Gǔ Jiàn II Deluxe CD review

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The Gǔ Jiàn II Deluxe CD is a treasure trove of wonderful music. Presented in a beautiful blue case the deluxe CD also contains sheet music. Yet even more beautiful than the casing is the music itself.CD 一

Total Tracks- 22

Track 1: 02:54 ☆☆☆
The opening theme, this is a perfect way to start the CD. The piece itself is beautiful, a gentle melody led by traditional instruments. Its sound is wonderfully suited to an ancient set game.

Track 2: [LIVE] 02:13 ☆☆☆
There is a slight electronic sound to this woodwind led piece. This helps in creating its cheerful and upbeat sound.

Track 3: 01:57 ☆☆☆☆
Mysterious and alluring, this piece is recognisable from trailers of the game. Soft and soothing, it evokes a magical atmosphere.

Track 4: [LIVE] 01:59 ☆☆
Another traditionally led melody. While it is a lovely piece to listen to it is unfortunately rather easily forgettable amidst the other songs.

Track 5: [LIVE] 01:01 ☆☆☆
The most upbeat song on this CD – if not on all of the CDs – it is a delightful snatch of pure fun. However, it is too short!

Track 6: 01:20 ☆☆☆☆
This track brings a drastic shift in tone. From upbeat and lighthearted it turns to the mysterious and mystical. It is an astoundingly atmospheric piece. This is one of the best on the CD, in my opinion.

Track 7: [LIVE] 01:55 ☆☆
A simple, trilling little piece. It is simple and rather plain so fails to stand out among the others.

Track 8: 01:30 ☆☆
This is quite a fun track, but either due to its slow pace or quietness it feels somewhat dull.

Track 9: 02:11 ☆☆☆☆
This is the first piece to be led by a piano. As with most tracks on these CDs led by the piano it is an emotional piece. This one evokes a bittersweet melancholy, a yearning. It is wonderfully immersive to listen to; especially if you close your eyes. It feels as though you are being transported to another world.

Track 10: 01:28 ☆☆☆☆
A dramatic track, it is highly atmospheric. The instruments masterfully build tension as the piece progresses in a way that feels natural, anticipated, like the slow rumbling approach of thunder.

Track 11: 01:33 ☆☆☆
Like the previous, this is also a dramatic track. It builds as it progresses, demanding your attention as it rises in atmosphere and volume. The quiet background of vocals is a magnificent feature and aid to this.

Track 12: [LIVE] 01:36 ☆☆☆☆
Dark and ominous, this piece is very atmospheric. However, what stands it apart from normality and raises it above what you would find otherwise are the lingering hints of yearning sprinkled throughout that add depth.

Track 13: 01:38 ☆☆☆
Rousing and fast-paced, this battle track provides everything that you could want when facing down your foes.

Track 14: 02:05 ☆☆☆
This piece again shifts the tone of the CD, exactly what you need after such heavy and atmospheric pieces. It is a lovely, calming melody that helps you relax.

Track 15: 01:36 ☆☆
While the cheerful little tunes interspersed are indeed welcomed, they quite often fall slightly short. This track does so particularly well. Despite being chirpy and feel-good, it is easily the most forgettable of all the tracks, adding very little and seeming even a little out of place in the CD.

Track 16: [LIVE] 02:11 ☆☆☆☆
This piece is a beautifully tranquil melody. Truly relaxing and peaceful, there is an indescribable quality to this track that raises it above the others.

Track 17: [LIVE] 01:33 ☆☆☆
This track harks a return to the battlefront. It is both rousing and cheerfully upbeat so that you can slay enemies with a smile on your face.

Track 18: 01:12 ☆☆☆
This is a soft and mysterious melody. Despite its swift end and simplicity it is a lovely piece to listen to.

Track 19: 00:57 ☆☆☆
The shortest of all the tracks, this piece is a wonderful little gem. Gentle and melodic, it is a quietening, sobering piece that is lullaby-esque.

Track 20: 01:15 ☆☆☆
A slow and melancholic piece, it gently ascends to a lovely light and airy sound.

Track 21: 01:58 ☆☆☆☆☆
This is the most beautiful song of the CD. It is quiet, yet dark. Sadness is woven throughout every note, resonating with wanting and wistfulness.

Track 22: 02:09 ☆☆☆☆
While following amiably on, this track shifts to a darker, more ominous atmosphere that is vaguely threatening. It rises and rises, gathering strength and power as it goes but does not deliver on the expected, waited for crescendo. A stroke of genius, and the perfect ending to match its perfect opening, it leaves you eager for more.

