Game Music, Reviews

Take a Peek at Bayonetta’s Smoking Hot Soundtrack (Review)

November 30, 2009 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook Take a Peek at Bayonetta’s Smoking Hot Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

We teased you last month with our Bayonetta Original Soundtrack unpacking video on the OSVchannel, and now that we’ve finally plowed through the massive 5-disc collection, we’re prepared to tell you what we think. Don Kotowski knew as early as E3 that SEGA was on to something special with what he coined as their “Sexy, smoky jazz approach,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Bayonetta has a sound all of its own. It’s what I’d call gothic jazz, mixing moody string progressions with jazz piano, organ, and other elements. It’s a unique sound, and one that I’ve come to like a whole lot. The team behind the Bayonetta soundtrack is as large as they come, including PLATINUM GAMES’ Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Masami Ueda, Reina Niwa, Takayasu Sodeka, and Naoto Tanaka (I didn’t realize they had some many composers on board!) along with T’S MUSIC’s Rei Kondoh, GEM Impact’s Norihiko Hibino, Takahiro Izutani, and Yoshitaka Suzuki, and SEGA’s Hiro and Mitsuhara Fukuyama.

Is your head spinning yet? Just wait to read about what this soundtrack has to offer in our review of the Bayonetta Original Soundtrack after the jump.

There’s a lot of material here, and a lot of composers to get through, so let’s start with the PLATINUM GAMES team.

Hiroshi Yamaguchi gives the Bayonetta soundtrack its charm, combing classy Baroque and jazz elements to create some of the most memorable tracks on the album. He starts with a brief jazzy jingle of sorts titled “Opening Demo.” It’s only 41 seconds long, but as a huge fan of jazz in games, this had me excited right from the start. He continues with one of the most memorable tracks on the album, “One of a Kind,” which is an epic orchestral track with some darker choral elements. It sounds like a blend of Castlevania and “O Fortuna” with its driving string stabs and melancholy choir. The groovadelic “Riders of the Light” and the classy lounge piece, “The Gates of Hell” are also worth your attention.

“Red & Black” again smells of Castelvania with a groovy octave-jumping bassline and a unique combination of a classical piano and a jazz organ, creating a nice contrast of sounds. Towards the end of the soundtrack, Yamaguchi provides an epic battle track, “Blood & Darkness,” which sounds like it could be a final battle theme with its heavy use of choir, orchestral percussion, and foreboding organ. It works in elements of the Bayonetta theme, which is a nice touch.

Lastly, Yamaguchi provides yet another highlight, “Fly me to the Moon (∞ Climax Mix),” a lengthy Bayonetta-style arrangement of the classic Frank Sinatra tune. I have to admit, I mainly got into this tune based on the many arrangements featured in Neon Genesis Evangelion, and this arrangement is in that same spirit.

PLATINUM GAMES’ Masami Ueda enters the stage with two of my favorite tracks, “Vigrid – Station Home” and “Vigrid – Town Areas.” They’ve both gritty tracks that rely on jazz instrumentation (xylophone, electric piano, jazz flute, etc.) with deep trip-hop bass and drum lines. There’s a nice layer of grunginess added to his tracks, making them feel somewhat down and dirty. He continues with the bizarre yet catchy “Theme of Bayonetta – Mysterious Destiny,” which features this same gothic jazz style, but also some filtered vocals that are beautiful and, well, mysterious! It’s not the most memorable theme, but it’s fun to listen to while it’s on, and it’s references throughout the soundtrack. Later, “Paradiso – Graveyard of the Memories of Time” is one of the longest tracks on the album, coming in at over 6 minutes in length. It features choir, strings, and harp, effectively conveying an image of a graveyard, at times contemplative and at others full of despair.

Erina Niwa also provides a number of noteworthy contributions, including a short piece titled “Chapter Start” which drips with gothic atmosphere with a droning bass pad, while “Enzo and Drive” is a laid back jazz tune that sounds like a perfect accompaniment to a nice trip to the grocery store. You may remember the name Naoto Tanaka from our coverage of MadWorld, and as it turns out, he found the time to write a track for Bayonetta, but literally only one. “The Witches’s Forge” is quite different from his hip-hop oriented work on MadWorld, instead going for a dark ambient sound with some sparse percussion and electric piano. Another composer, Masato Shindo, is credited for only one track, “Paradiso – Paradise of Light,” an amazing evolving ambient piece with droning pads and filtered wind and metallic sounds that create a meditative atmosphere.

