R4 -THE 20TH ANNIV. SOUNDS-

 

Album Title:
R4 -THE 20TH ANNIV. SOUNDS-
Record Label:
Sweep Record
Catalog No.:
SRNS-2004
Release Date:
March 21, 2019
Purchase:
Buy at Sweep Record

Overview

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Ridge Racer Type 4 soundtrack, Supersweep and Nanosounds teamed up to publish R4 -THE 20TH ANNIV. SOUNDS-, a two disc release featuring both a remix side and a remastered original soundtrack side. The original composers of the soundtrack, Hiroshi Okubo, Kohta Takahashi, Tetsukazu Nakanishi, Asuka Sakai, and Koji Nakagawa, are mostly present on the remix side as well, except for Sakai and Nakagawa. They are joined by Supersweep composers Shinji Hosoe, Ayako Saso, Takahiro Eguchi, as well as Korean composer ESTi, and guest contributions by former Namco alumni, Nobuyoshi Sano, among others. How does this tribute to the music of Ridge Racer Type 4 turn out?

Body

The first disc is dedicated to remixes of the original soundtrack and opens up with Ryo Watanabe’s take on “Spiral Ahead,” which blends synthesizer with live instrumentation. It carries his signature style with it, particularly in the piano, while the guitar, bass, and keyboard is rather engaging an fun. It is an extremely successful re-imagining filled with lovely instrumental solos as well. Following that is Hiroshi Watanabe’s “Pearl Blue Soul,” which slows the original down and is a more techno focused rendition with an industrial atmosphere. It also incorporates the original elements rather well, with the soft piano, saxophone, and ethereal synths breaking up the somewhat harsher sound. Kohta Takahashi takes his original “Naked Glow” and updates it for this 20th anniversary album. Slap bass and big band influenced jazz take center stage while accompanied by woodwind flourishes. It is a bit more adherent to the original in terms of execution, but is modernized and fits very well alongside the more transformative remixes. Speaking of which, J99 (Takayuki Aihara)’s “Your Vibe” is a stunning addition to the album. Taking the soft strings of the original and placing them at the beginning, there is a romantic touch to the piece. However, things quickly transition into a certified bop with a catchy beat, fantastic keyboard usage throughout the song, and more pronounced synth sections that mirror the melody heard in the original make this one of the best on the album.

sanodg (Nobuyoshi Sano)’s “Lucid Rhythms (#Gadget Switch) is a more drum n’ bass oriented remix with a faster tempo than the original that is done entirely using DETUNE’s KORG Gadget for Switch software. It’s a fun remix, but slightly underwhelming. Sampling Masters MEGA (Shinji Hosoe) and his remix of “Thru” veers towards the trance side of things featuring crystalline piano and ethereal synths, giving the overall piece a dreamy quality and changing up the tempo from time to time. It’s a quality remix that’s stunning to listen to. Sampling Masters AYA (Ayako Saso) and her remix of “Silhouette Dance” features jazzy piano and synthesizers among glitchy percussion. Dreamy synths are present throughout, but some portions of the remix are a bit drawn out, which takes a way from the remix. Fortunately, it picks up again and ends on a high note. Takeshi Nakatsuka’s re-edit of his original “Burning Rubber” opens up rather harshly, even with the additional funk added by the accompaniment. However, it eventually settles on a jazzy, glitchy, and choppy rendition featuring plenty of piano and brass, but without the abrasive opening synth.

Takahiro Eguchi offers up two remixes on the album. The first, “Revfunk Limit” features a slower tempo alongside deep bass hits and is accompanied by beautiful piano and atmospheric synths, guitar, and some industrial percussion that leands into a more aggresive second half where glitchy drum rhythms take hold. It’s certainly an interesting arrangement and the contrast is wonderful. His other remix of “The Ride” is more along the lines of hard techno with gritty synths and features a bright melody and is generally high energy. However, it pales in comparison to his other remix. Another impressive entry on the album is “Quiet Curves,” remixed by ESTi, which serves up some funk/jazz fusion. Jazzy piano alongside glitchy percussion, beautiful synths, and an atmospheric, yet present, mood. Glitchy percussion and a beautiful strings line help round out the remix. Another rework by an original composer comes in the form of “Motor Species,” by Tetsukazu Nakanishi, done in a psytrance style. There is a great energy and tones of movement in this remix and is filled with cool synths, vocoder samples, and some excellent layering.

“The Objective,” by Q’HEY, is a deep techno remix with an industrial sound and a nice progression. It is not as melodically focused as other tunes, but it is dynamic enough to not overstay its welcome. The tune itself has a lot of buildup, but it certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. “Move Me,” by Ryu☆, opens with piano, much like the original, before transitioning into a drumstep remix. There is a lot of piano work in the accompaniment that complements the more exhilarating take on the original while the softer synth in the melody is a nice contrast overall. Hiroshi Okubo’s rework of his “Movin’ in Circles” incorporates the vocals from the vocal tune for the original soundtrack. In addition, it features funky rhythms layered with crisp piano and a nice dance beat with some great synth blending. There is also a vibrant drop with plenty of vocal cuts, particularly the second time, more intense and glitchy beats, and a harder sound overall. It is reminsicent of big room house, but a bit more intricate in rhythm. Lastly, “RIDGE RACER -one more win-,” remixed by Rightside & Mark di Meo, takes the original and gives it a nice new layer of paint with a modernized house remix that blends funky drums and synth with keyboard. It’s an enjoyable close to the album and while it doesn’t veer into experimental territory, it does have great production values.

The second disc features the original soundtrack remastered for this release. Tunes like “Urban Fragments” set the musical tone of the album with its acid jazz, soulful vocals, and catchy melody, as well as our first introduction to the vocal song of the album. Acid jazz can be found in many of the other tunes, such as “Garage Talk,” blending piano, strings, and funky rhythms, and “On Your Way,” featuring light drum percussion, keyboards, flute, and piano. It isn’t as melodic a piece, but it works well in context. “Spiral Ahead” samples the vocal song and features plenty of brass hits and slap bass, although it suffers from repetition.

On the other hand, “Pearl Blue Soul” is exquisite featuring ambient electronica, saxophone, piano, woodwinds, and bass guitar. It has great layering throughout the piece and the synth melody is wonderful. “Naked Glow” also manages to impress in this day and age with its funky acid jazz. Keyboards, intricate drum hits, strings, twangy guitar, and electric guitar hooks along big brass hits makes for a very engaging listen. Another fun tune is “Eat ’em Up!,” an acid jazz remix of Pac-Man music, complete with in-game sound effects. It’s one of the more enjoyable Namco tunes from other games in their catalog to grace the Ridge Racer series.

“Your Vibe” features an electronic bass line with a Rhodes keyboard focus while bass guitar adds some funk rhythm to the mix. The melody itself is exquisite and it showcases Asuka Sakai’s contributions to the series while the keyboard solos are invigorating and fun whereas Sakai’s “Silhouette Dance” blends intricate drum rhythms with soft keyboard work and a strings and piano melody that lends itself to creating an exquisite and delicate soundscape. “Lucid Rhythms” opens with light percussion and ambient synths. The melody and soundscape are beautiful, with a calm, peaceful, and softer sound in general, accenting by crisp piano notes. “Revlimit Funk” is a rock/electronic hybrid with engine revving sound effects. It features some nice guitar work, although it can be a bit repetitive, while the softer synth and keyboard sections help bring a more intimate touch to the piece. Much like the remix on the first disc, Sakai and Okubo’s “Quiet Curves,” with its jazz piano and intricate drum rhythms combined with synth, keyboard, and strings, makes for a beautiful soundscape and a standout tune.

“The Objective” has an industrial presence with its electronic beat and harsh synths, but is kind of droning in execution. It makes for nice driving music, but out of context, it is a bit underwhelming when standing up against other titans on the soundtrack. “Movin’ in Circles” also uses the vocal song as a sample and combines synths and plenty of bass guitar work to give a futuristic and soulful tune. The vocal, “RIDGE RACER -one more win-,” is another dance tune with saxophone support. As the vocal tune for the game, it is extremely fun and helps solidify the strong jazz influence present on the album.

Summary

The R4 -THE 20TH ANNIV. SOUNDS- is definitely a work of love recalling the immensely popular soundtrack in the Ridge Racer series. The remastered side allows those unfamiliar with the original to hear it for the first time while also getting a basis for how the remixes handled the source material. The remixes, for the most part, are extremely enjoyable and definitely highlight the strengths of the original while modifying them to be a bit more modernized or altered into another type of musical style that still manages to respect the overall sound. While some underwhelm a bit, the end result is still favorable. Fans of the R4 soundtrack will certainly want to pick this up.

R4 -THE 20TH ANNIV. SOUNDS- Don Kotowski

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

4.5


Posted on June 25, 2019 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on June 25, 2019.

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About the Author

Currently residing in Philadelphia. I spend my days working in vaccine characterization 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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