Thoughts-

This CD was beautiful. The songs were wonderful though some were, in regards to the  other CDs, slightly weaker. In particular, I found this with the ballads. Whereas I could listen to a constant stream of ballads on another of the CDs I felt that there were too many alike placed one after the other at the beginning. There was a slight disjointedness in the running order at times as well. Some of the tracks were too vastly different in style to follow appropriately after one another and this could be jarring at times though there were a few which, while differing vastly, followed beautifully.

Where this CD excels are the atmospheric pieces. Dark and ominous, melancholic and yearning, they were delightful.

☆☆☆☆


CD 二

Total Tracks- 24

Track 1: 01:54 ☆☆☆
While not the same, it is incredibly alike the opening theme of the CDs. This is not uncommon in any of the CDs, however, in this particular CD there are numerous which are similar. As with most, I feel that there has not been enough changed to warrant the track’s existence.

Track 2: 02:13 ☆☆☆
This track is melodious, soothing and peaceful. There is a slight repetition in the piece but it is not so obvious as to be detrimental. However, the ending feels quite abrupt.

Track 3: 01:35 ☆☆☆
A stark change in direction, this piece is dark. There is a slight undercurrent of threat which beautifully brings to life its ominous atmosphere.

Track 4: [LIVE 2] 01:37 ☆☆☆
This track is led by a string instrument which evokes a sound of desperate yearning and sorrow.

Track 5: [LIVE] 01:34 ☆☆
This piece is gentle and slow. The use of woodwind instruments and percussion create a lovely light sound.

Track 6: 02:08 ☆☆☆
This slow melody is beautiful in its simplicity. It is an immersive piece, easily transporting you.

Track 7: 01:54 ☆☆☆
This melody is lovely. It has a light and airy sound that is pleasing to the ear.

Track 8: 01:47 ☆☆
This gentle tune has slightly more of a rhythm than the previous tracks. However, there have been too many slow, gentle melodies before it for this piece to be memorable. More than that, there is little to differentiate them at this stage.

Track 9: 02:00 ☆☆
Another soft melody, there is a sound to this piece not unlike the flowing water of a stream or brook. A tinge of sadness lingers, yet not enough to stir emotions in the listener.

Track 10: [LIVE] 01:30 ☆☆
Though still slow, this track is slightly more upbeat and has a happy sound. Not particularly special, it is a welcome change in tone.

Track 11: 01:53 ☆☆
The moment of change in tone is over. And too soon. Though a lovely melody, it is too alike those before it. In other circumstances, it, like a few of the others, would have been given more stars.

Track 12: 01:36 ☆☆
This is another soft tune. It has a dreamy sound and would, if longer, be well suited as a pre-sleep playlist song.

Track 13: [LIVE] 01:26 ☆☆☆
Within the first few notes this track is immediately discernible as different. While still quite soft, it is more upbeat.

Track 14: [LIVE] 02:20 ☆☆☆
As earlier stated, there are quite a few songs spread across the CDs which sound similar to the opening. This is one of them.

Track 15: [LIVE] 01:30 ☆☆☆
Like track 13, this is immediately different. Dark from the first note, this piece is haunting. It oozes with atmosphere and mystery.

Track 16: 01:55 ☆☆☆☆☆
This is one of the most memorable tracks of all the CDs. It is heavily atmospheric. Like the previous, it is dark and mysterious. This is mostly due to the inclusion of Mongolian throat singing in the beginning though it should be noted that the quality does not lapse in its absence.

Track 17: 01:33 ☆☆☆
A battle track, it is upbeat and lively. While not quite as effective as the others so far, it is one that you would enjoy smiting enemies to.

Track 18: [LIVE] 01:58 ☆☆☆
Though a slow, sorrowful melody it is far higher in quality than most of the others found on this album. It is a mournful song.

Track 19: 00:47 ☆☆☆☆☆
Solemn and eerie, this is another stand out track. It is beautifully atmospheric, like church bells at the witching hour. Its downfall is its horrendously short time.

Track 20: 01:39 ☆☆☆
This track is sombre and austere, though like the others is weighted with atmosphere and tragedy.

Track 21: [LIVE] 02:27 ☆☆☆
This track, too, is much like the opening. However, it changes towards the end, becoming more its own.

Track 22: 01:19 ☆☆☆
Rising from eerie quietness, this dark track is creepy.

Track 23: 01:36 ☆☆☆
Another battle theme, this track is darker than the others. It is filled with the sense of threat.

Track 24: 02:04 ☆☆☆☆
This is stunning. It is a mysterious, heavily atmospheric track with an orchestral weight and sound behind it. If its context was known it would be easy to imagine this piece with enough weight to feel like a punch to the gut. As it is, if you were to listen to it, while beautiful and full of subdued emotion, it is somewhat of a hollow experience.

