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Gran Turismo 3 A-spec Original Game Soundtrack :: Review by Dave

Gran Turismo 3 A-spec Original Game Soundtrack Album Title: Gran Turismo 3 A-spec Original Game Soundtrack
Record Label: Village Records
Catalog No.: VRCH-5006
Release Date: June 6, 2001
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Previous Gran Turismo game releases received up to three different albums — a popular music album, an original music album, and an arranged album. Gran Turismo 3: A-spec, however, has just one. The Gran Turismo 3 A-spec Original Game Soundtrack features music from Isamu Ohira and Daiki Kasho, but has none of the 26 in-game popular music tracks from bands such as Feeder and Muse. Even more bizarre is that Masahiro Andoh, one of the series main composers, does not contribute anything new to this album. Some fans will see this as a negative, but others will be thrilled to see Ohira given a chance to make his name on the album alongside Gran Turismo newbie Daiki Kasho.


As with previous soundtracks in the series, the Gran Turismo 3 A-spec Original Game Soundtrack begins, and ends, with renditions of Masahiro Andoh's "Moon Over the Castle" theme. The opening rendition of the theme, "Moon Over the Castle (A-spec mix)" is arranged by beatmania's Koichi Yamazaki (aka pendulum). It features a minute of ambient noise, before being released into the main segment which remains untouched from the Gran Turismo Original Game Soundtrack. The last track on the album, "Moon Over The Castle (Orienta-Rhythm 'Banquet' Mix)" by Japanese DJ trio Orienta-Rhythm takes the main theme a little bit further though. Rather than having an opening segment and then leading into the original rendition of the main theme, the whole track is a club remix in which the main melody is integrated. Though a bit more outgoing, the arrangement itself is not greatl if anything, it sounds as if the trio had a beat loop lying around which they thought could work well with the motif, but didn't want to put too much effort into properly incorporating it. As far as arrangements go, neither of these themes benefit the original version, and only barely succeed in bringing two different musical styles to the album.

The controversial additions to the soundtrack continue with newcomer Daiki Kasho's mixed contributions. His contributions start off strongly. "Obscure," for example, is an inventive piece which combines elements of heavy rock and electronica to create an aggressive, impacting sound. The development of the piece is well-paced, and at around 1:55 we are provided with an awesome four note bass guitar riff akin to the memorable Mission Impossible main theme. The simple addition of this motif does wonders for the track which then seems to spiral into a magnificent section of vigour, passion, and liveliness. This style then continues into "Glowl," a less impressive but still rewarding track with distorted vocals, interesting synth concoctions, and a rampant drum and bass riff.

Upon listening to his third addition to the album though, it becomes clear that Kasho's tracks are all very much the same. "Strike Breaker" and "Mirage" sound extraordinarily similar in terms of structure: each features the same drum beat, prolonged development, and an irritating sporadic habit of returning back to a poor excuse of a main motif. "Sky Scraper" isn't much of a release from this relentless stylistic repetition either, but does at least hold more than a two second melody. In moderation, Kasho's contributions are listenable and are certainly a welcomed stylistic detour to the series, but they do become very hard to listen to in succession.

In the absence of Masahiro Andoh, Isamu Ohira has the chance to shine amongst some uncharacteristically weaker themes. He impresses with jazzy themes like "Slipstream," "Take a Break," "Great Job!" and "Light Velocity," the latter two of which see the return of saxophonist Kazuhiro Takeda from the Gran Turismo Original Game Soundtrack. "Great Job" features a gorgeous and heartfelt solo line from Takeda, which succeeds in creating a great atmosphere, albeit with some help from the backing instruments. "Light Velocity" seems to have at least some direction from Takeda, but mostly, as with "Slipstream" and "Take a Break," focuses more around a strong keyboard segment, in which Ohira tinkers around its main motif. As opposed to earlier albums, Ohira has relatively few weak themes, with "Not Bad Approach" being the only one which really stands out as a track that ran out of fuel early on — the downfalls of which are length, a fragile melody, and lack of development. Apart from this, his other tracks are close to flawless, and are certainly an appreciated alternative to Kasho's harsher tracks.


The Gran Turismo 3 A-spec Original Game Soundtrack is certainly one of the weaker soundtracks in the series, but it is enjoyable nonetheless. For instance, Kasho's "Obscure" is nothing short of spectacular, and Ohira's "Great Job" is a successful jazzy engine-revver. There are few downfalls in fact, with the most obvious being that the album lacks power and dominance, perhaps due to the fact that Masahiro Andoh's touch is missing, and instead the listener is confronted with Kasho's brasher sound. One thing that is important to note though, is that Ohira finally shows us that he is a good composer, and that although he sometimes requires direction, it is evident that he has come a long way from the Gran Turismo Original Game Soundtrack — who knows, maybe he found the fifth gear?

Overall score: 7/10