Killer7 Original Soundtrack
Killer7 Original Soundtrack
Scitron Digital Contents
July 20, 2005
Buy at CDJapan
As a work of entertainment, killer7 is the definition of postmodern hardcore bloodsport political comic-book porn. Taken as a mere video game it’s simply the definition of “awesome”; it’s a shame that so many people let it slip under the radar. After a few weeks of being in stores killer7‘s price dropped down to a mere $30, and now you can find it for exponentially less. If that’s not an incentive to buy an excellent game, I don’t know what is. Oh, yeah, and then there’s the surreal plot that spans several planes of reality, a cast of unforgettable characters, a great script, gorgeous art direction and incredible sound design.
Incentive #2: Just buy the game already.
And while you’re at it, you should buy the soundtrack. Spread over two thick discs, the Killer7 Original Soundtrack is a wide array of euphonious genera that is more schizophrenic than the characters of the game that it scores. One minute I’m walking toward a sunset and listening to an acoustic slide guitar coast over gritty backbeats, and the next thing I know I’m tapping my feet and bobbing my head to super-melodic Euro techno. I’m four again and I’m listening to NES tunes through the tiny speaker on my ten-inch television; I’m trying to pick up a few dames during smooth jazz night down at the local speakeasy; I’m drunk and I’m experimenting with all of those nameless synth effects that are simply listed as “151~499” on my keyboard. Most importantly, I’m making some amazing progress.
Masafumi Takada and Jun Fukuda have bedazzled this jaded reviewer with their motley assortment of bipolar refrain. It’s as if I’m walking toward some magical, musical vending machine and behind that Plexiglas window is everything I could ever want, all in one convenient place. I am amazed with the variety and the quality of the snacks. And that’s exactly what this album is full of: Tasty treats. Ironically, that’s also the album’s major flaw as far as I’m concerned; a good dozen or two of these sweet songs are cut short and are over too quickly. I want an eighteen minute version of “Rave On”! I want a seven minute rendition of “Windmill”! I want a severed head in my clothes dryer that will speak to me in emoticons and will give me a ring that’ll let me set stuff on fire. I guess I want a lot.
Before I pile on the praise, let’s talk about things I don’t want. I don’t want five minutes worth of “Election Plot”; two is good enough. I also don’t want Solid Snake to bust down my door, sneak up behind me and choke me to the theme of “Department of Defence”, which is closer to sounding like the intro to a Metal Gear Solid title than anything from the Snake Eater soundtrack. And (I’m really stretching here), I’m pretty bummed that there is track-by-track commentary in the booklet solely in Japanese because I can’t read a single character of it.
Well, that’s where I’m drawing the line. After hearing the smooth refrain of “Blackburn” that couples a smooth bassline with calming female vocals, I forget about those extremely minor scratches on this pretty little vehicle. I listen to the halo synth of “Love” and I feel like I’m picking cyber-roses for my shiny robot girlfriend. I hear “Back to the Light” with its dirty, light-rock guitar line and I feel like I’m a badass. There’s a lot of ground covered on this soundtrack and there is a lot to like. What’s shocking is how enjoyable the different styles and genres of the songs on this soundtrack are, despite their variances. I was dissecting the funk of “Shoot Speed” and comparing it to the piano ballad of “When the May Rain Comes” when it hit me that this, like very few albums before it, is a soundtrack that covers dozens of genres and styles and does an absolute killer job with it all.
So, let’s talk variety. “Sloped” is a creepy synthetic daydream where Takada channels his previous work on the Michigan soundtrack and presents it with quick and thick discomfort, where “Elegant Petal” is something completely, completely different. In “Petal”, Takada mixes a prominent shamisen composition with warm synth pads that ease in halfway through the song and take the track down an unexpectedly soothing road. “Residence” and “Windmill” paint a vivd cel-shaded picture of a coastal vista with their tropical island-inspired compositions; “Residence” is a peaceful piano and accordion-led composition that breaks into a light waltz before being forcefully reprised in “Windmill” with samba-influenced percussion featuring the melody from “Residence” played through a brass horn (side note: the piano improv near the end of the track is fantastic!). On the complete other side of the spectrum is the eerie “Ministry of Education”, an intense organ concerto that scores a very dark and disturbing scene toward the end of the game that sounds custom-fit for a Castlevania boss battle.
“Rave On” is the first track in-game that made me sit straight up in my seat, and is a fabulous way to kick off disc two. Takada composed a delightfully cheesy and heavily melodic trance piece to accompany the killer7‘s frequent trips through the Gateman’s lair, and, while it works perfectly in the game, it works even better when it’s blasting through my car stereo and I am pretending to be driving down the Autobahn with my windows open, bobbing my head in time to the music. And how could I leave out the “Hero” trio of “Hero Worship”, Heroic Deeds” and “Heroic Verse”! These tracks were written with an old-school VGM mentality in mind, specifically “Heroic Verse” which has to be the most intricate chiptune I’ve ever heard, while “Heroic Deeds” has some a very hummable and memorable lead melody that portrays the characters of the Handsome Men perfectly.
While Takada composed most of the soundtrack, that’s not to say that Fukuda had a lesser role. While he didn’t compose as many pieces, his tracks are just as important to the overall soundtrack as Takada’s. The highlights for me are “Oh My Julia”, a rockin’ guitar-led track that accompanies a frantic boss battle, as well as his mercilessly barren and intriguing contributions in “Corridor” and “Santo Domingo” that both sound more like a minimalist jam band’s demo recording than something from a game soundtrack. And then there is Fukuda’s creme de la creme, “Tecks Mecks”, which couples a driving electronic beat and synth effects with catchy electric guitar work. The main melody is played on a scratchy acoustic slide guitar giving the song exactly what was needed for the Cloudman stage, which takes place in a desolate area of Texas: A carefully engineered union of synthetic instrumentation and gritty, earthy acoustics. Fukuda’s time to shine on the soundtrack is short, but man, does he shine brightly.
Bar none, the killer7 soundtrack is the most varied and enticing soundtrack from Takada and Fukuda yet, and it serves as a perfect introduction to their interesting styles that blend memorable melodies, solid compositions and non-conventionalism into a neatly organized little bundle for your listening pleasure. Not only is this album my favorite work by the duo, but it’s also one of my favorite soundtracks of all time, largely based on the fact that it has a vast amount of excellent music that will bounce from rock to ambient to piano ballads to an indescribable new genre of cell-shaded killing music, and it won’t apologize for it in the least. This two-hour, two-disc soundtrack has been in frequent rotation for the past three years now and I’ve yet to tire of it. If that’s not a strong recommendation, I don’t know what is.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Tommy Ciulla. Last modified on August 1, 2012.