Darius: G-Darius Original Arcade Score
G-Darius Original Arcade Score
August 21, 1997
Download on iTunes
The Darius series is known for its highly experimental scores from Hisayoshi Ogura. Of all of them, G-Darius proves the very most experimental. Centred on the concept of blending the ‘organic with the inorganic’, Hisayoshi Ogura blends industrial, operatic, new age, and avant-garde influences together through the score. The final result is a stunning accompaniment to the fantastic game and an engaging stand-alone listen quite unlike any other. The game’s soundtrack was released in physical form by Zuntata Records in 1997 and was also eventually made available digitally to Western audiences.
G-Darius immediately makes an impact with the opener “B-T-DUTCH”. After some crowd noise and ominous percussion, Ogura introduces us to a fest of asynchronised electronic beats and orch hits. He offers plenty of contrast throughout, whether with the “You” voice samples, bizarre sound effects, or industrial drill work, constantly giving the sense of something alien and alive being present. Yet what drives the entire theme is Ogura’s ever-appealing sense of rhythm and lyricism; this alone ensures the track is more than a random fusion and instead something highly entertaining and appealing too. After the chaos, “Network” soothes listeners with a blend of piano passages and electronic rhythms. This sort of ‘new age meets French impressionism’ theme is actually more reminiscent of what Tamayo Kawamoto might create for the Ray series. However, Ogura still manages to pull it off.
The first stage theme “G-Zero”, while not as strange as some of the others, still offers the nice blend of the eccentricities I love this album for. It features a fascinating blend of synthesized vocals, motivating bass rhythms, and some ethereal synth sounds. While the melody initially seems disjointed, it’s wonderful to see it develop towards a heroic yet uncertain climax. “Biophoton” demonstrates Ogura’s occasionally two-tiered approach to Darius themes once more — opening with heavy industrial beats, but moving towards softer piano-based parts. The third stage theme “Dada” subsequently provides the best of the series’ soft watery themes. I can hardly describe how beautiful progressions such as at the 1:11 mark are. The relief is certainly short-lived, however, and listeners are returned back to industrial craziness with “In Vivo”, an atmospheric accompaniment to one of the weirder stages in the game.
There are a number of effective boss themes this time around. “Phage” brings a sort of industrial rock influence to the series. The blend of orch hits and guitar riffs, despite being disjointed, are actually extremely well thought out and capture once again that lyrical drive Ogura has been putting into his experimental themes since “Chaos”. “H-G Virus” subsequently creates a lot of paranoia with its dynamic electronic beats and ever-intensifying piano and orchestral passages. It perfectly captures the feeling a boss is surround you and beginning to close in. Another boss theme, “Nonsense Codon” relies a little too much on conventional chord progressions and motivic repetition than the other tracks on the soundtrack. However, it still has a great industrial vibe to it and I love how the orch hits are almost completely random in their placement here. Was Ogura inspired by aleatoric artists when writing this one?
Moving to the climax of the score, “Chimera II” is a powerful accompaniment to the final stage. An industrial sound increasingly becomes prominent while operatic vocals, elegaic strings, and aquatic sound effects also find their way into the music. There is a real sense of motivation to this piece, yet there is also an underlying sinister and tragic tone too. The final result is a compelling fusion of emotions and styles. However, the final battle theme “Adam” is arguably the best piece on the entire album. Techno beats and industrial sounds chillingly dominate the piece, yet the small piano accents, quirky interludes, and futuristic synth chorals add a certain playfulness too. To finish the album, Ogura offers an abstract industrial remix of Darius‘ “Boss Scene 7”. It’s a fitting tribute to the first game and, although some of the magic of the original is lost, the additions distinguish it as an entirely separate piece of music.
Hisayoshi Ogura’s fourth soundtrack for the Darius series is another masterpiece. Incredibly diverse in its stylings, yet unified by a strong musical concept, the soundtrack is unlike any other created for a video game. While the physical edition of the soundtrack is out-of-print, it pops up quite regularly on online auction stores and marketplaces. The digital edition, priced at a comfortable 10 USD, is also recommended.
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Posted on November 11, 2015 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on January 19, 2016.