This console generation is coming to a close mere weeks from now. BUT. I am not here to talk about the games or the absolutely mind-fracturing amount of money that I have spent during this cycle’s slow-burning duration. NO! I am here to talk about my 10 favorite pieces of gaming music as heard through my television and stereo over the preceding years. Granted this list is a personal one based on loose, evolving criteria where nothing is ever considered permanent and one that’s likely to draw a fair amount of ire.
Here are the first two pieces of ten.
10. Ninja Gaiden 3 – “Rub’ Al Khali”
Listen: Rub’ Al Khali
Arrogance and delusion are learned behaviors, and their continued motivations, their figments are perhaps most startlingly obvious the moment you begin calling and beckoning hawks to land on your arm. This is the state of Ryu Hyabusa in Ninja Gaiden 3. Clearly when logic dictates riding a horse, Hyabusa instead opts to sputter noise from his mouth as he begins running frantically in place. He’s not well. Despite the caution of friends and enemies… Hyabusa limps onward. He must be thirsty walking around that desert, as he’s clearly not dressed for the weather. At what cost for fashion? That arm of his could use a bandage, or at very least some terry cloth. He’s not thought this through. What about bacteria? “Rub’ Al Khali” is the definitive mixture of dangerous vanity and stubborn, bull-headed ineptitude. It offers the power to mobilize your will, yet it’s light on plans to prescribe or cure what ails you. You can even hear the composition turn on its own moronic confidence, its advice to Hyabusa, at around two minutes into the composition. Listen to it as it starts to raise its own hand in objection, acknowledging its own shortcomings. These cries have gone unheard and so quietly it shrinks in cowardice behind Hyabusa, as our ninja runs Rub‘s seminar of motivation through his hallucinating, crippled frontal lobe. Perfection.
9. El Shaddai: Ascension Of The Metatron – “The Faraway Creation (Enoch Theme)”
Listen: The Faraway Creation (Enoch Theme)
Christian rock bands by some measure irk me. The reason for this is simple: When speaking to a God… ANY God, one must realize that you are not on the same level. You and this mystical force are not friends. There is no bargaining, no inherent leverage you could possibly attain over an almighty. So why is it now that you’ve attached guitars and amplifiers to scripture? This is the Holy hour, not a Friday night garage show with $2 cover! You’re speaking with a divine providence, not trading bad pick-up lines. Likewise holding a conversation with powerful beings requires the lightest of steps. The most docile of nudging, and the ability to lower the head ever lower. It’s why we have Bach’s “Mass In B Minor“, or Haydn’s “Creation”. Its function is to praise, celebrate and recognize the inconsequential space we inhabit as faithful minions. We are not to reach our hand to deities; at best we are merely suggesting the action in kind. El Shaddai composers Kento Hasegawa and Massato Kouda understand this intimately – the weights and measures of each tier, the hierarchy that spirals upward towards the sitting right hand, and the consequences of overstepping their welcome with misjudged familiarity. “The Faraway Creation (Enoch’s Theme)” gives jaw-dropping presence to the opening scenes of the game and briefly pulls back the fabled fraying shroud. Imperceptible as it may be, you are in the presence of something much grander and larger than anything you’ve encountered in a lifetime spent on the bottom rung.
Stay tuned now through November 15th for the remaining 8 entries in my list of the best musical tracks from this generation of consoles.