Bayonetta -Rodin’s Selection-
Bayonetta -Rodin’s Selection-
October 29, 2009
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I’ve been excited about the score for PlatinumGames and Sega’s Bayonetta ever since it was confirmed that Devil May Cry mastermind Masami Ueda and his Okami assistant Hiroshi Yamaguchi were scoring it. Since then, things have grown even more exciting with co-composer confirmations, beautiful samples, and the confirmation of a five disc soundtrack release. Bayonetta – Rodin’s Selection is a promotional album packaged with the game in Japan intended to preview some of the best tracks due to feature in the impending score. The result only heightens the anticipation about the release…
Hiroshi Yamaguchi opens the soundtrack with an incredible overture for orchestra and chorus. There are strong gothic influences created by the canonic presentation of the main melody and the glorious choir chants. This is entirely appropriate giving the nature of the main character — a witch from the dark ages strangely reminiscent of Sarah Palin. Although the focal elements of the composition repeat many times, Yamaguchi knows how to create a continually compelling five minute listen. Tear jerking piano parts, breathtaking choral counterpoint, and extravagant ascending chord progressions emerge as the backing strings continue to race. The production values are incredible, thanks to both the performances in the orchestra and chorus and the engineers that recorded and mixed them. It even exceeds the best material in the similarly gothic Devil May Cry.
Given the game is actually set in current times, much of the score has a modern feel and electronic influence. This is immediately evident with “Riders of the Light”, a stylish and progressive blend of light jazz and R’n’B influences. Yamaguchi really captures the feminity and frivolity of the main character with features such as the jazzy piano chords, slick synth parts, and flute decorations. There’s even a sassy female backing chorus. Those looking for something even catchier are in for a treat with the subsequent track, “Battle for the Umbra Throne”. Rei Kondo blends the punchy piano-based jazz focus of the previous track with surprising bagpipe infusions and flamenco guitar parts. It sounds so improbable in writing, but it is composed and implemented so well that it satisfies on every level. I guess those additional elements also help to represent the European setting of the game too.
Masami Ueda’s theme song for Bayonetta is likely to be one of the more controversial entries. It features many continuous aspects with the two preceding aspects, such as the light yet punctuated piano work and jazzy synth flourishes. However, the principle focus is Helena Noguerra’s vocals that have a very distinctive quality and seem to be electronically manipulated somewhat. Some will like the resultant soundscapes, whereas others will find them a little odd. Either way, this theme has good enough melodies and rhythms to still be enjoyable. This is the “Mysterious Destiny” version presumably used early in the game, so it’ll be interesting to see if there are other versions featured later in the soundtrack. Either way, it’s refreshingly different.
Those looking for moody ambient music will also find the Bayonetta offers so much to them. After a long break from this style, Masami Ueda makes his long-awaited return with “The Old City of Vagrid”. It’s written in a similar tone to certain Devil May Cry tracks with male chorus chants and tribal percussion. However, it blooms from its minimalistic origins into a highly emotional composition with lavish piano, oboe, and guitar work. So dark yet so beautiful. “The Gate to Hell”, composed by Hiroshi Yamaguchi but miscredited to Masami Ueda on the booklet, closes the album. It is a lounge jazz piece featuring a melancholy trumpet performance by Yohei Ichikawa and sublime supporting piano work. It seems to reflect a new aspect of Bayonetta and set foundations to a more personal arch that will hopefully be resolved in the full soundtrack release.
If this is just the gateway into a bigger and darker things, I can’t wait to see what the full five disc score offers. The score had the risk of sounding superficial with its sexual undertones or incohesive with its blend of influences, but it appears that the composers didn’t fall into that trap. I hardly expected them to, given I know Masami Ueda as the master of fusions in the industry, but even I was shocked at just the quality of the offerings here. It’ll be interesting to hear how the music team of Bayonetta will elaborate on the frivolous yet heartfelt, modern yet gothic aspects of the score while offering plenty of novel contributions along the way. Now just a few days away, I think the soundtrack will prove to be a must-have.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on January 22, 2016.