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Samurai Western Music Collection :: Review by Chris

Samurai Western Music Collection Album Title: Samurai Western Music Collection
Record Label: Scitron Digital Contents
Catalog No.: SCDC-00402
Release Date: January 19, 2005
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Samurai Western is a spinoff of Acquire's Way of the Samurai series, featuring the samurai Gojiro Kiryu in the Wild West. Noriyuki Asakura returned to score this title and decided to reflect the unusual concept in his music. As a fusion composer, he relished the opportunity to blend influences of traditional Japan and the American West, while still maintaining his own dense sound throughout. The resultant soundtrack is one of Asakura's best in recent years.


Noriyuki Asakura once again offers a vocal theme to introduce listeners to the scenery of Samurai Western, entitled "Eternity". While the track is introduced by traditional Japanese instruments in the style of Way of the Samurai, the main portion of the track features lively acoustic guitar passages that subtly capture the western influence. Asakura also employs a male vocalist here for the first time and is rather successful; the performer brings out all the features of the melody with a youthful and charismatic voice somewhat reminiscent of Gackt's. It is a fitting way to capture a lonely samurai wandering through the Wild West. The main theme introduced on "Eternity" is extensively integrated in the score with several instrumental arrangements. "The Wind's Beginning" captures the scene of setting off with its gorgeously performed guitar lead, whereas "Vagrant Wind" offers some Morricone-inspired whistling.

Beyond the main theme, Asakura conveys the wild west setting with a range of other compositions. "Sneering Town" and "Crumbling Town" are lively depictions of country outposts, blending further rustic guitar lacings with authentic instrumentation such as the jaw harp. "Someday, Somewhere", on the other hand, is more slow-building and atmospheric, and could easily fit in a spaghetti western. Just as he does with his traditional Japanese music, Asakura asserts plenty of individuality in these tracks by composing beyond theoretical limitations and offering various unconventional fusions, though he still creates a firm sense of place. "Where the Wind Understands" and "A Sunlight of Repose" are more clichéd, but for good reason, as they were composed to be very humorous parodies of country music. When combined, all these tracks offer a very colourful depiction of the samurai's new location.

Given Samurai Western is an action game, there are nevertheless plenty of faster and harder themes featured throughout the soundtrack. "Running Blade" is a fine example of Asakura at his most experimental, using the distinctive guitar featured on "Someday, Somewhere" and "Eternity" in a much more wild way, while blending this performance with a rich percussion palette and dissonant brass interjections. There are plenty of other off the wall themes, such as "Whirling Sign" with its raw saxophone improvisations and ethnic chanting, "Trembling Wasteland" with its percussive lead and feel good electronic backing, and "This Life -Blowing Wind-" with its battling overdriven electric guitars. Such fusions aren't quite as mind-blowing as those on Way of the Samurai 2, but they're certainly still very exciting in the game and soundtrack alike, while still fitting the new scenario.


On Samurai Western, Noriyuki Asakura gave us a shift in the series' sound that, while not necessarily superior to the music of main Way of the Samurai, can easily be appreciated in its own right. It is pleasing that, while elaborately representing the samurai and the setting, Asakura still maintained his individuality and didn't resort to endless tired Morricone imitations. Samurai Western is an entirely novel listen that is well worth experiencing.

Overall Score: 8/10