Though his soundtrack for Fatnick-favourite Outrun is widely lauded, Sega composer Hiroshi “Hiro” Kawaguchi sadly doesn’t receive the same respect as some of his more famous soundtrack composing peers.
This is a bit of a shame: Not only does his extensive back catalogue include the soundtracks to many fan-favourite arcade machines (he also soundtracked Hang-On, Fantasy Zone and Afterburner) but he’s also been a driving force behind Sega’s in-house live bands, the earlier S.S.T (Super Sonic Team) and more recent Sega Sound Unit [H.]
It’s the latter’s debut album – 1st Album – I want to talk today. As perhaps you’d expect from a band whose name contains “Sega Sound Unit,” this is one album that is probably going to be best enjoyed by Sega fans. However, it may not be the album you expect it to be.
You see, the tracks present here are a really interesting hodge-podge of stuff. Not only does the track listing avoid obvious fan favourites (here you’ll receive a vocalised version of “Last Wave” rather than the ubiquitous Outrun track “Magical Sound Shower,” for example) but it mixes elements of both live and remix album. Alongside straightforward (but rip-snorting) performances of compositions from Afterburner and Virtual On, there’s a slightly bizarre punk rock version of the theme from Alex Kidd in Miracle World and a remix of the theme from the relatively obscure Sega Moba.
When you factor this interesting mix of styles with the variety of musical genres already present in the source material, the result is a joyful, unpredictable and amazingly fun celebration of some of the less well-trodden Sega tracks, tracks that contain enough witty musical craftsmanship to entertain even those who aren’t familiar with the source material.