Posts Tagged ‘Ultima’

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Ultima X: Odyssey Soundtrack (Chris Field)

November 14, 2010

A few months ago, I posted a feature on the Ultima X: Odyssey (2003) song “Gothic Combat” by Chris Field of Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings fame. Shortly afterward, the composer’s studio contacted me to let me know if I wanted a copy of the soundtrack to share. Due to my schedule, it has taken me awhile to prepare the album for release, but here it is in MP3 format (a FLAC version will be coming as soon as I can figure out how to get my software to properly generate a cue sheet).

UPDATE: FLAC Version is now on MegaUpload.

Ultima X: Odyssey Soundtrack

UXO is quite the musical odyssey. Though the game was never released, its score provides a unique look into the aural journey of a quest never taken. Mr. Field takes us from rolling fields to the dark forests of Kingwood and up the ethereal slopes and dancing snow of Glacier Pass to Mount Bold, rising tall, majestic, and dominating. From here we reach the caves and fortresses of monsters, the looming darkness of “The Black Gate” and “Redfangkeep” with its minimalist, silent corridors and the brewing tension of ambush. While there does appear to be an epic confrontation in the “Mouth of Evil”, this opens up only a more distant land beneath the “Desert Sun” – there is no end to the quest of an MMORPG, no final credits, only more territory to traverse, more adventures to unfold.

The score of UXO is in many ways a step beyond Ultima IX: Ascension in that the score used an 81-piece orchestra conjuring sweeping vistas and epic adventures as opposed to the more intimate recordings of the smaller orchestra from Ultima IX. This is further enhanced by the tremendous acoustics of Bastyr University Chapel, whose architectural style is doubly fitting for the medieval themes of the score. The recording of this forgotten game was clearly a crowning moment in videogame history when art was exalted above all else.

Nobable is the “UXO Main Theme”, a proud, noble track opening the epic quest that lies before the player, beckoning them to follow this great odyssey through endlessly expanding lands. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Ultima IX – “Stones (Chamber)” (George Oldziey)

February 21, 2010

“Stones” is one of the most endearing vgm songs ever composed – in fact, it was memorable enough to have its own fansite, which contains many versions of the song. The original version was written for Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990) by David Watson (Ultima VII, Stonekeep). (David is represented by the character “Iolo” in the game.) As a rarity for vgm, this piece also contains lyrics penned by Watson’s wife, Kathleen Jones (“Gwenno”), though they are not sung in any of the official versions. This rendition is from Ultima IX: Ascension (1999), the series’ ill-fated swan song and was composed by George Oldziey (Wing Commander 4, Red Faction: Guerilla). I can’t say which version out of all the fan mixes is best, but I happen to like this official version the most.

Ultima IX: Ascension – “Stones (Chamber)” (George Oldziey)

“Stones” is a medieval elegy or lay, played on flute, harp, and strings. It has a deep sense of nostalgia but also loss and sadness for beauty and the past. These are reflected in the lyrics, which ask and mourn for the builders of mysterious Stonehenge-like structures that stand on the plains of Wiltshire, though these lyrics are unnecessary to communicate the song’s sadness. The recording of this piece is pretty high quality as you can hear the breath of the flutists before they play. Reportedly, it was performed by a 50-piece orchestra.

Ultima is one of the most famous and groundbreaking RPG series ever produced. However, because it was a computer RPG, many console fans have never been exposed to it despite its profound influence on the genre. Some of the other tracks on this album have a great medieval feel, and some are reminiscent of music for Christmas time, particularly “Britain Positive”, due mainly to the instrument selection. “Valoria Ships” is another of my favorites from this album.

Finally, here are the lyrics. The poetry itself contains a great deal of emotion, but also a reference to the deep history of the game’s world, Brittania – and also, perhaps, a sense of the lost history of our own world. It makes me wonder what our own civilization will leave behind, and if anything is left, what people 2500 years from now will think of us. You can either sing along or imagine a famous bard telling the tale:

Long ago ran the sun on a folk who had a dream
And the heart and the will and the power:
They moved the earth; they carved the stone; moulded hill and channeled stream
That we might stand on the wide plains of Wiltshire
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