Upon playing Einhander for the first time, the thing that immediately struck me was neither the flashy graphics nor the fast gameplay, but rather the music. Dropping you in the middle of a futuristic melee, the first level begins with an opera-like sound as track 3, "Capital," plays. Quickly making a transition to track 4, "Street," the music turns to pure techno/electronic.
I am aware of many who complain that techno is now the most hackneyed style of video game soundtracks, and I concur that techno has become cliche as the genre of choice in racing games and the like. While a few games have managed to pull off a successful techno soundtrack without sounding trite, such as WipeOut XL, many generic techno soundtracks have faded into obscurity, offering nothing truly memorable to the realm of game soundtracks.
Einhander Original Soundtrack, on the other hand, serves as a brilliant example of how techno can be used effectively in a game soundtrack, as it avoids the pitfalls which other game soundtracks attempting to utilize techno as their unifying theme have fallen victim to. Composed and arranged by Kenchiro Fukui, Einhander OST is another inspired addition to the long line of excellent Square soundtracks.
One of the most unique things about Einhander OST that separates it from the crowd of failed techno soundtracks is the way it utilizes various subgenres of techno. "Dawn", "Breakthrough", and "Conflict", are all reminiscent of previously existing styles without being shameless rip-offs of these styles. Track 11, "Breakthrough", a dark and moody ambient piece, uses a percussion system similar to the conga drums used in Juno Reactor's "Conga Fury". Track 13, "Breakthrough", and track 15, "Conflict", are both similar to progressive house in their sound, building to a climax through steadily increasing tempo.
In addition to the three aforementioned tracks in the above paragraph, the two real standout tracks are number 8, "Badlands", and number 23, "Bloody Battle". Both tracks are incredibly fast-paced and offer a truly frantic atmosphere within the context of the game. Outside the realm of Einhander, however, these two tracks stand on their own as brilliant examples of techno and do not grow tiresome through repeated listening.
My only real complaints about Einhander OST center on the recycling of sounds for multiple tracks, which is apparent throughout the entire CD. For example, the majority of "Bloody Battle" is recycled in the reprise of the final track, 29, ironically entitled "Beginning". The only other complaint I have is the length of the tracks. Few tracks last longer than two minutes, although the ones that do are truly brilliant. This, too, is forgivable, however, as the 29 tracks sprawl across nearly 66 minutes.
Einhander Original Soundtrack is quite simply one of the finest techno video game soundtracks available, offering some of the catchiest loops I have heard in any CD - techno, video game soundtrack, or otherwise. Kenchiro Fukui's work on here should earn him a place on a pedestal next to Nobuo Uematsu as Square's most talented composer. Although Fukui is hardly a household name, and I had not previously heard of him before the Einhander OST, I can hardly wait to hear Fukui's next work.