Psyvariar 2 Original Soundtrack Plus

Psyvariar 2 Original Soundtrack Plus Album Title:
Psyvariar 2 Original Soundtrack Plus
Record Label:
Team Entertainment
Catalog No.:
KDSD-00032
Release Date:
May 4, 2004
Purchase:
Buy at CDJapan

Overview

Psyvariar 2 elaborated upon its predecessor in numerous ways, including its score. Once again, Tetsuro Sato and Misako Tago returned to lead the score and retained the ‘piano meets electronica’ elements of the original. However, they intended to offer something more deep and individual this time through offering experimental fusions and more developed compositions. Team Entertainment were so impressed that they chose to publish the soundtrack, along with some bonus mixes and compositions. However, is the final score as worthwhile for fans of the original?

Body

The opening theme for Psyvariar 2 has a much more ghostly tone than its predecessors. Tetsuro Sato blends vocal chants, soft electronic beats, and echoing piano notes to create some beautiful soundscapes comparable to those of Tekken 2. It’s already clear that the soundtrack intends to be more deep and subtle than its predecessor. That said, the select theme sounds more like a transient light jazz theme this time than a psychadelic rave. It’s perhaps more appropriate in context, though far from a stand-alone highlight. Misako Tago’s “Weakboson ~ GorgeCity” subsequently maintains the piano focus and uplifting beats of the series, but is altogether more elaborate than its predecessor. He colours some sections of the composition with wailing vocals, racing beats, and even dashes of orchestration in order to reflect the drama and dynamism. However, other parts are rather minimalistic and bring a more personal and ambient element to the forefront. It’s wonderfully done and an iconic first stage theme.

As with most great shooter scores, there is an increase in intensity and dynamism in subsequent stage themes. “OMAL-4” is one of the more minimalist additions to the soundtrack, but its resolute pace and smooth soundscaping makes it effective nonetheless. It gives a sense that the mission is far from over, even after this transient stage. Tago’s “Earth” isn’t clearly related to the original and instead more of a piano-based nu jazz theme. It’s very easygoing and catchy, yet also a nice accompaniment to the gliding scenery. On the other hand, Sato’s “Graviton” is a clear arrangement of the apocalyptic Psyvariar theme, blending the dissonant piano chords of the original with hard industrial beats. It’s certainly the most aggressive of the stage themes. Sato and Tago subsequently collaborate for the final stage theme, “Eta”, and the result is a ethereal extended remix that really captures the essence of Psyvariar’s music.

It was a good decision to bring in doujin arranger Yuki Yoshino (aka Emagicker) to handle the first boss theme. “Boss #01” develops from a dynamic drum ‘n bass theme into an atmospheric piano- and synth-led anthem. While it’s far from intense, it reflects the visuals so well and inspires many emotions while fighting the bosses. Tetsuro Sato’s boss theme is less impressive with its combination of generic rock riffs and an ascending synth sample previously used in Devil May Cry. However, Misako Tago’s “Boss #03” is very effective against more formidable foes. It’s similar to Psyvariar‘s second boss theme in some ways, but features a more apocalyptic feel and hard funk influences. Sato manages to redeem himself with the last boss theme. How its possible to create something simultaneously furious and beautiful is beyond me, but he manages exactly this. The final themes for the ending, staff credit, and name entry screens are more catchy ditties, but work well enough in context.

Team Entertainment offer a few welcome bonuses at the soundtrack. There are two unused pieces — a spectacular jazz-orchestral fusion by Yoshino and a somewhat repetitive rave track by Sato. While the first is certainly the better one, both are very much worth listening to and could have been incorporated into the in-game score. Moving on to the bonus remixes, fans of chiptunes will get a treat with Yoshino’s last boss remix; he elegantly blends FM samples with delightful trumpet and piano performances. Psyvariar‘s “Colony” makes a reappearance too and sounds better than before in Sato’s gritty remix. However, certainly the jewel of the arranged tracks is Tago’s contemplative piano solo based on the wonderful melody of “Asteroid”. Listeners will be greeted with a retro treat if they listen all the way to the end of this often-silent 17 minute track.

Summary

I vastly prefer the Psyvariar 2 score to its predecessor. It is simply a more fascinating and inspiring listen overall that nicely departs from the clichés of the predecessor. That said, not everyone will agree. Some will find there isn’t enough material here, given the number of stage themes were cut from the original, and others will find the material lacking in terms of accessibility and melodiousness. Overall, though, most fans of shooter music and atmospheric electronica should seriously consider this one. Stick with this soundtrack release as opposed to the digital one through Egg Music, as the bonus arrangements are a treat.

Psyvariar 2 Original Soundtrack Plus Chris Greening

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 Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.


About the Author

I've contributed to websites related to game audio since 2002. In this time, I've reviewed over a thousand albums and interviewed hundreds of musicians across the world. As the founder and webmaster of VGMO -Video Game Music Online-, I hope to create a cutting-edge, journalistic resource for all those soundtrack enthusiasts out there. In the process, I would love to further cultivate my passion for music, writing, and generally building things. Please enjoy the site and don't hesitate to say hello!



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