|Name||Gust Sound Team|
|Team Members||Tsuchiya Akira (土屋暁), Nakagawa Ken (中河健), Achiwa Daisuke (阿知波大輔)|
Gust Sound Team is not a band, not to mention it sounds too lame for a band name. Gust Sound Team is just a term to describe the team of 3 who work in Gust, a game company, and they are the music composers for most of the games developed. The team consists of Tsuchiya Akira, the leader of the music team and also the “Total Command” (as credited) for game development, Nakagawa Ken and Achiwa Daisuke. Most of their music is lighthearted, cheery and a little playful, except for the Ar Tonelico series. As mentioned a few times here and there on this site, they are the creators of the Hymmnos music – the vocal themes of the Ar Tonelico series. Hymmnos is formally defined below in the Hymmnos section.
- External Links
Gust is established in 1993, but the company only started to get a little recognition when the first game of the Atelier series – Marie no Atelier (マリーのアトリエ) was released in 1997. A number of games for the Atelier series were released in the next 10 years or so, although the English localization didn’t happen until recently for the newer titles. The team of 3 worked for the music for majority of the titles, composing the instrumental and also the vocal themes.
In 2006, a new non-Atelier game was released – Ar Tonelico. The style of the game was still similar, but Ar Tonelico had a significant change – the focus on vocal themes, which is collectively known as the Hymmnos songs. Ar Tonelico was localized, but it had mixed reception in the western world. Either way, this site is about the music not how well the game did. Ar Tonelico 2 was released about a year and a half later, and the distinctive music style was faithfully kept.
Was yea ra chs ieeya fhyu, that’s Hymmnos (it means I will become the wind of hope). Hymmnos is an artificial language created for the Ar Tonelico series, grammar structures and semantics are defined, dictionaries and various information regarding Hymmnos can be read in the official Hymmno Server site (Japanese). So why Hymmnos and why we do care? That’s because majority of the vocal themes in the Ar Tonelico series are sung in Hymmnos, with some in archaic or traditional Japanese. Thus, the vocal themes of the Ar Tonelico series are generally referred as “Hymmnos music” or “Hymmnos songs” on this site.
Clearly, just because the songs are sung in an alien language does not make them good. The Hymmnos music is unique because they often employ multiple layers of vocals, choruses, a myriad of instruments, and of course heavy chanting (for an example, the ending theme of Ar Tonelico 2 has 2 main vocals, 3 choruses and 22 instruments), and the end result is splendid. I wouldn’t say it is a sub-genre by itself, since the songs can be quite diverse. To best understand how they sound or feel, check out the samples.
This section details some of albums done by the trio. Note that this is not a complete discography. Each album listed contains a few handpicked sample tracks that I personally adore. Also, the albums are sorted by personal favourites.
Note: Additional “sample” link is included if the stream doesn’t work. <name> next to a track denotes the vocalist.
- Hoshiyomi~Hoshiyomi~ (星詠み～ホシヨミ～) (January, 2006)
- Legend of Ar tonelico ~Mule Seitan~ (～ミュール生誕～)
- Utau Oka (謳う丘) – Harmonics EOLIA - <Shikata Akiko>
- EXEC_CHRONICLE_KEY/. <Shikata Akiko> (sample)
- York of love. <Ishibashi Yuuko> (sample)
- Soyokaze no Omoide (そよ風の思い出) <Ishibashi Yuuko>
- EXEC_PAJA/.#Misya extracting <Shikata Akiko> (sample)
- EXEC_HARMONIUS/. <Shikata Akiko> (sample)
- Hoshiyomi~Hoshiyomi~ (星詠み～ホシヨミ～) <Shikata Akiko> (sample)
- Soyokaze no Uta (そよかぜのうた) <Ishibashi Yuuko>
- Mai Shoujo (舞少女)
I can’t express how much I love EXEC_CHRONICLE_KEY/., really. It starts slowly with simple violin, then moves on to aggressive chanting for a little until Shikata’s solemn Hymmnos singing kicks in. Coupled with the temperate violin accompaniment, EXEC_CHRONICLE_KEY/. is a theme filled with conflicting emotions of sorrow and longing. Hmm that’s probably the best I can put it.
EXEC_HARMONIUS/. is another theme with clashing themes to describe a character’s sacrifice going largely unappreciated. The initial phase of the music gives a feel of hope and peace, but a sense of doubt and hesitation emerges later to express the growing of distrust. EXEC_HARMONIUS/. also bears strong resemblance to church music, so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
In contrast to Shikata’s Hymmnos music, Ishibashi’s songs are all simple tunes with gentle singing, York of love is a good example. They are easy to the ears, although ultimately I still find them a little inferior to Shikata’s work.
To conclude, I think Hoshiyomi is a good introduction album for first timers. Still, it is important to realize that the Hymmnos music is a little eccentric and it can take a while to develop some liking.
