Soundtrack Central The best classic game music and more

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Daniel K Aug 7, 2006

I've listened to this album for almost a week now, and I'm still uncertain how I feel about it. It's nice to see Shoji Meguro back in somewhat fine form (compared to the complete and utter failure that was the Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidou OST), but it doesn't grab me nearly as much as I thought it would (this was my most anticipated VGM release of 2006). Compared to earlier Meguro stuff, and especially compared to earlier Persona soundtracks, this is pretty poor. I think it'd be best if I divided the post into "good" and bad", to avoid some muddiness. And remember, these are just my opinions...

THE GOOD: The music is slick, hip, cool, modern, befitting of the Persona atmosphere, at least on a superficial level. A lot of the music sounds fresh, and to my surprise I find myself liking most of the tracks that have vocals in them. The vocals just blend so seemlessly into the music as to seem like any other instrument in the mix rather than something which stands out in stark contrast. This in itself is a worthy feat. All of the lyrics are completely pathetic, though, Engrish rap and r'n'b. But fortunately the vocals are quick and vague enough to ensure that most of it will just pass one by. There is a lot of nice synth-work on the soundtrack, and even some more mysterious/somber-sounding pieces here, although the tone for the most time is uniformly upbeat and happy, youthful and bouncy. My favourite tracks on the album so far are: Want to be Close, Troubled, Mass Destruction, Deep Breath Deep Breath, Master of Shadow, Changing Seasons, and Master of Tartarus.

THE BAD: Where to begin? It pains me to criticize a Persona soundtrack, but honesty lasts longer, right? P3 OST suffers from the same syndrome all later-period Meguro soundtracks (Digital Devil Saga 1 & 2, Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidou) suffer from: way too much filler. It's no way near as much as on the abysmal Kuzunoha Raidou OST, but still remarkably more than on the DDS soundtracks. Raidou really gave me the impression that Meguro is getting overworked in his recent role as heroic lone Megaten-composer, and P3 confirms it: there's a lot of deadpan material on here. One of the things that hurts the most is that you could always expect a Persona soundtrack to have loads of awesome dungeon themes, but P3 seems to be severely lacking in this regard. I can't even tell which tracks are supposed to be dungeon themes, the most likely candidates are the different Tartarus themes, but they are all variants of the same composition! Incredibly disappointing considering the series' standard so far. The battle themes are pretty good, but they too suffer from monotony, as most of them seem to be techno/hip-hop crossover pieces, often using the same lyrics. I suspect that not all of this is the composer's fault, however. It seems like Atlus radically changed the style of the series, turning it into some kind of brainless dungeon crawler, which in turn is reflected pretty clearly in the music. But it still could have turned out better than this: Meguro's soundtrack to SMT3: Nocturne was brilliant, and that game was as dungeon crawl-ish as any. This aspect combined with the ├╝ber-slick, super-cool style of the music really gives it an unintended "trashy" aura: like something you enjoy for a brief time, then throw away, like way less substance than surface. Tragical, considering how deep, emotional, and honest previous Persona music was. Persona 3 OST seems to me a lukewarm attempt to emulate earlier Persona music, a watered down copy. And where the hell is the Satomi Tadashi Pharmacy tune...? I rest my case, right there!


Conclusion? Yeah, it's good. It's OK. If I made it sound bad, it's just that I expected soooo much more from it. But it's very weak compared to Meguro's better works (Soul Hackers, Maken X, SMT3: Nocturne), and it's a bastard child when compared to earlier Persona soundtracks. On another note: maybe we should contact the Japanese police regarding the missing Atlus composers? It seems like everyone on the sound team except for Shoji Meguro has vanished into thin air, which is a bloody shame, since I would really have liked to see the Persona 2 sound team back for Persona 3. They could even have woked together with Meguro, it would've been better than Meguro going at it alone, stretching himself thin by composing 514 soundtracks per year and ending up poorer for it.


Yeah, it's OK.... Kind of.

Nemo Aug 7, 2006

I like Devil Summoner Vs. way more than P3. I hate Jpop, Jhiphop, Jr&b, so it's basically unlistenable to me. But that's just my taste so to each his own.

Zane Aug 7, 2006

Nemo wrote:

I like Devil Summoner Vs. way more than P3. I hate Jpop, Jhiphop, Jr&b, so it's basically unlistenable to me. But that's just my taste so to each his own.

Agreed. I don't reall care for Persona 3 at all, but that Devil Summoner album is sweet.

discoalucard Aug 7, 2006

Yes, the Taurtarus tracks are the dungeons themes. Basically the game only has one dungeon, and as you reach new floors, the graphics and music change slightly. There are a couple of story related dungeons too, but they only show up every so often.

I really like all of the battle themes. I mean, I was initially put off by the growling in Nocturne, but I grew to really like it after awhile. The same thing happened with the rapping and other vocals, I can't really picture the game without them.

There are a lot of filler tracks, but they rarely play in the game, so no big deal.

HamandSushi Aug 8, 2006 (edited Aug 8, 2006)

I really don't see how anyone could think Devil SUmmoner is better than this.  Completely different styles, but one is a Muzak rehash of Meguro's worst work (with the cool jazz-fusion from DDS1 nowhere to be seen), and one is almost a new sub-genre of video game music.  And while I can't stand J-pop either, this feels far less syrupy to me (although most of the lyrics are terrible, of course).

