D4 -Dark Dreams Don’t Die- Original Soundtrack
D4 -Dark Dreams Don’t Die- Original Soundtrack
November 20, 2014
Download at Bandcamp
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is an Xbox One exclusive title that released this September. Director SWERY, known for Deadly Premonitions, has created a murder mystery through and through. It is up to you to ‘dive’ into the protagonist David Young’s past to search for clues to find who killed his wife, Little Peggy. There are various clues to go on, plenty of silly antics to lighten the mood, and an eclectic cast of characters to support the story. The lead composers for the game were visual novel mastermind Tomomi Teratani (aka MANYO) and Dark Souls sound director Yuji Takenouchi (aka TECHNOuchi), both of whom have worked on countless video game titles over the years. In the game, the serious moments quickly turn into wacky antics and outlandish scenes, and the constantly-changing music is right there to make the game seem over the top. The music helps move the out of this world dialogue along and makes the seemingly mundane mini-games go by quicker. There is certainly a reccurring motif of jazz influences through the soundtrack. There are of course other genres such as rock, techno, piano ballads, and “experimental” sounds to give the game an episodic, cinematic effect.
The soundtrack is broken up between two discs, one entitled ‘David Young’, the other entitled ‘Little Peggy’. Each disc contains an eclectic mix of jazz-inspired music, pulsing orchestral excerpts, and experimental electronic tracks. Both discs open with artsy introductions that set a dramatic, serious tone. “Salvation” is light and sweet in nature consisting of piano, voice and strings, while “Arousal” has more clear vocals, effected guitar and a minimal drum beat. Both also close with live renditions of two highlights from the game by the Video Game Orchestra.
Despite its diabolical premise, a large proportion of the soundtrack is surprisingly upbeat. “Tiptoe” is a great example of this. The jazzy riffs and Latin percussion influence give the soundtrack an added level of action. Ultimately this is my favorite music on the soundtrack because it connects with the bizarre gameplay and is fun to listen to as a standalone work. Moving onwards, “Urban Closet” is a groovy track for when you dress up your characters. Whether that kind of thing interests you or not, the music is catchy and expertly looped so it never becomes tiring. “Amanda Shop-Head Office” is another groovy background track that supplies some comic relief from the more dramatic and serious events. “Violent Storm” may sound to some as if it is a bit on the humorous side despite its hard rock inspired sound. The riffs are hooky and stays true to the genre, with the addition of some techno beats to add some energy.
Away from the light-hearted tracks, “Reasoning” is a great example of music that sets a heavy, serious tone. There are distorted waves that break up each section of the piece. The light piano and keyboard percussion ostinato in the background lays a foundation filled with tension and release all at the same time while waves of electronic noise wash over the mix. “Reasoning” smoothly slips into “Perverted Feeling”, which has an even darker, menacing tone. This music does not sound contrived and the stillness between drum hits is plain eerie. While listening to “Perverted Feeling”, I forget all about the upbeat jazz inspired music. The constant shift of emotion and tone is enough to make your head spin. “Impatience” creates tension by using heavy percussion and dissonant string melodies. “Prime Suspect” also offers a mysterious atmosphere that sounds to me like true sleuthing music. The layered piano and synth sounds heard in “Prime Suspect” create a thick air and looses the listener in the pulsing riffs.
During gameplay, music can fade from a tense “sleuthing” scene to a more dream like sequence when David has vivid memories of Little Peggy. These hallucinations are accompanied by ambient textures or a melancholy piano and string ballad. I suppose the softer pieces of music are meant to characterize Little Peggy and her calm demeanor. “Calling” is an eerie piece of music but still comes across delicate and musical. There is certainly a difference between the dramatic moments “Reasoning” and “Perverted Feeling” provided me with and the softer sound of “Only Love”. This is a song that fits in with the serious love story between David and Little Peggy. The song symbolizes the strong bong the couple had before the tragic events. The modern sounding piano chords, acoustic guitar and passionate vocals give impact to the high-spirited lyrics.
Moving to more experimental pieces, “Real Blood” is quite a noisy track with synth-bass and guitar feedback to set a rather frightening mood in the beginning. There are electronic noises panned back and forth and creepy whispers that send chills up my spine. ‘Real Blood’ is a mysterious drug that seems to be at the heart of the story. Without giving too much of the story away, “From The Darkness” plays an integral role in the story as it symbolizes a shady character related to the investigation of Little Peggy’s murder. This music has some odd vocals that have been run through some strange effects. The strings sound like they are being scraped with bones and the solo instrument adds an eastern influence to the music. This music tells me that there is more to the story than I first imagined. David must ‘dive’ back into the past and be on his A game in order to put the pieces of this confusing mystery together.
“Start The Investigation” is the closest thing you might be able to find to a Miles Davis track off of the famed avant-garde jazz album, ‘Bitches Brew’. The trumpet pops in and out and lets the beat and other instruments do the talking. This track makes me feel like I am hunting for clues when listening outside of the context of the game. Then there’s the rather drunken rock concert sound of “Drank Dead DOM Die”, but I was not sure what else to expect. “Drank Dead DOM Die” is a foul-mouthed, Irish punk-rock inspired in your face mosh pit. This track plays during the most climactic fight scenes, which are some of the more entertaining parts of the game. Complete with china cymbal, guitar solo, violin solo and plenty of unison ‘HEYS’ to demand your focus, “Drank Dead DOM Die” is a blast to listen to. I prefer the live version, found on the Little Peggy Disc, but the studio version is equally as entertaining.
If you can get over the game’s many eccentric characters and their quirky behavior, there is a solid story at the heart of D4. The music hangs on the game’s every move and provides a solid foundation for the comic book style graphics and visual novel style gameplay. With a few exceptions (e.g. the arcade-styled mini-game music), most of the music on the D4 soundtrack sounds like music to dive into a dark past and solve a mystery to. This title and music may not be for everyone, but those who stumble across this indie title will be surprised by the production value and attention to detail. The recordings by the Video Game Orchestra are also quite a bonus. This soundtrack is available today, November 20, on iTunes, Bandcamp, and the Xbox Game Store.
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Posted on November 21, 2014 by Marc Chait. Last modified on November 21, 2014.