Editor's note: The album's back cover lists the tracks in a continual order, such that disc 2 track 1 is track 24, and so on. This is becoming more common, as I have seen it on the Ragnarok Online OST and the Nobunaga's Ambition Online OST. For the sake of organization, we refer to the tracks as they would appear when sticking disc 2 in a CD player, but we thought it'd be best to make the note so readers would know.
A while back, someone over at Falcom said to themselves: "y'know, Zwei was a fun and nutty action RPG. I'd like to do that again, but this time, I want it to be even more zany and cartoony!" The result was Gurumin. And though it was released for PC, the gameplay looks to be much like the PS1 title Brave Fencer Musashi. As for the music...
The zaniness is brought on full force with the introductory theme, "Guruguru Tonight" ("Guruguru" is onomatopoeia for spinning, hence our translation). Performed by "Icarus" Watanabe, the song is a groove-rock power-hit that might be expected of the newest hip anime TV show for young Japanese teenagers. You can't help but love the large chorus that joins in here and there to accompany this wild opening theme song.
The songs themselves put a high emphasis on production value: every song sounds spectacular, and there is never a dull moment on this two disc set. Sometimes the repetition of aparticular sample can become irritating enough to bring on a headache, but I think that, given the right setting and mood, this album contains enough fun to start its own party.
What can you find on this album? A lot of strange voice samples thrown in from seemingly nowhere, a mix of electric guitars and crazy keyboard synth, and a whole lot of techno-drum action. Nearly every song has these features, though some will put more emphasis on one instrument over another.
Take a listen to the end of disc one, "Samurai Drill!". From the onset, the brass intro gives you the feel that you're about to listen to "Tank!" from Cowboy Bebop. Then the brass power punches in, and you know you're in for quite a different experience, something more akin to Final Fantasy X-2's better songs.
Some of the songs are a little slower, such as "Memories" or "The Place We Used to Go to" on disc two. Then there's also that ending theme, the neo-disco pop song "Friends" performed by Ayako Shibazaki. The vocalist is accompanied by a background chorus at certain parts of the song, and the effect created is gorgeous in a light and airy sense. I feel like I could do an easy to intermediate level DDR dance to this song. That's a good thing.
The fun and humor of Gurumin doesn't end at this point, though. Poking fun at themselves, Falcom wrote "To Make the End of Digging", the title (and opening lick of the song) being a reference to the classic Ys theme "To Make the End of Battle." I suspect this song was written for a digging mini-game. Whatever the case, it is a fun and silly bonus song.
Then, after the karaoke versions of the game's opening and ending theme, there is a special bonus treat: a chorus of Japanese people (likely some of the people on Falcom's staff) singing the Tiese Shopping theme song. It's cute and sentimental at the same time. Good going, Falcom!
If you don't enjoy the sort of genre of music on this album, you probably should avoid it. However, for most Falcom fans, this album should be viewed as a welcome and refreshing treat. Some songs are better than others, but for the most part, the entire two disc set is a decent bit of work, even if it isn't meant to be taken too seriously. I applaud the current members of Sound Team JDK who did this soundtrack (Sonoda Hayato, Ishibashi Wataru, and Murayama Takahide) for going out of their way to create this eccentric bit of work; it's like Jet Grind Radio met Zwei and had a love affair.
As with many of Falcom's more recent releases, the soundtrack was packaged with the first edition of the game. If you want this album, you better start begging your more serious Falcom-lovin' friends now for it, because it will only become harder to find over the years. I personally would like to see a reprint available in stores, because this album rocked my face off.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann