Operation Ragnarok Original Soundtrack -Manabu Namiki Works-
Operation Ragnarok Original Soundtrack -Manabu Namiki Works-
November 10, 2010
Buy at Sweep Record
Although this is the third release in the Game Music Discovery series published by Supersweep, it’s the first one dedicated to the early works of Manabu Namiki. It’s not surprising to me to see that the soundtrack to Operation Ragnarok, titled Zed Blade in the US, was one of the soundtracks that Supersweep decided to publish, given the early 90’s rave style of the soundtrack. Written 17 years ago, it showcases Namiki’s skills as an honorary “SamplingMaster” as he encapsulates the spirit of SamplingMaster MEGA and SamplingMaster AYA while tackling this soundtrack. Featuring both analog and digital recordings of the original soundtrack, as well as a bonus remixes by Ayako Saso and Manabu Namiki himself, it’s a soundtrack that is definitely a lot of fun.
The central composition of the soundtrack, “Shootaholic [Shockout Mix]”, is used as the stage one, stage six, and staff roll theme. As with every shmup game, the first stage theme says a lot about establishing the atmosphere and mood of the overall soundtrack. Sharp barking synth and a slick beat reminiscent of Streets of Rage open up the track. Soon after, Namiki mixes in some crazy female vocals, male vocals that imitate what a DJ might say during a rave and some interesting countdown sections as well. The brief synth keyboard sections help provide a calm amidst all the chaos, but it’s a fun composition and one of the best stage themes on the album.
Unlike other stage themes on the soundtrack, “Universal Blue [Soyuz Mix],” the theme for stage two and stage five, manages to be the most light-hearted in nature and also the most conventional in terms of style. It’s a beautiful electrojazz piece with some wonderful piano chords, some crystalline synth accents, and a fantastic brass line. It’s a refreshing piece amidst the more beat heavy themes on the soundtrack. My favorite stage theme, though, belongs to “Asteroid Circus [Repulse Mix]”. As the name implies, there is a very playful atmosphere to this track. However, amidst all the upbeat melodies and techno beats, there are some wonderful crystalline synth melody lines, and of course, the absolutely stunning B section that provides a calming and intoxicating experience. It allows listeners to catch their breath from the intensity of the A section before thrusting them right back into the energetic mix.
“Termination 4 U [Lunatic Mix]” serves as the boss theme for the game. I really enjoy this theme a lot, given it reminds me of some of the more intense boss themes in Streets of Rage. Frenetic rave beats, some industrial techno elements, distinctive vocal samples, and a crescendo of sinister atmosphere as the theme progresses makes this an extremely effective battle theme and one that fits within the boundaries of the soundtrack’s rave style. “Bionic Life [Hangup Mix]” serves as the theme for stage three and stage seven. Given that it is used as the last stage theme, this track is probably the most ominous and tense of the stage themes. The sharp and piercing synth that makes up the majority of the melody line really brings about it a sense of terror. This is only accentuated by the haunting ethereal synth accompaniment used on occasion.
The last boss theme, “Valkyrie [She Likes Gabber Mix],” manages to bring the craziness to a whole new level. Opening with a haunting female vocal that instantly reminds me of something you might here in the Darius series, it sets an eerie tone for the battle. However, Namiki layers this vocal sample throughout the entire track in order to keep this eerie tone. The electronic component of this theme is reminiscent of his true last boss themes from the DoDonPachi series. Intense hardcore techno beats dominate with some futuristic and industrial accompaniment really help instill a sense of utter chaos into the music. Namiki really knows how to create a jarring battle theme to serve as the last battle’s background music.
In addition to the soundtrack, in both digital and analog, which I couldn’t really tell much of a difference between, there are two bonus remixes at the end of the soundtrack. The first, “Shootaholic [Я-ave Mix]” manages to cash-in on Ayako Saso’s fantastic DJing skills. Bringing this theme to a more modern rave atmosphere, she incorporates some house beats, some more modern vocal samples, some jazzy synth elements from time to time, synth distortion, some synth air horn replication, and even a live crowd cheering as the mix goes on. It’s a wonderful interpretation of the original and I’m sure Namiki-san is proud!
Speaking of Namiki, his remix “Universal Blue [Lunar Walker is Still Alive Mix]” is another fantastic modernization of the original. The overall electrojazz flavor is retained, however, at the same time, he manages to incorporate more of a house techno sound. The ethereal synth in the harmony really helps bring an air of exoticism to the mix and I really love the updated brass and keyboard samples. They really help strengthen the original melody quite well. Another beautiful thing about this remix is the sexy and seductive keyboard sections. They really take the original melody and make it quite sensual. It truly is a euphoric listening experience.
The Manabu Namiki Works – Operation Ragnarok Original Soundtrack is a wonderful soundtrack done in the style of early 90’s rave, a style quite popular back in 1993. There are more intense rave pieces, such as the boss themes, and even some softer themes, such as “Universal Blue.” In the end, I’m not sure if the digital and analog versions of the original soundtrack were needed, since I can’t really tell the difference between them, but for audiophiles, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the differences. The bonus remixes are really nice as well and really modernize the music selected. Namiki is a master of a variety of electronic styles and, although he doesn’t really use this kind of music anymore, I’d be interested in hearing him do some more modern rave music because I think he has a talent for it.
If you are a fan of Namiki and his early works, do yourself a favor and pick this one up! If rave isn’t your style, or you are unsure, listen to the preview mp3 on the Supersweep page for the album and decide from there. If you still aren’t satisfied, just wait until the next part of the Manabu Namiki Works series. It may be more to your liking. According to the obi on the CD, it will be Thunder Dragon 2. I know I’m excited, are you?
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.