Guwange & E.S.P. RaDe Original Soundtracks

Guwange & E.S.P. RaDe Original Soundtracks Album Title:
Guwange & E.S.P. RaDe Original Soundtracks
Record Label:
Cave
Catalog No.:
CVST-1000
Release Date:
December 30, 2007
Purchase:
Buy Used Copy

Overview

Ah, the long awaited soundtrack to Guwange finally arrives together with a Cave shooter who is no stranger to soundtrack releases, E.S.P. RaDe. Together, what do these albums offer to the shmup universe and how does Masahiro Kusunoki do as a composer? Read on to find out.

Body

The setting of Guwange takes place in ancient Japan. As such, the tracks themselves have a very Asian flavor to them. Combine that with the standard electronica, albeit toned down a fair bit, and you have an interesting fusion of sound. While some of the pieces sound rather generic, there are definitely quite a few gems on this soundtrack. As per the norm, the first stage theme is absolutely breathtaking. “Falling Cherry Blossoms,” which also features an Early Development version on the soundtrack, is a very interesting fusion of ideas. The futuristic synth and vocals, combined with the earthly flavors of the piano and shakuhachi, makes a fantastic way to start off the game.

Keeping with the cherry blossom theme, “Underworld Cherry Blossoms” is a very mesmeric composition. The piano and Asian instrumentation fuses together to create an air of mystery within the ears of the listener. At the same time, it doesn’t have a hectic approach to the music either. Both haunting and beautiful, it is definitely another extremely well written piece of music, although the child laughter is a bit creepy. The vocal version of this piece is very nice as well and I find the vocalist to have done a fantastic job by adding another level of depth to the piece.

But honestly, you can’t have a Cave shmup without some crazy electronica either! “Festival” is a frenzied thrill ride through the awesome use of electronica. In fact, I think the sharp woodwind accents really add to the somewhat repetitive bass line in a manner that is almost hypnotic. “Household,” the boss theme, is another goodie on the soundtrack. Rock and electronica dominate this piece with some extremely haunting synth work and piano mixed into the bunch. It’s exhilarating and beautiful at the same time. The last boss theme, “Guwange-sama” is another excellent fusion piece, combining classic Asian sound with a very industrial bass. The haunting vocals only heighten the experience and add to the creepiness and suspense in the piece.

E.S.P. RaDe is a very different soundtrack. The focus is more along the lines of synth and electronica and also offers some nice pieces. “Desperate School” is probably my second favorite on the soundtrack. It has a very nice beat, a fantastic melody that is very gripping and motivating, and at the same time, provides an excellent backdrop to all the insane bullet patterns. “Nightmare” has some very nice guitar riffs, but the most spectacular part of this piece, aside from the fact it doesn’t sound like a standard shmup stage, is how dark the atmosphere. It’s quite chilling! “Act in Judge” is my favorite stage theme. Its overtly bubbly atmosphere and bouncy melody just seem to push my buttons in the right way. It’s quite an experience and definitely has its moments.

The boss theme, “Raging Decide”, is an unusual piece. The development and layering of the melody is definitely the best part of this piece. It has its urgency, but for the most part, it’s the same motif over and over again. It’s not a bad track, but at the same time, it can get boring quickly, especially if you aren’t in the middle of taking down a challenging boss! On a similar note, “Wangan Rapid Line 1st” offers some interesting electronica beats that hint at a very sinister mark. Unfortunately, they don’t develop and it’s just the same sound over and over again. The “Wangan Rapid Line 2nd” piece improves a bit, but at the same time, it’s rather repetitive as well — the development is just better.

Summary

On the whole, both soundtracks offer a very solid score to the games they accompany. Each has its ups and downs, but for the most part, it’s a thrilling ride. The diversity of styles between the two helps contrast them nicely so you can definitely tell when moving from one soundtrack to another. I think that Kasunoki does a great job at capturing the spirit of each game and recommend this album for shmup fans everywhere.

Guwange & E.S.P. RaDe Original Soundtracks Don Kotowski

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!

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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.


About the Author

Currently residing in New York, I spend my days working in antibody therapeutics and dedicate some of my spare time in the evening to the vast world of video game music, both reviewing soundtracks as well as maintaining relationships with composers overseas in Europe and in Japan.



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