ESPGaluda II Black Label Original Soundtrack
ESPGaluda II Black Label Original 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 an entirely rearranged score by Ryu Umemoto. While the score was based largely on the original music by Manabu Namiki, the stylistic direction was closer to the mainstream trance approach of the original ESPGaluda. The commercial soundtrack release features all the arrangements for the game and a number of bonuses…
The arrangement of the select theme “Fatidic” reveals the soundscapes to expect from the album. While quite a straightforward arrangement, it is far more uplifting and liberating than the dense, apocalyptic original. In fact, it is highly reminiscent of the anthemic trance sound of the first ESPGaluda soundtrack, except better sampled. The first stage theme, an arrangement of “Mutiny”, is also a considerable contrast to the original. The mainstream trance elements are this time toned down somewhat in favour of jazzy chords and extended improvisations from the piano lead. The result is far more individualistic and deep than the other versions, although perhaps too great a departure from the classical ESPGaluda sound for some people’s tastes. Nevertheless, it still fits elegantly with the visuals of the game and is fascinating to listen to on a stand-alone level.
Considering some of the other stages, the second stage theme is considerably toned down from the original “Azures – Incarnation of Life”. Whereas the original was somewhat brash and upbeat, Ryu Umemoto takes a more introspective take with his calming synthpads and simple piano lines here, to spectacular effect when combined with the vivid visuals. Nevertheless, it still sounds like it firmly belongs in the ESPGaluda universe and, through certain preserved sample choices and structural elements, has a high level of continuity with the first stage theme. There is a clear increase in intensity with the third stage theme, based on the “Deserted” theme, with its somewhat thicker pads and gorgeous quasi-operatic climax. Nevertheless, the similar blend of trancey synthpads and acoustic piano is preserved to emphasise the flowing progression of the game. Arguably, these elements are used a little too consistently during the soundtrack, however, and the piano use is especially simplistic and functional.
Ryu Umemoto ensures Mitsuhiro Kaneda’s contribution to the original ESPGaluda II, “Aerial – Sadness Bathes in Dusk”, is fluidly integrated with the rest of the soundtrack. However, this is again at loss of considerable individuality and the gritty, jazzy elements of the original are gone in favour of a very basic mainstream trance sound. Thankfully, the fifth stage theme arrangement is quite spectacular, for the way it effortlessly integrates portions of ESPGaluda II‘s “Hatred – I’ve Waited a Long Time for This Moment” with ESPGaluda‘s “Huge Battleship Elinies” within the trancey, rock-tinged, piano-infused soundscape of the game. The final stage arrangement, based on “Galuda – Achieving Perfection”, represents a fitting climax of the stage themes. Rather than overwhelm listeners with dense sounds, Umemoto instead focuses on creating a sense of ascension, as gamers reach the final goal. The result is certainly understated, but potentially elating too.
The boss theme “Descend” maintains the hardcore influence of the original, but benefits from 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 is nevertheless a little more suitable than the original for the home setting. There are also a succession of boss themes to accompany the fifth stage theme that excellently build upon each other, though aren’t spectacular on their own. The final boss theme, based on “Kajaku”, finally delves into more psychadelic territories with its hard electronic beats and unpredictable orch hits. Instead of focusing on the mesmerising scenery of the game, this theme fully captures the aggression of the enemy. Following a colourful and bittersweet rendition of the ending theme, Umemoto concludes the soundtrack with two unused bonus tracks, a more anthemic rendition on the first stage theme and a full-throttle boss theme.
The ESPGaluda II Black Label Original Soundtrack will divide opinions. On one hand, there will be those who enjoyed the more dense, experimental, and elaborate soundtrack for the original ESPGaluda II, finding Ryu Umemoto’s interpretation comparatively generic and simplistic. On the other hand, many will appreciate how this soundtrack provides a beautiful backdrop to the game’s visuals and find the piano-infused trance approach more satisfying and accessible. Regardless, it is an interesting interpretation of the ESPGaluda II with a number of definitive highlights.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.