- Tsukikanade~Tsukikanade~ (月奏～ツキカナデ～) (January, 2006)
- EXEC_LINCA/. <Shimotsuki Haruka>
- EXEC_PAJA/.#Orica extracting. <Shimotsuki Haruka>
- EXEC_RE=NATION/. <Shimotsuki Haruka> (sample)
- EXEC_SUSPEND/. <Mitose Noriko> (sample)
- EXEC_RIG=VEDA/. <Mitose Noriko> (sample)
- EXEC_PHANTASMAGORIA/. <Shikata Akiko, Shimotsuki Haruka, Mitose Noriko> (sample)
- Tsukikanade~Tsukikanade~ (月奏～ツキカナデ～) <Shimotsuki Haruka>
- MEMORY (sample)
Tsukikanade has a solid collection of good Hymmnos vocal songs, although my favourite track is the full instrumental MEMORY by Achiwa Daisuke. Don’t be fooled by its introductory phase, it’s not retro game music :p So what’s the attraction? I’d say it’s the magic of the mesmerizing koto.
EXEC_SUSPEND/. and EXEC_RIG=VEDA/., the 2 solo songs by Mitose are also top tier tracks in this album. Unlike Shikata who tends to overdub her vocal, Mitose has her own style of singing the Hymmnos with crisp and clear voice, if “emphatic” describes Shikata’s Hymmnos then “graceful” would be the word for Mitose. Shimotsuki’s work in the album are also respectable by themselves, but in my opinion they are overshadowed a little by Shikata’s and Mitose’s Hymmnos.
Now imagine combining all the singers together. The end result is “awesome” – EXEC_PHANTASMAGORIA/.. But of course, the credits don’t just go to the singers, Tsuchiya Akira, the man who composed and arranged this track has done an amazing job as well, for writing such a heterogeneous yet concordant piece of art.
- Mio~Mio (澪～ミオ) (October, 2007)
- Opening~Kyoumei Hannou (共鳴反応)
- Utau Oka (謳う丘) ~Harmonics FRELIA~ <Shikata Akiko> (sample)
- METHOD_IMPLANTA/. <Shikata Akiko> (sample)
- METHOD_METAFALICA/. <Shikata Akiko> (sample)
- METHOD_REPLEKIA/. <Shikata Akiko>
- EXEC_over.METHOD_SUBLIMATION/.~lamenza <Shikata Akiko>
- EXEC_over.METHOD_SUBLIMATION/.~ee wassa sos yehar <Shikata Akiko>
- EXEC_over.METHOD_SUBLIMATION/.~omness chs ciel sos infel <Shikata Akiko> (sample)
- Mio (澪) ~MIO <Shikata Akiko> (sample)
- Reisha no Komoriuta (聆紗の子守唄) <Ishibashi Yuuko> (sample)
- Towa ni Musuhite (永久に結ひて) <Ishibashi Yuuko>
- EXEC_HAIBANATION/. <Ishibashi Yuuko>
- Kizuna (絆) ~KIZNA <Ishibashi Yuuko>
Shikata is back and her tracks are short of nothing but amazing. I was a little skeptical initially if she can repeat her success but she had proven me wrong.
METHOD_IMPLANTA/. feels like the successor to EXEC_CHRONICLE_KEY/. (album Hoshiyomi), even though it’s not sung completely in Hymmnos, listening to it has a similar effect – it literally fills you up, emotionally. The same applies for the few sampled Shikata’s tracks, I find them really addictive ><.
Ishibashi Yuuko has more role to play this time, with a Hymmnos track EXEC_HAIBANATION/. to boot. It is actually quite decent, although due to lengthy play time (14 minutes) I couldn’t sample it. Her other songs are again like slow Japanese songs with a more eccentric arrangement. If you have had experience with her work in Hoshiyomi there’d be no surprise here.
Overall, Mio has lived up to my expectation and will certainly make a good collection for those who like Hymmnos music.
- Homura~Homura (焔～ホムラ) (October, 2007)
- BASARA (sample)
- EXEC_METAFALICA/. <Shimotsuki Haruka> (sample)
- EXEC_SOL=FAGE/. <Shimotsuki Haruka>
- EXEC_VIENA/. <Shimotsuki Haruka> (sample)
- Hartes ciel, melenas walasye. <Shimotsuki Haruka>
- EXEC_with.METHOD_METAFALICA/. <Shikata Akiko, Shimotsuki Haruka> (sample)
- Homura~HOMURA (焔～HOMURA) <Shimotsuki Haruka>
- EXEC_SPHILIA/. <Mitose Noriko> (sample)
- EXEC_DESPEDIA/. <Mitose Noriko>
- EXEC_HARMONIUS_FYUSION/. <Mitose Noriko>
- Kokoro Katari (こころ語り) <Mitose Noriko, Dahna> (sample)
- Sen~SEN~Kono Hanasaku ya (染～SEN～此ノ花咲ク耶) <Mitose Noriko>
Another album filled with wonderful tracks. Let’s start with my favourite track, EXEC_with.METHOD_METAFALICA/. by Shikata Akiko and Shimotsuki Haruka. As you may notice, there are a total of 3 versions of METAFALICA, one for Shikata, one for Shimotsuki, and one for both. They all share the same fundamental melody, although Shikata’s METHOD_METAFALICA/. is made to complement Shimotsuki’s EXEC_METAFALICA/. to produce the ultimate, perfect version EXEC_with.METHOD_METAFALICA/., listen for yourself to feel the magnificence.
