ESPGaluda II Reprint Soundtrack
ESPGaluda II Reprint Soundtrack
February 25, 2010
Buy Used Copy
In 2010, Cave developed a string of ports of their Arcade favourites for the Xbox 360, ranging from DoDonPachi Dai-Fukkatsu Black Label to ESPGaluda II: Black Label, each with updated soundtracks. ESPGaluda II Black Label featured a rearranged score by Ryu Umemoto, based largely on the original music by Manabu Namiki. Cave bundled a soundtrack with the regular and limited edition versions of the game. It featured the original music from ESPGaluda II and two of the arrangements.
The majority of the reprint soundtrack is taken directly from the ESPGaluda II Original Soundtrack. Right from the introduction, gamers are presented with a familiar but subtly different sound compared with the ESPGaluda Original Soundtrack. The select theme “Fatidic” once again repeats stabbing motifs in the treble and vacuum drones in the bass over a series of simple chord cycles. However, it is more individualised than its predecessor using racing tempos and penetrating build-ups to give a sense of impending gunfire. The first stage theme of ESPGaluda was wisely arranged for ESPGaluda II in “Mutiny – Fate is with the Girl”. Whereas the original was a typical trance anthem with an unforgettable melody, the brighter yet thicker sound here combined with fluid arpeggio-driven bridges results in a very bold and dynamic accompaniment to the game.
Once again the boss theme “Descend” is densely textured and rhythmically driven, but this time there is significant hardcore influence with the penetrating distorted bass. An eventual ecstatic build-up isn’t sufficient to relieve the especially aggressive feel since sampled voices make an ominous appearance and the theme urgently loops thereafter. Mitsuhiro Kaneda’s guest contribution “Aerial – Sadness Bathes in Dust” adds diversity to the soundtrack with its jazz influences, unconventional layering, and ecstatic melody. In contrast to the concise score for ESPGaluda, most themes exceed six minutes due to their arguably detrimental loops. However, it requires repeated listens to even begin to appreciate the amount of intricacy and exuberance in the stage themes.
On later stage themes, Namiki asserts his musicality even more confidently. He emphasises his capacity to produce memorable melodies and use dazzling arpeggiations in “Azures – Incarnation of Life”, probably the most upbeat work on the soundtrack. With “Deserted – Younger Brother and Elder Sister and…”, he contrasts heavy sections exhibiting psychadelic trance and hardcore influences with euphoric interludes featuring a gorgeously shaped piano melody. Another varied piece is “Hatred – I’ve Waited a Long Time for This Moment”, which is special for its elegant integration of fragments from each of ESPGaluda‘s other four stage themes. In combination with “Mutiny”, this ensures that the score maintains a good level of thematic and stylistic continuity with its predecessor despite the change of composer.
The final stage theme “Galuda – Achieving Perfection” focuses on inspiring the player rather than invoking fear. The lush soundscapes assembled here are almost soothing, but the ascending accompaniment and brisk secondary sections still emphasises the ultimacy of the situation. “Kajaku” is represented by combining thick synth work with a recurring orch hit motif; the rhythms and chord progressions are just right for portraying a threatening and unpredictable final boss. After the ethereal jazz-tinged name entry theme and one of two elated fanfares on the soundtrack, the soundtrack concludes with the ending theme “Vertigo”. Like its predecessor, it combines a sad and epic orchestral melody with drum beats and atmospheric pads. Given the slightly weaker melody and faster tempo, this is one piece that doesn’t live up to its predecessor, but it’s still effectual in its own right.
The last two tracks on the album are arrangements exclusive to the Xbox 360 version of the game. The first stage arrangement “Mutiny” is a considerable contrast to the original. The anthemic trance elements are toned down in favour of jazzy chords and extended improvisations from the piano lead. The result is far more individualistic than the other versions, although it somewhat loses the ESPGaluda sound. “Descend” maintains the hardcore influence of the original, but benefits from Basiscape’s updated samplers. Ryu Umemoto really takes the opportunity to experiment with frenzied electronic beats and overdubbed electric guitar solos, although some sections of the arrangement are more exciting than others. It nevertheless seems a little more suitable than the original for the home setting. While I would have preferred Basiscape to handle these arrangements, Umemoto still introduces a novel sound to the score.
The ESPGaluda II Reprint Soundtrack will be a worthwhile bundle for those who bought the game. After all, the reprises from ESPGaluda II are largely excellent and maintain the distinct trance style of the series, while the arrangements are creative and interesting. However, collectors should note that a fully rearranged ESPGaluda II Black Label Original Soundtrack is now fully available. Those who don’t already own the ESPGaluda II Original Soundtrack should embrace the opportunity to both play the game and listen to one of game music’s finest trance soundtracks.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.