Game Music, Reviews

Gambling Never Sounded So Noble: Derby Owners Club 2008 feel the rush Soundtrack (Review)

March 25, 2009 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Gambling Never Sounded So Noble: Derby Owners Club 2008 feel the rush Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

This isn’t your adorable Horsez simulation game! Derby Owners Club 2008 is the real deal when it comes to horse racing, and the best thing about it?  It includes Takenobu Mitsuyoshi who was responsible for the orchestral recording.  He seems to have a thing for racing (in fact, I hear there’s a Daytona USA Anniversary Box coming out next month), and he has teamed up this time with Mitsuharu Fukuyama, another racer guy from SEGA with albums like Sega Rally 2006 and the Outrun 20th Anniversary Box under his belt.

The score is orchestral in style, sounding as regal as some of Koichi Sugiyama’s work at times (who I hear also likes horse racing) and as whimsical as some of Hitoshi Sakimoto’s music at others, so it goes without saying that this album surprised me. The duo recorded the FILMharmonic Orchestra Prague, which we recently heard on the Halo Wars soundtrack, and the powerful themes and Western approach definitely make for something new and exciting.

Hit the jump to find out exactly what I’m talking about after the jump.

The album is broken down up into the original orchestral versions and arranges versions that tend to be shorter versions of the original pieces. You’ll be most interested in the first dozen or so tracks which are listed as “Live Orchestral Versions.” I’ve been told that Fukuyama handled most of these, and that arranger Adam Klemens was invaluable in making this happen [Thanks, Thomas!]. The last two tracks are also a couple of the best on the album, so let’s begin!

“World Race News From SEGA’s Derby Owner’s Club 2008” starts things off on a whimsical note with fluttering woodwinds and harp melodies with a regal brass backing. The next track, “Course Introduction ver. 1” is one of my favorites with its majestic bell trees and powerful brass section. It effectively combines epic progressions with light-hearted melodies, which strangely works out just fine.

“Horse Entrance (#1)” is an epic march with lots of brass and snare rolls. I realize I’m already saying “epic” way too often, but seriously, I guess they take horse racing very seriously in Japan. “Horse Entrance (G1)” is another one of my favorites with its cinematic style but instantly catchy melody. This is the track more than any other that had me thinking of Hitoshi Sakimoto with these bassy string notes hitting every quarter note.

“Ranking ver. 1” is a powerful jingle of sorts with an awesome call and response between different brass sections, and the quiet pattering of snare drums. “Ranking ver. 2” takes a more sweet approach with a violin solo, sounding almost like one of Koichi Sugiyama’s town themes, which is one of the biggest compliments I can give Fukuyama and Mitsuyoshi. This is definitely an awesome piece. “Parent Coupling & Pony Birth” is a track that celebrates the miracle of pony birth with sweeping string sections and twirling woodwinds that will have you looking forward to the joys of parenthood!

There are a number of arranged versions and short jingles between here and the end of the album, but towards the end of the album “We Trust in You” comes in as an upbeat vocal track complete with jazzy instrumentation and a gospel choir. It sounds an awful lot like Christian music, and I swear they’re saying “We trust in you, lord,” but maybe I’m crazy. It’s surely about the unbreakable bond between a race horse and its rider, which is quite profound I know, but it’s also very catchy if you can dig through the thick layer of cheese. The final track, “Brave Runner” is an absolutely stunning string and piano ballad that is mellow and soothing, similar in style to the recent Sekaiju no MeiQ live album which I also loved. It’s definitely a great closing piece that leaves a good impression.

So yeah, definitely a surprise from something associated with Mitsuyoshi, but an excellent album nonetheless. This is a perfect marriage between Western cinematic music and highly melodic game music from the East. I recommend picking it up whether or not you’re a fan of Takenobu Mitsuyoshi’s music, as Fukuyama’s work seriously packs a punch and sports some great quality, and both composers and the arranger should be commended, especially considering this is an arcade game. You can pick it up at CD Japan or Play Asia, so let the race begin!

[Special thanks to Brad Rice for track title translation]

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