Redux Complete Soundtrack
Redux Complete Soundtrack
February 27, 2013
Buy at Official Site
Having emerged from the Amiga remix scene, German game composer Andre Neumann came to prominence in 2009 with his soundtrack for the retro-inspired indie shmup DUX. He further developed his fanbase by producing several follow-up scores and albums. The Redux Complete Soundtrack is quite an interesting package. The four discs of music featured on the album contains three separate soundtracks for what is essentially the same game, namely the original DUX, the updated director’s cut DUX 1.5, or the recently remake Redux: Dark Matters. In addition, the box features a variety of remixes by various artists, including the legendary Chris Huelsbeck. In addition to the physical releases, Neumann has released the three individual soundtracks featured on this package through Bandcamp and iTunes. Is the physical album worth picking up? How much do the various incarnations of the soundtrack differ from one another?
I want to start with the earliest musical vision of Andre Neumann for DUX. Released five years ago, this retro-inspired shmup was initially released for the Dreamcast — a long-abandoned console that has nevertheless enjoyed a resurgence in the European indie scene. The soundtrack opens with “Title,” which features the retro yet futuristic sound that sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s upbeat and melodic, although not one of the more substantial tunes. The first stage theme, “Entrance to Trance,” is an interesting tune. While it isn’t the strongest theme on the album, it manages to succeed in crafting a fairly strong melody and an adventurous atmosphere with an ominous undertone. Appropriate given the nature of the game, it has a very retro sound, despite featuring modern synthesizers.
“A Cave Full of Water” captures the aquatic stage with hazy synthesizers, watery sound effects, and a subdued melody, whereas the third stage theme “Material Mine” exudes an industrial atmosphere with heavy percussion, robotic beats, and sinister synthesizer tones. Despite clearly matching the in-game stages, these tracks are more multifaceted than my descriptions might initially give credit for. The atmosphere of “Material Mine”, for instance, is lightened slightly by the use of some choir and synth descants as the piece progresses. “Purple Spaces,” the fourth stage theme, is a departure from the previous stage themes. It features more of an orchestral presence, although the majority of the piece is still synthesizer based; but rather than retread tired military staples, the piece is largely airy and joyous in tone, capturing the feeling of embracing a new area for the first time. “Radiax’s Den,” the fifth stage theme, is definitely a much more atmospheric piece that showcases a variety of synthesizer and percussion helps paint the picture of infiltrating enemy territory. It still features a melody, but I wouldn’t say that it is the main focus of the piece. It’s a frightening piece, but one that may not be as appreciated on a stand-alone basis.
The final stage theme, “Obviously Obvious,” is one of my favorites on the album. It is a very ethereal, almost dreamy tune, with a very beautiful melody. There are moments when there are signs of omen, particularly towards the end when the music cuts out and it becomes sound effects. The “Boss Fight” music is suitably intense, with an exhilarating pace and edgy harmonies. At the same time, it manages to have some more peaceful sounding sections that help break up the tension, all the while containing a very futuristic sound. Should you die at any time (as you almost certain will), the “Game Over” theme will be your commiseration. It is a very somber tune focusing on orchestral tones with subtle electronic accompaniment. Should you beat the game, or score high enough, you’ll be treated to “High Score,” which is used for the name entry portion of the soundtrack, which is an upbeat and exhilarating electronic tune that captures the essence of the more action packed themes quite nicely. Lastly, the “Credits” theme is a bubbly electronic tune that really captures the spirit of the 80s/90s shmup sound. It sums up this version of the soundtrack by managing to capture the retro vibe while keeping the synths more on the modern side.
The director’s cut DUX 1.5 blends remixes from the DUX scores. The “Title” music is among the remixes from the original DUX. Introducing new textures and intricacies to the original, the version features beautiful choral tones and some orchestral work. The newly-composed first stage theme, “The Space Ever”, is a pumping electronic tune that maintains the futuristic tone of the shmup. The melody is surprisingly minimalistic, but when present, adds much color to the piece. I also particular enjoy the piano accompaniment, which reminds me very much of the title screen music for the Japanese doujin series, Touhou. The second stage theme, “Dreamy Cave,” is one of the best tunes on the DUX 1.5 soundtrack and a further improvement on the original score. It really manages to capture that mystical, dreamy quality, especially through its striking piano melody, while also providing some references to the second stage theme in the original.
“Rockin’ Factory” has a really nice industrial drum and bass vibe with some gritty electronic textures that definitely are reminiscent of some grungier guitar riffs. Unlike some of the other stage themes, this one does drone on a bit through its repetitive bass line and atmospheric focus, so it may not be for every listener. However, it’s certainly more stylised than the DUX equivalent for better or worse. “Incepted Space,” the fourth stage theme, has a very calming atmosphere to it. It still manages to provide a nice beat, with some wobbles thrown into the mix, but for the most part provides a much-needed contrast to some of the heavier stage themes on the album. “Ghostly Geiger” also retains the atmospheric nature of “Radiax’s Den” from the first game, but manages to be more upbeat through its electronic beats. I really like the dichotomy created by the choral tones mixed with the various synthesizers. Another stunning piece is “Space Zoo,” the final stage theme. It is similar in style to the DUX final stage theme, in that it is very reflective in nature. The piano melody mixed with the choir backing really helps give it a dramatic flair and sense of omen in the game. But on a stand-alone basis, it is a strikingly beautiful piece.
The boss theme for game, another remix from DUX, maintains the soundscape of the franchise with intense electronic beats, a dreamy piano accompaniment, and some choir backing. Neumann uses the pacing and texturing here to really enhance the dramatic quality of the piece. The high score music for the game has a Rafael Dyll quality to it. While the original DUX’s counterpart was very upbeat and retro sounding, this one manages to capture the atmosphere of this game’s soundtrack, i.e. upbeat and entrancing with hints of danger. The game over music has a very dark sound to it and is less somber than the original. Lastly, the credits music continues the ambient electronic vibe and really reminds me of Donkey Kong Country’s “Aquatic Ambience.” It is definitely a fantastic way to end the soundtrack. In short, while DUX was more akin to 80s/90s inspired tunes, the DUX 1.5 soundtrack manages to capture a darker atmosphere and features sleeker stylings on the whole, while providing some really beautiful melodies as well.
Redux: Dark Matters
Released in 2012 following a massively successful Kickstarter campaign, Redux: Dark Matters is a remake of the original DUX and it too sports a brand new soundtrack. Unlike the other soundtracks, this one also incorporates an intro theme. This theme is primarily what I would consider drumstep, as it features plenty of drum n’ bass percussion accompanied by bass modulation. This theme also makes a recurrence later on in the soundtrack. The title music, on the other hand, gives me huge Rafael Dyll vibes once more. I love this combination of crystalline piano hits, electronic textures, choral tones, and militaristic percussion. It really fits with the legacy of Germany’s classic game tunes. The first stage theme, “Shooting Robots in Space,” is by far one of my favorite stage one themes in the DUX universe and provides further testament to Neumann’s growth as a composer. It features an extremely engaging melody and a great electronic drive. However, I really like how dynamic the theme is, as it changes up its tone throughout the piece. Just as the adventurous, upbeat melody manages to reel you in, the piece shifts in tone to be a bit darker with some industrial electronic vibes, focusing more on atmosphere than melody, with some luscious synth tones that change frequently during this more industrial section. A truly impressive track and one that Andre Neumann should be very proud of. “Humid Caverns,” the second stage theme, manages to keep that ethereal vibe of its preceding incarnations, as well as that aquatic vibe. It features a truly stunning melody that is only accentuated by the ephemeral choral accompaniment and chill electronic tones. This is another highlight on the Redux: Dark Matters soundtrack.
“Robotic Haven, Crafted by Death” keeps the ominous, industrial tone of the third stage. One of Andre Neumann’s finest atmospheric tunes on the soundtrack, it doesn’t focus on melody like other stage themes in favour of atmospheric soundscape. This is one of those pieces that really manage to impress with just its focus on atmosphere, unlike some of his earlier attempts on the previous DUX soundtracks. The fourth stage is split into two different themes. “Spiritual Spaces I: Lost Hope” focuses on heroic, militaristic sci-fi tones, but sounds a touch out-of-place on a primarily electronic soundtrack. The second portion, “Spiritual Spaces II: Meteora,” is a return to the ambient piano-infused electronic soundscapes the album is filled with. However, it does manage to tie in some of the orchestral aspects of “Lost Hope” at times, particularly in the percussion. The fifth stage, “Alien Terror,” features another industrial sounding electronic piece that focuses a lot more on atmosphere but features a stand-out radiant piano melody. The final stage, “Alarming Area, The End,” is a drum n’ bass piece that reintroduces some of the music heard in “Intro.” Intense and engaging, it captures flying headfirst into danger, while at times providing a nice calm before the storm atmosphere through its incorporation of some more organic sounds like the violin. I also really enjoy the modulated bass in the accompaniment. It gives it the elements of drumstep without being overbearing like some dubstep tracks..
