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Gran Turismo Original Sound Collection :: Review by Dave

Gran Turismo Original Sound Collection Album Title: Gran Turismo Original Sound Collection
Record Label: Village Records
Catalog No.: VRCL-4010
Release Date: November 25, 2009
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


For some, it is hard to approach soundtracks composed for portable devices with a positive expectation, and this is mostly down to the common misconception that the sound quality may be limited in some way. Alongside this, there's also the delusion that games for these consoles aren't as big a deal as those made for the main consoles, hence creating the expectation that the music itself wouldn't have a big budget. Thankfully, some of Sony Computer Entertainment's latest PSP soundtracks are changing this. The Gran Turismo Original Sound Collection features music for the PSP version of Gran Turismo and amazingly provides some very strong themes. To put all of cynics at bay, the tracks featured on this album could very well feature on a main console, and there is no problem at all with the quality of sound or length of track.


If you follow the series at all, you may have already guessed that the soundtrack opens and closes with arrangements of Masahiro Andoh's "Moon Over the Castle" theme. "Moon Over the Castle (2009 Remix Version)" isn't anything special, and is mainly just an extension of the original piece by Toru Okitsu. The arrangement makes the original theme into more of an anthem by making it sound more epic and important; while a little contrived in that regard, it suits what is ultimately a legendary theme for the series. The biggest change is that the track features a new section following the 3:30 mark, in which a rocking electric guitar solo line rips into the original melody. The short-lived "Moon Over the Castle (Orchestra Version)" draws some similarities to its operatic counterpart on the Gran Turismo 4 Original Game Soundtrack. While short, this piece features some great orchestral techniques and powerful vocals to create a hair-raising sensation which certainly conjures up some pride for the game. Ultimately, these arrangements aren't much different to what have been heard earlier in the series, but they are an important contribution nonetheless, given that they are staples of the music side of the franchise.

Unlike earlier soundtracks in the series, the Gran Turismo Sound Collection centres more around ambient electronic tracks than rock themes. There are of course some rock tracks, it's just that they are not as prominent on the album as when Masahiro Andoh was the main contributor. The most notable rock themes come from Solaya and Masanori Mine, who each have a couple of additions to the album. Solaya's themes take upon a much more steady and relaxed beat. "Windy" is quite an inspirational theme with an unusually ambient atmosphere for a rock theme, but fitting for the track's name. "Yummy Trip" takes upon a similar aura too; with a light and airy guitar riff, subtle development, and attractive melody, it's a quaint addition which shows a different side to rock which Andoh hadn't touched upon in earlier soundtracks. Masanori Mine, though, sticks to a style similar to Andoh's classic fast-paced rock, which, let's face it, a Gran Turismo soundtrack can't be without. "Over the Horizon," "Colourful Monochrome," and "Planet Tension" are each enjoyable themes which feature manic drum accompaniments and are dominated by an electric guitar. Out of this selection, "Over the Horizon" is probably the most successful track, not only because it features the most addictive melody, but because it has the best background development in the form of a quiet rock organ.

Moving onto the electronica tracks on the album, the rather prominent DJ Shimamura (or Twintale) who has contributed to a great deal of video games pairs up with YO-C to produce three catchy tracks which can't be missed on the album. The first of these, "Summer Searching" starts off with tom-toms and clapping before moving into a vibrant electronic section. In creating this theme, the duo seem to have captured a perfect soundscape - with simple vibes, minimalist melody and basic development, it's a quaint and blissful track which I highly recommend. A track of theirs which isn't so on the mark though is "Adrenalin Navigation," which features an annoying synth melody and poor development. They do manage to redeem themselves with "Addicted to the 303," however, which is just as addictive and pleasant to listen to as "Summer Searching." The difference with this track is that it seems to focus a lot more on the development of the beat in the theme, rather than the structuring of the melody. Mostly, DJ Shimamura and YO-C have created enjoyable tracks here, and further add to the diversity of music which is presented on this album.

The majority of the ambient and electro themes on this album though are composed by aM, who bizarrely seems relatively unknown in the game music world at present. Without a doubt, aM's contributions are nothing short of fantastic, and really bring a breath of fresh air to the soundtrack (without having to hang your head out of the window at 50mph). "Rainbow 3000" and "Close my Eyes, Eyes, Eyes" each feature the same ambient background arpeggiated synth chords, once more bringing a sense of ambience to the soundtrack through simple means. The tracks which really stick out though are the strangely appealing "The Dubless in Tokyo," which features a hypnotic synth line and intriguing chime accompaniment in the background, and the slow developing "One Blue Spaceshore." "One Blue Spaceshore" is addictive through its development in which a new layer is added to the track every now and then; this eventually begins to make the listener more involved in the track, as they wait for the newest addition to the theme. Other notable additions from aM come from the groovy additions of "Walking throw Zero-Gravity Lounge" [sic] and "Playing in 4D," which further seem to add to the musician's stylistic expertise in electronic music.


This is a very strong album in a series which has historically featured some great music. The soundtrack accounts for early fans of the series with its rock themes from Solaya and Masanori Mine, but it is also brought more into the modern era with some fine electronica additions from aM, DJ Shimamura, and YO-C. This soundtrack is very different to what has been explored on other albums in the series; although electronica has featured previously in the series, it comes in its own unique ambient style which strays from the earlier aggressive forms of Daiki Kasho's contributions to the Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec Original Game Soundtrack or the psytrance flavours explored on the Gran Turismo 4 Kicks album. In this respect, the Gran Turismo Original Sound Collection brings a new welcomed style to the series. Certainly check this album out, and don't be needlessly phased that it is the score to a PSP game.

Overall score: 9/10