Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-arse sounds they make. Today, maybe because Zack’s already reminded me several times that his favourite spooky holiday’s comin’ up, I wanna share some standout Resident Evil music.
At this point in my life I’ve spent a lot more hours reading about Resident Evil than actually playing the games. Even as I fail to make time to sit down and play — executive function’s a b-word — something about the series’ outlandish fiction keeps pulling me into the wikis and FAQs to seek out the latest spoilers on each new game, their increasingly ridiculous plots (they’ve gotten really ridiculous), and their mostly likeable casts (sorry, Steve).
Even with my modest playtime I’ve run into a few series tunes I really love, and I thought it’d be fun to share three today. Finding music I like adds fuel to the fire for my practically inevitable full-series playthrough (don’t laugh!). After all, I have to see if there’s more great tracks to discover where these handful came from.
First up: a general, catch-all entry for the safe-room themes, from when you finally reach a rare oasis amid the madness. It’s just you, a typewriter, and an eerie, uncharacteristically soothing melody on strings. “The warm light makes you relax,” and so does this music. In the 1996 original (playlist / longplay) the safe-room track sounded like this, but the 60-minute embed above is from 2002’s GameCube “REmake” (playlist / longplay), an excellent enhancement which gives the backing a wonderful haunting, almost howling quality.
You might also enjoy this mild, synth-driven expansion on it from the first-ever full-length Resident Evil album, 1996’s Bio Hazard Sound Track Remix (playlist / VGMdb), or this epic compilation of safe-room themes all the way up through 2016’s Resident Evil 7. Warning: Make certain you have at least one ink ribbon before clicking.
For number two we transition from the somber to the absurd with “BIO HAZARD Beast from the east mix 2,” found on the short 1999 album Biohazard 2 [email protected]~ (YouTube / VGMdb). I don’t recall when I first stumbled upon this piece of madness, but it’s a gem. Throughout the drummy, bassy song a deliciously creepy voice spouts increasingly unhinged gobbledygook while claiming to be first-game hero Chris Redfield, then becomes increasingly annoyed that the listener apparently doesn’t believe that “it’s me, Chris!”
“Redemption is a word that has no meaning here,” says Chris(?), helpfully. “Your lord and master is my dog…let me feed him.” You OK, buddy? “What do you mean who is this? It’s Chris…why won’t you believe me?!”
Nu-Chris is quite a philosopher, and really likes to make us think. “This open window can lead somewhere, or…nowhere. It’s up to you. Somewhere…or nowhere. Somewhere…or nowhere. Somewhere…” — wait for it — “or nowhere.” Devastating! Perhaps sensing an opening, he further posits, “Dead…or undead. It’s really just a switch. On, off. On, off. On…off.” Tremendous.
At the climax, the supposed future boulder-puncher acknowledges our undoubtedly fine points — which likely include “what the fuck, man” and “I really don’t think you’re Chris” — but, ever the devil’s advocate, chooses to up the ante one last time. “I hear what you say, and although the words are there, I think that I will only truly understand you when I hear you scream those words,” he offers. “And you will scream. And you will scream. You will… scream.”
I’m screaming alright, I love this dumb bullshit so much. But this is Alexandra, so you probably believe me. Thank you Piston Nishizawa, whomever you may be, for coming the closest a Resident Evil product may ever get to outsider art.
And for my last, back to beauty. 2003’s PS2 Resident Evil Outbreak (playlist / longplay / VGMdb) was Capcom’s first attempt at online survival horroring, and I’ve always been struck by its elegant, stunningly realised CG intro. It takes us on a mesmerising journey through Raccoon City’s sewers just as the t-Virus becomes uncontainable, with scurrying rats carrying us through a number of artfully constructed vignettes linked by ingenious dissolves into the microscopic world of cells and virii.
Scoring the journey is an orchestral piece by Resident Evil newcomer (and two-time Japan Academy Award winner / Summer Wars composer) Akihiko Matsumoto that, in its emotion and melancholic beauty, could very well serve as a theme piece for the entire series. It comes to a climax at around 2:50 (in this particular upload) when the rats swarm a downed mercenary. The music hits a gorgeous crescendo as the camera pulls back and, in a most remarkable transition, the rodents morph into tiny cellular organisms. Chills. Having seen the city’s coming doom, we pull back out to the surface, and fade.
The track’s called “Biohazard Outbreak Main Title Theme,” and it’s my favourite in the series so far. If and when I finally get around to playing more (mostly classic) Resident Evil I hope to find other, similarly powerful tracks to fall in love with. I’ll be surprised if anything else is quite as good, but then again, I’ve got a lotta Biohazard yet to experience, so the odds are pretty decent!
That’s a wrap for not just Raccoon City, but also today’s Morning Music. How’s your day shaping up? Got any favourite Resident Evil tracks I should become acquainted with? The day is young and the comments are open. Let’s get started.