The Silver #01 -STRUCTURE- (2nd Edition)
The Silver #01 -STRUCTURE- (2nd Edition)
October 10, 2006
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Grasshopper Manufacture’s first game The Silver Case was eventually commemorated by three album releases. Of these, The Silver #01 STRUCTURE provides the original score, while the other two are arranged albums. Though he had worked on several low-profile titles previously, this project was the project that first gave Masafumi Takada a unique voice. His approach to The Silver Case was musically innovative and technologically commanded for its time. However, does its album release stand up as well? It was actually released twice, but whereas the original release features two bonus remixes, the reprint features four new compositions perhaps from the Mobile or DS adaptations instead. Let’s take a look at how the reprint fares…
“The Silver Case” sets a surprisingly warm and upbeat tone for the game and soundtrack. After an ethereal synthy introduction, the composition jumps straight into some funky bass riffs and soft piano chords. While the format could have been unspectacular, Takada offers so many infectious rhythms and compelling layers while developing the composition. The game itself might be a murder mystery, but it’s clear the protagonist is going to have a fun rather than horrifying time solving it. This sort of vibe is maintained throughout the soundtrack. “His Room” and “Morishima Tokio” are written in much the same tone and demonstrate twice more than Takada is the master of catchy riffs. The former nevertheless brings a twisted edge to the game with its dissonant piano works and warped electronic beats, but not at the expense of aesthetics. Meanwhile Morishima’s theme has a heroic vibe to it with all its ascending chord sequences and happy-go-lucky improvisations.
Despite the upbeat flavour overall, there is quite a lot of drama within The Silver. Exclusive to the remake version, “Jack Hammer” is certainly one of the deepest tracks on the soundtrack. It features a very personal piano improvisation by Masafumi Takada blending sorrowful sections with more aggressive ones. The implementation has a distinctly artificial feel to it, but this seems somewhat intentional to create a surreal atmosphere and it isn’t at the sacrifice of expressing humanity. The instrument is used in a similar way in “Moon” and the exclusive “Apricot Square”, but to a more scenic rather than empathetic effect. “Yukimura” sounds even more tragic than “Jack Hammer” with its slow strings. While it’s pretty clear that Takada isn’t a classically-trained string composer, he still shows functional command of the section with his audacious chord choices and emotionally demanding texturing. Meanwhile “Koichi” takes things one step further by combining the piano and strings to reflect intense desolation and desperation.
Although there are highlight compositions in The Silver #01, there are numerous filler works too. Tracks like “Kokusai Bldg”, “Desktop”, “Tearoom”, and the exclusive “Tamura” are kind to the ears with their catchy beats and beautiful mixing, but really don’t go anywhere or express anything. They’re not as shallow as muzak, but more could have been done to make them artistically inspiring. Even so, I couldn’t help feel be seduced by the blend of strings, piano, and funk bass in “24 Modern” and the Kikuta-esque integration of the tuned percussion in “Kusabi”. Meanwhile the dark twists on the formula in “Investigation” and “Public Security” are surprisingly delicious. As the soundtrack reaches its closure, there are some charming thematic recapitulations in the exclusive “Tokio AM” and “Last 24” as well as turbulent psychological exploration in “Reminiscences”. The closer brings Takada’s eccentricity to the forefront as he melds all sorts of different beats and samples together into an uplifting nu funk work. Somehow it manages to be goofy yet stylish. But isn’t that just a representation of Takada all over?
Masafumi Takada’s first major score certainly brings with it a lot of personality and charisma. So many of the tracks here are instantly charming with their infectious rhythms and expressive qualities. Yet while some are well-developed and artistic, others feel like underdeveloped variations on a formula. They’re effective in the game and catchy enough on a stand-alone basis, but not really individualised enough. What is left is still an entertaining listen, but not as encompassing or insightful as it could have been. For those who enjoyed No More Heroes and Killer7, The Silver #01 STRUCTURE is nevertheless a worthwhile next port of call. I’d personally go for this reprint version, since some of the exclusive compositions are really worthwhile and it feels more like a complete original score, but both releases have their unique merits.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.