KiD is a Japanese game developer well known for their excellent love adventure games. One of their more compelling series is called Infinity, which includes the likes of Never 7 and Ever 17. The characters and plots in these games are not connected in any way, but some elements remain true, such as intellectually stimulating storylines and soundtracks composed by Takeshi Abo. My experience with Takeshi Abo's work is only via Never 7 and Ever 17 and of those two, I think Ever 17 has the superior soundtrack.
The first thing to note about this soundtrack is that all the song titles are in German. This is appropriate for the game since the setting is a theme park funded by a German pharmaceutical company and all of the attractions there have German monikers.
Musically, the opener LeMU - Far Away Continent of Lemuria definitely captures the mood of the game. It's catchy, but still rather dark and tense with both loud and quiet moments. The vocalist chosen for the opener is solid, but unremarkable. She sings well and has a pleasant voice, but nothing that really blew me away. It is much better than the other vocal number Aqua Stripe. It sounds like a third-rate disco song with lackadaisical vocals. A vocalist with a more authoritative vocal style would have been fantastic for both numbers.
The synthesized music used throughout the soundtrack is always catchy and often interesting because the themes usually have an air of tension to them. Circumstances are dire for our characters and it can be difficult to stay positive, hence the tension in many of the themes. Even music for attractions like Karusell Delphine (Dolphin Carousel) have an air of sadness to them. This is an interesting contrast because the Dolphin Carousel is supposed to be a happy attraction, but some sad and heavy moments in the game occur around there.
One thing I like is the way Abo layers the various instrumentation in his pieces, allowing each part to breathe nicely. Though the music is synthesized, there is a wide variety of instrumentation and sonic textures. Qualle is a good example of his effective layering. No choking of parts here. I also like how some pieces start off slow with simple instrumentation then build up into a tense climax with added instrumentation. Tief Blau is a good examples of this. I also like how Zweitestock and Drittestock both employ the same main melody, but different background music. I found that a subtle and very cool use of layering.
In contrast to the more relaxing Never 7 soundtrack, Ever 17's contains tunes like IBF Notfall and Drittes Auge that really gutpunched me and forced me to take notice. Again, this is very much in keeping with the spirit of the game where sometimes the characters get complacent and some crisis event occurs that slaps them back into reality. Drittes Auge is a pleasant surprise, because it has a slightly dirtier, more rock oriented sound providing a nice change of pace to the cleaner sounds of the other songs. I was not quite expecting a piece like this from Takeshi Abo since all the works of his I've heard were more in a pop vein.
I liked this soundtrack. The music is great and nicely complements a great game. I was not bored by a single track and even outside the context of the game, there is plenty here to grab your ear. This is not a relaxing soundtrack, but it is one I thoroughly enjoyed listening to. The contrast between this soundtrack and Never 7's soundtrack has shown me the versatility of Takeshi Abo's compositional skill. I hope to hear more of his work in the future.
Reviewed by: Neal Chandran