The Music of Atelier, Vol. 11: Atelier Escha & Logy – Alchemists of the Dusk Sky

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As the series has progressed, the distinctive sound of Atelier has evolved, too.

This is partly due to the composers involving themselves in the games’ soundtracks changing over time, and this becomes particularly apparent throughout the Dusk series. Ken Nakagawa, the man behind much of the distinctive “Atelier sound” that was established between Atelier Viorate and Atelier Meruru, stepped aside, and others, including Gust regular Daisuke Achiwa, stepped in.

Perhaps most notably, Atelier Escha & Logy is where composer Hayato Asano stepped in, and while his time as a Gust employee was relatively short — he now works as a freelance composer, with several further contributions to Gust to his name — he definitely had an impact on how the series sounded from hereon. So let’s take a look at a selection of music from Atelier Escha & Logy’s soundtrack!

Milk-Colored Ridge

We begin, as always, with the theme for the opening video. In this instance, it feels like a significant departure for the series; the pounding drums give a much more aggressive feel to the music than we typically associate with the series, and there’s a distinct feeling of melancholy to the vocals in particular.

The overall timbre of this track ties in nicely with the rather “weathered” visual aesthetic of the Dusk series as a whole; there’s a pleasingly rough yet rich “edge” to this theme which sounds like you’d listen to it on an old record. At the same time, some of the melodic patterns and rhythms feel distinctly “traditional” and reminiscent of folk music, so there’s a definite connection to the classic Atelier sound here, even if it might appear very different at first listen!

Autumn Collapse

This track, heard while you wander the streets of the game’s main town Colseit, gives a good sense of the melancholy that the Dusk has brought with it. There’s a certain sense of resignation to the melody in this, but the sweet tone of the flute also provides a feeling that hope hasn’t quite died just yet.

This is perfectly in keeping with what Colseit represents. While it is a settlement that, like any other in the world of Dusk, has its own struggles, its thriving apple orchard stands as a symbol of hope for others.

Apple Tree

This piece of music, heard in Colseit’s aforementioned orchard, highlights the importance of the town’s symbol of hope. The apple harvest comes reliably every year, faithfully overseen by Escha’s father and the automaton Clone, and the whole town appreciates what it represents.

The apple orchard is a calming place to hang out that always feels like a safe haven away from the world’s woes — which is why a number of the game’s most important scenes unfold there.

A Flower That Blooms Alongside Part 2

Nio’s theme for Atelier Escha & Logy has a noticeably fuller, richer sound than many other pieces of music on the soundtrack. This can be interpreted as a representation of the fact that she comes from a different part of the world to Escha and Logy, and has brought elements of her own culture and outlook on life with her.

It’s also a great reflection of Nio’s personality; she’s perpetually upbeat and cheerful, and in the intervening time between the end of Atelier Ayesha and the start of Atelier Escha & Logy, she’s clearly matured and become a lot more independent — partly out of necessity.

Tail Numbers One & Two

Escha’s theme is unspeakably perfect. It captures her nature and personality flawlessly, and is a pleasure to hear any time it comes up. As a character who always does her best to see the positive side of whatever is going on, it’s entirely appropriate for her to have such a bouncy, cheerful theme — and it helps to make it all the more heartbreaking when she does have some emotional scenes over the course of the story as a whole.

It also acts as a nice contrast from the melancholy of many of the other themes in the game. Escha herself is a contrast to the general mood and atmosphere many of the other characters in the game create, so it’s fitting that her personal theme reflects that.

Corpse

Here’s a good example of that melancholy sound at work, heard in some of the game’s dungeons. This one is particularly noteworthy because there are definite hints of Atelier Ayesha’s spectacular final boss theme MARIA in here — if not exactly in terms of melody then certainly in some of the harmonic formations and the overall “grand” sound of it.

This track in particular helps highlight a sense of sadness that relates to the “lost age” of alchemy that Escha, Logy and people like them are investigating. It represents the fact that they are uncovering many wonderful and varied truths — but also are constantly aware of the fact that many of these truths, indirectly or directly, led to the destruction of a civilisation and the dying world they live in now.

Fulcrum

This track, heard in battles against strong enemies throughout Atelier Escha & Logy’s world, is a great example of Hayato Asano’s distinctive sound, which longstanding Gust fans will also be familiar with from works such as the excellent Nights of Azure and its sequel.

We’ve got high-energy rhythms, howling guitars, dulcimer melodies… it all just combines together beautifully in a wonderful blend of modern and traditional that really gets the blood pumping for a challenging fight. (Unless you’re on a New Game Plus run, that is, in which case you’ll probably flatten everything in a matter of seconds.)

The Pen & the Sword, Part 2

At the other end of the spectrum, we have tracks like this, which demonstrate a strong jazz influence on a number of the game’s pieces of music. This specific track is a take on Linca’s theme, first heard in Atelier Ayesha. In the previous game, Linca’s theme was a much more sweeping, slightly Eastern-themed affair, but here in Atelier Escha & Logy, it has mellowed into this rather smooth, jazzy affair — perhaps to demonstrate how Linca has matured over the years.

The use of jazz music in Atelier Escha & Logy tends to coincide with anything involving the government offices or the town of Colseit. In this sense, it provides a distinctly “urban” feel that stands in stark contrast to tracks like Corpse above, highlighting the difference between today’s world of Dusk, and the lost age of alchemy the people of Dusk are researching.

Lonely Queen Bee

As is probably pretty apparent by now, Atelier Escha & Logy’s soundtrack is one of strong contrasts — and here’s another one. This one is the theme for the character Flameu, who becomes the game’s final boss.

The thin texture of this piece, the use of acoustic orchestral instruments and the delicate, dance-like rhythms highlight Flameu’s fragility perfectly, helping us empathise with her and perhaps come to understand why she does some of the things she does. She’s not truly evil, after all — and that means she’s certainly not beyond redemption.

Sweet Reward

Atelier Escha & Logy’s soundtrack ends as it begins: with a sense of melancholy, and perhaps a bit of regret. It’s a bittersweet ending for sure — with the emphasis on either “bitter” or “sweet” depending heavily on which specific end sequence you get! — as you know that despite the fact this story is coming to a close, the world of Dusk still has plenty of struggles ahead of it.

Like Milk-Colored Ridge, Sweet Reward provides a nice “lo-fi” feel that complements the weathered look of Atelier Escha & Logy’s visuals very well. It’s a suitable conclusion to a game whose narrative produces a variety of emotions — and a sign that the future of the Dusk world is going to remain shrouded in mystery for a while yet.


cropped-atelier-megafeature-header-1.pngThis post is one chapter of a MegaFeature!
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More about Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky
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