Thoughts

This CD contains beautiful, haunting tracks heavy with atmosphere and feeling. However, it is let down by the numerous tracks similar to the opening. The number and similarity of soft, gentle melodies is also disappointing. After the beauty of the first, this CD pales slightly though still is an excellent collection of music.

The atmospheric tracks are where this CD excels.

☆☆☆


CD 三

Total Tracks- 23

Track 1: [LIVE] 01:30 ☆☆☆

This CD opens with a sorrowful, dream-like melody that has a mournful sound.

Track 2: 02:17 ☆☆☆
A piano track, this is another emotional, atmospheric piece. The beautiful blend of piano and woodwind creates a wistful and melancholic sound with a soft mysteriousness.

Track 3: 01:34 ☆☆☆
Slow and serene, this piece evokes a soothing tranquility.

Track 4: [LIVE] 02:08 ☆☆☆
This track is a lovely, peaceful melody that is soothing to the ears.

Track 5: 01:31 ☆☆☆
This melody is a joy to listen to. It is dream-like and enchanting, alluring the listener.

Track 6: 01:36 ☆☆☆
This track is yet another similar to the opening. However, this is the one that stands out the most with an electronic sound.

Track 7: 01:35 ☆☆☆
Track 7 is a mysterious piece. It is quite slow but that is partly why it is so mystical.

Track 8: 01:35 ☆☆☆
This is a rousing battle theme. Whilst a good background to the chaos of combat, it is more than slightly jarring after the previous track.

Track 9: 01:36 ☆☆☆
Quite dark, this piece is eerie and ominous. As with the previous, this does not follow well.

Track 10: 02:09 ☆☆☆
A quiet and mysterious track, there are gorgeous vocals to start. However, whilst not following well, there is little to separate it from the other melodies.

Track 11: 01:26 ☆☆☆
A likely battle theme, it is rousing and thunderous. A sense of urgency is pounded into you with every urgent beat.

Track 12: [LIVE] 01:08 ☆☆
This is another too-soon return to melodies. Also, it is another jarring track that fails to continue on from the previous.

Track 13: [LIVE] 01:28 ☆☆
This is probably the chirpiest of the battle themes yet.

Track 14: 02:27 ☆☆☆☆
This is an atmospheric, solemn track backed by choral vocals.

Track 15: 01:55 ☆☆☆
Another mysterious sounding track. It sounds ominous and eerie, yet enchanting.

Track 16: [LIVE]01:38 ☆☆
By this point the sudden shifts in style are wearisome and somewhat grating. This track is yet another battle theme.

Track 17: [LIVE] 01:40 ☆☆
A soft, soothing melody, if it were not preceded by such an up-tempo track it would very relaxing.

Track 18: [LIVE] 01:36 ☆☆
This piece is quite serene though it is pitched a little high.

Track 19: [LIVE] 01:37 ☆
Plain, simple, it is an easily forgettable piece.

Track 20: 01:38 ☆☆
This is a quiet, slow piece but cheerful and happy.

Track 21: 02:09 ☆☆
Quite similar at times to the opening. This piece is soft and dreamy.

Track 22: 01:34 ☆☆
Another upbeat battle theme. It is frantic and fast-paced.

Track 23: 01:41 ☆☆
Vastly different from what came before this track is quite modern sounding. It’s upbeat and catchy.

Thoughts

This CD is both excellent and infuriating. I have listened to this CD five or so times over the course of writing this review. Never have I listened to it from beginning to end in one sitting. I couldn’t. The track list was exasperating. What most annoyed me, however, was the quality of the songs. I’ve given them mostly two stars but they are good songs. Some were above and beyond excellent but I could not tell you which because the drastic shifts in style caused them all to blend into one another. Thinking back, all I can remember is that they were good tracks, some amazing, and some beyond words, but the actual pieces themselves are difficult to remove from the muddle of styles.

They deserve better than two stars. However, as they currently list I can’t give them more than that. The experience of listening to a song isn’t simply about that one song. The experience also comes from the previous songs that are on the CD and for that they couldn’t be rated higher as they are on the CD. Singularly, they would have been given a majority of three stars.

The running order, I am convinced, must be based on how and when they are played in-game. Otherwise, this makes no sense. As it stands, listening to this CD sometimes feels like a chore. I find myself waiting for it to end. I can’t recommend this as I have the others. It’s the least favourite of mine.

What this CD did best was bring in a vaster mix of styles. There were more upbeat, up-tempo tracks. The last one, particularly, stood out. There were more battle themes too.

☆☆


CD 四

Total Tracks- 25

Track 1: 01:36 ☆☆
This CD opens with a quiet, soothing piece. The bell chimes interspersed throughout give it a relaxing feel. Otherwise, thought it’s nice it’s a little plain.

Track 2: 01:34 ☆☆
A departure from the relaxation of the previous track, this piece is ominous and atmospheric. The atmosphere is really helped by the excellent use of woodwind.