“Boss” continues the industrial drum and bass feel of the final stage theme while also incorporating some choral tones that help give it a bit of epic tone. Of all the boss themes for the DUX universe, this is definitely the one that feels most like a boss theme. “Highscore” has that classic chillstep sound going for it. I really like how it is varied throughout the duration of the tune, capturing many aspects of the stage themes with it in terms of atmosphere. “Game Over,” however, is one of my favorite pieces on the entire four disc collection. When I asked if there was a reason that it spanned over four minutes in length, as perhaps there was some game meaning behind its length, I was told it’s that long because Andre Neumann wanted to compose it as such. To be honest, it’s really nice hearing game over themes that are longer than the standard. This particular piece is a stunning chillstep piece that focuses on sultry female vocals, a fabulous piano melody, and some bass modulation associated with modern dubstep, although done in a way that fits the overall mood of the piece. Lastly, “Credits” mirrors “Title” in overall execution. The melody and all the components that go into the piece really work together and manage to capture the feel of the soundtrack as well. The part at 2:15 is particular impressive. Of the three DUX soundtracks, the Redux: Dark Matters soundtrack is definitely my favorite. While some of the tunes do not feel unique to Andre Neumann and seem more inspired by Rafael Dyll’s shmup works, the majority of the soundtrack definitely has a unique sound compared to Dyll’s work and will certainly please fans of more modern style electronic music.
There are a ton of remixes packed into this four disc release, and to mention all of them would be quite a feat, so I’ll only mention some of my standout remixes. However, I’d say that all of them are well made from both a musical and production standpoint. The first set of remixes is from the original DUX soundtrack and is also featured on that disc. Zzr’s “Bloomin’ Cave” focuses more on the electronic aspects of the original with the loss of the more ambient sections. “Dynamite Disco Dux” by CJoe has this really funky, retro vibe yet really manages to give it sort of a lounge vibe with some sinister electronic tones and ethereal synths that really capture the atmosphere of the original DUX soundtrack. “Score the Darkness,” by Awesome-A (Neumann’s alias when he was in the Amiga scene), is a really interesting transformation of the high score music into something very ominous and sinister — a stark contrast from the nature of the original. “Sidastic,” also by Awesome-A, is a really interesting ambient chiptune soundscape that really manages to do the original justice.
The final disc on the soundtrack is full of brand new remixes from a variety of people. “Space Odyssey Medley” by Evilot‘s Matias Castro gives a nice sort of “story” remix; it provides snippets of many tunes featured in the DUX universe, although it seems to focus on the Redux: Dark Matters. “Game Over -Horizons-” from CJoe is a wonderful transformation of “Game Over” from Redux: Dark Matters. It takes the original chillstep tune and turns it into a pumping trance remix fit for any dance floor. “80’s Pushback Galore RMX,” by Dr. Future is an excellently-done “demake” of “Shooting Robots in Space.” It features plenty of classic synth tones that really help give it a sound that would fit in some of the earlier DUX incarnations. “Titel RMX” by EIZ turns the original into a chill electronic remix with plenty of heavy bass, but one that would fit well in an electronic set to give the dancers a little break from all the high energy. Finally, “Credits RMX” by Chris Huelsbeck is a high-profile treat on the album. It features that Turrican sound full of orchestral tones, catchy grooves, and awesome choral work. If this is what his Turrican Anthology album is going to sound like, or at least the special remixes he’s going to do, then I’m all on board.
The Redux Complete Soundtrack is definitely well worth the investment. While not perfect, Andre Neumann’s growth as a composer is well captured on this soundtrack and I see a bright future for him ahead. His sounds are very polished, especially for the Redux: Dark Matters soundtrack. Not only do you get to see how the DUX universe’s soundtrack has changed throughout its various incarnations, it also provides a variety of electronic styles ranging from retro inspired shmup melodies with more modernized synthesizers to electronic styles that are currently very popular in the dance scene, such as drumstep. The individual soundtracks for DUX can be sampled on Bandcamp. However, I’d recommend only purchasing the physical edition as it is a great, well-rounded package with lots of bonuses.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on March 24, 2014 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on April 22, 2014.