Xevious 30th Anniversary Tribute
Xevious 30th Anniversary Tribute
January 29, 2013
Download at iTunes
The Xevious 30th Anniversary Tribute album is a digital release featuring a variety of remixes of the music heard in the original Xevious by Namco composers. Yuriko Keino’s sound for the original arcade game was not copious by any stretch of the imagination, featuring no more than a catchy opening fanfare, some repetitive arpeggios used during the main gameplay, and a range of sound effects. That said, the audio was advanced and creative for the year 1982 at least — still a few years before fully-fledged scores like Super Mario Bros., Darius, and Gradius came out. Produced by Yoshihito Yano and supervised by Hiroshi Okubo, the Xevious 30th Anniversary Tribute album features some 16 remixes based on this limited material. It is interesting to see how the current composers at Namco Bandai re-envisaged this music to produce fully-fledged pieces in a variety of styles. Is this album worth picking up in the end?
The album opens up with “Overture 1983” by Yuji Masubuchi, which introduces the opening fanfare of Xevious. It’s quite short with little arrangement, but the music serves more as an introduction to the original tune heard upon the game’s initial release. The first true remix follows and is titled “Distant Memories” by AJURIKA (aka Akitaka Tohyama). As one might come to expect, AJURIKA takes a psytrance approach to his tune, the style for which he is most known. One thing that I wish was used more in this remix was a stronger presence of the original melody. It is present at times, but can be subdued a bit by the pulsing electronic tones. That being said, I still think it’s a highly enjoyable tune and the incorporation of the various sound effects is quite welcome.
Takeshi Nakatsuka’s “Super Bad Devious” is a fantastic jazz arrangement that also manages to bring a nice funk as well. It manages to bring a nice playfulness to the mix and contrasts nicely with the more electronic focused remixes present on the album. I also like how the original chiptune portion is included as incorporation in the accompaniment and how this tune transports the listener back to a previous era. Giving a chance for Junichi Nakatsuru to showcase his non-orchestral music, “Jara-1” is another funky rock/jazz arrangement. The excellently-written keyboard, electric guitar, and bass work provide a lot of the energy to the tune as well as a nice jam band mentality. It was especially nice to see Takanori Gato returning as a composer here from the Ace Combat series. Continuing with the funk, Yoshihito Yano’s “Grobda” is a fantastic tune that mixes some beautiful and extremely catchy funky bass line work, the original chiptune melody, and some more modern electronic influences. From start to finish, it’s a well-crafted remix that manages to impress.
Moving to the vocal arrangements, Hiroshi Okubo’s “Fardraut” is a real stunner. I really like how Okubo modernizes the signature Xevious tune by changing it to a beautiful synth tone that really manages to work as a constant accompaniment to his vocal drum n’ bass tribute. In addition, the ethereal synthesizer and piano accompaniment also present manages to convey a nice dreamy and mesmerizing quality to the tune as well. “Crazy About Zoshi” by Hiroyuki Kawada is another vocal arrangement that has a gritty retro rock vibe to it. While the vocal sections aren’t quite as impressive to me compared to “Fardraut,” I really enjoy the instrumental sections as they really bring a nice industrial sound to the original tune and the synth solos are quite enjoyable. Overall, it’s a fun tune, but I find it to be one of the weaker tunes on the album. Another vocal theme, “Phoenix” by Katsuaki Hirai, lacks in length compared to other additions to the album. However, it definitely stands out with its J-rock vibe and gives off a fun energy. The vocal performance is quite enjoyable and certainly more powerful and more impressive than the manipulated vocals present in “Crazy About Zoshi.”
“Gump,” by Ryo Watanabe, is another very enjoyable tune. Opening up with robotic vocoder, it quickly moves into an energetic dance tune that incorporates an updated synth version of the Xevious theme. While it can get a bit repetitive at times, particular during the middle section, the core essence of Xevious is definitely present throughout its duration and the tune itself is reminiscent of some of Watanabe’s more recent Nanosweep styles, so fans of those should appreciate this as well. Katsuro Tajima’s “Sol” is a more organic tune that really manages to bring a more heartfelt approach to the album. It is a very peaceful and stunningly beautiful tune featuring pitched woodwinds, piano, and what sounds like a kunaifu instrument, although I’m not certain on this last part. Regardless, it is definitely a very expressive piece and one that really manages hit on an emotional level.
Shining among the very best of the album, LindaAI-CUE (aka Akihiko Ishikawa)’s “Addor Guileness,” is definitely one of the most unique arrangements on the album. It is an extremely epic, industrial tune that has a lot going on. First of all, the incorporation of the Xevious theme into the bass guitar accompaniment is genius as it always has an underlying presence in the tune. In addition, LindaAI-CUEbrings in choir, sinister robotic vocals, and epic orchestral hits that really manage to accentuate the ominous and industrial soundscape of the tune. nother remix that ranks among the very best is “Sheonite” by new star Taku Inoue. Rather than go for the hard and fast approach like many of his Tekken and Ridge Racer tunes, Inoue opts for a much more beautiful approach that still manages to showcase some of his signature style, particularly which is heard in “Night Falls” from Tekken Tag Tournament 2. The combination of ethereal and bubbly synthesizer tones in the accompaniment and melody line works well in conjunction with the slightly heavier electronic aspects of the tune. Of course, the dreamy interpretation of the Xevious music is also quite hypnotic.
Yuu Miyake’s “Beat the Gwassher” is another fantastic remix that combines orchestra, chiptunes, and the artist’s quirky synth style into a fun and upbeat dance tune. Particularly enjoyable is how he manipulates the Xevious tune later as the remix progresses. His approach is very reminiscent of some of his Katamari and Ridge Racer tunes, in fact. “Tras,” by Torine (aka Eriko Sakurai), is another fantastic remix that blends orchestra and electronic components. I really like the various parts of this album, ranging from the more sinister and eerie synthesizer to the original chiptune elements, and the funky and modern beats. However, what I find most impressive about this tune is the piano and strings elements that really harmonize quite nicely with the less organic aspects of the arrangement. The album’s last remix is “A Dream within a Dream” by Hiroyuki Kawada, another shorter remix that manages to end the album quite nicely with its subdued approach that combines electronic and retro elements. “Over,” by Yoshihito Yano, officially closes the album and is similar to the opening both in length and with its focus on the original retro tune.
In the end, I feel that the Xevious 30th Anniversary Tribute album is well worth the purchase. For fans of the Namco sound team and the various guest contributors, each showcases the composer’s signature styles while also providing fresh and interesting takes on the classic Xevious tune. There’s a range of styles from jazz to psytrance, although most of the remixes are electronically focused for those who prefer a more organic sound. Given it is such a substantial album based on an iconic score, I think it’s a pity that Namco Bandai didn’t team up with SuperSweep to produce a physical release of this album. That said,this album is available on iTunes worldwide, so definitely give the samples a listen and see what you think! I think it’s a worthwhile digital purchase.
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Posted on April 14, 2014 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on April 14, 2014.