Track 3: 01:48 ☆☆
Though softer, this is a lovely follow on. It resembles the opening slightly. This piece is melancholic at times.

Track 4: 01:36 ☆☆☆
Tinkling, this carries a sense of urgency that only grows as the track builds. While the previous tracks were lovely, this is very much a turning point track that leads the way for the rest of the CD.

Track 5: [LIVE 2] 02:07 ☆☆☆☆
Slow, dysphoric, it is immediately recognisable from the trailers. A lovely, mystical track.

Track 6: [LIVE 3] 02:07 ☆☆☆☆
This is another performance of the Track 5.

Track 7: [LIVE] 02:14 ☆☆☆☆☆
You will also recognise this piece from the trailers. Vocals are most predominant in this one, giving it a dream-like, mystical atmosphere.

Track 8: 01:30 ☆☆☆
An excellent battle theme. Fast and rousing, it packs a musical punch. Perfect for vanquishing foes.

Track 9: 02:22 ☆☆☆☆
Unassuming in its start, this piece is powerful, stirring at your heart. It carries an emotional weight behind that is all made all the more powerful coming after a battle theme.

Track 10: 01:28 ☆☆☆☆
This track, a possible battle theme, whilst rousing, and fast, is darker. Its sense of urgency is all the more potent for it.

Track 11: 02:13 ☆☆☆☆
This is another performance of Track 7. However, this versions vocals differ. It still sounds dream-like, mystical. It is still one of the most beautiful and atmospheric pieces on this CD. However, this version veers more towards tragedy.

Track 12: 01:42 ☆☆☆
This track is frantic, urgent and dark.

Track 13: 01:34 ☆☆☆
A somewhat strange track. Looking at the title, it seems that it could be a reprisal… of Track 14. Dramatic, it stirs at the listener’s heart.

Track 14: 02:08 ☆☆☆☆
Track 14 is rousing, and , like the previous, dramatic. However, it stands out by a sense of important that the previous fails to capture, if it tries to at all.

Track 15: 01:34 ☆☆☆☆
A triple threat, this track is dark, dangerous and dramatic.

Track 16: 01:29 ☆☆☆
Even through listening to this CD it’s clear as day that the game is reaching its climax. This track is also urgent and dramatic. A sense of danger fills it from beginning to end.

Track 17: [LIVE 1] 01:39 ☆☆☆☆☆
A prime example of the way track lists work. After the dizzying heights of danger and urgency the listener is yanked back down by the sorrow and tragedy of this piece.

Track 18: 02:17 ☆☆☆☆
A possible reprise of Track 9. Heavy beats slowly die away in this mournful atmospheric piece.

Track 19: 01: 36 ☆☆☆☆☆
Like sunshine through clouds this piece lifts the atmosphere of the CD. Lighter sounding, it’s like a promise of renewal.

Track 20: [LIVE] 02:55 ☆☆☆☆
Track 20 is the perfect break-end, being the opening track of the first CD.

.

Track 21: 02:53 ☆☆☆☆
A mix of songs. Calming and gentle, sad and longing. It turns to a fast-paced, rousing battle theme.

Track 22: [LIVE] 02:06 ☆☆☆☆
Solemn and sorrowful, this piece stirs at the listener’s heart.

Track 23: 02:16 ☆☆☆☆
Its opening is reminiscent of folk songs. It begins quietly, gently and rises. The use of vocals becomes more evident as it progresses, adding to the solemnity.

Track 24: 02:10 ☆☆☆☆☆
A return to the dark and to the ominous. Quiet and slow, this piece is indeed atmospheric, but is understated in its approach which cannot be said for any of the others where similar descriptors have been used.

Track 25: 02:17 ☆☆☆☆☆
A beautiful, sorrowful and solemn piece. It is slow, grieving almost, but most certainly mournful. As these last five songs have been divided from the others, I have taken them separately though they are not. And, separate, this, too, is a perfect conclusion to a nigh perfect CD. For all the reasons given, this piece sounds like a farewell.

Thoughts

They say save the best for last. That they did. Solemn, emotional, atmospheric – this CD has it all. It starts slow, then turns slowly dark, dramatic, then to sorrow and to calm in its first part. A self-contained story. A beautiful story. Tracks 21 to 25 are titled under a divider. And so, therefore, I’ve taken them separately. However, the same can be said of it. They are two perfectly, beautifully contained stories.

The running order, too, a great concern of mine after the previous CD, was executed to, in my opinion, perfection. I didn’t feel that there was a single note out of place. Most of all, this CD felt like a farewell and that is the most beautiful touch.

There can be no ‘this CD excels in this’ for this CD. There can only be this CD excels.

☆☆☆☆☆

 

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