Jun Senoue
Sonic Adventure 2: Multi-Dimensional Soundtrack


3.5
great

Review

by Matthew D. French USER (50 Reviews)
March 15th, 2011 | 38 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: a synthesis of different genres results in a notably disjointed album that surprisingly hits more than it misses.

From its humbling 16-bit era to its more sophisticated three-dimensional dynamic, Sonic sure has come a long way. The beloved speedster and Co. have become iconic within the realm of popular video games, celebrated today as one of the most successful and respected game series of all time, despite a few mishaps here and there (Sonic Heroes, anyone?) The arrival of our blue hedgehog hero on the Dreamcast marked a notable departure, as developers sought to take a more theatrical angle - a side that was only vaguely explored throughout the series both aesthetically and musically. Everything about Sonic had evolved - from its gameplay mechanic and artistic direction to the music (how many people knew that Michael Jackson worked on the soundtracks to the first three games?) The most notable and ambitious soundtrack in the series is arguably the Sonic Adventure 2 OST, put together by the myriad mind of the composer of the first Sonic OST, Jun Senoue. Much like in the first game, Jun has once again given each playable character in the game a corresponding instrumental motif serving as their central theme. The characters’ blatant distinctions have allowed room for a lot of exploration, but also begs the question: ‘’do the motifs work in tandem?” In the context of a video game the music works, but as with a lot of soundtracks, the listening experience outside of the game is ultimately weighted by a lack of cohesion.

These distinctive motifs were performed by particular artists that Jun decided to enlist -- some of them being seasoned contributors to the series (Tony Harnell of TNT), others completely new (Paul Shortino of Quiet Riot). This can be partly attributed to both its success and downfall (lack of cohesion) as these artists contribute completely different ideas. To put into perspective: the soundtrack encompasses many genres, from the hard rocking theme “Live & Learn” to the restless electronics of “For True Story” to the suave lounge sound of “The Base” and candid classical pieces such as “The Last Scene”, even jazz and hip-hip are implemented in songs like “Deeper” and “Dive Into The Mellow”. It’s difficult to criticize something for being eclectic, and if taking a more optimistic tone, one could make the argument that it’s good to have such a widespread album, as there’s something here for everyone and people are bound to take something of value away from the experience. But then there’s another argument to be made. Despite how much a person will take away from this, it’s unlikely that they’ll enjoy all of it, especially those of us older than 10 who find the estranged hip-hop songs’ lyrical content hilariously juvenile, such as these lyrics found in “A Ghost’s Pumpkin Soup”:

“I ain't gonna let it get to me, I'm just gonna creep,
Down in Pumpkin Hill I gots to find my lost piece.
I know that it's here, I can sense it in my feet,
The great Emerald's power allows me to feel.”


Most of the blame for why the Sonic Adventure 2 OST doesn’t hold together as well as it should can be placed on the lyrical content, because even though true to the game’s premise, the lyrics seem irrelevant without the game and certain songs would have worked better as instrumentals. However, although the vast majority of songs including lyrics are to some degree comical, they’re not all worthy of omission. The album’s crown jewel, “Supporting Me” is an ironclad masterpiece whose thinly veiled vocals help give it an air of mystique. There’s a dark aura about it that evolves into something more sinister during the chorus, where indistinguishable vocals coalesce into white noise as a contorted organ surfaces, driving the song through and segueing into a short recurring string section. Despite the fact that it’s processed-sounding, dominated by electronics and an oft-used drum kit, the song feels undeniably human. It’s one of a handful of songs that completely frees itself of that ‘soundtrack’ staple and feels forward-thinking.

It seems as though the album would have been wholly enjoyable had it been more conscious of its electronica elements, but a lot of other tracks are worthy of note. “Rhythmic Passage” is a short but biting song that recalls older Sonic games, “Shut Up Faker!” is a thrilling bass-heavy cosmic-rock song, “Black Noises” has one of the best buildups on the album that devolves into a gorgeous classical piano closer, and the “Trespasser” transforms into a spacey rock gem. The Sonic Adventure 2 OST also has quite a few songs that have a distinct earthly feel to them, like the cooing bird in “Rhythm And Balance”’s introduction, or the middle-eastern feel of “Down In The Base”. Some of the greatest songs in the series - or in general for that matter - are on here, but as a whole it’s insurmountable, there’s just too much to digest at once that’s burdened by being too inconsistent on its own.



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user ratings (17)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Gyromania
March 15th 2011


16074 Comments


This is mostly for listeners who are looking for a nostalgia kick - they’ll know what to salvage from this. I don’t expect this to be a popular thread, as most people have probably never heard this or don’t really care to pursue it, but I’ll just clear up a few issues here concerning my reemergence on the site :

1) Yes, I am back - I left and got a fair amount accomplished for the site I wanted to develop in terms of layout and general ideas, all that’s really left is to find a developer who won’t charge an absurd amount of money to launch it.

2) Another reason why I’ve decided to return is that I was starting to miss this place a little and some events are unfolding in my life in a negative way and I wanted this distraction back again.

3) I’m probably rusty having not reviewed anything in a while, so suggestions and/or corrections are welcomed.

Here are some songs for those who are curious as to what this sounds like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zah19RJJ2EQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La5Z9lKCEJs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Db0d3xZnM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtnbXsqRfSg

pizzamachine
March 15th 2011


12572 Comments


Man am I glad you're back Gyro! Excellent review as always, have a pos.

Rev
March 15th 2011


9441 Comments


I love this soundtrack. And Sonic Heroes was great!

Acanthus
March 15th 2011


9545 Comments


A man coming back to sputnik deserves a pos, especially when "Black Noises" is so enjoyable and the review good!

Digging: MO - No Mythologies To Follow

Gyromania
March 15th 2011


16074 Comments


Much appreciated, guys.

Tyrael
March 15th 2011


20972 Comments


Oh my god.... a Gyromania review! Party!
Good review man.

Knott-
Emeritus
March 15th 2011


10198 Comments


lmao

nice stuff

there is literally nothing you could've said to make me get this but

sonic rulez

Knott-
Emeritus
March 15th 2011


10198 Comments


also how fucking long is this

lol

Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2011


7320 Comments


GYROMANIA SIGHTING GYROMANIA SIGHTING GYROMANIA SIGHTING

*dies in excitement*

Gyromania
March 15th 2011


16074 Comments


Adam: Haha, fair enough man, like I said, it's really disjointed and not enjoyable as a whole and it's pretty fucking long, lol - I think somewhere around the 130 minute mark.

Tyraelyx and Irving!!! I've missed you two =]

EleanorRigby
March 15th 2011


156 Comments


thought you were dead

Gyromania
March 15th 2011


16074 Comments


Like, for real dead?

Xenophanes
Emeritus
March 15th 2011


10662 Comments


So yeah, I didn't comment on your facebook status because that would be weird....




But ilu.....

Digging: Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III - Saturnian Poetry

Tyrael
March 15th 2011


20972 Comments


What, you have each other on facebook? I feel lonely now...

psykonaut
March 15th 2011


3913 Comments


THE NOSTALGIA
IT BURNSSSS

Gyromania
March 15th 2011


16074 Comments


ily too elijah!!!! =D

tyraelxy - you can add me if you'd like

iwubmoosik
March 15th 2011


386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

god i love all the songs for knuckles levels, and the songs for sonic and shadows' final levels, thanks for reviewing this, one HELL of a nostalgia trip right now xD

Gyromania
March 15th 2011


16074 Comments


np man, just glad we have some fans on the site.

Fugue
March 16th 2011


7354 Comments


Cool review but idk the game at all. Sonic has gone downhill ever since the awesomeness of the Sonic 2/Sonic & Knuckles fusion on Megadrive.

Gyromania
March 16th 2011


16074 Comments


The Sonic Adventure games are actually really good, Ross, and that's coming from an avid fan of the originals who doesn't at all like the recent direction the series has taken.



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