Akai Katana Shin Arrange Album

akaikatanashin Album Title:
Akai Katana Shin Arrange Album
Record Label:
Cave
Catalog No.:
CVAS-008
Release Date:
May 26, 2011
Purchase:
Buy Used Copy

Overview

Akai Katana Shin Arrange Album is the follow up to Ryu Umemoto’s Akai Katana Original Soundtrack. Arranged by Ryu Umemoto for the Xbox 360 port of the game, it also features some new themes as well. As before, it offers an interesting fusion of rock, electronic, and Asian influenced music; however, many of the themes have been expanded. How does the rearranged music compare to the original?

Body

With the remixed music, Ryu Umemoto decided to incorporate live guitar into the mix, replacing, at times, the synth guitar featured in the original soundtrack, while keeping the original accompaniment intact. For the select music, “Drawn Sword,” the live guitar really makes the theme much more energetic and powerful, combining its raw edge with the fusion of glitchy synth work, Asian woodwind harmonies, and some rock riffs. It’s short and repetitive, like most every other Cave character select music, but it’s still quite enjoyable. The same elements can also be heard in the stage clear theme, “Flash,” and the name entry music, “State,” with the latter being more laidback in nature.

Of course, the majority of any CAVE soundtrack is in the stage themes and here, Ryu Umemoto creates some extremely pleasing music. The first stage theme, “Nirvana Gate,” sets the tone for the stage themes with its energetic pace, the satisfying guitar line, especially with the addition of some wonderful harmonic guitar work, and the electronic accompaniment. It is a fantastic melody and really manages to continue with the tradition of high quality first stage themes. As with the original soundtrack, I think this version of “Koiguchi” is by far the best stage theme re-interpretation. The constant electric guitar and the progression of the melody is easily the best thing about this track, while the Asian woodwind accompaniment helps add some depth to the whole thing. The live guitar really works well in this theme, both in the wonderful harmonic passages as well as the expanded track, featuring a fantastic improvisation of the melody line that really gives it a lot more staying power. My second favorite stage theme is “Kurigata,” which plays during stage three. Of all the stage themes, this is definitely the one with the most stylistic fusion and manages to create an extremely pleasing atmosphere that works well with the snowy setting of this stage. The new additions really make it a wonderful re-imagination, with the more heroic guitar passages, electrifying guitar riffs, and stunning guitar harmonies.

The music for stage four, “Kaerituno,” is another successful tune that really matches the atmosphere of the stage itself. The beginning of the stage starts out underwater, and I think that the unique manipulation of the synth in the melody, combined with the electric guitar accompaniment, which is much edgier this time around due to the grungy live guitar work featured. It really captures the outset of the stage quite well. Of course, as the stage progresses, the battlefield changes to land and certainly intensifies, while the electric guitar provides a bit of a nice funk breakdown and subsequent solos. It’s a really interesting contrast, but I think it fits quite nicely with the accompanying drum pad work. It’s another wonderful addition to the soundtrack. The fifth stage on this soundtrack is one of the new themes. Entitled “Shitodome,” it really provides a very heavy contrast to the more upbeat stage themes on the soundtrack. Despite being upbeat, there’s a definite edgier sound than most of the soundtrack. The track opens up with intense guitar riffs before progressing into some more upbeat electric guitar work that really solidifies that raw sound heard in the riffs. It’s quite an intense theme that really manages to provide this sense of adventure. I particularly like the guitar harmonies in this theme.

The boss theme “Close Competition,” is an adrenaline fueled theme that accurately depicts the frenetic nature of Cave danmaku bullet patterns. The electric guitar melody combined with the fast paced electronic bass line makes for an exhilarating experience, especially given the raw edge the live guitar brought into the mix by replacing the original synth guitar. The final stage, “Kojiri,” is an orchestral and rock fusion that manages to really set an adventurous mood that signifies the end of the journey. The electric guitar melody line is heroic, bold, and really captures a lot of energy, especially the live sections, especially the expanded sections of the original that really provide a sense of authority through the live electric guitar passages. However, I’m also quite fond of the electric accompaniment that is heard throughout the piece. It really gives the orchestral sections of the melody a nice contrast. The last boss theme “Moment” is more reminiscent of the new battle themes that Umemoto composed for ESPGaluda II Black Label. The live guitar riffs really add a ton more energy to the mix, while the guitar accompaniment provides some slick reinterpretations of the melody, adding subtle nuances here and there, making a very powerful element in the re-imagined final battle theme.

Unlike the original, there are two ending themes, the original, “A Blooming Flower,” and the true ending theme, “Glory.” While both essentially use the same melody, both are quite different. The former is a stunning Asian influenced theme with traditional Japanese instrumentation such as the shakuhachi. In addition, the crystalline piano really helps add a beautiful ethereal quality to the music, like falling cherry blossoms. In addition, the electric guitar melody line references the main theme of Akai Katana, heard in the first stage theme, to wondrous effects, given its real instrumentation this time around. I also found the inclusion of the acoustic guitar to be quite beautiful, particularly in the beginning. The latter, “Glory,” has a much more contemplative approach, featuring somber guitar work, almost in the style of Yasunori Mitsuda. In the end, it’s a stunning theme with such raw emotion, providing both a sense of sadness as well as success. It, like “A Blooming Flower,” is one of the most beautiful Cave ending themes to date. There are also some FM synth versions of a few stage themes to act as a teasure for the full FM synth soundtrack featured on the Nin2-Jump Original Soundtrack, which are a nice treat if you aren’t able to get the soundtrack to that.

Summary

In the end, I think that Ryu Umemoto’s reimagined soundtrack is more successful than the original, thanks to the incorporation of some wonderfully done real electric guitar. I think he managed to capture the essence of the game quite well in his music and was also able to create an extremely pleasing listening experience as well. While the first soundtrack only featured 28 minutes of music, looped, this release is double in length, looped, so many of the themes have been expanded upon, making this a much richer listening experience. It’s also the definitive version of the soundtrack, if you could only choose one.

Akai Katana Shin Arrange Album Don Kotowski

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!

4.5


Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on January 18, 2016.


About the Author

Currently residing in New York, I spend my days working in antibody therapeutics and dedicate some of my spare time in the evening to the vast world of video game music, both reviewing soundtracks as well as maintaining relationships with composers overseas in Europe and in Japan.



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