I remember first getting this album, not quite knowing what to expect, having heard that it was quite different from the more typical RPG-fare out there at the time. And upon first listen I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not, but after awhile it grew on me, A LOT.
I have a hard time describing the music on this soundtrack. Some tracks are so hauntingly beautiful that they rip my heart apart every time I listen to them, while others make me want to just get up and dance. I’m not a huge fan of techno music, but Shimomura really knows her stuff. It’s her talent as a composer that adds so much to the music. Even the most repetitive of the compositions still have enough substance and style to keep you interested. I’m not saying that every track is good; there are quite a few that are VERY skippable. The biggest problem I have are the pieces that include Eve’s highly annoying, pseudo-operatic voice synth. In the game it fits fine, but in stand alone pieces it doesn’t work quite as well. I cannot begin tell you how much more enjoyable “Influence of Deep” or “Femme Fatales” would have been without it. But, all complaints aside, the good stuff more than outweighs any weaknesses in the soundtrack.
What I find most interesting about this album is how Shimomura combines the use of the traditional piano/classical opera with techno/rock based sounds. This combination really brings out the strong, yet vulnerable personality of Aya’s character as well as the siren-like nature of Eve. Much of the urban setting of the game is conveyed and enhanced by the music as well. “Urban Noise” is a great example. I find it amazing how she is able to create the sound and feel of a city street through the use of different synthesized samples without using any real life sounds such as traffic, car horns, etc.
One of the highlights of the soundtrack is the ending theme, “Somnia Memorias.” It’s an interesting mix of Latin and Spanish blended together with just the right amount of R&B, and a notable vocal performance, that captures the urban tone of the game perfectly. The lyrics are also well written and fit the story well.
Along with the original soundtracks, there were a few bonuses that deserve mention. Both “Se il Mio Amore Sta Vincino” and “Influence of the Deep” are arranged with a real opera vocalist, Judith Siirila, providing Eve’s voice. I actually found these pieces to be quite enjoyable, much more so than the original songs themselves. Vincino sounds like a true opera perfomance should, but “Influence of Deep” is something else entirely. It’s hard to imagine techno/dance music accented with operatic vocals, but the end result is really good. Finally, there’s the “Main Theme Orchestra Version”. I cannot begin to express in words how beautiful this arrangement is. Shimomura transforms the original theme into an orchestral masterpiece lasting nearly 8 minutes long, filled with so much emotion and drama that it almost brings tears to my eyes. It’s one of the best piano pieces I’ve ever heard. Period. This track is worth the entire price of the album alone.
So, the bottom line on Parasite Eve? Different sounds and compositions form a somewhat unconventional, yet highly enjoyable aural experience. If you’ve played the game, you most likely have this soundtrack already. If not, and you’re not fond of techno-ish music, I’d recommend listening to some samples first before deciding to buy. Otherwise, I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for great music that’s a little different.