tokyo (a major convention of comic book artists, indy game designers, and composers). The album was published by Straw Hat.

Strawhat -ICO Respect Arrange Album – “Misty Wish -Hope in the Castle” (wata)

“Misty Wish” opens pleasantly enough, with minimal instrumentation reflecting the original version, but with a unique sound through a wooden xylophone that reminds me a little of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The track then adds an enchanting flute at nearly a minute in with a melody that seems ancient. The combination of instruments and archaic construct of the melody make it a piece that seems to occur outside of space and time, in a land of mist and fairy tale. The layering of all the instruments – xylophone, guitar, and tambourine, along with a nice piano solo at 2:00 – produces a rich tapestry, one that has a kind of granularity similar to that of the Baiyeux Tapestry but also an aesthetic that conjures dreams. In the final section, there is a call and response between flute and violin that sounds almost as if it is a conversation between Ico and Yorda, the game’s two protagonists who must work together to escape the castle.

The original version of the song, “Castle in the Mist,” is played on two guitars by Michiru Oshima (Taikou Rishiden, Fullmetal Alchemist) and Pentagon (Legaia, Beatmania). The melody and instrument selection makes the piece feel like a Medieval lay, a song from a place so terribly distant in both time and space, enshrouded by mists.

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