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Sonic Riders Shooting Star Story Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Zero Gravity Tracks: 	Sonic Riders Shooting Star Story Original Soundtrack Album Title: Zero Gravity Tracks: Sonic Riders Shooting Star Story Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Wavemaster
Catalog No.: WM-0587
Release Date: January 17, 2008
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The sequel to Sonic Riders, Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, was a little different to its predecessor with its hoverboard racing gameplay, spacey storyline, and intense musical score. The soundtrack, crafted mainly by Sonic Riders and Phantasy Star Online composers, maintained the electronic focus of the subseries. However, it introduced many novel elements too, such as bold fusions with rock and orchestral music or a far more personal and intense sound. The resulting Zero Gravity Tracks are certainly an improvement on their predecessor, but is it worth purchasing?


The Zero Gravity soundtrack opens with the vocal theme "Un-gravity", written by Kenichi Tokoi and sung by Dublin-born musician Cashell. The vocal line is wonderfully constructed and performed, abstract and vocoded during the verse, but anthemic and charismatic during the chorus. The supporting instrumentals are an elegant blend of rock, electronic, and orchestral features, as are many of the subsequent themes on the soundtracks. When the vocals and instrumentals come together, the result is euphoric, upbeat, and nostalgic. There are lots of catchy bass hooks and sweeping melodies to keep listeners entertained as well as a certain dash of quirkiness and silliness too. The track works wonderfully during the opening sequence but is even better out of context. It is also given a feel good electro remix at the end of the soundtrack, which is another welcome addition. Finally, runblebee's "Catch Me If You Can" has the vibes of a boy band pop song and is aimed more to younger fans. It still suits the attitude of the game and the string punctuations add a little more maturity, though some will find it difficult to stomach.

The majority of the racing themes are dynamic hybrids of electronic elements. For example, Tomonori Sawada blends bubbly electronic beats with punchy rhythm guitar riffs on "Spiral Madness" and tense string motifs on "Through Traffic"; the rhythmical elements really add to the dynamism whereas the timbral elements complement the futuristic scenery. Fumie Kumatani offers curious twists on her deep electro-orchestral style for Phantasy Star Online with the relatively upbeat and quirky additions "Gadget Round", the colourful piano work of "Aquatic Time", or the all-encompassing fusions in "Dive Into Gravity"; they fit their respective stages wonderfully without resorting to clichés either. That said, there is quite a bit more diversity outside the electro tracks. Kenichi Tokoi's "Sealed Ground" is one of the most worldly tracks here, featuring evocative bamboo flute leads, transient Arabian excursions, and even some supporting didgeridoo work. Another definite favourite is "Blast Town" with its compelling jazz grooves and constant sense of enthusiasm.

Although a lot of the score sounds quite 'out there', there is quite a human emotional core to it nevertheless. Kenichi Tokoi's impressionistic string composition "The Divine Wings" especially reflects this; it opens in an almost elegaic fashion and gradually transitions into more dazzling and haunting passages, maintaining an emotional grip on its listeners from start to finish. Hideaki Kobayashi's "The Lightless Black" is meanwhile a fantastical orchestral composition with science-fiction vibes and a shocking finish. A lot of the short event cues are very dramatic too. Kobayashi's "Meteor Falls", "Babylon Garden", and "Stop the Black Hole" are all intense orchestral compositions that wouldn't sound out-of-place in a Phantasy Star Online game. While they're all short, there's a lot offered within their playtimes. Those looking for full-blown epics should head straight to the end of the album with Kenichi Tokoi's "The Core" and "Multi Attack". Again, these tracks blend orchestral, electronic, and percussive elements, but the combinations are much more audacious than before and the intensity never really relents.


Overall, the Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity soundtrack is a vast improvement on its predecessor in terms of stand-alone listening. For one, there are stronger melodies and rhythmical hooks this time, so the pieces don't sound as standard. In addition, there is clearly more creative input with the fusion of rock, orchestral, and vocal elements to already competent electronic mixes. This also contributes to a much more diverse score. But perhaps what really sells the soundtrack is its emotional nature; whether the edgy event themes, euphoric racing themes, or more personal moments, this score really inspires a range of emotions. Those who like electronic fusions won't go wrong here.

Overall Score: 8/10