Rei Kondoh of T’s MUSIC provides several tracks for the game, and I’m quite surprised by his versatility. “Battle for the Umbra Throne” works with the same jazzy style that the PLATINUM GAMES composers established, but adds in tribal bongo percussion and an energetic piano melody. Next, “Paradiso – Star Ocean,” comes in with some beautiful choral work and a somber organ melody reminiscent of the song that plays after you defeat a colossus in Shadow of the Colossus. While it’s subdued and minimalistic, it is quite profound. Later, things get more epic with “Climatic Battle,” which sports some killer piano work, sounding like it could work as a great RPG battle theme. It’s just a shame it’s so short! Kondo’s “Giant Military Transport, Valkyria” explodes with jumping electronic bass and percussion, but retains an epic quality with drawn out strings and buried piano notes that provide a healthy dose of dissonance to assist the action.

Our friends over at GEM Impact are responsible for most of the game’s cutscene music. The tracks tend to be shorter and not so memorable, but it’s great to see them associated with a big title like Bayonetta. There are a few worth mentioning, such as the longer “EV11 Conversation with Fortitudo,” a dark orchestral outing with distorted belltones and a mischievous bassline. The strings on this one are great, and really get the blood pumping. They get another chance to shine with “EV18 Temperantia Enters,” a grungy piece that combines Hibino’s jazz know-how with some tense string work and gritty percussion ala Metal Gear Solid. “EV16 Sexy Battle” is another great track that could have benefited from more length, but alas, cutscenes have to fit within their allotted time frame. The best track they provide, however, is “EV23-1 Confrontation with Jeanne C,” which starts with some distant and dark tones before a rapid synth arpeggio breaks through the darkness, allowing piano, bass, and this killer phasing synth pad to escape, creating a flurry of awesome sounds.

There are numerous SEGA goodies buried throughout the Bayonetta soundtrack. Mitsuharu Fukuyama offers a remix from the Outrun series, “Splash Wave (∞ Climax Mix),” applying the sexy jazz stylings of Bayonetta along with female scat singing. Masami Ueda tackles After Burner, creating the epic “After Burner (∞ Climax Mix)” which stays true to the original with lots of brass stabs and rockin’ electric guitar, but also features female scat singing and some great synth work on the melody. Lastly, Hiro from SEGA offers “Magnificent 7 (∞ Climax Mix),” a remix of the boss theme from Fantasy Zone that’s a bit repetitive and tracks very close to the source material, but it’s a pleasant surprise to hear here. He also works in “Space Harrier (∞ Climax Mix),” a lengthy arrangement of music from what some would argue is one of the best SEGA soundtracks out there.

The final stage themes are provided by Kondoh, and as you’d expect, they are as dark and riveting as his previous tracks. He does a great job escalating the atmosphere leading up to the final showdown. Kondoh of course does the honors with “You May Call Me Father,” an epic orchestral piece utilizing full orchestra and choir, working in familiar themes from earlier in the game. The orchestration here is quite impressive, making for a wonderful musical accompaniment to the final battle. One of the final pieces, “EV35-2 Romance,” comes courtesy of GEM Impact, and is a beautiful orchestral piece that is sweet and gentle like a Christmas song. I can’t help but wonder who at GEM Impact wrote it, as it’s a very lovely closing piece. There’s also another version of “Fly me to the Moon” tucked away at the end, credited to Brenda Lee. It’s kind of a haunting version with very little in the way of instrumentation, but Lee’s voice alone, garbled somewhat in a way characteristic of old recordings, is an absolute treat to hear.

The fifth disc of the set is full of miscellaneous material, including original versions of the classic SEGA tunes that were remixed earlier on the soundtrack, what sounds to be an retro arcade version of Bayonetta’s theme, and a series of pieces titled “Angel’s Voice,” each of which is a brief excerpt of a classical orchestral piece from the likes of Beethoven, Mozart, Holst and others with a layer of metallic wind-like pads over the top. From there, SEGA treats you to a series of demo and prototype tracks. It’s awesome that they’ve included these tracks, as it’s not often you get to hear “unreleased” music from a game. Of these, Niwa’s “Prototype B” and “Prototype C” are probably the highlights. Lastly, there are two chiptune arrangements, one of “Mysterious Destiny,” and the other of “One of a Kind,” both of which are awesome additions to this collection. “One of a Kind” sounds strikingly like something out of Ninja Gaiden, which is definitely a compliment!

Well, there you have it. If you saw our unpacking video, then you know that the packaging is also top notch, with a leather bound cardboard case to house the 5 individual slim jewel cases. There’s also a thick booklet with photos and liner notes (in Japanese). The cast of composers here is truly impressive, and there is some great music here to be heard from all. I’m especially impressed with Rei Kondoh, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, and Masami Ueda, and I highly recommend checking this one out if dark, gothic jazz is your thing. If it’s not now, it soon will be!

Have you been looking forward to Bayonetta? Have you had your eye on the soundtrack, or perhaps you’ve already listened to it? Tell us what you think!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


« Next Post

Previous Post »

More like this Post