Kurenai Original Soundtrack – Review

Album Title: Kurenai Original Soundtrack
Anime Title: Kure-nai
Artist: Ken Muramatsu
Catalog Number: LACA-9117~9118
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: June 25, 2008


Disc 1: emotional side

Track Title Artist Time
1. Inori Tsudzukeru Ken Muramatsu 4:25
2. Rojiura no Halleluya Ken Muramatsu 1:52
3. Futatsu no Kokoro Ken Muramatsu 2:07
4. Kanashimi wa Mune no Oku ni Ken Muramatsu 1:48
5. Reality Ken Muramatsu 1:04
6. Wasureenu Omoi Ken Muramatsu 3:03
7. Dareka ga Kimi wo Matteiru ~ Yuugure no Machi de Ken Muramatsu 2:26
8. Nakitsukarete Ken Muramatsu 3:00
9. Mugen no Umi wo Iku Ken Muramatsu 1:38
10. Hakanai Yume ~Tooi Kioku Ken Muramatsu 1:58
11. Ameagari wo Arukeba ~Mada Minu Sekai Ken Muramatsu 1:40
12. Ie ni Kaerou Ken Muramatsu 2:06
13. Dano de fado -Unmei no Itazura- Ken Muramatsu 1:02
14. Dano de fado ~Hitorikiri Ken Muramatsu 1:16
15. Kanshouteki na Sokkyoukyoku Ken Muramatsu 1:36
16. Requiem ~Kizutsuita Karada~ Ken Muramatsu 1:11
17. Mune no Akashi -Saikai- Ken Muramatsu 1:47
18. Mune no Akashi -Yakusoku- Ken Muramatsu 1:55
19. Ending ~ Kirenai Wakare Ken Muramatsu 2:05
20. New Days Ken Muramatsu 1:57

Disc 2: swingin’ side

Track Title Artist Time
1. Ameagari wo Arukeba Ken Muramatsu 1:07
2. Wataridori no Mezasu Tokoro Ken Muramatsu 2:33
3. Surf song ~ Oikaze wo Ukete Ken Muramatsu 2:32
4. Ashita no Niji Ken Muramatsu 1:57
5. Livremente -Omoidoori ni- Ken Muramatsu 1:34
6. Livremente ~ Chiisana Itazura Ken Muramatsu 1:35
7. Honoo No You ni Ken Muramatsu 1:42
8. Mori ni Hisomu Mono Ken Muramatsu 1:03
9. Hakanai Yume ~ Murasaki no Inshou Ken Muramatsu 1:55
10. Ie ni Kaerou ~ Te wo Tsunaide Ken Muramatsu 1:26
11. timing! -Shiawase no Timing- Ken Muramatsu 1:51
12. Dareka ga Kimi wo Matteiru Ken Muramatsu 2:51
13. Niwa no Tsubaki Ken Muramatsu 2:43
14. Yokaze -Night Breezin’- Ken Muramatsu 2:16
15. Munesawagi no Waltz Ken Muramatsu 1:26
16. Yuzurenai Mono ~ Yuuki Ken Muramatsu 2:12
17. Nigerarenai Mono ~ Jaki Ken Muramatsu 2:07
18. Suiheisen no Mukou ni Ken Muramatsu 2:34
19. Kita Michi, Yuku Michi Ken Muramatsu 2:39
20. Kita Michi, Yuku Michi ~Michibiki Sansen~ Ken Muramatsu 2:54

Review: One of the qualities that stood out while watching Kure-nai was its soundtrack, which consists of a masterful blend of traditional Japanese music and modern jazz. Ken Muramatsu, who had previously worked on the Sketchbook ~full color’S~ soundtrack, demonstrates his ability to be able to compose subtle pieces that accentuate the mood and atmosphere of the anime without overpowering it outright. That said, on its own, Kure-nai’s soundtrack offers a mixed listening experience. While the more upbeat tracks are quite good, many of the other tracks are completely forgettable, especially on the first disc (called the “emotional side”) because so many of them recycle their themes and require a bit more development beyond the simple, subtle, piano melodies to be enjoyable. Thankfully, most of these problems are isolated to the first CD and the second CD (called the “swingin’ side”) makes up for it (and then some!) through its more energetic pieces and catchy melodies.

