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Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Original Game Soundtrack :: Review by Dave

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Original Game Soundtrack Album Title: Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Original Game Soundtrack
Record Label: Village Reords
Catalog No.: VRCL-4009
Release Date: February 20, 2008
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The Gran Turismo series features some of the best racing tracks in game music, and rest assured, the Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Original Game Soundtrack is far from an exception. With a vast variety of composers, arrangers, and performers, this soundtrack features a diverse blend of music from a great number of musical backgrounds. Electronica, rock, and jazz are all featured on this soundtrack as a result, as well as a few vocal themes and classic arrangements. It's just a shame that we still haven't been graced with the Gran Turismo 5 game itself, just the short prologue.


Rather than following the traditional way of opening up the soundtrack with an arranged version of Masahiro Andoh's "Moon Over the Castle" Gran Turismo anthem, the soundtrack opens with "Surv1v3," an impressive rock track from Jonathan Underdown and Daiki Kasho. Unlike other vocal themes in the Gran Turismo series "Surv1v3" is undoubtedly Western-sounding, and in my opinion, the soundtrack benefits from this. It's great to see a Western and Japanese collaboration, at least on the level of promoting Japanese game music. Underdown's "Edge of the World" also features towards the end of the album. The style is very much the same as in "Surv1v3," but takes upon a sadder character. This more balladic addition is effective in the game, but perhaps isn't as prominent or enjoyable outside it.

In regard to the main theme, "Moon Over the Castle," there is an arrangement of this at the very end of the soundtrack. "Moon Over the Castle (GT5 Prologue Version)" is just as successful as any other arrangement of the theme in the series, but for a nice change, the instrumentation has been changed as has the whole structure of the piece. What's more is that the arrangement has been managed by Doug Bossi and Vince DiCola from The Bad, who also contributed to the Gran Turismo 4 Original Game Soundtrack. Overall, the track takes upon a rock style, but in parts it is also orchestrated, hence creating a unique and epic atmosphere which does the original theme a lot of justice.

Alongside these themes, the album also features three more ambient pieces. The first of these, "Love&Peace" could be considered more as jazz, but is so laid back and simplistic that I would like to classify it more as easy-listening music. KEMMEI's use of a repeated rhythm and overlying melody creates quite a blissful image, but after a while it does get very dull. Perhaps better implemented, "Twieky 4" is an electronic track from naomee, and is very similar to the psytrance tracks featured on the Gran Turismo 4 Kicks album. It creates a fairly ominous vibe through simple development and the constant addition of new motifs throughout its playtime. "Sky High Mountain Breeze," also from naomee, is a particularly enjoyable track which seems to begin with a distorted bagpipe before moving into a rock-like section. In this section, the riff is maintained as distorted guitars play over the top to ethereal effect. Similarities from here can be drawn to popular modern day alternative bands such as M83, Maps, or The Album Leaf, again perhaps showing connections from the Japanese game music world to Western culture.

Mostly though, the album takes upon a jazzy style with artists contributing their own jazzy sound bites. The beautiful piano track, "Flat Out" from Mitsutoshi Sato is the first real example of this. With a graceful melody and a delicious recurring section which involves descending jazz chords, this piece is also the best of the jazz themes. The very relaxed atmosphere is also continued to an extent in Sato's "Constructor's Blues". The piano is still very prominent and plays a simple soothing melody, while the driving edge is creating by the authentic double bass and hi-hat accompaniment. In that sense, it seems to capture both the dynamism and euphoria of racing.

Satoshi Bandoh's jazz contributions — "When the Rain Comes" and "Farewell" — fall more into the 'groove' genre with sweeping, sexy saxophone lines and raunchy bass. "Farewell," especially, maintains a focus on Takahiro Miyazaki's saxophone line that perfectly portrays that last goodbye. Alongside this jazz and groove, Yudai Sato also offers us some funk with "Are You Ready?" which is arguably one of the most enjoyable themes on the soundtrack. Again, it features a piano and traditional jazzy accompaniment, but what really makes this theme is its upbeat melody and unique development. On the whole, the contribution of jazz pieces to this album is extremely welcomed, especially since different subgenres within jazz are also explored. This is where the benefit of having a vast array of contributors on a soundtrack comes in: in the general elimination of similar sounding tracks.


As far as Gran Turismo soundtracks go, this one is my favourite to date. It's quite clear to see that the vast number of contributors has done the music for the game some good, rather than just depending on a select few composers. Though Masahiro Andoh, Isamu Ohira, and Daiki Kasho's themes were welcomed earlier in the series, the albums did have the tendency to be built up of very similar themes, since each artist didn't stray too far out of their own genres or area of talent. It wasn't really until the Gran Turismo 4 Original Game Soundtrack when each of these artists collaborated that it become obvious that musical diversity is what the series really needed, and as a result, we are presented with this soundtrack. Here's to hoping that the music in the full version of Gran Turismo 5 will be just as good, if not even better.

Overall score: 9/10