By Jeriaska . February 14, 2008 . 9:08pm
The cover art of LUMINES remixes Winter shows a headphone jack cutting across the night sky. The illustration speaks to the chosen audio style of the game series, where solid sound engineering is put to use creating dreamlike musical vistas. Having no storyline to cohere to has offered the composers of LUMINES the freedom to blend electronic rock, psychedelic visuals, and puzzle gameplay with few barriers to innovation since 2005. LUMINES remixes Winter is the soundtrack album accessory to the XBox Live's Rockin' Holiday Pack.
The dreamlike auditory quality of composer h ueda's entries on Winter are the most thematically unified of the offerings on the album. The musician's chill style works with the seasonal theme, providing just enough forward momentum to make his music compatible with a time attack mode. Entrancingly downbeat, the artist's "new cold+" and "minimum vox" balance the clockwork regularity of their drum machines with diffuse keyboard chords that scatter like rays of light. A dance track with a more insistent backbeat, "Lie in Rhodes" retains the detached emotional ambiguity of the artist's songs, while supplying a resonating bass track. His themes' structural backbones remain well defined, even as the patterned contours of their instruments shift and transition to new shapes.
Pushing the envelope of the series' emotional range, Takayuki Nakamura's low key "no bird" comes close to mournfulness. As an acoustic guitar intones away, the low rumble of a didgeridoo sighs, punctuated by atonal vocals. "Papa!" gets funky with guitar and sax amidst the the sounds of crashing waves, while the bongos and trumpets of "Discoveries" provides the album's coda.
Hailing from Hokkaido, Keiichi Sugiyama has worked as a sound creator on the Sega rail shooter Rez, known for its Tronlike visuals and trance music. He provides the only two tracks of the ostensibly winter-themed collection that are specifically holiday oriented, both ironic mashups. Allowing himself more leeway to be seasonally ambiguous, Sugiyama contributes some of the album's most rewarding selections, including the rock-solid "amber moon." Driven by live drums, guitars and electric keyboard, the track catches its groove early on and rides it like a wave. Diffuse and spacey percussion and a softly thudding drum machine make the composer's "snow girl" and "a piece of a sine wave" a relaxing meld of swift rhythmic patterns. Reveling in chiptunes and distorted vocals as euphorically twisted as a Takashi Murakami print, "I think" is a risky endeavor that turns out worthy of the experiment. While too unruly to be forced comfortably into the rubric of "holiday album," songs like this one make Winter a Lumines album for all seasons.