Krull

KrullAnnounced just prior to (and available at) the 2010 San Diego Comic Con, this long-overdue remastered (and, this time, officially-licensed and above-board) edition of the Krull soundtrack is practically custom-made for Comic Con – it’s such an obscure, cult-following niche item that only a Comic Con attendee or Krull‘s own mother could love it.

As hard as I ride the familiar horse that virtually everything James Horner composed in the 80s had the DNA of his score for Star Trek II in it, Krull at last pushes the familiar chords and progressions into a more fantastical, sword-and-sorcery realm. The movie itself was one of numerous cinematic attempts to marry SF and swashbuckling fantasy in the wake of Star Wars, though Krull made the mashup more literal than most, with more traditional feudal elements jostling for screen time with sci-fi concepts. Despite a merchandising blitz, it wound up with a cult audience and little more.

And up until La-La Land’s nicely cleaned-up 2010 two-disc soundtrack release, that cult audience had to make do with the (now insanely rare and expensive) pressing of the Krull score from the defunct Supertracks label. Supertracks was a ’90s outfit, also known for having turned out the only CD release of the music from the Paul McGann Doctor Who movie, that operated on a slightly shady basis: composers needed promotional copies of their work could get them pressed by Supertracks, but in exchange, they would quietly look the other way while Supertracks also sold copies of the same albums to soundtrack collectors. Though frequently sporting fine cover artwork and booklets, Supertracks’ releases were seldom, if ever, officially licensed. Supertracks suddenly disappeared early in the 2000s, and one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to connect the dots. Krull – and everything else produced by Supertracks – went out of print overnight and became collectors’ items.

La-La Land snatched up the rights to an official Krull soundtrack, fortuitously timed to both Comic Con and the DVD and Blu Ray release of Krull. The track list is largely the same as the Supertracks edition, but it sounds much better – the 4 out of 4difference in sonic quality is considerable. There’s also a specially-edited “Theme From Krull” suite assembled by the album producers from portions of the opening and credits.

Though this edition is also, as far as the label is concerned, sold out of its edition of 3000 copies, but let’s look on the sunny side: there are 3,000 fresh copies out there with better sound quality than the old release that was all but a bootleg. Krull‘s worth revisiting, and this time you just might be able to afford it.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Main Title And Colwyn’s Arrival (7:34)
  2. The Slayers Attack (9:18)
  3. Quest For The Glaive (7:23)
  4. Ride To The Waterfall (0:53)
  5. Lyssa In The Fortress (1:28)
  6. The Walk To The Seer’s Cave (4:10)
  7. The Seer’s Vision (2:18)
  8. The Battle In The Swamp (2:39)
  9. Quicksand (3:38)
  10. The Changeling (4:04)
  11. Leaving The Swamp (1:58)
    Disc Two

  1. Vella (3:46)
  2. The Widow’s Web (6:18)
  3. The Widow’s Lullaby (5:01)
  4. Ynyr’s Death (1:41)
  5. Ride Of The Firemares (5:22)
  6. Battle On The Parapets (2:53)
  7. Inside The Black Fortress (6:13)
  8. The Death Of The Beast And The Destruction Of The Black Fortress (8:31)
  9. Epilogue And End Title (4:52)
  10. Colwyn And Lyssa Love Theme (2:35)
  11. The Walk To The Seer’s Cave – album edit (2:16)
  12. Theme From Krull (4:48)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2010
Disc one total running time: 45:23
Disc two total running time: 54:16

The Complete Sounds Of Katamari

The Complete Sounds Of KatamariThe final release in a trilogy of soundtracks accompanying the trilogy of Katamari games (Katamari Damacy, We Love Katamari and the PSP title Me And My Katamari), The Complete Sounds Of Katamari is an unusual combination of material, ranging from the music of Me & My Katamari to previously unreleased tracks from We Love Katamari to tunes from other Namco video games with no Katamari connection at all. But as with the previous two soundtracks in the series, Complete Sounds has enough gems of pure musical cheerfulness to offer that it’s easy to overlook any lack of cohesiveness.

As one might expect, the first disc – featuring only music from the Katamari games – has moments of pure gold, as well as moments that really work better as in-game music than stand-alone listening material. “Shine! Mr. Sunshine” is a highlight of the tracks from Me & My Katamari, with a soulful, southern gospel feel that’s almost unexpected after its opening, which is a short, NES-style rendition of the Katamari theme. That theme is reinterpreted and experimented with endlessly, in such tracks as “Katamari On The Moog” and “Katamari On The Funk” (to name just two of the better tracks). From track 10 onward, the first disc presents music from We Love Katamari that didn’t make it onto that game’s soundtrack CD; a favorite among these is the quirky “One Tip March.”

