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Gran Turismo 4 Kicks :: Review by Dave

Gran Turismo 4 Kicks Album Title: Gran Turismo 4 Kicks
Record Label: Solstice Music
Catalog No.: SOLMC-046
Release Date: February 23, 2005
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The tradition of the Gran Turismo series is to have an original music release, an arranged album, and a popular music release. However, Gran Turismo 4 provides an exception, in that there were four album releases. Gran Turismo 4 Kicks is the album release for a compilation of psytrance tracks, composed by mainstream artists for the game. Only five of the tracks on the album featured in the game, so this selection of tracks from Solstice Music has a few extras chucked in too.


The album gets off to a strong start with The Antidote's "Bullet," which is a strong, pulsating track which literally investigates every corner of its rhythm, development, and minimalist style. The track isn't too in your face in that it has no special psytrance effects thrown in, nor does it branch off down seemingly unrelated paths. To put it simply, "Bullet" can be best described as 'nice' — it's plain, it's simple, and strangely addictive. To give a little background on the man behind The Antidote, Serge Souque is one of the trio who make up successful French goa band Total Eclipse. Much like we have seen with "Bullet," the majority of his tracks are typically simple and straightforward, with good examples appearing on Violent Relaxation (2003) and the more recent 2004 album Update Files.

The goa artist also appears towards the end of the album alongside Synthetic with an arrangement of Masahiro Andoh's "Moon Over the Castle" Gran Turismo anthem, which has featured in every game to date. Despite some immediate problems in regard to the main melody from "Moon Over the Castle" panning uncontrollably between the headphone pieces, resulting in some power being taken away from it, "Moon Over The Castle (GT's Theme-Long Remix)" is probably the best remix of the theme in the series. Saying that this theme is the best arrangement in the series is quite a big deal, considering that there are just short of 15 different renditions of the theme throughout the series. What makes this version so good is that it combines the power of psytrance with the original melody in such a way that it becomes a compelling, intriguing, and timeless theme. The track's assets certainly lie in its throbbing bassline and electrifying development around the 2:39 mark, but it is clear that the power does still come from Andoh's original melody.

The great tracks don't just end there though, in fact, you only have to look as far as the second piece on the album to be graced with another prime example of psytrance. Anybody who is at all tuned into the world of trance will realise that "Bubble n' Tweak" is a rare contribution from Hallucinogen (Simon Posford), who isn't especially renowned for releasing new trance material. "Bubble n' Tweak" is a bit more adventurous than "Bullet," and is essentially one of the more mind-boggling tracks on the album. The most peculiar parts of the track come from the synth noises which Posford produces — from water drops to high-pitched laser sounds, it is certainly an eventful soundscape, and amongst the most creative on this album too. The track has an amazing development which manifests itself around the 2:28 mark where the rhythm changes and a new eerie sci-fi instrument is brought in to take over the playful melody.

Another good (but not stunning) track on the album is "Checker Flag" from Etnica, which of course adopts a race-style name. Much like "Bullet," the track is mostly uneventful in terms of random development, but does see a great section come in around 5:40 with chiptune sounds and catchy beat before returning back to the tracks initially origins. Mostly, the track could be described as bland, but for game music fans, this sort of psytrance is most likely to be more readily accepted than, say, full frontal, intimidating music. Taking a look into the music often created by Italian band Etnica, it's easy to hear that "Checker Flag" is very similar to the music from their sixth album "Sharp" released in 2004. Overall, this track is a welcomed addition to the album, though it could be possibly perceived as one of its weaker themes.

Alongside the rearrangement of the main theme, the album also features two other strong tracks from Koxbox and Alien vs The Cat. Koxbox's "Inside Every Man (There's a Machine Waiting to Come Out)" is a great addition the soundtrack with its supernatural beat sounds and pounding bass line. The main throttle behind this track comes from its eccentric delivery of its melody in the form of a noise which would be more suited to a car alarm system. It's a very enjoyable track, though it probably leans towards the more 'in your face' psytrance which some listeners may not respect so much. Similarly, "The Race" from Israeli groups Alien Project and Space Cat (Alien vs The Cat) is more relaxed, however, and to me is the second best track on the album, behind the arrangement of "Moon Over the Castle." What makes this track stand out the most is its uplifting nature, stellar melody, and uplifting development, with such energy not necessarily explored elsewhere.


This album is amongst my favourite Gran Turismo related albums. Undoubtedly, it's not accessible to all game music lovers since it is wholly psytrance/goa trance, but for lovers of beat-laden music and strong melodies, I certainly suggest you take this album into consideration. The best thing is that it has brought flavours of the trance world into a worldwide game, in which it is integrated alongside Andoh, Kasho, and Ohira's themes. Surely this helps to promote the original music from the Japanese composers, and even if not, these are still a welcomed addition. Be warned though, you may find this kind of music addictive... and if that's the case, though I'm sorry to fuel your possible future addiction, then I certainly recommend listening to Tobal No. 1 Remixes Electrical Indian, which features similar music!

Overall score: 10/10