The first track on the first disc is “Inori Tsudzukeru,” which sets the tone for how the rest of the album will follow. Its tempo is really slow and creates a rather heavy feeling bordering upon the melancholy. In fact, most of the pieces on the disc will tend to carry rather depressing melodies which vary from being a snooze-fest to those that are actually enjoyable to listen to. “Inori Tsudzukeru” is one of the better ones because it is able to convey the tone and atmosphere of the trials and discomforts that the characters must face. Although this piece does make a few reaches out at hope with uplifting passages, it ultimately falls back to its melancholy state as it channels the mournful mood well enough to immerse the listener without being too repetitive as to get on the listener’s nerves.

OK, so I lied. Not all of the tracks on this disc are depressing because as soon as you finish the first track, you come to “Rojiura no Halleluya” which has a nice bouncy melody that lifts your mood up. The jazzy feel from the piano is really pleasant around the middle as it captures the free, almost haphazard lifestyle that the characters lead. It’s an enjoyable piece even if the melody does get a bit repetitive as the introductory portion is played over and over.

The next few tracks start the trend where the music seemingly blends together from one melody to the next as it takes out some of the motives that had been previously used in “Inori Tsudzukeru.” Unfortunately, none of these pieces will really stand out because you’ll notice many of the next pieces clock in around less than two minutes, which leave little time to fully develop the melody into something more enthralling. Listening to some of the tracks like “Kanashimi wa Mune no Oku ni” and “Reality” feel like the musical equivalent of fast food: it’s somewhat enjoyable for the first few seconds until you realize that the melody continuously repeats and becomes distasteful due to the lack of creativity. Instead of repeating the same melody over and over, some of these tracks could have been combined together into something better and developed more fully. It’s a shame they weren’t.

“Wasureenu Omoi” breaks this fast food trend with an opening that’s on the sorrowful side. There’s something about the slow melody that encourages the listener to be introspective. Once the violin takes over the melody (and repeating the melody that came before), you distinctly begin to hear the Japanese musical style played on modern instruments. Many of the pieces on this soundtrack will use this odd bit of juxtaposition, but to great effect as you appreciate the fusion that results when Muramatsu is able to pull off on the piano, violin, or the shamisen.

Afterwards, you’re faced up with a mix of tracks ranging from tender pieces like “Dareka ga Kimi wo Matteiru ~ Yuugure no Machi de” to some of the more melancholy tracks like “Hakanai Yume ~Tooi Kioku” which all suffer from repetitive melodic syndrome. While there are a few upbeat tracks where you don’t really mind the repetitiveness, like “Ameagari wo Arukeba ~Mada Minu Sekai,” the really dreary pieces where you have to suffer through the melody like “Requiem ~Kizutsuita Karada~” are a chore to sit through to the point that it infects pieces which aren’t really that bad like “Mune no Akashi -Yakusoku-.”

By the time you reach “Ending ~ Kirenai Wakare,” all of the pieces are going to meld together to the point where there isn’t a single melody that really stands out. And that’s really where the first disc can be faulted upon: the tracks in of themselves aren’t bad: the way they were arranged and the repetitive nature of the merely above average melodies results in them causing the listener to tune out after the first run-through whereupon the music reprises instead of going in a more creative, enjoyable direction.

Thankfully, “Ameagari wo Arukeba,” the track which opens disc 2 (the swingin’ side) snaps the listener out of the stupor that the first disc has inflicted. Clocking at just over a minute, this piece makes the most of its duration with an upbeat opening that really isn’t all too complex, but it’s an enjoyable ditty nonetheless with its bouncy beat set by the percussion and the fun piano melody.

The momentum is then carried to “Wataridori no Mezasu Tokoro.” Which stands out as the closest piece in the entire album to an actual jazz piece because of the improvisation that you can hear from the pianist. That, along with the fact that the melody which isn’t quite as repetitive, helps keep the listener’s attention. At least, long enough to get to “Surf song ~ Oikaze wo Ukete,” which has an upbeat nature that will grab the listener right off the bat with its celebratory atmosphere and becomes even more enhanced as the tempo moves faster. As you listen to this particular track, you can definitely feel the sense of joy and excitement build up as the piece crescendos towards the end.

