|My Road ~ Songs from Guin Saga
|Kanon; Nobuo Uematsu; Pietro Mascagni
|August 26, 2009
|1. Saga〜This is my road
|2. Marius no Uta
|Kanon, Nobuo Uematsu
|3. Saga〜This is my road (Orgel Version)
|4. Where’er you go〜Cavalleria Rusticana
|Kanon, Pietro Mascagni
|5. Todokanu Omoi〜Moonlight
|Kanon, Nobuo Uematsu
|6. Where’er you go〜Cavalleria Rusticana (Orgel Version)
|7. Saga〜This is my road (English Version)
Review: My brief foray into the Guin Saga anime was enough to satisfy my taste for decent music, whether it’s in listening to Nobuo Uematsu’s compositions or the ED theme which fits in with the high fantasy nature of the series rather nicely. It’s the ED theme that’s caught my attention particularly because of how the few fantasy anime in recent memory don’t have OP/EDs that come close to conveying the essence of the high fantasy genre. Whether my memory is at fault or I just didn’t watch the fantasy shows that employed this kind of music, I can only recall “Adesso e Fortuna” from the Record of the Lodoss War OVA which caught my ear with its graceful delivery. “Saga ~ This is My Road” follows in “Adesso’s” footsteps by depicting that long journey, thereby rendering it a refreshing change as it stands apart from the J-Pop/J-Rock fare that is all too commonplace.
“Saga ~ This is My Road” catches one’s attention with its Latin chants taken straight out of the Catholic Mass, but while it sets up the atmosphere of the song, it’s Kanon’s performance that carries the day. After the piano introduction, her voice enters with the declaration in the title, but the manner in which she sings it is so rich with emotion that one cannot help but be drawn in. Kanon excels in her ability to express the aspects associated with this odyssey, from the tinge of regret as she brings up her memories of home and the comforts she leaves behind to a pining feeling which suggests the degree to which she’s afflicted by wanderlust. This longing desire is conveyed beautifully, keeping the listener entranced for the song’s duration. The only point of criticism I have is the segment from 3:22 to 3:38 which sticks out like a sore thumb, detracting from the track’s longing atmosphere, but that’s just a slight bump in an otherwise excellent piece. Overall, it is difficult to resist being taken in by this song as it conveys the essence of that long, but rewarding journey.
So while Guin Saga’s ED is very enjoyable, I would not be rating this album so highly if the other tracks weren’t able to compare favorably to “Saga ~ This is My Road.” “Marius no Uta,” is much sadder than the preceding track on account of Kanon’s wistful singing and a lute part which together feels as though the song is set in a place where people are mourning someone’s passing as their deeds are recounted for all to hear. Kanon’s approach to this piece works in bringing about that melancholy aura while still maintaining that medieval atmosphere through the instrumentation. I wouldn’t call it a lullaby-like piece like others have since it’s too melancholy to be a piece to play right before one sleeps, but it is beautifully executed.
The appearance of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana later on is a bit of a surprise though one can’t argue about its ability to fit the tones of the anime. From this track’s presentation, I get the feeling that this is a piece that one of the characters, Rinda, would be singing since the lyrics focus upon her devotion to a person (presumably Guin), and her willingness to travel with him out of love. Its Italian operatic roots are definitely present and though I’m not all too familiar with Mascagni’s work, this piece carries the themes of love quite beautifully through the background instruments. Again, Kanon’s performance is notable for her ability to hit those higher registers which works in tandem with the music to maintain a hopeful atmosphere throughout the song.
Finally, of all the tracks, “Todokanu Omoi~Moonlight” feels the most out of place because of its use of a synth which is at odds with the instrumentation used in the other tracks. “Todokanu” opens up with an organ section that sets the mysterious mood and Kanon reinforces it through her ethereal delivery which has the effect of getting the listener to really pay attention to her singing. The organ interlude starting around 3:12 and ending 3:36 sounds like a harbinger of doom, except that it shifts back to the chorus part, which makes me scratch my head in trying to figure out what that the role of that segment is supposed to be exactly since it’s at odds with the serene, yet mysterious nature of the track. Still, it is a pleasant listen overall and Uematsu’s composition combined with Kanon’s delivery works well to make it an enjoyable listen.
After going through all of that, there isn’t much else that needs to be said. The overarching high fantasy mood that these tracks exude are a pleasant change from the commonplace J-Pop tracks and Kanon’s singing ability is marvelous, especially in the way she masterfully expresses the feelings that each track requires. Uematsu’s contributions in “Marius no Uta” and “Todokanu Omoi~Moonlight” are also fairly solid. If you’re looking for some music that hearkens back to the odyssean nature of the fantasy genre like what Lodoss War’s music offers, look no further.
Rating: Very Good