There is too much repetition, certainly, but the fact that it's both fresh AND compositionally detailed and polished makes this a clear winner for me.  Also, there was WAY more filler on the Integral discs.  At least the cutscene music isn't mostly simplistic 70s lounge crap.

I do REALLY wish the other composers had contributed, though.  That would have made this a bona-fide masterpiece, instead of a flawed one (although let's not forget that the Persona 2s actually had mostly much simpler tunes; it's just that Persona 3 is more of a pop style).

Zane Aug 8, 2006

HamandSushi wrote:

I really don't see how anyone could think Devil Summoner is better than this.  Completely different styles, but one is a Muzak rehash of Meguro's worst work (with the cool jazz-fusion from DDS1 nowhere to be seen), and one is almost a new sub-genre of video game music.  And while I can't stand J-pop either, this feels far less syrupy to me (although most of the lyrics are terrible, of course).

Meh. Preference? I will say that neither of these works even comes close to Meguro's SMTIII Nocturne stuff. I think that's some of the best work he's ever put out.

Daniel K Aug 8, 2006

HamandSushi wrote:

I really don't see how anyone could think Devil SUmmoner is better than this.

Agreed. Kuzunoha Raidou was truly terrible. The only good tracks were "The Lazy Detective Agency" and "A Strange World". Oh, and that one awesome battle theme that wasn't even on the soundtrack album. Apart from those, everythhing was just crappy filler. Shoji Meguro is a genius when it comes to rock and electronica, but with Kuzunoha Raidou and the jazzier pieces on the Persona 3 OST, he's shown that he can't really do jazz.

Speaking of jazz and Megami Tensei music... Why is it that the original Devil Summoner soundtrack from 1996, you know the real one? never gets any love...? It's without a doubt the best jazz/funk Megaten music, far better than Kuzunoha Raidou.

Zane Aug 8, 2006

Daniel K wrote:

Agreed. Kuzunoha Raidou was truly terrible.

To you. I thought it was fresh, and I enjoyed the new sound Meguro shot into the Devil Summoner series.

Daniel K Aug 8, 2006

Zane wrote:
Daniel K wrote:

Agreed. Kuzunoha Raidou was truly terrible.

To you. I thought it was fresh, and I enjoyed the new sound Meguro shot into the Devil Summoner series.

Of course. The imperative sentence in my original post was "And remember, these are just my opinions... ". But tell me (I'm curious), do you think the Kuzunoha Raidou OST was better than the original Devil Summoner or Soul Hackers soundtracks (provided that you've heard those)? IMO, it was a radical downturn for the series, even sharper a plunge than Persona 3 OST was for the Persona series. But opinions, you know...

Zane Aug 8, 2006

Daniel K wrote:

Of course. The imperative sentence in my original post was "And remember, these are just my opinions... ". But tell me (I'm curious), do you think the Kuzunoha Raidou OST was better than the original Devil Summoner or Soul Hackers soundtracks (provided that you've heard those)? IMO, it was a radical downturn for the series, even sharper a plunge than Persona 3 OST was for the Persona series. But opinions, you know...

Personally, the first Meguro stuff I heard that really resonated with me was SMTIII Nocturne. I really enjoyed the non-filler stuff of DDS 1&2, and also enjoyed the Kuzunoha album (even though it should have been ONE DISC. Bastards). I'm not a big fan of the older Devil Summoner stuff. Blasphemy? wink

Daniel K Aug 9, 2006

Zane wrote:

Personally, the first Meguro stuff I heard that really resonated with me was SMTIII Nocturne.

Hmm, how about Maken X OST? It pre-dates SMT3 by 4 years, but it's truly an awesome hardcore techno/rock soundtrack by Meguro and Takahiro Ogata. If you haven't heard it yet, I recommend a download. The music is much harder and faster than Meguro's newer works. It might even be so that some of his very best stuff is on this CD, which makes it a bloody shame that it's so overlooked. I'm glad I managed to snatch a copy while it was still available.

Anyway, we're getting somewhat off topic.

GoldfishX Aug 24, 2006

My general rule with this OST: If it's not a tartarus variant or one of the crap-rap tracks (*looks at Burn My Dread -Last Battle-*), it's really good. Unfortunately, that's half of the material right there...Bleh. As far as the tracks with (singing) vocals went, "When the Moon's Reaching Out Stars" and the end "Memories of You" were the only ones worth noting. Hopefully, the crap-rap won't become a full-time weapon in Meguro's arsenal. The Battle/Poem for Everyone's Souls were easily the highest spots on the album and the Shadow/Master Shadow tracks not far behind.

There's good stuff there, but you kind of have to dig for it. If I were to combine the best of this with the best of Kuzunoha, I'd easily have the best game soundtrack released this year.

Soto Aug 26, 2006

At this point I'm of the opinion that DDS2 is Meguro's best recent work...Persona 3 just isn't really doing it for me at this point.  Then again, I don't think the tartarus themes are half bad, so what do I know.

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