A lot of the pieces that follow will fall between those that evoke more of the positive tender feelings, those that are just plain fun as the piece lets loose with the jazz, to those that are more subdued. But the element that sets these tracks apart from those in the first disc is that their melodies are enjoyable to listen through so even if you do pick up on the repetitive nature of the piece, it’s not much of a hassle to sit through. They’ll even throw in some offbeat pieces like “Mori ni Hisomu Mono,” which is chaotic but strangely enjoyable if you want to marvel at how the flute somehow fits in well with the discordant harmony. The sheer amount of variety works to provide a change of pace and keeps the disc from becoming boring.

“Niwa no Tsubaki” bears mention because it falls back into more Japanese music through the shamisen, which strums the melody. The feeling it gives is generally rather pleasant and puts you out of the hectic life of the city and into the more idyllic vibe you get from a rural setting. It’s helpful to note there’s plenty of development that Muramatsu uses in this piece to keep your attention on the melody.

Finally, not mentioning “Suiheisen no Mukou ni” would be a crime. Most people are going to recognize this track as the instrumental version of the musical that the characters enacted in episode six and it sounds just as wonderful here as in the original vocal version. Everything about this track just puts the listener into that moment. From the onset, its piano melody gives off a yearning feeling and as the track continues to progress, the melody makes a move towards the bittersweet, pouring out its emotion all the while. Though there are some moments during this track that are truly uplifting, the moments are short-lived as it reverts back to the yearning feeling. The emotions that this piece draws forth are what make it memorable, making it stand out as the best piece in this entire soundtrack.

It’s probably incorrect to consider this album a jazz album because of the lack of spontaneity that characterizes the genre because a lot of pieces, particularly on the first disc are just too repetitive and structured. Rather, you should look upon disc one as the more traditional disc while disc two is definitely the one that’s most upbeat and creative. In spite of its flaws, Muramatsu’s effort here is competent and the music is enjoyable on a certain level even if it doesn’t hold up quite as well to repeated listens. Definitely give this album a shot if you’re looking for traditional Japanese music with a jazz blend, but if you’re aiming solely for a good jazz fix, you may wish to try Cowboy Bebop and Bartender’s soundtracks, both of which are titans in the realm of jazzy anime music.

Rating: Good

Music Sampler

Disc 1, Track 1

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Disc 1, Track 2

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Disc 2, Track 3

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Disc 2, Track 11

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Disc 2, Track 18

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zzeroparticle

Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

0 thoughts on “Kurenai Original Soundtrack – Review

  • September 19, 2008 at 3:39 pm
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    On the flipside, I was/am a huge fan of Muramatsu since, as displayed in Kure-nai he takes no (or minimal) recourse to recycled and rearticulated pop junk. Simply the style is enough to warrant praise as it does not revert to the clichéd, sweeping, one-hit-kill strings of, say, True Tears or Nogizaka Haruka[…]. I enjoy the soundtracks for the two previously mentioned titles, but Muramatsu shows reserve, containment, cool, etc. I find, in terms of jazz, which need not be wholly improvisatory, Kanno being an indicator of such, this soundtrack is more reminiscent of a Modern Jazz Quartet feeling, especially the sparse but tasteful playing of John Lewis.

    You may not have thought this was an outstanding soundtrack, but if you liked it even a bit, check out the music in Natsume Yuujin-chou that is very similar in style (brushes and very light drums, double bass, piano) and pretty enjoyable to listen to. It’s easily my favorite soundtrack of this season.

    Reply
  • September 19, 2008 at 6:15 pm
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    Hey lelangir, thanks for reading this wall of text if nothing else. While I’m making no claim that it was outstanding, it was as I rated it: a good soundtrack.

    I haven’t listened to Nogizaka Haruka yet (is it even out?) but I’ve given True Tears a bit of a listen and I do like the soft piano melodies and strings. However, it’s not a remarkable soundtrack either (I’d put it a notch below Kure-nai. Still warrants a “good” rating in my book).

    Natsume Yuujinchou’s soundtrack looks promising, so I’ll look forwards to that. Also, have you listened to Bartender’s soundtrack? I’d still argue it’s the best jazz-styled anime album yet.

    Reply
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