I have been more than pleased with the work of the publishing company "Sumthing Else." Not that I have enjoyed all of their releases, but I do appreciate what they're doing. Many of the Xbox-developed titles are developed in the US, which means the only way they're getting a soundtrack release is if Americans publish it (and hence, Japanese consumers would have to do the importing! Imagine that!). Because the soundtracks are published stateside, they are significantly less expensive than your average Japanese OST. Furthermore, Sumthing Else has primarily published soundtracks for Xbox RPGs, and that only makes me happier.
I believe I've at least casually listened to every RPG soundtrack in their catalog to date (including Kameo), and the one that surprised me most was Sudeki. That doesn't mean it has the best music: far from it. It is simply that, due to the game's poor sales, I had incredibly low expectations for this soundtrack (i.e. worse than Fable); but Tom Colvin proved me wrong by creating a fairly decent score.
There are generally two types of songs (or styles within songs) that can be found on here: fast and slow. Let's talk about the slow songs first.
When it comes to slow songs that make use of lots of soft sounds and whole sections of silence, there is a fine line between being ambient/atmospheric and being downright boring. For the most part, Tom Colvin has done a great job at keeping his slower and more ambient songs very interesting. The opening theme, while not being the softest song in the world, is a mildly paced and very enjoyable song with synths, loops, and a beautiful acoustic guitar taking a solo overtop. Sure, it's something like what you might hear on the Weather Channel, but it is decent. I would even say it's something like what we heard on Mitsuda's solo album "kiRite," but then again, I wasn't impressed with that album.
Also impressive was "Shadani-Mo", another Mitsuda-reminiscent composition, reminding me of some of the town themes from Chrono Cross. Be sure to listen to the sample of this track.
Even the most atonal and atmospheric tracks do have some musical overlay at some point throughout the song. Given that each song is at minimum four minutes long, they have enough time to really develop and do something interesting.
The faster songs are generally quite a trip. Track 10 is one of my favorite songs, for two reasons. First is the scary computer voice saying that he's going to eliminate all humans and "I am watching you." That sort of thing just gives me the creeps. The second thing is the crazy experimental trip-techno, some of which I'd compare to Sufjan Stevens' instrumental album "Enjoy Your Rabbit," which I think is a decent experimental techno album. Colvin's ability to transcend musical styles is fairly impressive at this point.
Another song with creepy voice-overs is track 5, Theme from Cyantine. Any song that begins with the phrase "Your father cried out your name when I slit his throat" is guaranteed to be heart-stopping. Unfortunately, this song does take some time to develop, and the audio sample provided doesn't do the track justice.
Honestly, I really truly recommend this album to people, despite the fact that the game is less than worthy of recommendation. If you are at all into the dance/trance/techno scene and you'd like to see some variation within that genre, this is really a soundtrack worth your while. Purchase it while it's still in print!
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann