Remember 11 is the third in KID’s digital novel series Infinity. Infinity started with Never 7, a love-adventure with one of the deepest plots in the genre. The plot was not only filled with summer romance on the beach, but also dealt quite a bit with philosophy, tragedy, and premonition. As expected, philosophy, morality, tragedy, and premonition are key ingredients in Infinity storylines, and future games take these aspects further. The next game in the series was Ever 17, which is one of my all time favorite video games. The storyline and characters are among the best I’ve experienced in a video game, and showcased the series’ evolution into more dramatically tragic plotlines. Ever 17 involved a motley group of people being trapped in an undersea theme park. The next game in the series is Remember 11, which follows a motley group of people stranded in snowy mountains after a plane crash and also has a scenario in a mental hospital for mentally ill criminals.
One constant throughout the series’ evolution has been the synth-based compositions of Takeshi Abo, who is fast becoming one of my favorite composers. I dug his work in Never 7 and especially in Ever 17. So it was with great pleasure that I sat down to listen to the Remember 11 soundtrack.
The opening song “Little Prophet” sung by KAORI is the title theme and is a great uptempo poppy number with great instrumentation, especially the instrumental break featuring distorted guitars. But bubblegum this is not; the tasteful use of minor keys gives the song an intriguing depth. In short, it’s an excellent title theme with a great blend of catchiness and depth; it was the most rock oriented number on this soundtrack. The closing vocal number is called “Darkness of Chaos.” The song is good with a catchy instrumental arrangement and a great vocalist. No tiny voices hopped up on helium here; just solid, powerful singing. “Darkness of Chaos” also has a nice rock edge.
This soundtrack has Takeshi Abo’s unmistakable stamp as well as showcases some evolution and experimentation. For example, there was no mistaking “Chaining” for anything other than a Takeshi Abo piece. The atmospherics, the melody, the kinds of instrumentation used in the layering, it was all there. And yet, this was no retread or rehash. It’s unmistakable Takeshi Abo, but improved. I can say that about all the other songs ont his soundtrack as well. Rather than just fade into the background, the songs here have a slightly increased punchiness over previous soundtracks that asks to be noticed. Maybe it’s the bass and drums. In previous Takeshi Abo soundtracks, I never really noticed the rhythm section (bass and drums) that much, but on this soundtrack I definitely noticed those elements more than usual. To me, the rhythm section is what keeps the music grounded and since the game takes place on the ground rather than in a more water based locale, I can definitely appreciate the compositional choice Abo made here. “Old Wise Man” is an example of a track that uses unique percussion sounds and though bass is sparse in the track, the moments when it is there thicken the song up rather nicely. Even the melodies tend to use more earthy sonic textures rather than the more shimmery, watery sonic textures of past soundtracks.
Abo’s experimentatal use of different genres of music is always subtle and always very cool. From Never 7 to Remember 11, there is a definite evolution in Abo’s use of experimentation. “Scheme” for example, has a nice urban lounge feel going for it, which is something I haven’t heard from Abo before. “Heuristic” is another one like that and it has a straightforward, but very cool bassline. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact genre these compositions occupy, but for me, as long as it’s enjoyable to listen to, genre labels shouldn’t matter.
Of course, various Takeshi Abo trademarks are still in place. As usual, he enjoys doing subtle variations of a common theme, and tracks like “Chaining,” “Chaining-beta,” “Scheme,” and “Scheme-beta” are no exception. In addition, most of the songs have medium-slow tempos. Takeshi Abo’s soundtracks typically don’t have very many hyper-fast songs since the pacing of the games he composes for have slower, more deliberate pacing. Still, the few faster songs on the soundtrack, such as “Will-Theme” and “Delta Wave,” are really good. In addition, many of the songs have a tastefully ominous vibe behind them and the few happier moments are only temporary. There’s no denying that with song titles like “Anxiety,” “Paranoia,” “Fear and Insanity,” and “Delusive Consciousness” to name but a few, this is not a soundtrack for skipping down lollipop lane. “Anxiety” is a great track where the drums really feel like the pounding heartbeat of an anxiety attack. There was even a moment in the beginning of the song where I thought I heard a wolf howling. That was creepy. Disc 2 definitely had the majority of the darker, more atmospheric tracks. There are also the piano based tracks that evoke sadness, such as “Dreamy Lens- piano” and “All or None,” which remind me of other piano based songs of pathos in Ever 17.
Takeshi Abo is the kind of composer that both critics and fans can like. From Never 7 to Remember 11, each album has sounds that are familiar to what fans enjoy but also employs enough layers of experimentation to showcase musical growth and prevent critics from crying “rehash” or “formulaic.” Though I have a soft spot for Ever 17, the Remember 11 soundtrack consists of Abo’s best musical work to date. Just as the Infinity series of games become more interesting with each installment, so too does Abo’s music, and I hope that this trend continues.