Shimotsuki’s other tracks are mostly love or hate for me, in particularly I could never get into EXEC_SOL=FAGE/., I can’t say its hindu-influenced arrangement is very appealing. EXEC_VIENA/. on the other hand is just lovely and grandiose.
Mitose did not let the fans down once again, a killer combination of Mitose’s graceful and Dahna’s warm voice, her duet Kokoro Katari with Dahna is the first Hymmnos song with male vocal and also the first romance oriented track.
As a whole, Homura probably has more diversity in terms of music compared to Mio. If you like any of the previous Hymmnos albums, there’d be no reason to miss this one.
- Ar Tonelico II Original Soundtrack (October, 2007)
- Legend of Ar tonelico II ~Daini no Tou~ (第二の塔) (sample)
- Chiisa na Tabiji (小さな旅路) (sample)
- Genchou no Mori (幻聴の森) (sample)
- Varna (sample)
- Kuukou no Shoujo (空港の少女) (sample)
- Hi no Ataru Heya (陽の当たる部屋) (sample)
- Reisha no Komoriuta (聆紗の子守唄) ~Whistle~ (sample)
- Kane no Hibiki, Inori no Koe (鐘の響き、祈りの声) (sample)
- Zawameku Douki ~Luca~ (ざわめく動悸～ルカ～) (sample)
Vocal Hymmnos no more. Back to the instrumentals, Nakagawa Ken, Achiwa Daisuke and Tsuchiya Akira are all involved in composing the music for the soundtrack. Generally, the music in this album has a little more oriental influence compared to their other work (notably the Atelier series). A lot of good tracks in the album (check out the samples), with Kane no Hibiki being my favourite among favourites.
- Atelier Iris 3 Original Soundtrack (June, 2006)
- Kyouri no Hi (郷里の陽) (sample)
- Kiri no Shinyouju (霧の針葉樹) (sample)
- Shinpi no Suishoukoku (神秘の水晶谷) (sample)
- Seirei-tachi no Ranbu (精霊たちの乱舞) (sample)
- Seirei no Furusato for Grand Fantasm (精霊のふるさと for グランファンタズム) (sample)
- Kokoro no Meikyuu (心の迷宮) (sample)
- Taisetsu na Hito (大切な人) (sample)
- Rain of Blossoms (sample)
- Lorelei <Mitose Noriko> (sample)
Nakagawa Ken does most of the composing for this album, the opening single is detailed here and this soundtrack covers mostly the instrumentals and the ending themes.
Seirei no Furusato for Grand Fantasm is a remix version of an older track, and the arrangement is far superior to the original, producing a touch of modernism and mysticism. Flutes are also frequently utilized and a lot of tracks possess a homey, cozy feel. Kyouri no Hi is a good example, it is the title screen music and when I first heard it I was so drawn into it I stopped and listened in awe while staring at the screen.
All praise aside, I am usually not too impressed by the rock’ish, more upbeat themes done by the trio and have always felt that it is their main weakness, but Rain of Blossoms is a solid track and shows well the improvement and growth of the team (but of course, it is still not comparable to big names like Sakuraba Motoi/桜庭統). There are a few ending and insert vocal themes in the album, although they aren’t particularly good and so I’ve only sampled Mitose’s Lorelei.
I must say I am quite impressed by Nakagawa Ken’s work in this album, he has definitely proven how much his arrangement has matured over time.
- Ar Tonelico Original Soundtrack (December, 2005)
- Kimi no Omoi (君の想い) (sample)
- Airport Paradise (sample)
- Kioku no Kanata (記憶の彼方) (sample)
- Atashi no Sekai wa Nozumu ga manma (あたしの世界は望むがまんま) (sample)
- Sasage Uta (ササゲウタ) (sample)
- Koudou~Elemia Arrange~ (鼓動~エレミアアレンジ~) (sample)
- Sora no Machi (空の街) (sample)
- Loki (sample)
- Chornicle of Gene (sample)
Hmmm the instrumental pales a little in comparison to the epic Hymmnos vocal music. The whole team is involved in composing the soundtrack, although no individual credits are given, but I assume most tracks would be composed by Nakagawa Ken and Achiwa Daisuke. Not a whole lot to say on the music, it’s a good and light album for casual listening. On a random note, Chornicle of Gene is the official spelling, not a typo on my part.
- Gust company site (Japanese)
Gust’s official company page. Contains a little background information on the company.
- VGMDB, Tsuchiya Akira (English)
Tsuchiya Akira’s discography information.
- VGMDB, Nakagawa Ken (English)
Nakagawa Ken’s discography information.
- VGMDB, Achiwa Daisuke (English)
Achiwa Daisuke’s discography information.