Kyukyu Kyumei Caduceus 2 Soundtrack
Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 built on the success of the original with enhanced gameplay, graphics, and audio. Atlus outsourced the soundtrack this time to Manabu Namiki and Noriyuki Kamikura, two composers famed for their contemporary works at Basiscape. While they adapted many ideas from the original, the composers also offered some more experimental tracks reminiscent of their work for Cave. Thanks to SuperSweep's Game Music Discovery series, the soundtrack was recently released commercially.
Right from the title theme "Asclepius, Again", Basiscape preserve many of the elements that made the music of Trauma Center: Under the Knife so enjoyable. Once again, the composition shifts from a fast-paced electronic introduction towards a radiant acoustic centre. Every lick is as compelling as the next and the central melody is quite memorable, albeit not as defined as Namiki's equivalent. Where the composition exceeds its predecessor is its production values: both the electronic and acoustic elements are vibrantly sampled here and make the most of the DS' specifications. The violin solo is especially powerful. Among other lyrical additions to the soundtrack include "Gentle Wind", a pop-flavoured ditty with some nostalgic Rhodes organ parts, and "Active Doctors", with its vibrant funk-influenced sax solos.
For the most part, Basiscape shift from the stereotypical yet catchy tracks of the original game in favour of more experimental compositions. "Unflagging Surgery" creates a much deeper atmosphere during surgery with all its twists, turns, and subtleties. The howling distorted synth at the climax especially captures imagination, while the assortment of beats and riffs creates a tense but meditative rhythm. "A Ripple of Omen" likewise creates plenty of suspense with its eerie warped synth and relentless eccentric motifs, while "Clinical Skills" builds on its hard-edged beats into a radiant chorus. While the siren noises and horror orchestration in "Approaching Darkness" are stereotypical, they're more interesting within an ever-building web of electronic polyrhythms. That said, the relatively dull "Medical Tactics" is closer in style to the tense themes of its predecessor, favouring repeating crisis motifs over more novel approaches.
Basiscape offer some interesting tracks for the most intense surgeries. "Swaying Shadow of GUILT" is considerably lighter and catchier than a lot of the material here, seemingly inspired by Kenichi Tsuchiya's catchier pieces on the original game. "Stand Up Against the Threat" and "Cut off The Fate!!" are much more intense hybrids of electronic, rock, and orchestral elements, the latter even throwing some excellent choral samples into the mix. Neither would sound out-of-place in a Cave shooter. "Sacrifice" is the obligatory heartfelt theme written for piano and strings; but thanks to Kamikura's musicality, the writing here is neither simplistic nor predictable. Basiscape close the release with two soft jazz-based compositions, "To the Neverending Tomorrow" and "Growing Feeling in My Heart", the latter featuring some mesmerising voice samples; both are clearly inspired by Atlus' sound, but don't quite touch listeners as much as Meguro's best.
Overall, Noriyuki Kamikura and Manabu Namiki offer a worthy follow-up soundtrack on Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2. For the most part, the compositions here are richer in both composition and implementation than their predecessors. While the groovier pieces are reminiscent of the predecessors, others are so intense and creative that they inspire memories of Cave's shooters. Yet everything comes together to create a coherent accompaniment to the game and a satisfying stand-alone listen. Highly recommended for fans of Basiscape's contemporary works.