Catherine Original Soundtrack
Catherine Original Soundtrack
February 23, 2011
Buy at CDJapan
In 2011, Shoji Meguro took a much-deserved break from penning Megami Tensei soundtracks in order to score Catherine, a bizarre title featuring a little bit of everything (including erotic and horror elements). Despite sounding very much like a niche title, the game was a surprising success in Japan and topped the charts on the week of release. The instrumental soundtrack for the title will no doubt prove a hit among a certain audience too. It builds on Meguro’s contemporary scores for the Persona series while offering some fascinating twists, offering tracks fitting both parts of the peculiar cover.
The soundtrack opens with a brief vocal theme, “YO”. Meguro’s rap tends to be hit-and-miss for me, and this particular piece is a clear miss. Though some of the lyrics assert a cool attitude, the repetition of “Yo” is extremely obnoxious. The backing track also seems thrown together and lacks the creativity of favourites like Persona 3‘s “Mass Destruction”. Sadly for fans of Meguro’s J-Pop, there are no other vocal tracks on this score and this leaves relatively few setpieces on offer. However, a few tracks such as “Jouji Washington” and “Lamb Game…” do hint at the sensual R’n’B sound Meguro developed for the Persona series and help to uniquely define the soundtrack. The former even fuses this with some eerie string components to represent the nightmarish scenario of the game.
Compared to the Persona series, much of the music of Catherine tends to be quite soothing and relaxing. In “Also Sprach Brooks”, for instance, Meguro blends lounge jazz improvisations with some soft electronic grooves. While the individual components are very simple, Meguro somehow manages to really communicate to listeners with them. He inspires further relaxation with further piano-based tracks such as “Stray Sheep”, “Lost”, and “Roux”, but still colours them in an individual way to fit the game context. The occasional blues chords and unresolved progressions of the former, in particular, have a subtle but significant effect on the mood. The emotions this track expresses, despite their basic components and sampled instruments, are a testament to Meguro’s artistry.
That said, there are plenty of darker tracks on the soundtrack. The piano returns on “Mt. Lamb”, but this time as a hostile component in conjunction with tremolo strings. This track certainly complements game’s nightmarish scenes, with its personal focus yet underlying hostility. Despite its nuances, however, the stylings are too clichéd to be particularly impressive. Meguro adds to the personal torment with tracks such as “Stalked in the Dark”, “Tension”, and “Non Title”, all of which focus on eerie strings and prepared piano. They’re very effective again, but lack the individualism of Meguro’s similar fusions on Strange Journey. Some much-needed contrasts are offered by the electronic distortions of “R30’s Melancholy” and the pipe organ solo of “Result”, but these tracks lack the development to be major highlights.
One of the most enjoyable entries on the entire soundtrack is “An Die Freude”. Here Meguro channels his talents as a light jazz fusion with lots of bright guitar melodies and ethereal interludes. There are even some Beethoven references in there, but they’re not the focal point of the track unlike the much trashier classical arrangements in the pre-order bonus album. It’s far from perfect — the backing riffs are pretty generic and the saxophone is horribly synthesised — but this doesn’t matter too much as the track is simply so catchy and uplifting. An ode to joy, indeed! At the end of the soundtrack, guest contributor also offers the much harder rock track “Battle on Stage” and soothing electro fusion “Up Up Up!”, before Meguro leads out the experience with reflective and encompassing “Stage”
Overall, the soundtrack for Catherine is bound to please most fans of Shoji Meguro’s work. It is highly reminiscent of the Persona series with its contemporary and pop stylings, but with a more psychological focus and ethereal vibe. That said, the soundtrack isn’t among the composer’s best due to its often generic stylings and underdeveloped pieces. There are lots of highlights here, but a few more substantial vocal themes and instrumental tracks would make the experience a more wholesome one. While this soundtrack may be too sparing for most, it’s still cautiously recommended for fans of Meguro.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.