The Lost Angelic Chronicles of Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey Soundtrack, Jordan Steven, 2011
With the rise of mobile gaming, one of the most popular genres of the 16-bit era made its triumphant return: 2d JRPGs. Given that these games often came with amazingly varied and ambitious soundtracks, the resurgence of these sorts of games heralded good news for game music fans. One of the best retro-styled JRPG scores of the new millennium turned out to be The Lost Angelic Chronicles of Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey.
Intriguingly enough, there’s not a huge amount of information on the game out there. Dragons’ Odyssey is the localised version of a Japanese mobile RPG called Lost Memory of Angel Story Frane 3. A PC version was released on Gamersgate (which is not available anymore at the time of writing in 2018) and a planned Steam release never materialised. The available screenshots suggest a fairly generic product but give no indication of whether Dragons’ Odyssey featured strong gameplay or not.
Despite being married to a rather unassuming game, the The Lost Angelic Chronicles of Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey soundtrack is an impressive achievement. The fact that the music came from Jordan Steven Aguirre – aka bLiNd – might initially have been a surprise. One of the most established contributors to OverClocked ReMix, Aguirre had made a name for himself with his electronica game music remixes.
But the orchestral/rock nature of the The Lost Angelic Chronicles of Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey soundtrack has in fact deep roots in Aguirre’s musical background. A fan of Nobou Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda, Aguirre had worked from 2007-2010 on music for an RPG demo to companies like Square Enix, tri-Ace and others. While the game was ultimately never made, it landed Aguirre the gig on Dragons’ Odyssey. In fact, his demo – released under Aguirre’s ‘Jordan Steven’ moniker – was strong enough to convince developer Exe Create to let Aguirre completely rescore the game for the US release. Ultimately, Aguirre stated that he had been preparing for a project like Dragons’ Odyssey for nearly six years.
The passion and labour that has gone into the two-hour long The Lost Angelic Chronicles of Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey soundtrack quickly becomes obvious. Aguirre certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel here and instead fulfills the clichés of 16- and 32-bit JRPGs at every turn – but he does it with such expertise and panache that the result is a constant delight. Crucially, Aguirre manages to put strong melodies (note the plural) at the centre of almost every track, constantly coming up with new, ingratiating melodic ideas. What’s more, he turns nearly each composition into a richly arranged collection of musical thoughts – orchestrations are consistently lush and attractive, melodies will often play in enticing counterpoint to each other and compositions rarely stand still, developing beautifully from one section to the next.
Looking at any of the numerous location tracks on the The Lost Angelic Chronicles of Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey soundtrack proves Aguirre’s gift for beautiful melodies. Be it “Snow Angels”’ unexpected acoustic guitar lead against heavy strings and melancholy woodwind, “On the Upside!”’s bouncy pop influence that recalls Hiroki Kikuta’s Secret of Mana or the pastoral beauty of “When the Sun Shines” and “When the Birds Sing”, all these cues charm with their colorful and warm tunes. And Aguirre easily slips into less contemplative styles to fittingly underscore some of the game’s locations: there’s the requisite excursion into big band jazz for “Lucky Seven”, the crunchy hard rock of “Fired Up!” that turns out to be a perfect fit for its arid desert location, and the awe-inspiring, yet hushed orchestrations of “Sanctum Sanctorum” that support some quirky melody progressions to evoke the required ethereal atmosphere.
The music’s constant melodic richness and youthful sweep help make the world that the The Lost Angelic Chronicles of Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey soundtrack creates an inviting and optimistic one. Even locations like the – once again indispensable – Gothic manor and mines are scored with full-bodied compositions that turn these spaces welcoming and emotionally resonant, as witnessed by the yearning, languorous saxophone and trumpet lines on “Clauveh Mines”.
All these qualities are equally found on the album’s many boss battle tracks. They maintain the soundtrack’s impressive quality, enjoying the opportunity to throw in more pronounced rock and electronica elements to merge with the expertly handled orchestral synths. The results are constantly powerful and energizing, despite their constant adrenaline rush maintaining the score’s confident, buoyant outlook. This even goes for a composition like “Angelus Domini”, which despite the inevitable church organs in full flight retains its lightness of touch through solo flute and violin counterpoint. There’s more than enough gravitas on display, but Aguirre never overburdens textures despite the number of instrumental forces at play. And he manages to sneak in the soundtrack’s greatest surprise in the shape of “Playing the Harlots”. Starting out with Latin dance rhythms and zany organs before moving into raucous brass fanfares and Santana-esque guitar leads, this is easily the album’s most original track.
If there is one impression that the The Lost Angelic Chronicles of Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey soundtrack leaves, it’s that this is the work of a talented composer who tackles the assignment at hand with plenty of enthusiasm, aiming for as big and varied a score as possible. Nowhere is this high-flying ambition articulated more clearly than on epic final boss track and ten-minute behemoth “Fugare Draco”. The composition’s surprisingly pronounced dynamic changes – all the way down to pianissimo – only help to underline its monumental stature once the music’s intensity ramps up again and Aguirre’s decision to add uilleann pipes in a distant reverberant acoustic is a striking method to imbue the music with otherworldly majesty. While Dragons’ Odyssey might very narrowly miss the same standard of excellence as say fellow retro JRPG score Cthulhu Saves the World, it is among the best Western RPG scores of the new millennium.
Purchase on Bandcamp.
This playlist is a curated selection of music from the soundtrack album.
- 01 - Serenity (Demo Movie) Steven Jordan 1:03
- 02 - On the Upside! (Happy Theme) Steven Jordan 2:09
- 03 - Snow Angels (Peta's Village) Steven Jordan 4:34
- 04 - Dark of Day (Clauveh Mine) Steven Jordan 4:08
- 05 - Determination (Clauveh Mine Boss) Steven Jordan 2:40
- 06 - Lucky Seven (Shamrock Town) Jordan Steven 2:25
- 07 - Fired Up! (Krokopp Desert) Steven Jordan 3:38
- 08 - From the Ground Up (Krokopp Desert Boss) Steven Jordan 3:41
- 09 - Can You Hear the Snow (Peta's Village Outskirts) Steven Jordan 3:14
- 10 - Playing the Harlots (3 Sisters Boss) Steven Jordan 3:15
- 11 - When the Birds Sing (Ranyan Village) Steven Jordan 2:49
- 12 - Lord of this Manor (Denarius' Manor) Steven Jordan 3:29
- 13 - Rest in Peace (Manor Boss) Steven Jordan 2:57
- 14 - Somber Souls (Lebannah Village) Steven Jordan 3:18
- 15 - The Baron's Estate (Cordova's Manor - Normal) Steven Jordan 2:38
- 16 - What'll It Be? (Shop) 2:20
- 17 - Outlawed (Brigands' Hideout) Steven Jordan 3:03
- 18 - Beat the Drum, Beat the Band (Brigand Boss) Steven Jordan 3:02
- 19 - Hell's Angel (Denarius' Theme) Steven Jordan 4:20
- 20 - Tension (Cordova's Manor - Destroyed) Steven Jordan 3:37
- 21 - Life More Abundant (Ranyan Village) Steven Jordan 2:45
- 22 - Sanctum Sanctorum (Manato Temple) Steven Jordan 4:08
- 23 - Angelus Domini (Manato Temple Angel Boss) Steven Jordan 3:02
- 24 - Hades Beckones (The Underground) Steven Jordan 3:58
- 25 - Holy Priest (Grude Boss) Steven Jordan 2:51
- 26 - Bloody Rose (Denarius Boss - Rose Garden) Steven Jordan 2:32