Parallelus offers a new rendition of one of the most eclectic video game albums ever created — Yasunori Mitsuda’s soundtrack for Chrono Cross.
When fans such as myself saw the first trailer of Chrono Cross, we were intrigued. Was it even possible that a sequel could potentially match the love and affection for Chrono Trigger, a game that defined many gamers’ affinity for amazing storytelling? The pre-rendered movie, which contained dragons, magic, and inspired awe and wonder, managed to really showcase something unique, but it was the magical track “Scars of Time” that brought it all to another level. Its simple melody, played over a multi-layered swath of woodwinds and percussion, helped personify the game before players even got to play it.
Imbued with a fine selection of instruments, Mitsuda’s compositions for Chrono Cross brought a new style of music to the quickly expanding musicscape of video games. While most game soundtracks at the time were filled with rock or pop songs, each track in the Chrono Cross OST brought an island feel to it, with soaring clarinets, choral hits and a fair dose of heavenly strings. It is a gorgeous tribute to inspired creativity and, certainly, one of the best video game albums ever released.
Parallelus grants us an expansion to the beauty and dreamlike nature of the original tracks, breathing new life into a work of art that single-handedly redefined the craft. Each track is a tribute, whether it’s a direct take on the original or a divination of pure magic, combining multiple of the sources into one epic concoction. The following is a small reflection of each one of the seven tracks from this amazingly skilled, vibrant collection of reimaginings:
Dreamwatch of Time
This mashup of a collection of themes ranging from Chrono Trigger’s main theme to the title track from Chrono Cross itself offers a tale spanning both time and space. The banjo in this theme really encapsulates an adventuristic whimsy that fits so well, and amplifies the composition.
The mandolin in this track really helps capture the folk feel of Termina, as if it had been written as an Irish jig. Grab the edge of your skirt and dance your worries away to this gorgeous rendition sure to bring a smile to your face.
One of my favorite themes from the game, this piano-backed version offers a different approach, feeling more like a classical version with flourishes reminiscent of a screenplay. The clarinet really offers a new voice to the original track, and the woodwinds flutter in an angelic fashion.
Prisoners of Fate
This haunting and desolate piano-only track showcases a deep emotion that borrows from the main themes, providing a sense of hope amidst despair. The most somber song on the album, it really offers a deep reflection with a slower-paced deliberation to each note played.
This time research facility from the future was created with the sole purpose of carrying out Belthasar’s attempt to fix time as a whole. This track, however, offers up a full orchestra’s version of the mysterious station’s theme. The crossing violins blend over top of the piano playing out the main melody and as the bass and additional strings lock into their layers, it makes an uplifting trance-like feeling breach through.
The rhythmic swelling in this track brings a sense of power that runs through the song’s veins. A vocal shout in the middle adds strength to this epic theme where the mandolin honestly steals the show.
Life ~Faraway Promise~
Punctuating the key notes from the Chrono themes, then building up as a dramatic swell from the strings and finally releasing it into the “Dreamwatch of Time” theme is just perfect. It’s a beautiful sendoff to an album that not only knows its inspiration, but treats it with the utmost respect as it prances around themes with such poise and grace that it truly delivers a timeless work of art.
The arrangements in this album, provided by David Peacock, show a dedication to the source material while providing something new to discover, not unlike the parallel worlds in the game. Each track has a spirit that, while relatable to the essence of its reference, is unmistakably new, and the notes that both tracks share coalesce into a fresh experience that carries within it those echoes of the past. Chrono Cross and its soundtrack will forever carry on in my head from fond memories, but Parallelus extends that memory into the modern era, and I am thankful for the harmonies and expansions of greatness that it contains.
Grab Parallelus on Bandcamp or your favorite music service. Find out more about the Materia Collective on their website or by following them on Twitter.