DmC -Devil May Cry- Noisia Soundtrack Extended Edition
DmC -Devil May Cry- Noisia Soundtrack Extended Edition
January 8, 2013
Download at iTunes
I whole-heartedly support Capcom’s decision to reboot the Devil May Cry franchise. While I adored the original Devil May Cry, the franchise grew stale in subsequent years and even its lead character no longer cut it; a cocky, silver-haired lead in a trenchcoat might have been cool in 2001, but looked pretty cheesy a decade on. In the end, Ninja Theory delivered in an excellent game with DmC: Devil May Cry, preserving the core narrative and gameplay, while introducing a hot new lead, a well-considered story, and stunning visuals.
Where I felt more concerned was the musical direction. I was flabbergasted to learn that, instead of sourcing the talents of series’ veteran composer Tetsuya Shibata, the developers went for two artists who had no previous scoring experiences. But Ninja Theory scouted Noisia and Combichrist for a reason — they both had something interesting and potentially great to offer. For those that don’t know, Noisia are an electronic music trio who have made numerous albums, remixes, and live appearances since their debut a decade ago. Noisia composed the majority of DmC: Devil May Cry‘s score, setting the scene for many of the game’s settings, cinematics, and battles. Many of their tracks were included in the DmC -Devil May Cry- Noisia Soundtrack released by Division Records. This album is available in two forms, a regular edition featuring 18 tracks (available both digitally and physically) and an extended edition featuring 36 tracks (a digital exclusive), the latter being described here.
Noisia’s electronic stylings generally set the scene well throughout DmC: Devil May Cry. With “Found”, the unit creates a perfect soundscape to represent the warped, dreary, urbanised environments of Limbo City — and more importantly, emphasise the disorientating, unsettling feeling of navigating it. The idea of using minimalistic electronic soundscapes to represent environments has been a mainstay of the series since Tetsuya Shibata’s score for the third game. But Noisia approach is considerably more sophisticated here. Rather than rely on unobtrusive drones, Noisia gradually develop the piece to convey a range of images and provoke deeper emotions. Every sample here sounds inspired and the implementation is meticulous. The occasional appearance of penetrating, echoing beats sustains the attention of players and takes the piece beyond average ambient fare. “The Flood”, “Swallowing”, and “Disoriented” feature equally immersing timbres, but have a somewhat more urgent, tense sound. The effect of such tracks is best appreciated in context and anyone looking for melodically appealing, outwardly entertaining music will be left out cold here. Yet these pieces have enough substance that it will appeal to electronica fans with an appetite for the experimental.
Noisia are at their best when they blend electronic and acoustic elements into emotionally engaging pieces. Among the most subtle additions to the soundtrack, “Home Truths” and “Secret World” largely continue the eerie ambient sound of tracks such as “Found” or “Epitaph”. Yet the sensitive underlacing with acoustic elements such as the piano still adds a more personal feel to the composition. “Remember Us” maintains the piano focus, but takes a more comforting, structured approach to convey the calm before the storm. Another crowd-pleaser is “Crush Him”, which undergoes an incredible build-up during its 1:51 playtime. Beginning with eerie electronic noise and tremolo strings, the track soon intensifies towards a climax filled with compelling dubstep beats and gothic vocal chants. It’s too short to compare with the unit’s original tracks, notably “Tommy’s Theme”, but it’s certainly an impressionable opener. “Lilith’s Club” creates wonderful textures with its firmly articulated, rhythmically thrusting beats. Unlike some additions, this one sustains interest throughout its development and is topped off with some incredibly sinister ‘cello passages. Cool, groovy, yet epic, comparisons with Tron: Legacy‘s soundtrack are apt in many ways.
