Space Invaders Extreme Audio Cluster
Space Invaders Extreme Audio Cluster
May 19, 2008
Buy at CDJapan
Space Invaders Extreme Audio Cluster to the soundtrack to the remake of the original Space Invader game released on the Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and Xbox Live Arcade in 2008. Composed by Yasuyuki Suzuki, Mitsugu Suzuki, and Hirokazu Koshio, how do they bring about a more modern touch to the soundtrack, while still keeping the series’ trademark elements?
Hirokazu Koshio contributes the most to the soundtrack. “Extreme (Menu)” is a really repetitive electronica theme. It features a nice beat and some UFO sound effects. The melody, when present, gives a nice ethereal vibe, but for the most part, it’s a lackluster way to open the soundtrack. “Invade You (Stage 1)” is a driving electronica theme that features plenty of sound effects. The melody, at times, has a bit of mellowness to it, but at others, almost takes on a tropical and playful vibe, due to the steel drum percussion that can be heard. “Outbreak (Stage 2)” opens with a very dramatic soundscape, mainly due to the ongoing beat with select notes in the melody. As it progresses, it takes on a slightly jazzy sound and the melody becomes more prominent and keeps with the hectic nature of much of the soundtrack. It’s definitely one of the weaker themes though.
Moving on to some of Koshio’s multi-part stage themes, “Regress (Stage 3A)” has a retro vibe going for it. The melody and beat are pretty catchy, giving it a bit of a mellow vibe as well, but I find myself struggling to get through the theme. “Progress (Stage 3B)” continues the mellow vibe of its predecessor. Unfortunately, I don’t find it particularly interesting. While the beat is catchy, I find the melody to be rather boring and it just doesn’t grip me like some of the other ones on the album. “Repulse Me (Stage 5A)” is more like it though. The rhythm is driving and catchy while the melody is equally driving, but more importantly engaging. At times, it carries a bit of a sinister nature, although it’s masked pretty well by the other additions to the overall soundscape. There are also original versions for “Invade You,” “Outbreak,” “Regress,” and “Repulse Me” found on the album. They are essentially the same versions as before, but without the sound effects.
Yasuyuki Suzuki only contributes two themes to the soundtrack. “Executor (Stage 5B)” is a driving electronica theme with a pretty catchy rhythm. It features a ton of synth samples, ranging from industrial soundscapes to more jazzy ones. I also love the piano and woodwind sections as they give it a bit of mellowness and help contribute to the jazz. The other theme, “Rebel Worm (Stage 5C),” opens with a fanfare of sorts before moving into a funky electronica theme. The addition of a bass guitar gives it a nice distinction between his other theme and it meshes quite well with the electronica melody that, although crazy at times, manages to give off a bit of an ethnic flair coupled with a sort of controlled chaos. Lots of layering can be heard in both of these themes and help to create a tense, energetic atmosphere.
Mitsugu Suzuki contributes six themes to the soundtrack. “Gradation (Stage 4A)” has a drum n’ bass vibe going for it and manages to mix a very nice beat with some crystalline synth passages and some more “out there” sound effects. It’s a pretty interesting theme overall that also has a slight rock influence as it progresses. “Gradation (Original Version)” is a much spacier theme that really accentuates the crystalline synth passages that were dulled down a bit in the stage theme. This could be due, in part, to the lack of sound effects. “Harum (Stage 4B)” is a much more driving electronica theme than “Gradation.” It features a pretty intense electronica melody that also shares a bit of sinisterness. The beats are quite nice and the various synth effects help to give it a very contrasting atmosphere.
“Shatter (Stage 4C)” is probably my favorite of Suzuki’s themes. It features an industrial electronica vibe at times and is coupled with some more spacey sections. However, the addition of electric guitar gives it a nice edge compared to the other Stage 4 themes. As usual, the crazy synth effects really heighten the experience of the theme. “Zero Hour (Stage 5D)” is a nice rock influenced jazz theme with a nice electronic beat. The combination of the saxophone, jazzy synth, and rock accompaniment make for a very engaging theme that really contrasts nicely with Suzuki’s other contributions to the soundtrack. Lastly, “Crackle (Staff Credit)” has a very industrial sound to it. Bizarre sound effects compliment a very industrial beat and a slight sinister melody. I wouldn’t say its Suzuki’s strongest contribution, but it does fit in nicely with the overall scope of the soundtrack.
There are also three remixes on the album. The first, by Hirokazu Koshio, is entitled “Invade You (Cosio ‘Rainbow’ Mix).” It’s a big improvement over the original featuring some beautiful piano work, guitar passages, and some pretty infectious beats, in addition to some various sound effects. It’s a nice hodgepodge of elements and they all come together rather nicely. The second, by Yoshihiro Sawasaki, is entitled “Outbreak (Onsen Latino Mix). Unfortunately, it doesn’t improve upon the original as much as the “Invade You” remix did. There are some nice new beats and instruments thrown in, but for the most part, it’s a slightly modified skin of the original. The last remix, by Ryuhara Nakahara, is entitled “Extreme (Ryu Mix)” and it transforms the original into an intense techno theme, but I don’t think it salvages the original too well. There is some nice variety in the mix itself, and is more listenable than the original, but the source material wasn’t the strongest to begin with.
Overall, Space Invaders Extreme Audio Cluster is a decent album. There are a lot of nice electronica themes that seem to fit the style of the game, as well as some nice homages to the Space Invaders of old. At the same time, some of the themes are very difficult to listen to on their own, often due to their repetitious nature. In the end, if you liked the music you heard while playing the game, I suggest picking this up. Otherwise, it’s up to you to take the risk.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.