Between Earth and Sky (Music from "Chrono Trigger")
By Julia Henderson
Published by: Materia Collective
Julia Henderson: Producer, Arranger, Lyricist, Vocals, Mix Engineer
Alejandro Hernández: Mastering Engineer
Lorenzo de Sequera: Album Art
Thank you Materia Collective for sending us this album on MP3 to review!
Chrono Trigger is one of those rare games that actually deserves all of the unbridled praise that it gets. It was also a capstone on the total domination by the 1990s Squaresoft during the Super Nintendo era of RPGs, and is an absolute classic still worth playing today. One of the many ways in which Chrono Trigger excelled was in its music.
It's funny; during this era, Nobuo Uematsu was king of the Final Fantasy music empire, and while he did contribute to Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, the majority of the truly memorable tracks came not from him, but from Yasunori Mitsuda's excellent compositions. It is from these that Julia Henderson takes her inspiration in the development of this album.
It is only six tracks, and just over twenty-three and a half minutes long. Thankfully, the price is quite reasonable at only $5 on Bandcamp; at that price, it's well worth it.
Memories of Green is music you hear early in the game and is a perfect song for the first track. It's the overworld song from 1000 A.D., which is where you start. It's also mellow and has a mysterious mood. Julia does a great job on the synthesizer and flute, but her voice, where she adds vocals to an otherwise instrumental piece, is remarkably good. Her voice is hauntingly beautiful, in an appropriate way. The other artists who join in, on the violin and clarinet, all come together to make a beautiful piece.
The next track is Battle with Magus, which has always been my favorite track in the game. The titular character is also one of my favorites. This one starts off slow and quickly ramps up into the heaviest song on this collection (and rightfully so). It's a lot of fun, and has no words but plenty of vocals to act as instruments in their own right. It is an excellent homage to an excellent song.
Corridors of Time is once again more mellow, with piano, and Julia's beautiful voice once again anchoring the song. It goes into a bit more later in the song, adding bass and guitar. It does a good job keeping the tone of the original in this arrangement.
After this is Schala's Theme, which is a critical song that sets the tone for a very important part of the game. Here, Julia once again sings along, this time with an oboe and violin. It's another beautiful song, and I enjoy it quite a bit.
Wings That Cross Time is the second-to-last song on this album, and probably the most thematically unique. Rather than being orchestral like most of the other tracks, it's played in a smooth jazz arrangement. It makes sense, as the song is much more melancholy in-game as well. Julia sings quite a bit, but with few actual words, instead relying on phonetic sounds that fit the moment of the song. I like it, but it probably departs from the source material the most of the songs in this album.
The final track, World Revolution, is frankly a must-include song in any Chrono Trigger sampler, and this most certainly does not disappoint. It is the final boss music and a glorious rendition at that. It is complete with heavy synthesizers, vocals, and a solid horn section to bring it home. And a flute is called upon when needed also. This song sticks quite closely to the source material for the first half, then lets you down gently as the song wraps up.
This short album does an excellent job of picking up arguably the six most important songs in all of Chrono Trigger and giving them the most lovingly inspired arrangements I could have imagined. I normally am not a fan of vocal arrangements in general, as I mostly prefer instrumental music, but they did as good of a job as anyone could have with these six songs. The production quality is also excellent; despite them being MP3s, I found the sound to be quite good. I imagine the FLACs available at Bandcamp would sound even better. I also love how each song flows, one into the next - while they can be enjoyed in a shuffle fashion, I would strongly discourage that; this is a short album, and should be listened to in one sitting, consecutively. And when you do, your love for one of the best games of all time may come rushing back to you.
Bravo, Julia Henderson. Bravo. If you love Chrono Trigger as I do, do yourself a favor and check out this fantastic album here.