What ho, Lusi-sprites.
In the spirit of our Stand Tall & Shake the Heavens feature, rather than indulge myself with my usual nostalgic whining or Sim worship, I am going to branch out just a tad and attempt a musical review. This will certainly be a review using only the loosest definition of the term, but a review nonetheless. Before we begin, I encourage all of you to click here to obtain the torrent for the album.
Humans + Gears is a compilation album by the good people at OC Remix. It is a whopping 33 tracks of fan tribute goodness. The album is separated into two “discs”, one for Humans, one for Gears as the album’s name may imply. This is representative of the dual nature of Xenogears, as most of the game’s elements alternate between being very science fiction and high technology, or very low-tech and deeply human. For example, you can fight in a gigantic robot, or engage in traditional hand-to-hand combat. You can visit towns that seem to be ripped out of the Dark Ages, or futuristic empires that rival any sci-fi film to date. As the album demonstrates, the soundtrack to Xenogears also runs the gauntlet from the soft and emotional, to the harsh and mechanical. The remix artists at OC Remix took this dichotomy to heart and remixed their favourite tracks into either a Human or Gear version, or man versus machine if you prefer.
The first 17 tracks of Humans + Gears make up the Human disc, and this is admittedly my favourite. The instrumentals and vocals have a ‘natural’ quality to them. Most (but not all) of the instrumentals tend to be soft, favouring strings and woodwinds. The defining element to the disc is the aforementioned natural quality. The instruments are all identifiable and easily played by anyone possessing the appropriate instrument and knowledge. The vocals are more or less unmodified and unfiltered. By comparison the Gears disc favours more of a synthetic, mechanical sound from both instruments and voices. Compared to the Human disc these tracks also tend to be a bit heavier, with a deeper bass and more percussion. The work as a whole is a fine example of the differences between man and machine, or humans and gears.
I could go into details regarding each individual track. However that would probably be very long and boring. I will single out a few, though. Consider them starting points, or tracks to sample before downloading the entire album. Beginning with the Human disc, the first track “Quickening” is a lovely, mellow little piece. “Of Sea and Fire” is a fun take on one of my favourite pieces from the game, I really enjoy the strings, I get visions of Maison and Bart dancing a jig when I listen to it. “A Trace of Tears” forms a nice bridge between the Human disc and Gear disc. There is a pleasant Earthbound-like quality to it. From the Gears disc I enjoy “Binary Chain”, it has a solid beat, and it offers a great counterpoint to “Of Sea and Fire” which is based upon the same original song and highlights the contrast between the two sections of the album. Finally “October Rain” is an enjoyable listen, being one of the more emotion-stirring tracks on that disc.
Check out the Humans + Gears official website for a full track list and downloads.