When I first played Gitaroo Man and beat it, I rushed out and purchased the soundtrack the very next day; be aware that I have never, *ever* done this before. Yes, the music is THAT good. Being an avid rhythm-action game music fan means that I've heard it all, from Parappa The Rapper, to Bust a Move, the entire Bemani series, and everything else in between... but nothing touches Gitaroo Man in terms of sheer quality and instant accessibility.
With the exception of "Soft Machine" and "21 Century Boy", as well as the Japanese eurobeat styling of "Flyin' To Your Heart," the score isn't very big on vocals, so those who are adverse to such needn't worry too much here. Most of the songs, in fact, are purely instrumental, and excellently composed instrumentals at that. Produced and written by Tomohiro Harada and Japanese rock band COIL, Gitaroo Man boasts a wide variety of imaginative and appealing musical categories that are well-suited to the guitar. If there's one thing that the Japanese (and the game music genre, in particular) have proven to us, it is that they can take the best of everything out there, put their own melodic spin on it, and *BOOM* crank out some music magic. "Born To Be Bone," my personal favorite piece, simply transcends adjectives. If I could try, I would describe it as Spanish tango, set to a pounding jungle-tribal beat, all driven along by a dazzling palette of battery percussion, xylophones, marimbas, and a Jew harp. Yes, a Jew harp. Totally off-the-wall, yet wholly organic, it is, in short, a brilliantly crafted piece.
This is but one of the many examples of the exorbitantly elaborate mixtures that Gitaroo Man exhibits. "Bee Jam Blues," another favorite of mine, takes a kickin' blues syncopation and hurls itself upon a disco-funk framework; the result is a deliciously trippin' duet of trumpet and electric guitar. "Tainted Lovers," meanwhile, dips into the realm of heavy metal, with banshee-screaming axe licks and riffs, set to pipe and jazz organs.
The two versions of "The Legendary Theme," both acoustic and album, warrant special mention. The theme they share serves as the focal theme for Gitaroo Man, and although describing its in-game context would be a spoiler in and of itself, I can say that it is one of the most memorable pieces I've heard in a long time. It is a beautiful and tender-hearted melody as portrayed in the acoustic version, which soars majestically in the album version with rock-ballad vigor and amazing dual guitar work.
If there is but one qualm that I have with this soundtrack, it's that the tracks, though faithfully re-mastered and replicated from the original sounds, don't contain every riff and musical sequence that is found in the game. Anyone who has the skill and the guts to go up against Master's Play Mode knows that there are new musical sections and improvisational notes for a number of songs. It is disappointing, then, to find that none of those additions can be found here. Instead, we get four "Ropeland" mixes, which essentially covers pieces that didn't even have major changes to begin with. If it were up to me, I would have used the space for the full-length versions (or maybe "deluxe" is a better term) of "Bee Jam Blues," "Born To Be Bone," and "Tainted Lovers," because those new bars really added a fresh and well-rounded sound to the pieces.
Aside from this small (and admittedly avaricious) gripe, what we've received in this soundtrack is pure gold. So much heart and soul just seems to have been poured into this soundtrack; like the game itself, it represents a new high mark of quality for an otherwise stale genre. Saying anything more would be redundant; if you've played the game, you already know how good the music is. But to those who would like to try out a new type of guitar-laden music score, that is on par in quality with, say, the Konami Battle CDs or Guilty Gear albums, then Gitaroo Man Original Soundtrack comes highly recommended. One of the finest of its kind, and indeed, of any game music score, it is an absolute pleasure to listen to.