Ridge Racer V Original Game Soundtrack
After the great success of the Ridge Racer Type 4 Direct Audio, Namco wanted to take things one step further with the Ridge Racer V Original Game Soundtrack. Rather than attempt to emulate the former soundtrack, they decided to take a new approach marked by moody timbres and dense breakbeats. Once again, Namco's sound team returned with higher production values than ever. They even hired two well-known electronic acts, Boom Boom Satellites and Mijk van Dijk, to make it happen. Unfortunately, they didn't quite succeed and the album release never became legendary like its predecessor. Did the artists fail somewhere down the line or did the soundtrack just suffer from the mediocre response to the game?
Ridge Racer V once again opens with a stylish vocal theme, "Fogbound", though it has a very different feel to its predecessor. Big beat music duo Boom Boom Satellites immediately set an apocalyptic tone with a dark warped bass line that repeats throughout. The male vocals sound brooding and wicked, somewhat like a softly spoken punk style, while the heavy breakbeats below provide the aggression. Sometimes the vocals sound quite nonsensical, particularly during the development section and with the endless 'yeah's at the end. However, it still sets the scene well and has proved popular with the duo's following. "HydroPrism", contributed by Yu Miyake under the pseudonym U, maintains the atmosphere by building from a tense introduction into a hard breakbeat fest. The late additions of some pernicious vocoder samples just adds to the intensity and are artistically incorporated.
There are a few tracks that create a much more positive mood in the game. The appropriately titled "Euphoria" uses a similar palette to "HydroPrism" yet the chord progressions and mixing are so much brighter. This is one that works spectacularly on the road, especially once the vocoder is added. "RidgeCityFM" is also a very warm contribution, featuring a mellow piano line in conjunction with soothing synth pads. It is a little more direct than "Euphoria", which is ideal given its special in-game use. After his sole absence from the series in Ridge Racer Type 4, Nobuyoshi Sano returns to mae a couple of contributions to the soundtrack, one being the original composition "Paris". However, he really makes the latter count, blending his characteristic layered ethereal beats with gritty emanating piano runs. Like many of his best works, it's so simple yet so effective, given he makes ever bar count.
Prominent German techno artist Mijk van Dijk was also hired to create a few guest contributions on Ridge Racer V. His offerings are of similar quality to the Namco sound team, though sound more like they were composed for a club than a racing game. "Nightride" is ideal for the longer races in the game given its rapid tempo yet slow-building development, though doesn't inspire feelings of driving in the twilight quite like Asuka Sakai did in Ridge Racer Type 4. "Power Slider" reverts back to the breakbeat focus, though risks sounding like generic if techno, while "Electroglide" is superficially more interesting with its juxtaposition of cutesy treble and meditative bass forces. Perhaps his most significant contribution is "Junx", which remixes one of Kota Takahashi's 20 second jingles into a dense full-blown remix featured during the ending.
There are a few tributes to the past within the soundtrack. "Lolo 1010" is a perplexing contribution since it incorporates various chiptune samples and classic sound effects into a hard breakbeat mix; U ensures the track comes together brilliantly without sounding cheesy or forced either. Takahashi's "Samurai Rocket" also uses chiptune melodies in an endearing way in combination with crazy voice samples and hard electronic beats. There are also a few classic remixes. Takahashi takes Nobuyoshi Sano's "Grip" into the new millenium with a vibrant and modern mix. Sano himself also remixes his classic "Rare Hero" theme, but takes a much more eccentric and retro approach, even bringing a few tributes to Rally-X along the way. The soundtrack ends on a slightly less crazy note with Hiroshi Okubo's bonus remixed medley of classic Namco tracks, "MotorPacCity5". Once again, it's a very convincing fusion of old and new.
For me, the Ridge Racer V Original Game Soundtrack is the hidden gem of the Ridge Racer series. It's just as stylish, emotional, and refined as the acclaimed Ridge Racer Type 4 Direct Audio, though adopts a moody rather than sensual approach. While the dense efforts by Boom Boom Satellites and U certainly define the overall sound, there is an incredible diversity within, with euphoric, eccentric, retro, and mainstream efforts all coming through. A unifying feature are the breakbeats throughout, though perhaps more important the constant attention to high quality production values in terms of both composition and implementation. This soundtrack comes highly recommended even for those electronic music fans who skipped the game.
Junx (Remixed by Mijk van Dijk)
MotorPacCity5 (Bonus Track)