Posts Tagged ‘Kow Otani’

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Shadow of the Colossus – “Swift Horse” (Kow Otani)

June 27, 2010

Third and probably last installment from Shadow of the Colossus. “Swift Horse” is fairly different from the other tracks in that it lacks the ominous size, discord, and intense fighting of the other pieces and is instead driven by string and trumpets. The track is actually not used in the game (at least not the NTSC version) but does appear on the time trial screen in the Japanese version. It is an illustrative piece for Agro, demonstrating his free spirit, nobility, and strength in battle – along with an indication of his fate in the closing notes. The driving strings and trumpets match the rhythm of the horse’s gallop.

Shadow of the Colossus – “Swift Horse” (Kow Otani)

Incidentally, there are a few remixes for Shadow of the Colossus floating out there, including this one for “Swift Horse”. The track actually seems to work pretty well as a guitar piece, especially because the original has such smooth progression – though it lacks the variety of instrumentation in the original (especially those bells). The game’s epic soundtrack seems to translate pretty well to guitar. There is also a guitar mix of “The Open Way” by the same guy. You can read more reviews of individual songs off this FAQ.

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Shadow of the Colossus – “The Opened Way” (Kow Otani)

June 25, 2010

Returning to Shadow of the Colossus, here is “The Opened Way”, one of the main Colossus battle themes. Each colossi uses one of several themes, helping give it a unique feel. “The Opened Way” is one of the best of the bunch as it has one of the most memorable melodies from the soundtrack and gives a perfect soundtrack to the massive movements of the colossus coupled with the nimble motion of the hero, Wander. This theme is used when fighting the first colossus, as well as several others.

Shadow of the Colossus – “The Opened Way” (Kow Otani)

“The Opened Way” seems a little antique, probably due primarily to the deep drums as well as the strings. The entire soundtrack is like this, feeling like a setting distant from our own. The theme has a lot of desperation, the gruesome work of fighting and brutal sword slashes, as well as a tinge of melancholy. There are three major sections, the first dominated by strings, the second with a trumpet line and flute, and the third with and excellent call and response between strings and drums. The second and third sections in particular have incredible melody while the drums have amazing volume. The overall impression is a metaphor of battle as a waltz to the death.

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Shadow of the Colossus – “The Farthest Land” (Kow Otani)

June 24, 2010

It is very difficult to define an entire game by a single song, so I am always looking for chances to show more than one song from a game – which is a little different than simply showing a series of interesting songs. Shadow of the Colossus (2005) falls in both categories – a game that I would love to show multiple songs from because one song simply cannot capture the entirety of the game, but one that contains several songs that play well on their own. The soundtrack is very exotic, containing interesting combinations of strings, percussion, brass, harp, fagotto (a kind of bassoon), and choral which ultimately create a cross between medieval and fantasy – I would love to know what Kow Otani’s influences are. You really cannot mark the style as being anything other than native to the world of Ico. The album with the Japanese title Wander and the Colossus ~Roar of the Earth~ is marked with a series of battle tracks as well as interludes that serve to break up the action – so not only is the album aesthetically pleasing, but it is also well arranged.

Shadow of the Colossus ~Roar of the Earth~ – “The Farthest Land” (Kow Otani)

Though one of the battle themes such as “The Opened Way” might serve to better illustrate the bulk of the game, “The Farthest Land” is my favorite piece. It serves as a kind of intermission – or more accurately, an overture for the second half of the album and an illustration of the spirit behind the game (the colossi, while central to the game, are not the entirety of it). I think I love the track the most because of its beautiful melancholy, its recalling of a distant land, a legend, and a young man with hopes and dreams that are not quite fulfilled the way he desires. The chimes, tambourine, and flute give the piece a dreamlike, magical quality, a kind of lullaby, while the echoes of (what I think is) a dulcimer send the emotions of the piece across the desert to peoples distant both geographically and temporally. It’s simply an amazing piece.¬†Interestingly, “The Farthest Land” plays twice on the album, first halfway through, and again at the end as a reprise.

Shadow of the Colossus happens to be my favorite game (even though I’ve played it only once; I think I’m about due for a second play-through!). This is due to the emotions of playing it, the beauty of the world, and the richness of the battles.¬†Other excellent songs from the album are “A Swift Horse”, “In Awe of the Power”, and “A Despair-Filled Fairwell”. Each song sounds very different from the last, creating a rich tapestry for the entire album.

Kow Otani (sometimes spelled Kow Ohtani), has composed music for both games and anime (notably Outlaw Star). One of his earliest compositions was the interesting hybrid shooter Philsoma (1995), a launch title for the PS1 and fairly difficult to locate.