“Tell me something… Do you ever feel a strange sadness as night falls?”
If you have no issues with the Twilight Princess videogame, then the soundtrack will afford no qualms either. A couple of the track names reference “spirits” or “sacred” things, but, as this album is purely instrumental, there are no objectionable lyrics or other negative content.
A 5-Year Quest
In 2006, a team of passionate Zelda fans got together to create one of the most ambitious projects in the history of its fandom. Under the leadership of Jeron Moore—the enormous fanboy behind Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses and The Legend of Zelda: 25th Anniversary concert tours—a new project began to emerge… one that would focus specifically on the first Wii title in the series—The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
“…the music for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess touched me like no other Zelda score had,” explained Moore, in reference to the project. “It connected me to Link’s heroism, his fears and struggles, his emotions, and ultimately the incredible adventure set before him. His experiences became my own, and, with that, the music became my gateway to that world.”
Zelda Reorchastrated (also known as ZREO) quickly took up this project as a part of its long-term endeavor to produce fan-mixed versions of all Zelda music. If you’ve never visited the ZREO website, or listened to their music, you’re missing out as a fan of the franchise. Thus far, ZREO has re-mixed and remastered the soundtracks of several games in the series, with their Twilight Princess album—a collection appropriately named The Twilight Symphony—being their newest, and most extensive, release.Like all of ZREO’s work, The Twilight Symphony is a combination of both synthetic and authentic sounds. However, this album marks the first time that the team has included live choir in their soundtracks (conducted by Tim Davis, who also led the vocals for Skyrim and FOX TV’s Glee). John Kurlander, who recorded the soundtracks for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, also provided his talents for The Twilight Symphony. Over 100 live instrumental recordings, buffered with synthetic elements, blend together to create the unique sound of the album.
Five years later, after many tasty hints and sneak-peeks, The Twilight Symphony has been released to the world. As a special tribute to the fans and the music, ZREO decided to release a physical album as well as a digital one, with pre-orders beginning back in November 2012. With a limited quantity of only 500, these sold in less than 14 hours, and the team decided to release one more batch—this one for 1,500 units.
I was fortunate enough to snatch up one of the last 100 copies before they ran out that month.
Let’s review, shall we?
Entering the Twilight
As a special bonus for purchasing the physical album, ZREO allowed buyers early access to the digital album (which released in both high-quality MP3 and FLAC formats). Thus, I was able to listen to the soundtrack long before the physical album arrived.
Let me just say this: the music is incredible. ZREO has done a phenomenal job in retelling the story of Twilight Princess in its own way, and it’s probably going to hit you right in the nostalgia after the first five seconds of any given track. The blended synthetic and live elements add a unique depth to the feel and tone of the compositions, and as this is a fan-generated project you can bet that nothing is overlooked in the emotional department either.
By listening to the entire album straight-through, you experience a re-telling of the whole Twilight Princess story. For example, in the “Twilit Ice Mass Blizzeta” track, you’ll be able to hear not only the boss theme, but also the music from the boss’ defeat, the descent of the Mirror Shard, and the peaceful aftermath. The “Hidden Village” track includes a snippet of Ilia’s theme, as she corresponds to the story. Through methods such as these, The Twilight Symphony weaves together a beautiful, mental portrayal of the storyline through music, just effectively as the game does through visuals.The album packaging displays an impressive amount of dedication from the team at ZREO. Each of the CDs bears its own unique design, with a different iconic symbol stamped over a dark Mirror of Twilight motif in the background, and a different piece of the Triforce highlighted to represent its respective bearer. The soundtrack unfolds into a long strip, backed by a beautiful, panorama piece entitled “What Is Worth Fighting For?” This charcoal artwork portrays Link and Midna gazing out over the sweeping land of Hyrule, with the young Ordan children playing before them, Shadow Beasts emerging from a portal far out in the fields, and the castle of Hyrule looming tall and broad in the distance. A golden, shadowed tint gives the piece an ominous calm to its design, matching well with the tones of videogame.
Inside a neat pocket within the album is a booklet, complete with developmental images, photos of the cast and crew, and credits to the musicians and vocalists. Those who contributed enough money during the project’s Kickstarter were rewarded with having their names listed proudly in the back of this pamphlet as well.
The entire soundtrack is safely stored inside a glossy, black slip-cover, depicting the project logo, the symbol of the Mirror of Twilight, and a list of the tracks. The designs are transparent, meaning that, when you slid the album inside, the artwork shows through the patterns in the slip cover–very nifty and pretty.
Overall, I am extremely impressed with both the packaging and the music. The soundtrack is incredible–some would even say flawless–and the efforts of the ZREO team ring through with every note. The packaging matches these efforts well, with one small nit-pick on my part: the album doesn’t slide out of the cover-slip very easily. When I first removed the soundtrack from the cover, I had to carefully shake it out for about a minute or two. Due to the tight fit, I don’t like storing the CDs in the slipcover if I can help it. Perhaps this is something specific to my physical copy, however.
Join the Adventure
If you love Zelda, love Twilight Princess, and love the soundtrack, then open up a new tab right now and head straight for Ebay. If you’re lucky, you might be able to win a physical copy, though their current rarity makes them rather pricy. As this product has been a 5-year labor of love, though, I wouldn’t be the one to raise my voice in protest. You’re going to want to snatch up this treasure chest of rupees as soon as you can. Alternatively, you can listen to the entire album from this Youtube channel (the user got special permission to upload the tracks). It’s a truly unique and incredible collection.
To close out in the words of project manager Jeron Moore:
“Twilight Symphony is the result of over 5 years of creative growth and is our impassioned tribute to the beautiful, well-developed story told through the music of composers Toru Minegishi, Asuka Ota, and Koji Kondo. It is our love letter to them and to you. We hope that through this re-imagining of the music from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, you are able to fully experience the musical gift their collective talents granted us back in 2006. Thanks for listening! We hope that you enjoy.”
The Bottom Line
The Twilight Symphony is five-year labor of love, made by fans for fans. You're going to want to snatch up this treasure chest of rupees as soon as you can.