An avid collector of Japanese anime film soundtracks finds an unforgettable experience in these fine Japanese recordings. To the uninitiated, the term "Japanese music" might present an image of traditional Buddhist chants, Koto and Shakuhachi flutes and Noh Theater-style performances. Nothing could be further from the truth. The CDs shown here contain music that has many of the good traits of western music, with none of the undesirable traits.
The music transcends the weaknesses found in typical western music, ie., the one-dimensional quality of most western melodies, the frequent repetition of measures without variation, and so on. Some of this Japanese music is like a great symphony in the sense that it can take you on a journey of the mind -- a journey where you never pass the same symbolic place twice. Each new measure, each now melody variation, each chord progression underlying the theme combines to make the sweetest synergy, arranged brilliantly and played by a series of instruments, sometimes acoustic, sometimes electronic -- which sends the discriminating listener into sonic nirvana.
There is music for all kinds of tastes. There is Rock,
Classical, Symphonic, New Age, Fusion Jazz, Metal, Disco, Pop -- you name it, there's a
soundtrack which features every style.
These are the very serious, beautiful soundtracks. Heroic Legend of Arslan features a majestic soundtrack, featuring violinist Norihiro Tsuru. The Weathering Continent features a truly high-definition recording. Especially noticeable about this one is the total lack of hiss or background noise. The first 2 tracks are a totally immersive experience with Sonic Holography. I always demo the Holographic sound with the first track on this CD. Record of Lodoss War volume 3 is a strange and eerie, yet beautiful soundtrack. Mostly dark and mysterious, it features a unique combination of orchesta with synthesizers. A couple of tracks feature some of the smoothest, sweetest vocals this listener has ever heard. Kaze no Tani no Nausicaš is a double CD featuring music by Jo Hisaishi. Mr. Hisaishi's music is the opium of music, intoxicating, mind-bending, totally hypnotic.
Three of my newest acquisitions are from a new series entitled Please Save My Earth, Saki Hiwatari's touching story of love and reincarnation. The music is by Hajime Mizoguchi and Yohko Kanno and is among the most divine music now in my library. Spacey, ethereal melodies, intertwined with contemporary and other times bewitching songs featuring the mesmerizing and delicate voice of Arai Akino (who sings in lovely English during "The Moonlit Song"), make this series of soundtracks truly a unique experience among anime BGMs. As beautiful as it is, this set is not without its delights for "Bass Pigs." A stunning experience awaits one with the 13th track on volume 1, "Depart Toward Zero," with some of the deepest bass I have heard to date on a Japanese recording. I logged the lower notes at 19 hertz, in prodigious quantities. For those who desire to put their woofers through a destruct test, the 5th track on volume 3, "The Song You Don't Sing," with its earthquake like rumbling and sub-20 hertz percussion at maximum levels, will deliver a rapid verdict on subwoofer integrity. Have your system insured before you play this one! My aquisition of the Arslan soundtracks lead me on a wild chase to find more music by the featured artists, Norihiro Tsuru and Shoko Suzuki. Mr. Tsuru's music is poetry without the inconvenience of words. His music "speaks" very clearly, the emotions which cannot be put into words, a sort of direct communication from his spirit to the listener's. The Ancient Sun has a broad palette of styles, some of which are strong and almost visceral in the percussion, others which are gentle and introspective. Miss Suzuki's music could loosely be described as country rock, but it's much more than that. The Bass Pig hates C&W music as it appears in the USA. But Miss Suzuki has managed to show the Porcine One that a style can transcend a stereotype, as indeed, her melodies are intoxicating, and the volume tends to find itself getting turned up to very high levels (Bass Pig is enjoying the music).
The master of the world of ethereal, mind-warping music is Joe Hisaishi, one of Japan's most talented and imaginative composers in the world of synth and orchestral music. Spanning a gamut of styles, his music often makes grand leaps across genres. But his new age style material is my favorite. A potent "sonic narcotic," his album "The Universe Within," creates powerful altered states of mind when one's values resonant with this music. Mr. Hisaishi is well known for his music soundtrack work on several Hayao Miyazaki anime during the 1980s. Omohide Poro Poro is a soundtrack with a big range of musical styles. It begins symphonically, gradually seems to follow a timeline toward 50s then 60s rock 'n roll and then gradually recedes back to classical. Umi ga Kikoeru Is another lovely soundtrack to a very enjoyable film. It's a light style of music, but has one terrific song near the end which features some great jazz. Orange Road - Loving Heart is an upbeat, active soundtrack featuring several popular Japanese artists/bands. It ranges from dance music to jazzy sort of stuff.
Mimi o Sumaseba, or "Whisper of the Heart" is a delightful soundtrack to a heartwarming film about a young girl discovering her dreams and direction in life. This soundtrack is a lilting, adventurous orchestral score with a few rather interesting ballads, namely "Concrete Road," the leading character's own rewrite of an old standard karaoke tune, originally by John Denver. The pace is often exhuberating, with energy and excitement in the performace and string basses reaching down into their lowest ranges nicely. A "must have" if you yearn for the symphonic music reminiscent of the late 1950s. 1992 Anime Theme Songs is a great value -- it features two CDs with all the best anime vocals and theme songs. Somehow this set wound up with not a single less-than-awesome track on it. Some truly fascinating music with exotic rhythms is to be found here. Tenchi Muyo volume 2 is for Bass Pigs only. This CD blasts the listener from the very start with a fat bass and a bold rhythm. There are a few Techno music tracks on here, but much of the show's soundtrack is in here. Great thumpers! This next one is not a soundtrack to a film, rather, it is a popular Japanese all-girl band that started out as a garage band and manages to capture some of the great feelings we associate with good old rock 'n roll from the sixties. This is Shonen Knife's most recent album, Rock Animals This album cranks! For screaming guitars that make the blood spurt from your eardrums, to percussion that cracks your ribcage, this is THE definitive experience in high-volume listening. The recording has tremendous energy, excellent sonic balance and squeezes out every decibel possible from each watt of amplifier your have. A real blast!
Vampire Princess Miyu has a couple of very nice tracks, but can be a little bit noisy in the middle, with several chase scene tracks one after another. There is a Noh-style traditional musical performance on one track, which has a tremendous presence and makes a great high fidelity experience. City Hunter 2 volume 1 contains high energy rock and fusion jazz tracks mixed together. If you like to crank, this one's a lot of fun.
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