R-Type Final – “Piano Smasher” (Blue Man Group)April 18, 2010
“Piano Smasher” is an interesting use of licensed music. The track was originally composed by Blue Man Group for The Complex (2003), but was later used in R-Type Final for the credits to the US version of the game. R-Type Final (2003) was not really the final game in the series (Irem is still making R-Type Tactics), but it does seem to be the final original shooting game. To make up for this, Irem let players try over 100 ships, though sadly, the game doesn’t seem to have quite the replay value to warrant playing them all (and indeed, requires hours and hours of play to unlock). I’ll also say this was part of a purchase that made me stop buying VGM without attempting to learn more about the music first – the album was fairly disappointing compared with the series’ usual guitar-driven fare, and “Piano Smasher” wasn’t on it (I later got The Complex). This version of “Piano Smasher” is from the IGN news post made eons ago.
In the game, the player destroys the final Bydo core deep in their alternate dimension. However, his ship is destroyed in the explosion, and its ruined hull floats forever in the lost reaches of space. The final SOS transmission sent from the ship was picked up a couple stages earlier. It’s a pretty sobering end to the long-running series, and perhaps a little disappointing, but “Piano Smasher” fits the creepy feel of the Bydo, particularly with the infectious synth line, electric violin, and, of course, the Piano Smasher.
The Piano Smasher is a special instrument that combines a piano with a sledgehammer for some unique percussion. By hitting key notes on the piano, the musician is able to create a core of five deep tones that rumble through . Similar to John Cage’s explorations with instrumentation, the Piano Smasher is a novel use of traditional instruments to produce amazing new sounds. It is used in plenty of Blue Man Group’s other music. Other sounds to listen for are what I believe is an electric violin and some phenomenal drumwork. There’s plenty of distortion to traditional instruments as well as new ones in Blue Man Group’s work.
Anyway, it’s very different than the pop song “PROUD OF YOU“, sung by Shiina Hekiru, used in the Japanese credits. Whereas “Piano Smasher” is pretty creepy and in some ways hopeless, “PROUD OF YOU” seems to put a more positive light on the ending, to remember the nameless fighter pilot rather than be consumed within his (or her!) loss.
Blue Man Group is a trippy experimental rock collective that uses technology and multimedia to create artistic works that combine music, video, and performance. The collective is based around the characters of the Blue Men, three mute characters with blue body paint over their bodies. These days, they’ve ironically become a little bit too corporate (and therefore expensive), but they’re still an amazing experience to behold. They experiment with all kinds of objects to create interesting sounds such as the pipes (some standard PVC pipes cut to different lengths and then hammered to create a hollow sound).