Disc two’s tracks are more symphonic in nature, and hail from such games as Splatterhouse and Tales Of Eternia Online – an interesting mix to be sure. There are also a few tracks of ambient Rating: 3 out of 4outdoor sound effects. It’s almost like a Namco “best of” collection, but given how expensive this 2-CD set can be (depending on where one gets it), one wonders why Namco didn’t just divide this package into two separate releases and save some of us who are really after more Katamari music the money.

It’s all a nice package of music, but certainly a strange collision of styles and sources.

    Order this CD in the StoreDisc One

  1. Overture III (2:35)
  2. Katamari On The Funk (10:22)
  3. Katamaresort (3:04)
  4. Shabadoobie (3:01)
  5. Jesus Island (4:47)
  6. Family Damacy (4:41)
  7. Katamari On The Moog (0:32)
  8. Shine! Mr. Sunshine (5:36)
  9. Katamarhythm Box (1:41)
  10. Dan Don Fuga (2:14)
  11. Tron The Grasslands (4:27)
  12. One Tip March (2:43)
  13. Do Re Mi Katamari Do (3:13)
  14. Starlight Jamboree (2:56)
  15. Everyone Dancing Katamari Damacy (1:00)
  16. Love & Peace & Katamari Damacy (0:43)
  17. Big Cosmos Salon (3:03)
    Disc Two

  1. In A Muddle (7:05)
  2. Kanewood Edge – Morning (0:40)
  3. None But the Lonely Heart (Op. 6-6) (2:51)
  4. Presto Scherzando (1:35)
  5. Appassionate, Allegro Moderato (2:15)
  6. Super Taiko Damacy (0:59)
  7. None But the Lonely Heart (Op. 6-6) (2:58)
  8. Super Taiko Damacy (Refrain) (0:26)
  9. Sadness (1:42)
  10. Stizzoso (1:08)
  11. Kanewood Edge – Day (0:33)
  12. Con Energico (5:49)
  13. Sento Nel Core (Arrange Version from Splatterhouse (4:24)
  14. Kuttsuki Taro (2:43)
  15. Misterioso (3:03)
  16. Chaotic Ambience (0:54)
  17. Andante, Con Moto, Grandioso (1:41)
  18. Big Fire (1:55)
  19. Night Moo Moo (0:41)
  20. Kanewood Edge – Star (9:55)

Released by: Columbia Japan
Release date: 2005
Disc one total running time: 56:38
Disc two total running time: 53:17

Krull – music by James Horner

Krull soundtrackKrull! If that word conjures up images of Kevin Sorbo and swords and sorcery…well, you’re in the wrong place. That was Kull The Conqueror. Krull was a big-budget 1983 popcorn flick featuring Kenneth Marshall and swords and sorcery, and it was practically designed to be the next Star Wars. Needless to say…it wasn’t. While it brought the concept of throwing stars to the attention of a great many youngsters (myself included), Krull wasn’t a box office smash. And much as I hate to say it, perhaps its soundtrack has something to do with that.

I’ll admit, however, that what is stated above is my opinion alone, and it’s not one shared by soundtrack collectors or film music fans for the most part. James Horner’s Krull soundtrack is revered, and this 2-CD version released in the 1990s by the now-defunct internet soundtrack specialty shop Supercollector.com is considered particularly desirable on the collectors’ circuit. But when I listen to it, what hits my ears sounds like the music from Star Trek II, cut-and-pasted around a bit so it doesn’t sound exactly the same. Even the arrangements and the balance of instruments used is nearly identical. I do like the heraldic blasts of brass the punctuate the more heroic moments of the music, but so much of the bulk of Krull‘s music is borrowed from The Wrath Of Khan that it’s not funny – I already paid for this same music once. (See also: Horner’s music from Aliens.)

3 out of 4To be fair, though, I will give Horner some praise for his attempts to differentiate Krull from his previous work. There’s a cuttingly siren-like descending synth note in the attack scenes involving the Black Fortress minions that, while it’s a bit dated now, does indeed jump right out, grab you by the neck and telegraphs “bad news!” straight into your ears. “Ride Of The Firemares”, even with its own borrowed passages, is simply one of the best things Horner’s ever put in front of an orchestra.These new developments to what seems like very familiar material are interesting…but I’d be more inclined to adjust my thinking of Horner from unoriginality to an artist who keeps revisiting a theme until he’s perfected it if I hadn’t had to pay good money to hear every “work in progress” stage of that theme.

Order this CDDisc One:

  1. Main Title & Colwyn’s Arrival (7:34)
  2. The Slayers Attack (9:20)
  3. Quest For The Glaive (7:23)
  4. Ride To The Waterfall (0:54)
  5. Lyssa In The Fortress (1:29)
  6. The Walk To The Seer’s Cave (4:10)
  7. The Seer’s Vision (2:19)
  8. Battle In The Swamp (2:40)
  9. Quicksand (3:39)
  10. The Changeling (4:04)
  11. Colwyn and Lyssa (Love Theme) (2:38)

Disc Two:

  1. Leaving The Swamp (2:00)
  2. The Widow’s Web (6:19)
  3. The Widow’s Lullaby (5:02)
  4. Vella (3:47)
  5. Ynyr’s Death (1:42)
  6. Ride Of The Firemares (5:23)
  7. Battle Of The Parapets (2:53)
  8. Inside The Black Fortress (6:15)
  9. The Death Of The Beast and The Destruction of the Dark Fortress (8:32)
  10. Epilogue & End Title (4:50)

Released by: Super Collector / Supertracks
Release date: 1998
Disc one total running time: 46:10
Disc two total running time: 46:43

Minna Daisuki Katamari Damacy

Minna Daisuki Katamari Damacy soundtrackWhen it hit the U.S. in 2004, Namco’s offbeat Playstation 2 sleeper hit Katamari Damacy had barely undergone the rigorous “localization” that most games from Japan are put through before hitting the English-speaking market. Numerous objects in the game were covered with Japanese lettering (nothing essential to the game play, mind you), and the game’s distinctive soundtrack was sung in Japanese as often as it was sung in English. And somehow it worked. So the question is: how do you top that?

The sequel game, Minna Daisuki Katamari Damacy, deftly sidesteps a lot of sequel expectations by being a self-referential tribute to the original game – and to some extent that includes the music as well. Several of the new tracks are tributes as well, putting a new twist on the signature tune of Katamari Damacy, ranging from a hilarious a capella rendition to a medley of all of the original Katamari songs as “sung” by sampled animal sounds – dogs, cats, ducks, elephants, etc. It’s a nice acknowledgement of the original, and at the same time, it’s having some fun and not overdoing it. Other songs like “Katamari On The Swing” split the difference, dropping references to the Katamari theme in during the chorus of an otherwise original number.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t some cracking good original songs though. In particular, I have to single out “Everlasting Love”, a punchy, upbeat number by Alisa (of Sailor Moon fame) with occasional bits of English peppered in throughout its Japanese lyrics, and featuring some fantastic guitar and vocal work. English or not, video game music or not, “Everlasting Love” is, hands-down, one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard this year, and it’s hard not to have a smile on one’s face while listening to it, and perhaps even harder to resist the urge to go back and listen again. “Disco Prince” throws a solid dance beat into the works, and other tunes repeat Katamari‘s effective use of styles that just don’t get a lot of airtime these days.

rating: 4 out of 4As good as the music is, now that I’ve heard it, I can’t help but wonder how much fun the game is. The good news is that, while the soundtrack isn’t likely to see domestic release in North America, the game itself is slated for a fall release. Even if you don’t feel like having the CD shipped from Japan (even though, if you liked the original Katamari soundtrack, it’s worth it), you’ll soon have a shot at hearing the music in the game itself.

Order this CD

  1. Introduction (0:24)
  2. Dokaka – Katamari On The Rocks (6:37)
  3. Asuka Sakai & Yu Miyake – Overture II (1:16)
  4. Shigeru Matsuzaki – Katamari On The Swing (4:40)
  5. Illreme- Kuru Kuru Rock (5:10)
  6. Alisa – Everlasting Love (4:45)
  7. Kirinji – Courageous Soul (5:32)
  8. Beautiful Star (3:08)
  9. You – Angel’s Rain (7:11)
  10. Katamari Robo – Houston (4:16)
  11. Kahimi Karie – Blue Orb (5:00)
  12. Yuusama – Katamari Holiday (5:37)
  13. Nomiya Maki – Baby Universe (5:06)
  14. Kenji Ninuma – Disco*Prince (7:01)
  15. Scorching Savanna (5:32)
    (featuring John the Dog, Bigmouth the
    Duck, Yuuhi the Cow, Pe the Goat, Booby the Pig, Sexy the Cat and Nyuu the
    Cow)
  16. Katsuro Tajima – The Royal Academy of Katamari (3:36)
  17. Kitomu Miyaza – King of King’s Song (4:41)
  18. Hidden Track (0:15)

Released by: Columbia Records Japan
Release date: 2005
Total running time: 79:47

Katamari Fortissimo Damacy

Katamari Fortissimo DamacyThe soundtrack to an almost unreasonably fun video game, Katamari Fortissimo Damacy is one of the most varied soundtracks I’ve ever heard to any multimedia entity, and it’s also one of the few soundtracks consisting of the works of multiple artists that I’ve ever heard rise to this level.

To give just a little bit of background on the game itself, Katamari Damacy is a Japanese import from Namco, the folks who brought us Pac-Man, Dig Dug and other almost illegally addictive video games down through the ages. You control a diminutive Prince, whose father, the King of All Cosmos, has apparently obliterated all the stars in the sky. You’re sent on a mission to create “katamari” – balls of objects all rolled up into a big clump. In the early stages of the game, you pick up pencils and paper clips and other small objects, but if you’re good enough you can eventually roll your katamari over entire oceans, picking up giant squids and islands. Nothing is safe. Everything can be accumulated. But if you try to pick up something that your katamari simply doesn’t have the mass and momentum to accumulate, you’ll either dislodge a few precious items from it – or lose it altogether. The object is to grow the katamari big enough to launch it into the night sky as a new star.

This zany, cartoony fun takes place against the backdrop of some simply wonderful music, making the package even better. (I highly recommend the game too – unsure of whether or not anyone outside of the Far East would “get it,” Namco dumped this game in the U.S. at a budget price of $20 and it promptly sold out its first print run just on word of mouth alone.) The music is whimsical, light-hearted, and has a great energy to it. Few CDs have made me smile as much while listening as this one does on a regular basis.

Yu Miyake’s “Katamari On The Rock” serves as a recurring motif throughout the various songs, and it’s as versatile a tune as you could ask for. Not every song features that element, though. Highlights range from the J-pop stylings of “Lonely Rolling Star”, “You Are Smart” and “The Moon And The Prince”, to the almost Sinatra-esque “Que Sera Sera”, to the New York jazz-flavored “A Crimson Rose And A Gin & Tonic”, to the meandering remixed guitar of “Angel Flavor’s Present”, to a Michael Bolton-style power ballad called “Katamari Love”, to “Last Samba”, which sounds a bit like someone’s been listening to John Williams’ Naboo celebration from the end of Star Wars Episode I. That every syllable of every lyric on the album is sung in Japanese doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of it one bit. Frankly, if anything, this CD gives me a nice, long list of artists whose other works I’ll be keeping an eye out for, if their work here is any indication of their usual output.

rating: 4 out of 4It’s a wildly infectious listening experience and, like the game itself, it has the almost inexplicable effect of brightening my day every time I come into contact with it. It’s almost hard to explain. Even harder to explain is how Namco might possibly top this collection of music for the upcoming sequel, Everybody Loves Katamari Damacy. My first Damn Near Perfect Album List addition in a long, long time. Katamari Fortissimo Damacy is that good.

Order this CD

  1. Nananan Katamari performed by Yu Miyake & Yuusama (1:21)
  2. Katamari On The Rock: Main Theme performed by Yu Miyake & Masayuki Tanaka (5:57)
  3. Overture performed by Yu Miyake & Asuka Sakai (0:49)
  4. The Moon And The Prince performed by Kenji Ninuma & Akitaka Tohyama (5:30)
  5. Fugue #7777 performed by Asuka Sakai (1:22)
  6. Lonely Rolling Star performed by Yohihito Yano & Saki Kabata (5:44)
  7. The Wonderful Star’s Walk Is Wonderful performed by Yuri Misumi (3:12)
  8. Katamari Mambo (Katamari Syndrome mix) performed by Nobue Matsubara, Yuri Misumi & Sakamoto-chan (5:35)
  9. You Are Smart performed by Akitaka Tohyama (3:32)
  10. A Crimson Rose And A Gin & Tonic performed by Ado Mizumori & Asuka Sakai (4:29)
  11. Wanda Wanda performed by Yu Miyake (3:23)
  12. Que Sera Sera performed by Charlie Kosei & Asuka Sakai (5:31)
  13. Angel Flavor’s Present performed by Yu Miyake (5:08)
  14. Katamaritaino performed by Yui Asaka & Hideki Tobeta (5:54)
  15. Katamari Stars performed by Hideki Tobeta (2:28)
  16. Cherry Blossom Color Season performed by Yu Miyake & Katamari Company Jr. (6:14)
  17. Lovely Angel performed by Yu Miyake (1:27)
  18. Stardust Fanfare performed by Akitaka Tohyama (0:08)
  19. Last Samba performed by Yu Miyake, Asuka Sakai & Katamari Samba Company (1:00)
  20. Katamari Love (Ending Theme) performed by Shigeru Matsuzaki & Yohihito Yano (4:09)
  21. Katamari March Damacy performed by Yu Miyake (2:21)

Released by:
Release date:
Total running time:

Konami Game Music Volume 1

Konami Game Music Volume 1I previously griped a bit about Taito Game Music, a CD which I liked despite its shortcomings but really couldn’t see recommending to a general audience. Well, as it turns out, some of the same problems rear their heads with Konami Game Music Volume 1, but those problems are tempered by one thing: generally, Konami’s 80s arcade games had more music than Taito’s, lending themselves more readily to a release like this.

Covered in this first volume of Konami coin-op audio tributes are Gyruss (whose techno take on Bach’s “Tocatta And Fugue In B Minor” was the first video game music ever presented in stereo), the original and arrangement versions of Twin Bee and Gradius, music and effects from Pooyan, Time Pilot, Yie Ar Kung-Fu, Roc ‘N’ Rope and a Japan-only release, Kekkyoku Nankyoku Daiboken. All strictly 80s goodness.

3 out of 4The sound transfers, as usual, are phenomenal, but all the difference is made when one tries to do this with games which had music to begin with. Gyruss and Time Pilot are personal favorites of mine in this department, and there’s no doubt that you’ll probably dig others that have memories attached to them for you as well. Good stuff, but still something for only the biggest video game fans.

Order this CD

    Twinbee

  1. Credit – Start BGM (Stage99) (0:10)
  2. Twinbee’s Home Town Song BGM (Game BGM 1) (0:19)
  3. Power Up – Fantastic Powers (1:05)
  4. Boss BGM1 – Clear (0:45)
  5. Boss BGM2 – Stage Clear – Extend (0:54)
  6. Warning – Boss BGM3 – Game Over (0:52)
  7. Normal Ranking (0:18)
  8. Top Ranking (0:26)

    Kekkyoku Nankyoku Daiboken

  9. BGM (1:15)

    Gradius Arrange Version

  10. Beginning Of The History – Challenger 1985 – Free Flyer (4:44)

    Gyruss

  11. Gyruss BGM (3:02)

    Roc ‘N’ Rope

  12. Game Start (0:10)
  13. BGM1 (0:56)
  14. BGM2 (0:54)
  15. BGM3 (0:53)
  16. BGM4 (0:59)

    Yie Ar Kung Fu

  17. Game Start (0:09)
  18. BGM (1:02)
  19. Game End (0:36)

    Gradius

  20. Credit – Beginning Of The History (0:24)
  21. Challenger 1985 (0:47)
  22. Beat Bank (0:17)
  23. Blank Mask (0:22)
  24. Free Flyer (0:46)
  25. Mazed Music (0:18)
  26. Mechanical Globule (0:33)
  27. Final Attack (0:24)
  28. Aircraft Carrier (0:16)
  29. Game Over (0:05)
  30. Ranking (0:21)
  31. BGM (0:53)

    Pooyan

  32. Game Start (0:13)
  33. BGM1 (0:52)
  34. BGM2 (1:02)
  35. BGM3 (0:53)
  36. BGM4 (0:04)
  37. BGM5 (0:41)

    Time Pilot

  38. BGM1 (0:10)
  39. BGM2 (1:18)

    Twinbee Arrange Version

  40. Twinbee’s Home Town Song – Game Over – Normal Ranking (4:54)

Released by: Scitron Digital
Release date: 2000
Total running time: 35:24