Megami Ibunroku Persona, known as Revelations: Persona in the US, may have come out almost a decade ago, but it still remains one of hte most unique RPGs I’ve ever played. Its dark gritty subject matter, foreboding atmosphere, and modern urban environments set it apart from the crowd. It is only fitting then that the music for this game would be just as unique. Electronic music is the order of the day here, but party music, this isn’t. Unlike the happy upbeat techno heard in dance clubs, the electronic music heard here is more of the listening variety and is often not very happy sounding. Sure, there are some tunes with head-bobbing beats and faster tempos, but they still sound sinister. There are happy tunes, but they’re few and far between. Still, there is a nice variety here of fast, slow, busy, sparse, and even some bizarre sounding tunes. And since much of the game is spent in dungeons, the music is primarily atmospheric. The composers also enjoy doing variations on the same theme.
A bit about this soundtrack CD: This soundtrack is listed as the original and arranged soundtrack, and came out before the mammoth 4-disc King Records soundtrack. This soundtrack is not a complete soundtrack (the King Records one is) but it does feature some exclusive content in the form of arranged numbers and a montage of the demons’ voice clips. It also boasts better sound quality to my ears than the King Records soundtrack. Most tracks were under four minutes and didn’t wear out their welcome, but some did drag. The montage of the demon voice clips grated on me after about 20 seconds, and that piece is 13 minutes long!
It has been years since I played the game, but I was able to recognize a lot of the tunes. Even those I did not recognize were generally enjoyable. Some of my favorites were the original and arranged Deva Yuga themes. Of all the Persona themes, that one has stuck in my memory the longest. The sinister music along with the voices in the background never fails to creep me out. And no Persona fan can ever forget the infamous Satomi Tadashi Pharmacy Song. The original is here in all its glory along with a wacky arranged version. Pong of Everybody’s Souls was another favorite of mine. It was a lengthy remix of the music heard in the Velvet Room. There is an arranged version, but I didn’t think it was as good as the original.
There were also a few tunes from the Snow Queen Quest, which were new to me as the Snow Queen Quest was absent from the US version of Persona. The Snow Queen theme sounded quite wintery in both original and arranged form, but I much preferred the original. It quickly became a favorite. Black Snow was pretty cool too.
In general, though, the arranged tunes were a mixed bag. Some were really excellent like Deva Yuga and Satomi Tadashi, but others were rather blah in comparison to their original counterparts, such as the Persona main theme.
The major thing that bothered me about this soundtrack was the sheer incompleteness of it. Sure, many of the major themes were covered, but a whole slew of them were missing. Some of the character themes were missing, which struck me as odd since the Persona series is among the more character driven Megami Tensei games. The more punchy battle and boss themes were there, but the comical battle themes were absent. Too bad, because I liked those. The ending themes were absent too. There was a lot of great music that was curiously absent. Another thing I didn’t like was that many pieces were fond of using synthesized slap bass. I can’t stand synthesized slap bass. This is a personal bias, however, since I am an avid bass guitar player and thoroughly love the sound of the slap technique on an actual bass guitar, a la Victor Wooten or Flea.
So do I recommend this soundtrack? To be honest, I have a tough time doing so. It’s horribly incomplete, the arranged tunes are a mixed bag, and the 13 minute montage of demon voice clips was irritating. The soundtrack does boast good sound quality, though, and I found that compared to the King Records soundtrack, this one had greater clarity. Still, I’d recommend the King Records soundtrack over this one because the King Records version has completeness on its side. The exclusive tracks alone on this one aren’t worth the price of admission in my book.