Something of a coup HPM has today, is the access to the seemingly never to be released Red Steel 2 Soundtrack. Ubisoft – we will start a petition! Tom Salta’s beautiful soundtrack needs to be released to the public…yesterday!
A strange hybrid of several genres, Red Steel 2’s soundtrack is never boring. “Red Steel 2 Theme” opens like a sundown showdown from a Western. Tumbleweed, whistles, clicks and twanging guitars are at the ready for this atmospheric opener that slinks its way into your speakers. It suddenly breaks out into a Wild ARMS-esque finale section at the end with flowing percussion, chinese instrumentation and light vocal chants.
“Kusagari Blues” makes you remember why the blues were called the blues in the first place. It has a very isolated feeling to its intricate workings and is a beautiful piece. “Caldera Trap” is more frantic with lots of shrieking Shakuhachi and some very fast paced Chinese percussion. “Desert Secrets” is more desolate with its echoes and whistles setting the scene like you can only see yourself in a massive panaramic landscape.
“Ninjas in the Mine” has a real bounce to it as the Pipa and Fue really come to the fore and the blend between East meets West really starts to absolutely shine in these tracks where you have the Western guitar twanging over an undercurrent of traditional Chinese instrumentation. “Let’s “Dance”” is more ragtime to the dosey-doe! The harmonica playing here is exceptional, as the violin – going along at a meaty pace. You could do a whole barn dance with this track alone!
“Pursuring the Shadows” is more dramatic with its tonal qualities, although the previous tracks haven’t been a picnic either, but this is going for the drama more than the previous ones with its heavy percussive smashes. “Into the HQ” sounds like it’s using a Jew’s Harp in there somewhere which gets the automatic thumbs up from me! It’s another high octane easts meets west fusion and Pipa player Xiaofen Min deserves a special credit for playing one of my favourite instruments so well!
“Enforcers Mood” is more ambient atmosphere with spacious cold clangs and echoey shakuhuchi’s langishing behind brooding electric guitars. This song feels more arabic than everything else so far in places. “Back to the Old Temple” however is the one track in what is generally a very fast paced soundtrack, that is a place of solace. It’s beautiful jangles and vocals layered with encirculating chords from the guitar, pipa and fue, all complimented with tuned percussion – bliss.
“Invaded City” returns to the more cowboy side of things with a guitar heavy track with lots of finger sliding that makes a western a real western. It holds great presence in your ear when its done right like it is here. “Vultures’ Prayer” has a manic little electric guitar riff as it interacts with the vocals and the chinese instruments. The boing of the Jew’s Harp is back, and so the energy really bursts through in this track. “The Ghost Town” takes the previous energy and then uses the solomn whistling of a lone ranger to be layered over the top. The result means the short track packs a bunch whilst still having a sad element. “Sheriff Judd” is another short track that’s led by tuned percussion and the jews harp which is a nice interlude. “Ambush” starts off atmospheric before bursting into life with an army of drums and a fist full of basslines to keep you more than tapping your foot to the beat.
“Opening the Water Gate” is another track full of glitter and jangles although it has a more mysterious and forboding edge to it, especially when the pipa joins in for its solo. Then for the last fourty seconds, the taiko-esque percussion booms in for a big climax. “Roots at Night” for a while feels like the soundtrack has suddenly gone electro-western with all kinds of a computer wizardary involved rewinding and reverbing noises back and forth. It makes for a disorientating track that feels different and unique to the rest of the collection and therfore stands out as an ambient highlight – especially with the drum n bass beats diving in at half time!
“Canyon Melody” is a guitar based track that’s then embellished with all the chinese instrumentation over the top and this track really feels like a roadtrip track, or one that signifies a long journey – it just has that weary feel to it. “Poisonous Wind” has thick atmosphere with the woodblocks knocking away and the whispering voices far off in the distance.
“Exploring Caldera” is the only song over three minutes long and that is because it encompasses the entire ambient side of the soundtrack in a single piece. From its guitar string scratches and wind instruments leading the way to the owl guiros and clappers in the background, it paints a desolte desert picture. Fantastic. “Fight With the Snakes” is a minute of pure adreneline as the track goes for the simple two chord rising trick but its completely effective with all the instruments pounding away. “First Tension” is a dusty guitar riff driven track with long pauses between each line as if you need to swallow after each one. “The Old Mine” is an underplayed ambient piece where the woodwind comes to the fore and the final track of this masterpiece “Tamiko” rounds off in a ragtime piano led track that reminds me so much of a cleaned up Silent Hill 3 track its quite spooky and completely removed from the rest of the collection.
I have absolutely no idea why this hasn’t been released! It’s amazing from start to finish. The complete fusion of cowboy meets 3000 year old oriental mage in a studio is phenominal. The way how everything blends seemlessly together in the desert environment is a stroke of genius and Tom Salta has produced a unique soundtrack I will return to time and time again. We will be starting a petition!