Review Summary: Koji Kondo clearly gave his all and did not hold back one bit, it's as if he broke free from the shackles of mainstream request and went all out on his desire to scare and thrill audiences.Soundtrack
Majora's Mask Sountrack: Review
After the expansive success of Nintendo's "The Legend Of Zelda" franchise, in the 8/16-bit era, from the NES/famicom to the GameBoy. Link would take an audacious step amidst the 3-Dimensional landscape, using the newly released N64 as a staircase. This opened up vast possibilities, most drastically aesthetically. But also notably, in Music.
Ocarina Of Time risen from this new dawn in Nintedo's history of the N64.
By 1998 it had sold over 820,000 copies, and up now it has sold a staggering 1.14 million copies in Japan. Shaping this new adventure would be the music of Koji Kondo, also known for his composure in the Super Mario franchise. From chasing Cuckoo's, to battling Dark Wizard Ganondorf, he was capable of creating an ideal soundtrack to entice the player in each situation, no matter how dark, violent, gleeful, or suspenseful the situation may or may not be. What players would hear throughout this behemoth adventure, was a balanced soundtrack, from beginning to end. Fitting for "The Legend Of Zelda" franchise, in which music also plays a role in each game, especially Ocarina Of Time and Wind Waker, clearly Shigeru Miyamoto had a sense of true power in music, and Koji Kondo must have had an understanding or relation toward him like none other.
The Sequel to Ocarina Of Time, "Majora's Mask" did not disappoint. The game is set in Termina, an alternate version of the usual landscape of Hyrule: far more grim, macabre, and overall creepy then what fans prior to it had experienced in Ocarina Of Time. And the soundtrack embraces this and is fitting for the overall aura and experience of the game, which also alienated many fans. Hosting a new sense of eerieness, gloom, and darkness.
This Soundtrack also has it's standard "Ocarina Of Time-eque" moments, in most cases they are re-arrangements of the original. But in my opinion, superior to the music featured in Ocarina Of Time. The theme for "Termina Field", for example; is a re-arrangement of Hyrule Field's Morning Theme featured in Ocarina Of Time. However it is clearly improved in this version, right from the beginning with the ambient reverb added to the brass and wind instruments. However in other exceptions, they expand on the original composition, with scores such as Zora Hall; an expansive version of the Original Zora's Domain theme featured In Ocarina Of Time. Or the Goron's Shrine Theme, an expansive version of the theme for Goron City, which it is very reminiscent of. And in other cases they are exact copies of the Ocarina Of Time versions, with little to none tonality changes. ("Fairy's Fountain Theme", "Shop Theme", and "Kepora Gebora's Theme" for example.)
On top of the nostalgic "Ocarina Of TIme-eque" moments, a majority of it's track list is new material. Which is superior to Ocarina Of Time and even more expansive then Ocarina Of Time's already variable track list, which is best broken down(for reviewing purposes) into these categories.
The Simplistic Creepers; Koji Kondo clearly gave his all and did not hold back one bit, it's as if he broke free from the shackles of mainstream request and went all out on his desire to scare and thrill audiences. "Majora's Theme" for example, despite being early in the game, features unconventional percussion, beneath the slow paced woodwinds, adding an "Odd" melody to it all, which sounds like a blatant homage to traditional-chinese-opera/chinese-theater. A re-occuring theme throughout alot of the soundtrack. Specifically in "Kamaro's Dance" is this theme emphasized. "Fencing Grounds", "Great Bay Beach", and "Ikana Valley" are prime examples of this. Ikana's Valley being especially terrifying.
The Tender Types; A common commodity in The Legend Of Zelda franchise which has lasted from the very beginning, which gives them every reason to return In Majora's Mask, despite being amidst all the new Chinese-theater-eque themes. The first score that comes to mind for this soundtrack is "Astral Observatory", a simply beautiful composition, standing out amongst a track list majorly dominated by gloomy or creepy scores. "Astral Observatory" features beautiful orchestral strings, classical guitar, and piano. Sustaining and flowing along with little to no percussion throughout.
The Big Band Theatrical Types; Common in the franchise, yet only really perfected during and after Ocarina Of Time. Though not having the popularity of Ocarina Of Time's iconic themes such as "Overworld Theme" or "Song Of Time" etc.. Majora's Mask has it's fair share of substantial, and large sounding scores. Such as "The Giants Theme", a picture-esque and beautiful melody featuring strings and harps, expressing overall a very depressing tone. "Deku's Nut Palace", a very majestic and somewhat Celtic score, using an expansive range of wind instruments and brass; instruments often favored in the franchise's soundtracks. "Commanding Vow", a haunting collection of chords accompanied by a depressing melody, majorly featuring a Church Organ, and almost in-audible strings far distant in the background, but overall comes across very soothing and beautiful.
Besides these three basic categories, the track list on this soundtrack spans far wider then any previous Legend Of Zelda soundtracks. Some of these scores even feel miscast amongst the whole franchise, such as "Woodfall Temple Theme", for example. An extremely tribal score both in percussion and melody, also featuring various animal calls, and peculiar native American chanting.
You will experience a deep sensation of individuality with this soundtrack in comparison to all other Legend Of Zelda soundtracks, it is unlike any other. It feels like a stray that was abandoned because it was too difficult and/or brutal, and a little hard to understand. Or as if it was Koji Kondo's one and only opportunity to really express that he could very easily inject a large dose of fear into the games that are so iconic and that many fans felt comfort with.. And this soundtrack, no.. This sequel threw that comfort away, replacing it with a vast new world of fear, solitude, and insanity. Right from the first track, "Title Demo", it kicks off with a standard Ocarina Of Time-esque melody, so very gleefully, but suddenly the whole concept of alienation materialises itself, as chaotic strings melt from the core and the joyous melody decays, introducing "Majora's Theme" in it's demise. The first track is a direct manisfestation that the comfort, understanding, and relation to Ocarina Of Time is gone, and that a new, unknown threat theives the throne, with a truely apocalyiptic soundtrack in his, or "It's" wake. Which only emphasizes the feel of an adventure in Majora's Mask as it alienated fans. And yet, that is what makes this soundtrack so charming, the difference, the macabre tone.. It draws you in and from then on, you are hooked whether it's a creepy score, a ballad, a joyous score, or even a tribal score.
If you can find this soundtrack, it is a must-have for those attracted to danger, fear, alienation, and undefinable music in the dawn of apocalypse, with little hope, and everything to loose. Simply put, it's thrilling and one-of-a-kind.