The Vision of Escaflowne Original Soundtrack: Over the Sky
Over the Sky is a soundtrack that continues a tradition of fine symphonic albums inspired or drawn from the world of anime. If you have heard any of that gorgeous BGM (background music) from the Escaflowne series, this album is just what one would expect -- glorious orchestrations, sweeping chants, and chiming melodies. The vocals that grace both ends of this album also make for a surprisingly nice change in pace and feel.
First on the disc is the opening song "Yakusoku wa Iranai", sung by a young 16-year-old Sakamoto Maaya, who is also Hitomi's voice actress. The song itself is a touching ballad with largely acoustic accompaniment, which makes a rather welcome break from the hodgepodge of J-Pop mush that we usually get today for anime OPs. The album version of the song doesn't differ drastically from what we hear every week, save for a short bagpipe solo in the bridge.
Tracks 2 to 12 are all orchestral BGM, with the composing credits going to the gifted duo of Kanno Yoko (Macross Plus, Memories) and Mizoguchi Hajime (Please Save My Earth). As if this wasn't enough, the pieces are given solid performances by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir. The BGM here is among the best this reviewer has heard, alternating from doomsday claustrophobia and billowing symphonic sections to melodic solos. The only major fault are the chanting "Escaflowne"s set infinitely on repeat in pieces like "Dance of Curse" and "Murder". This is easily forgiven, however, upon listening to the tracks which follow. From the graceful "Angel" (which is the key theme for Van's mother) to the elegant "Eyes", the music here is all prime material. Between them are the Queen and King of this album -- "Romance", a slow number which features a tender solo piano exchanging dialogue with the strings, and "Gloria", a sweeping orchestral piece which sums up the whole series in the space of 7 minutes.
On a different note is "Empty the Pocket", a sprightly image song that I haven't heard in the show itself. The next track, "White Dove", is an English song. It opens with a strange introduction whistling all over with winds and pipes (you may have noticed this in the beginning of the very first episode) and leads into a nicely paced road tune. The last vocal of the batch is a poppy "Mystic Eyes", which is the ED song -- this needs no explanation.
The last track is a quiet music box rendition of the OP theme, literally winding down the album. This soundtrack is the first of four, if we exclude the drama CDs, and the only one with the original version of the OP (already a classic). Only on the "For Fans Only" soundtrack can we find another take of the song. This alone probably will be enough for fans of the show to buy the CD, albeit at a hefty US$27-30. If you enjoy solid BGM and/or classical music, then there's no choice but to go get it. In short, Over the Sky is one of the best anime albums ever.