The dubstep influence of the soundtrack is most pronounced during the game’s major boss encounters. Tracks such as “Hunter Theme” and “Poison Theme” are all about penetrating beats and bass manipulations. The +irregular rhythms and distortions of such tracks reflect the tense and unpredictable nature of such encounters, while the intense development sections maintain the heat. They’re also extremely well-produced, demonstrating Noisia’s commanding and innovative use of electronics. That said, such tracks could convey a lot more. The unit doesn’t capture the personalities behind such encounters — the character of Dante doesn’t come across and nothing really contrasts the enemies. Even the battles with central antagonists Bob Barbas and Mundas tend to rehash familiar ideas and don’t fully reflect the enormity of such encounters. Whereas Combichrist’s battle tracks are vibrant and varied, these ones verge on being dull and repetitive, especially during a collective listen. Far more satisfying is “The Trade”, an electro-percussive epic that constantly engages listeners and incorporates new things throughout its six minute playtime. This one does hit the mark and ranks with “Lilith’s Club” as the greatest crowd-pleaser on the album.
The meat of the soundtrack is featured during the first 18 tracks, which were released as the standard version of this album. Yet further tracks are available in the extended 36 track version of the album, most of which aren’t worthwhile. Tracks such as “Factory Front”, “Mixing Room”, and “Threatened” are little more a few industrial beats and ambient drones on loops. While such tracks set the scene fine, they’re creatively barren and should never have been released on a stand-alone basis. In fact, “Threatened” is among the most boring, uneventful minutes of music I have ever heard. A band of Noisia’s talents could have experimented more to create something at least artistically interesting, as they did in many of the earlier tracks on the soundtrack. The band were able to deliver authentic diegetic tracks to capture the tone of arcade machines, television commercials, and old merry-go-rounds. While the chiptune track is an interesting novelty, these pieces are pretty derivative and tend to interrupt the stand-alone listening experience. Brief cues such as “Mean Dick”, “Trace Elements”, and “Road Collapse” don’t help matters. Such tracks make the latter half of the soundtrack release unfocused and drawn-out.
Perhaps frustratingly, a few jewels amidst the junk ensure that the 36 track soundtrack is nevertheless the definitive version of Noisia’s work. There are a few well-produced tracks that maintain the electronic ambient sound explored earlier in the release, notably “Eyeless” and “Under Watch”, but the most satisfying tracks here are the more tender ones. “Kat’s Theme” is a lovely example of minimalistic scoring, gradually building up a warm, comforting sound through the repetition of several pleasing elements. It is one of the few tracks in the entire game that is built entirely from acoustic elements, likely to convey the humanity of Kat in a world filled with demons. The ending theme “Better Half” reprises such ideas in the form of a deep, relieving orchestral arrangement. Also notable is the more focused piano-based improvisation based on the “Home Truths” theme at the end of the release. These three tracks all demonstrate a different side to Noisia, so might not necessarily be what their long-term fans are expecting. Yet such tracks are among the most accessible written for the soundtrack and should certainly appeal to soundtrack collectors and fans of the game. Just be prepared to have to skip through a lot of rubbish to get there.
Noisia’s contributions to DmC: Devil May Cry generally work excellently in context, capturing the demonic, industrialised world of Limbo City and inspiring all sorts of emotions in listeners. Casual listeners will find that many of the tracks are too sparse, repetitive, or aseptic to really appeal to them — a few hits like “Lilith’s Club”, “The Trade”, and “Crush Him” aside. Noisia also warned their long-term fans about the soundtrack, noting “This is a game soundtrack, not a new Noisia album. It’s full of ambiences and unexpected pieces of music. Don’t expect to buy 18 or 36 dancefloor bangers.” Yet those with a leaning for ambient electronica or dubstep are likely to find the release quite satisfying. But keep in mind that, while some tracks are highly inspired, many are formulaic and a few are completely vapid. This is particularly the case in the latter half of the 36 track release, though the few highlights are so good that I’d still recommend it above the 18 track one. Alternatively, those looking for the physical release can purchase the 18 track album from Noisia’s store and will receive the 36 track release as a free download.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.