Persona Q -Shadow of the Labyrinth- Original Soundtrack
Persona Q -Shadow of the Labyrinth- Original Soundtrack
July 16, 2014
Buy at CDJapan
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is a pretty different game from other titles in the Persona series. It was directed by Daisuke Kaneda (Etrian Odyssey IV), resulting in a change in graphics and alterations in gameplay towards that of a dungeon crawler. However, what really makes this unique Persona game feel familiar and friendly is the music. After years of taking assistant roles, Atsushi Kitajoh and Toshiki Konishi were promoted to being lead composers for this work. They create the recognizable Persona sound that brings the characters and story to life. As a fan of Persona 3 and Persona 4, it was nice to hear familiar music as the gam play and art style are new to the series. They’re joined by two legendary guest contributors who respectively defined the sounds of the Persona series and Etrian Odyssey series, Shoji Meguro and Yuzo Koshiro. Both artists bring a wealth of video game music experience to the album, and ensure the final soundtrack fuses elements of Persona and Etrian Odyssey alike.
Persona fans and music fans alike rejoice, because this soundtrack has a bit of something for everyone. The Persona Q -Shadow of the Labyrinth- Original Soundtrack will tug on your heart strings one minute and the next will have you playing lead air guitar. The two disc album is an eclectic mix of diverse music genres, sometimes arranged into one song. I really enjoyed how the music bounced between genres of music like rock, jazz and funk.
The opening track of disc one, “MAZE OF LIFE”, is an original song from Shoji Meguro that is both edgy and uplifting. The music and vocal style reminds me of a Shonen Jump anime opening title song, while the vocalist Yumi Kawamura makes a welcome return from the earlier Persona series. Among the other vocal tracks, “Laser Beam” is one of my go to songs on this album for when I need a good jam. Vocalist Lotus Juice spits a rap that is fast and rhythmic while at the same time articulate during the verses. The panning of the ‘laser beam’ sound effect caught me off guard when I heard it for the first time. The sound seemed to go through one ear and blast out the other. Familiar artists from the Persona series also return in “Paulownia Mall -in the labyrinth-” and “Light the Fire Up in the Night -DARK HOUR-“..
The soundtrack has many tracks that are quite dark and inspired by Persona 3. Tracks like “The Voice Someone Calls –in the labyrinth-” takes on a trip-hop persona and make you feel like you are in a Salvador Dali painting. Actually a Persona 3 remix courtesy of Toshiki Konishi, it helps to tie the game into the main series. Reflecting the dungeon-crawling gameplay, tracks like “Ahead to Silence” feels very much like a dark secret is going to be revealed. The almost atonal sounding piano melody is hard to follow and seems to wind on like a maze. The music is mixed very well and not one instrument sounds out of place. The drums added an upbeat vibe to the noises and electronic instruments during ambient sections of music.
The twisted scenes are balanced by quirky tunes like “corndog” and “TAKOYAKI”, which sound like they were influenced by the music of EarthBound for the Super Nintendo. “School Memories -in the labyrinth-” is a bluer tune with a hook that will make you tap your foot while kindling up some nostalgia. “School Memories” sounds like the perfect sultry close to disc one but is just the calm before the storm. So not to worry action music lovers, the final track on disc one entitled “Disturbances -The One Called From Beyond” has plenty of energy supplied by lead guitar and horn ensemble. These heavy metal influenced riffs, courtesy of Yuzo Koshiro in his sole contribution here, make disc one end with a bang and left me craving disc two.
The first track heard on disc two entitled “A Corner of Memories -in the labyrinth-” creates a much calmer atmosphere than the opening of disc one. Painted with beautiful dynamics, Meguro’s creation boasts a ‘beaten but not down’ piano melody that is supported by strings and accompanied by a mellow rhythm section. I also simply can’t help but smile when listening to “How Much? -in the labyrinth-“. The piano and guitar pass off the melody seamlessly while maintaining a cheerful mood. Likewise, the use of pitch bending on a clav sounding keyboard in “Tea Break” gives me that ‘slice of life’ feeling where I can relax for a second and have a laugh. “Tea Break” and “Like A Dream Come True -in the labyrinth-” me the feeling like I am visiting old friends but in a familiar setting. The guitar solos in the latter add a smooth jazz type feel that is, well… cool, even though it’s something my grandfather might listen to on the radio.
The piano is featured on many of these tracks and is an excellent contrast to the rock and roll inspired tracks like “FOE” and “Friends”heard later on the soundtrack. The energy simply never fades and inspiring melodies can be heard in just about every one of these pieces of music. Indeed, most of the music on disc two contains more intense battle and dungeon music than disc one. Percussion is used heavily in the tenser sections of this disc, for example boiling and steaming with accents and crescendi on “Bonfire”. While the percussion maintains a march-like pattern, Toshiki Konishi exchanges the mysterious, spooky melody between marimba and synth. The drumset drives the beat in tracks like “Confrontation with the Past” and “Battle In the Clock Tower”. My blood was pumping listening to the tracks and I was immersed in the dramatic melodies and chord changes. The rock-inspired drumset and electronic percussion sounds add energy and drive the pulse to where it is right on top of the beat.
This gives the music a forward motion that leads to a grinding final battle track, “The Infinite”. Atsushi Kitajoh’s track is heavy and every riff seems to be the main hook. I enjoyed the contrast between the legato melodies and progressive rhythms in the verses. The synth and piano mixed together provides a tense effect that goes in tandem with the orchestral strings, electric guitar and bass. The battle music fades and is almost forgotten as the piano and strings crescendo into a more subdued atmosphere. “Blue Sky” is a collection of sweet melodies and passionate chord changes that begins a beautiful close to a brilliantly orchestrated game soundtrack.
Continuing Kitajoh’s stretch of climactic themes, “Map to Tomorrow”, “Changing Me”, and the music box version of “Changing Me” share the same melody that seems to reach out and grab your heart while taking your breath away a little. The beat sits back and slowly grooves allowing the melody to be the prominent focus. Vocalists Yumi Kawamura and Shihoko Hirata both sing lead without overpowering each other in “Changing Me”. They trade phrases seamlessly and sing in harmony so well they sound like one voice. The soaring, uplifting melodies add to the passion and energy that makes this song so inspirational. I feel like I am saying goodbye to dear friends when listening to “Changing Me”, only to feel alone at the end of the song. “Changing me -a music box-” sounds surreal to the point where I can imagine I am holding a finely crafted music box made of silver and velvet in the palm of my hand. I was very moved by this final statement and cherished the melody like a jewel.
Mixing the poppy Persona sound with elements of Etrian Odyssey, this album is a mix of emotions and scenes that never cease to surprise the listener. The lyrics are passionate and speak volumes to the unique Persona vibe. The music is as much fun to listen to as the games are to play. Listening to the soundtrack has me fired up for the Western release of the game in November. I can’t wait to enjoy the music playing game while still listening as a stand-alone experience. I highly recommend this game soundtrack to anyone who enjoys energetic music that never lets up on the passion. I found that the best part about getting to the end of the soundtrack is that you can start it all over again! This week, the Persona Q -Shadow of the Labyrinth- Original Soundtrack has been a best-seller on Play-Asian and CDJapan. After listening I can understand why. The album is still in stock so grab it just in time for the new school year to start.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 19, 2014 by Marc Chait. Last modified on August 22, 2014.