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The Weakest Link: DJMAX Trilogy Original Soundtrack (Review)

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You’ve probably gathered that I’m a huge fan of Korean music, and with that, a huge fan of the DJMAX series. We’ve written extensively about the games and the music, and here we are again with another release to tell you about. This time it’s the DJMAX Trilogy, which is a PC version of the amazing rhythm game series.

Similar to other releases we’ve covered in the series, you’re going to find a blend of electronic and pop music, although Trilogy is heavy on the pop side, and a lot of it isn’t as catchy as I had expected. While I admit I am a bit disappointed with this one, many of the tracks came to grow on me, and the 2-disc release is worth checking out if you happen to pick up the PC release of DJMAX Trilogy.

Find out what you’ll hear in our review of the DJMAX Trilogy soundtrack after the jump.

First of all, save for one track on the R side, there’s no ESTi here. That’s a huge hit for me. But at least we have some other familiar names like NieN (La Tale, PangYa Portable), Nauts (TalesWeaver) and 3rd Coast, who I loved from the DJMAX Technika soundtrack. I mentioned earlier that there are two discs here, with the first being the T side (for traditional, perhaps?) and the other being the R side (for remix), but even the T side has some bonuses.

Let’s start with the T side, which features shorter tracks for the most part. The album opens with “Over Your Dream” by xxdbxx and Sin so-hee, and it’s basically a female alternative rock track in English. It’s not overly exciting, but it is admittedly catchy. It’s followed up by “바람에게 부탁해 interlude” by Forte Escape, which is a strange piece given its minimalistic approach. It starts with the cranking of a music box followed by a music box melody, strings, and bell trees that make me think this song isn’t an in-game track.

Forte Escape provides the next two tracks as well, “Memory of wind” and “Catch you” with Miya and Jo Jeong-Yun on vocals, respectively. This is the Korean pop I was looking for, with some nice beats in “Memory of Wind” and an upbeat piano and string backing for “Catch you.” Nauts follows up with a more RnB-style pop track titled “Streetlight,” featuring the voice of Ahn Shin-Ae.

3rd Coast is up next, and damn, I love their sound. They do such a great job with the male rap and female pop dynamic. “My Jealousy” is a smooth track with some great vocal work on the female end, and there’s even an alternate version tucked away at the end of the disc. Their next song, “Stop” is groovin’ with its snappy percussion and brass stabs, and has an extended version at the end of the disc.

NieN makes an entrance with “NB Girls,” a rock pop track with some super cheery female vocals that I imagine some people will find annoying. The ascending progression and the enthusiastic backup singers make this one sound like a girlie anime theme song. Unfortunately NieN’s “Mindcontrol” isn’t as entertaining, going too far into the modern rock realm for my tastes.

Paul Bazooka finally gets us into some electronic music with “The one,” a house track with lots of crazy synth and vocal elements. Later, xxdbxx returns alone this time with a similarly strange electronic piece featuring computerized vocal snippets that voice a melody along with an upbeat trance lead. Cycle75 introduces “Ventilator” next, a hardcore techno track with razor-like synth lines and a fast tempo.

Three tracks towards the end of the T side disc are labeled as “2007 Live Miracle” versions. What that means, I don’t really know, but they’re nice. M2U and Forte Escape team up with vocalist Sanche (from PangYa Portable) for “Memory of Beach,” a laid-back track with a nice island feel, making use of happy synthesized flutes and marimba to support Sanche’s sticky sweet voice. The same trio is responsible for “Eternal Memory,” an Asian-infused electronic track that features a more mature sounding Sanche, fitting in well with the blend of Asian instruments and electronic drum beats.

The R side is actually somewhat of a disappointment here. It’s comprised of a series of remixes by Forte Escape, some karaoke versions of various songs, and some vocal-only tracks that are pretty much useless to you and me. At least the remixes are longer and have some time to develop. The main problem is that the majority of the songs here are not represented on the T side disc, so unless you played the game, you’re likely not familiar with the in-game versions.

The first portion of the disc is dedicated to Forte Escape’s remixes, most of which aren’t particularly memorable. There are a few that I really enjoyed, however, starting with “Let’s Go Baby (Acid House Mix)” which is exactly what you’d expect based on the title. I really enjoy the filtered electric keyboards and the deep basslines. The vocals are also spot on, giving the track a seductive edge. “End of Moonlight (Club Techtrain Mix)” is also great, coming in as an awesome dream track with fast-paced but mellow synth lines and beats. The vocals are so distant and reverberated that it sounds like it’s coming from somewhere deep within your brain. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album, and it’s also one of the longest at nearly 5 minutes in length.

ESTi finally makes an appearance, although it’s in karaoke form. His track, “LadyMade Star MR” (I guess MR means no vocals?) is a dancey track that is, of course, amazing with its complex synth lines and sweet belltones, but again, I want the vocals! Forte Escape’s “End of the Moonlight MR” is similar in this regard, but the added in synthesized bits make up for the lack of vocals. The track is also noticeably sped up, making it almost sound like a different song entirely. M2U’s “Space of Soul MR” sounds like an amazing track to round out the bunch, but again, no vocals! The last four tracks contain vocals without any musical backing. I have to ask, why are these tracks here?

Overall, I’m pretty disappointed with this album release. I don’t feel it represents the game well, as there is plenty of good music here, it’s just that they decided to rip out the vocals on a number of the best songs here. Despite this tragedy, there are still some great tracks the be heard, but nothing like what was heard on the Technika album. If you happen to pick up the game, consider the soundtrack discs a bonus, but I wouldn’t seek the game out specifically to get the music.

Are you a fan of the DJMAX series? Have any idea why they dedicated half of the R side disc to separate karaoke and vocal tracks?

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