|Album Title:||Maoyu Maou Yuusha O.S.T. Maou|
|Anime Title:||Maoyu Maou Yuusha|
|Artist:||Takeshi Hama, Dan Miyakawa, Akino Arai, Hisaaki Hogari, YOHKO, riya, Nao Toyama|
|Release Date:||March 20, 2013|
|01. Maoyu Prelude||Takeshi Hama||6:04|
|02. Head Wind [TV Size]||YOHKO||1:32|
|03. Beyond the Hill||Takeshi Hama||4:17|
|04. White Clover Impromptu||Takeshi Hama||1:39|
|05. Be My Belonging||riya||3:22|
|06. light up your mind||Takeshi Hama||2:29|
|07. Black World||Takeshi Hama||1:42|
|09. Demonic Worship||Takeshi Hama||3:09|
|10. A Symmetry||Takeshi Hama||1:47|
|11. Tiny Happiness||Takeshi Hama||2:15|
|12. Unknown Vision||Akino Arai||5:01|
|13. Someday||Takeshi Hama||2:22|
|14. Battle Drum||Takeshi Hama||1:59|
|15. Bedlam For 14 Musicians||Takeshi Hama||1:56|
|16. Song of Human||Nao Toyama||4:28|
|17. National Ecstasy||Takeshi Hama||1:48|
|18. Galleria||Takeshi Hama||1:48|
|19. Opid||Takeshi Hama||2:35|
|20. Kind Soil||Takeshi Hama||2:42|
|21. Searching for the Spring (Instrumental)||Takeshi Hama||2:45|
|22. White Forest||Takeshi Hama||3:49|
|23. Extra||Takeshi Hama||4:18|
Review: Loud music in soundtracks has its place if done well. Loud music in soundtracks that obscures musical nuances and promising ideas is capable of knocking down the quality of a score by quite a few notches. As I sat and listened to Takeshi Hama’s soundtrack for Maouyu Maou Yuusha, I strained my ears to pick out the delightful airs that he composed, but alas, it was difficult to stay focused as the background instrumentals delighted in being loud enough that they eclipsed the music’s beauty and made the listening experience more frustrating than it should be.
The first track portends this shortcoming, except in this instance, its execution is sufficiently strong so as to remain engaging. “Maoyu Prelude” opens softly before the full might of the orchestra crescendos in to channel a glorious tone fitting of a new dawn upon a benighted setting. The piece then recedes, letting the violins and then the oboe come in with a poignant section to issue a sense of calm and add a dab of worry to highlight just how difficult the task of achieving the anime’s central premise to bring a new economic and social order can be. Nevertheless, as the recorder and keyboards take over, riding atop a rhythm that carries a sense of purpose, the work goes underway, with a nice, brisk melody that evokes rustic images of ages past.
Maoyu Prelude (part a)
Then, a disembodied chorus comes in, bringing with it an air of mysticism. The tempo seemingly increases, as the percussion goes faster, highlighting a sense of urgency which builds up to… syncopated trumpets? With this, the piece explodes in a rain of cacophony. What you get is a sense of bedlam, one which isn’t unpleasant, but certainly odd given the slower fare that preceded it. No matter. “Maoyu Prelude” manages to be exciting and its twists and turns enthrall as it departs from convention.
Maoyu Prelude (part b)
With “Beyond the Hill,” where this soundtrack’s leitmotif surfaces, the tone takes a persistent turn, one that depicts a relentless pursuit of an ideal as the strings move with purpose, laying out the hardships and sacrifices that must be made. For most of its run time, the piece remains pleasant as it shines with hope, but once the electric guitar enters, it throws the piece in for a loop, giving it a heavy melody that feels out of place given the more rustic fare the strings and woodwinds sculpted earlier. At its best, the cello and flute duet cultivates a sublime air that’s thoughtful, hopeful, and wonderfully introspective. At worst, it becomes harder to disentangle all elements that Hama throws into his music, hence, the frustration experienced.
Beyond the Hill
The trend continues in “Be My Belonging,” which draws upon “Beyond the Hill’s” motif and features riya on vocals to deliver a profound experience. Initially enjoyable as the dreamy air bubbles forth, the synth takes on a louder role, especially towards the end where it is sufficiently overpowering without working in harmony with riya’s singing. Later on, “National Ecstasy” falls into the same trap. Its shrill mix of Middle Eastern rhythms with ethnic chants are an intriguing combination and would have stayed that way had the addition of more instruments not made the music it brewed so chaotic and discordant that it’s hard to like even if it matches its titular event.
And in the vein of the chaotic and discordant, there are eye-opening oddballs like “Demonic Worship” and “Bedlam for 14 Musicians.” The former opts for a more classical interpretation of its titular unholy ritual, proffering a low buzzing in the background to set a foundation for the chanting and the instrumentals which amplify the tension. The latter lives up entirely to its name, with a really dissonant xylophonic opener which grows more cacophonous by the second. The extremely unpleasant tones continue their course as the instrumentals all come together to weave a discordant musical fabric that can only be appreciated by someone with a taste for Postmodern academic music. There’s an artistry present here, I’m sure, but I’m not one to be able to articulate upon since this genre is still far from my level of understanding.
Bedlam for 14 Musicians
So as these pieces batter me around with their loudness, their discordance (some good, some bad), and their unconventional approach (some good, some bad), I wonder how well this album could have turned out had Hama decided to be just a tad more conventional, a tad softer to let each instrument shine instead of blending them together in a haphazard mishmash or letting some instruments completely overpower the others. This thought becomes even larger given the quantity of amazing tracks scattered about. “White Clover Impromptu” is a lovely piano number that possesses much personality, opening with a shyness that peeks ’round the corner, then fluttering about with ginger steps before flushing with happiness and quiet contentment, to showcase as the best piece in Maoyu’s soundtrack and a worthy contender of displacing some of my favorite anime piano music.
White Clover Impromptu
“Tiny Happiness” also delights, as the piano part which uses a motive that beckons towards “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” twinkles with hope and optimism for the road head while the guitar accompaniment instills the rustic imagery into the piece. I also enjoy “Kind Soil’s” introspective guitar duet which, when augmented by the woodwinds, gives it a quaint and charming expression of joy. Finally, there’s “White Forest” which sees the harp, strings, and ethereal vocals later on in the track join together in a beautiful display, giving it a mystical aura that continually yearns towards the better future.
If there’s anything these tracks demonstrate, it’s that Takeshi Hama does have the capacity to compose good music that carries much personality and appeal. It’s a shame then, that the handful of neat concept that Hama toys with don’t get their chance to truly shine, masked by a cacophony that detracts rather than enhances the music resulting in a score that’s a merely good soundtrack than something great. In that light, Hama’s efforts effectively mirror the fate that befell Maoyu Maou Yuusha. Too bad.