In case my article on video game soundtracks didn’t make it clear, I’m big on video games. I see them not so much as some easy entertainment, but as an art form. A good video game demands a team of talented, creative people and a lot of time and effort. Usually, the team behind the game is what really brings it to life. Whether it’s one person or an entire studio. This is true of the many moving parts in games, like music, visual style, or unique mechanics. Often, I really start to pay attention when the music is good. I’ve found that if a game has great music, it’s a great game. They go hand in hand. However, team I’m about to introduce you to has appealed to me under slightly different circumstances.
It’s rare for me to listen to video game music without having played the game. All of the games I mentioned in my article on game soundtracks follow this trend. However, the music of Japan’s Falcom Sound Team jdk has left a serious impression on me, even though I have yet to play a Falcom game. The team works on music for the games released by Nihon Falcom.
To give you some background, the Nihon Falcom corporation is a Japanese company that develops role playing games. They were founded in 1981, and are known for pioneering action role playing games and JRPGs (Japanese role playing games). Falcom also played a big role in boosting the personal computer industry in Japan. One of their most famous game series is Ys, which has sold 4.8 million copies as of 2017. Falcom was also one of the first companies to create a dedicated sound team, and is considered a pioneer of video game music. Given my appreciation for the sound team’s music, it doesn’t surprise me.
Falcom Sound Team jdk was founded by Meiko Ishikawa in 1988, only a few years after the company was founded. They were first credited in the game Star Trader in 1989, and Falcom’s music has always been released under the name since. As a result, the composers and arrangers of tracks are unknown, even though each member of the team is credited in game. At first glance, the sound team may not seem interesting. But if you give their music a listen, you’ll see why I love them so much. Even though the team makes music primarily for the games, it can be enjoyed on its own. Distinctive melodies, tasteful chord usage, incredible rhythm and arrangements, and talented vocalists are all part of Falcom Sound Team’s style.
In particular, I love Falcom Vocal Collection I-IV. These albums are incredible to me. The singers are top notch, and the songs are beautifully arranged and performed. As far as the vocals go, I’m a fan of Shoko Minami, Naoki Watanabe, Akiko Sasaki and Tomohiko Kishimoto. Their songs can be found across all of the collections. Much like many of the other sound team records, the vocal collections contain music from various different Falcom titles, including Ys, Sorcerian, Dragon Slayer and others.
I will say, most of the music from the sound team that I enjoy has come from the 90s (Vocal Collection 1 was released in 1991, and the others came after). Therefore, I can’t say for sure if the sound team of today carries that same level of quality and polish. If the past is anything to go off of, though, the sound team is still as great now as ever. I’m a fan of the older tunes through and through, so if you want to listen to Falcom Sound Team jdk, start with the vocal collections; they’re my favorite to date. Falcom’s many compositions can be found on Spotify as well as on YouTube. Happy listening! And in case having to listen to Japanese vocals seems daunting, there are a number of songs sung in English or that contain English words.