Not many people got a chance to play Xenogears when it was released in 1997. It was limited, as Squaresoft didn't believe it would sell very well. As things go, it sold out very quickly, and Squaresoft was left with a number of consumers demanding the hit title.
While I loved the story, the characters, and yes, even the battles, the greatest thing about Xenogears was the music. Yasunori Mitsuda is an orchestral genius, as he proves time and again, putting examples in all of his works, and namely his work here and in its sequel's soundtrack, Xenosaga.
Unlike Xenosaga, I do not know this soundtrack's sequence by heart, so I'm going to order myself in the game's order. Thus, I start with "Light from the Netherworld," a slow, suspenseful piece that eventually erupts into the violence that happens in the game as well. The quick music that ensues after the slow start is very sudden, and the eerie chorus that heads the three minute mark is what truly makes this piece come alive.
"My Village is Number One" is a very enjoyable, innocent piece that really make's one's heart fly. It can be appreciated in its light-heartedness for those who have never played the game, while for those of us who have, reminds us of how easily that innocence is shattered.
I have to skip along now, because there just isn't enough room to mention how good each piece is and why. "Knight of Fire" is an excellent battle music, and is made more interesting by the sound of orders going over a speaker in the background at certain points. It's the boss music, and is also reflected in certain areas with the Geblar forces. Later battle musics, such as in the Arena, don't quite match up to it, but all are put a step back by the final boss theme "Awakening."
"Dajil" is simply excellent. I love hearing the Middle Eastern mix within it, along with the varying instruments and singing of children, which also occurs in "Aveh."
While all these are great, and I haven't even tapped the wonders of "Shevat," nor the mystery and intensity of "The One Who Bares Fangs at God," there is one set of songs that really makes the Xenosaga soundtrack so grand, and also so well-loved, and that is the collection of love songs for Fei and Elly.
Fei and Elly may have the most beautiful love story there will ever be, but they certainly have the most beautiful music for that love story. "June Mermaid" is a popular example of these, as many show the awkwardness and the enchantment of the romance between the two. The musicbox melody (its name escapes me) is very intruiging and is hard to stop listening to. It simply beats right with your heart and gives a feeling of warm through its simple music with a complex and touching theme.
That theme comes from "Small Two of Pieces." Without this piece, the soundtrack just doesn't have as much strength. Without it, it would only deserve 4 stars. Joanne Hogg sings the beautiful serenade of Fei and Elly, and after hearing it and then listening to the musicbox, you can almost hear the words go along with the simple sounds. The music combines flutes and guitars to Hogg's voice, creating an incredible song, one that will stay in my memory for the rest of my life.