Star Cruiser -Toshiya Yamanaka Works- :: Review by Don
While he has faded into obscurity in recent years, Toshiya Yamanaka scored numerous influential games for early Japanese computers. Among them, Wibarm, Reviver, Knight Arms, and Star Cruiser by Arsys Software. In 2012, Yamanaka homaged one of these franchises with the original album Star Cruiser -Toshiya Yamanaka Works- from the SuperSweep label. This album seems to explore what the music for a Star Cruiser shooter would sound like if there was a modern sequel. Featuring original compositions by Toshiya Yamanaka as well as a remixed tune by Yasuhisa Watanabe, it takes us on a journey into a modernly imagined sci-fi world. How does it turn out in the end?
The opening theme, "The way of galaxy," clearly serves as the "departure" or "character select" music of this release. It features futuristic synthesizer tones, some militaristic percussion, and tonnes of synth accents that help accentuate the space vibe. It runs a little long and doesn't develop much over its span of time, but it definitely transports you into the world of Star Cruiser and is quite atmospheric. "neo-nineteen" is an extremely beautiful piece of music, featuring a rustic sound through the extensive use of acoustic guitar. In addition, the incorporation of some soft synthesizer accompaniment helps maintain that futuristic atmosphere.
While a modern take on the franchise, this album does include plenty of classic vibes. "Martian breeze" is a wonderful synth rock tune that really gives off this feeling of flying. In addition, it features a very classic sound and the interchange of synthesizer and guitar leads makes for a very satisfying listen. This is definitely one of the highlights on the album. "to aggressive" clearly represents what would be a boss theme in a modern Star Cruiser game. It features plenty of slap bass and powerful electric guitars that help give off a sense of energy and tension and it reminds me of Yamanaka's remixes for CAVE in terms of guitar work.
"Another sunset" features a nice funky, jazz soundscape. In many ways, this particular tune would work well in a visual novel game, but at the same time, I feel that it would work nicely in a lounge setting. The melody is definitely catchy and the funk rock guitar work really elevates the piece as well. Another theme that I think would work well in a lounge setting is "Bar 'Galileo,'", although this one definitely features a bit more of a Spanish vibe, thanks to the acoustic guitar work in the piece. I really like the soft synthesizer accompaniment in this tune and the jazzy percussion. While it isn't the most complex piece of music, it does have a nice carefree atmosphere to it and the melody is quite strong.
"Sail again to far voyage" most likely represents the ending and/or credits theme. As such, it features a very catchy, bubbly synthesizer melody with some ethereal synthesizer accompaniments. In addition, the bass guitar accompaniment sets a nice tempo. The last track on the album is titled "Brian's Journey" and is remixed by Yasuhisa Watanabe. The track opens up with a very soft, soothing synthesizer melody and atmosphere before moving into an energetic dance beat that one might hear in a modern shmup. As the track progresses, it features a variety of different melodies and tones, which definitely helps with this image of a journey. Overall, it is one of the strongest themes on the album and Yack.'s keen sense of layering and atmosphere really makes this track shine.
In the end, I think that Star Cruiser -Toshiya Yamanaka Works- is a solid album. While the tracks aren't the most complex, they are all certainly enjoyable and aside from the first theme, which doesn't develop much, I find the more substantial themes to be more satisfying. The album also closes with a fantastic remixed tune by Yasuhisa Watanabe. For fans of Toshiya Yananaka's work in the Star Cruiser universe, I definitely recommend this album.
Overall Score: 8/10