|Album Title:||Madlax O.S.T.|
|Release Date:||July 21, 2004|
|Purchase at:||CDJapan, Play-Asia|
|01. Galza||Yuki Kajiura||2:57|
|02. Nowhere||FictionJunction YUUKA||3:41|
|03. Limelda||Yuki Kajiura||2:13|
|04. Calm Days||Yuki Kajiura||3:17|
|05. Midnight||Yuki Kajiura||2:02|
|06. A Pursuit||Yuki Kajiura||2:02|
|07. Elenore||Yuki Kajiura||4:22|
|08. The Story Begins||Yuki Kajiura||3:01|
|09. Vanessa||Yuki Kajiura||2:02|
|10. To Find Your Flower||Yuki Kajiura||2:23|
|11. No Mans Land||Yuki Kajiura||3:04|
|12. The Day Too Far||Yuki Kajiura||2:17|
|13. Calm Violence||Yuki Kajiura||2:41|
|14. Cradle||Yuki Kajiura||1:52|
|15. Battlefield||Yuki Kajiura||2:49|
|16. Quanzitta||Yuki Kajiura||2:00|
|17. Enfant||Yuki Kajiura||2:09|
|18. In a Foreign Town||Yuki Kajiura||3:15|
|19. Flame||Yuki Kajiura||2:33|
|20. Dawnlight||Yuki Kajiura||2:03|
|21. Peace in Your Mind||Yuki Kajiura||2:00|
|22. Margaret||Yuki Kajiura||3:16|
|23. Hitomi no Kakera (TV Size)||FictionJunction YUUKA||1:35|
Review: Yuki Kajiura, judging by her top position on the recent composer’s poll, commands a style that’s universally appealing. So appealing in fact, she can afford to allow diversity to remain the exception and not the standard in her music. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your point of view) the Madlax soundtrack is not an exception.
With the usual medley of beat-driven action, mysterious choruses, and ethnic atmosphere, the soundtrack possesses little to no unique traits that set it apart from Kajiura’s usual fare. As expected, several of her signature vocal tracks are scattered through the disc; “Nowhere” is the highlight, with a background chant that maintains an atmosphere of mysticism. The singer’s voice has a marked sense of liveliness and urgency that does a good job of immersing the listener in the intensity of the song. Through its energy, it becomes easy to visualize a close encounter with some immense arcane power or a breathless escape from thick volleys of enemy fire.
The other vocal pieces are pleasant but for the most part fail to distinguish themselves. “Cradle” is a simple but soothing lullaby which isn’t memorable aside from an interesting pronunciation of the title. “Elenore” manages to be better. It pulls off a simultaneously moving and calming atmosphere that for some reason reminds me of music by the artist Enya. However, it’s precisely this vague similarity that makes it difficult for me to recall the track, as my memories end up being repeatedly obstructed by choruses of “sail away, sail away, sail away.”
The instrumental part of the album is just as much of a mixed bag. On the positive side, I found myself greatly enjoying “Galza” and its distinctly medieval character. Beginning with some compelling percussion, the track evokes the image of an unfaltering wanderer possessed by a single-minded purpose. “Battlefield” also succeeds at creating a vivid depiction of the scenery suggested in its title by presenting the desolation of war with a slow theme depressed by the weight of reality.
Nonetheless, what sets the Madlax soundtrack below Kajiura’s better stuff is the number of tracks that border on ambience. “In a Foreign Town” sets up an engaging atmosphere with a Middle Eastern flavor but disappoints by remaining largely static throughout. “Quanzitta” and “Midnight” go down the same route with repetitive, ethnic themes that are rehashed a few times too many. Similarly, “Calm Violence” doesn’t do much. The rhythms take the forefront of the scene, yet after two minutes and a half minutes without significant development it becomes difficult to stay focused on the music.
In a Foreign Town
The trend only continues in “Calm Days”. Here the melody is held by disproportionately soft synthetic strings that compete with a keyboard layered with audio effects. It’s very likely that Kajiura attempted to mask the flat synth with the decidedly less artificial-sounding piano, but the melody becomes too overpowered as a result. Then there’s the disappointment that is “Vanessa”. After hearing actual strings at the beginning, I let my hopes rise, expecting Kajiura to show off what she’s capable of wringing out of physical instruments. Instead, the track decides to blather off into a section reminiscent of infomercials and elevators. Whoever Vanessa is, I hope she isn’t as bland as the infomercials I’ve seen in my lifetime.
This album’s general weakness lies in its tendency to repeat some motif ad infinitum without much development. Even the tracks which I found myself initially enjoying began to bore me as they wore out their welcome. Part of the problem stems from how Kajiura comes to rely too much on the rhythm to carry the music. While she may be very adept at creating an engrossing pulse (perhaps part of the reason she’s so popular), it’s not enough to prevent the tracks from becoming stale and faceless after repeated playthroughs.
I wouldn’t call this album bad, but it frequently skirts the line bordering ambience albeit of the high-quality kind. Unless you’re an ardent Kajiura fan, I would pass up the Madlax OST up for something she’s put more effort into.