Two back to back Piece of the Week posts due to a fairly busy week. At least that’s my excuse anyhow.
The pieces this week give off a different vibe that isn’t quite in-your-face or emotionally charged, making it really hard to evaluate them properly and dispense with the points. Most of the pieces did a good job of adhering to the theme though because of the theme, most of the tracks are fairly melancholy or downright despondent. While I had been hoping for more of the adventurous kind of lost-ness, the despairing mood largely prevailed, resulting in the following tracks nominated:
Kanon – Shoujo no Ori
[audio:Kanon – Shoujo no Ori.mp3]
This piece evokes that whole feel of being lost in a winterscape, which, given the source of the song, makes it really appropriate. While it does carry an emotional charge for most of the way through, I thought the motive gets repetitive and the only part where this becomes more interesting is around 0:42 where the mood becomes really somber as it dispenses with the aforementioned emotional charge. Unfortunately, that doesn’t last long enough to receive any major development and transitions back to the repeating motive shortly after. For those who have access to the Kanon/Air Piano Arrange Album “Re-feel”, I’d give that one a listen since it’s a much better rendition. This version gets a pass from me seeing that there are far better tracks this week.
Hidamari Sketch x365 – Shinmiri
[audio:Hidamari Sketch x365 – Shinmiri.mp3]
“Shinmiri” has that lazy, drifting vibe that combines a sort of easygoing aimlessness as the subject is in a wonderful, dreamlike state. The introduction with the intonation brings out the aforementioned vibe, and if this piece were to consist entirely of that motive, it’d be plain boring. However, the solo violin around 0:35 marks a divergence that stands well on its own, and, when combined with the intonation and background instrumentation from the introduction, makes the piece a whole lot more enjoyable. This one deserves 1 point.
Pokemon Heroes – Search for the Girl
[audio:Pokemon Heroes – Search For The Girl.mp3]
Wow, this piece was certainly an eye-opener (ear-opener?) and though it may come from a somewhat maligned source, it still packs quite a punch through its mix of violin and accordion to create a sound that makes this piece stand apart from all of the other tracks in this week’s selection. There is an upbeatness that encourages the listener to seek out adventure and excitement in the beginning before transitioning into a flowing melody that brings forth more tension as the piece progresses. You can hear the atmosphere become more mournful as the feelings of loneliness and insecurity envelop the subject, but the way it keeps the listener engaged is what makes this piece truly shine, and listening to it felt like a shot of fresh air. Definitely deserving of 2 points.
Wolf’s Rain – Gravity
[audio:Wolfs Rain – Gravity.mp3]
I’m not all too surprised to see this track make an appearance because I do consider it Maaya Sakamoto at her very best. Her ability to convey that sense of longing is superb and the melody itself packs a pretty strong emotional punch as it draws you in and takes you for a melancholy ride. Enjoyable all the way through, this one gets 2 points from me. The only complaint that I have is why we haven’t heard tracks that are as high caliber as this from Sakamoto as of late (“Triangular” was terrible).
Zettai Shounen – Ho
[audio:Zettai Shounen – Ho.mp3]
This piece is probably the most despondent of the lot because of how strongly it emphasizes that feeling of loneliness, as though there’s a hole in your soul. While such moods can be very powerful, this track’s execution doesn’t quite hit the mark because of a lack of development in that despondent theme. It also doesn’t help that this piece is just too short for anything meaningful to come out of it. There’s potential for “Ho” to be much more, but we didn’t get it in this instance.
Soukyuu no Fafner -Dead Aggressor- – Doubt | Mayoi
[audio:Soukyuu no Fafner – Mayoi.mp3]
“Doubt” is fairly similar to “Ho,” but it’s slightly better because of how well it uses dissonance to whip up an unsettling atmosphere that is similar to the feeling one gets in a forest after dark with no light sources to guide you through. While this piece isn’t going to be getting any points from me, it’s certainly more enjoyable even if it’s not remarkable.
Serial Experiments Lain – Signal of Loneliness
[audio:Serial Experiments Lain – Signal of Loneliness.mp3]
I really like the melancholy vibe that you get from the guitar work in this song which, on the whole, gives this piece a nice, folksy feeling as though you’re listening to someone singing this song while around a campfire as the moon shines brightly. The singer’s tendency to go off-tune helps contribute to this overall mood by sounding genuinely folksy. A few minor gripes that I had was the repetitiveness, especially the “ahh nani wo” which could have had their iterations reduced by one so as to not draw things out for too long. Save for that (and it’s a very minor issue that doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyability), this song is solid and only slightly loses out to the next piece on this list.
Paprika – Shizuku Ippai no Kioku
[audio:Paprika – Shizuku Ippai no Kioku.mp3]
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that I disliked this piece. But that was back in the day when I had failed to appreciate the kind of vibe one gets out of the cacophony as chaos descends to reign supreme throughout this piece (and this movie for that matter). Having knowledge of the context in which this piece is heard helps a great deal because once you realize the nature of the parade, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a piece that more accurately describes the surreal atmosphere. The deluge of visuals and sound that the parade scene throws at you does an excellent job of conveying the confusion really well, and by succeeding at getting me to feel really lost as I watched that film, this piece definitely deserves 1 point.
Casshern Sins – Memory Past
[audio:Casshern SINS – Memory Past.mp3]
This piece depicts the sense one gets from being lost by delivering it in a calm, quiet, and subtle track. The image I get while listening to this is that of a wanderer, a directionless soul who searches both within and without to find some sort of destination, but in spite of that effort, none materializes. It’s a poignant piece, but like a few tracks we’ve heard thus far, it feels too short. Had this been developed just a bit more, I could see it becoming a stellar track.
Bleach – Nothing Can Be Explained
[audio:Bleach – Nothing Can Be Explained (vocal ver).mp3]
This piece is yet another pleasant surprise and I particularly like the way it manages to make you feel as though you’re in an alien environment through that discordant opening bit followed by the voice work which drifts in and out, as though it were a disembodied spirit trying to drive you insane with its echoing, ephemeral chatter. “Nothing can be Explained” executes the feeling of being lost really well as the vocals leave you feeling uneasy, as though you’re trapped in a landscape that’s so strange you have no clue where to even begin going in search of an escape route. I especially liked the use of the round, which emphasizes the element of lost-ness, making this yet another solid track, even if it loses out on getting point nods from me.
So there you have it! My point distribution can be found below. I think the theme of lost was a bit more difficult to find good pieces for, but the good thing is that there were a lot of tracks that stood out as being interesting and made for a nice listen all in all. I think that Week 4’s legendary theme will be a bit better as far as track quality goes, so I’ll definitely be looking to see what people come up with.
(+2) Pokemon Heroes – Search for the Girl
(+2) Wolf’s Rain – Gravity
(+1) Hidamari Sketch x365 – Shinmiri
(+1) Paprika – Shizuku Ippai no Kioku