|Platinum Disco & Nisemonogatari Original Soundtrack
|Satoru Kousaki, Yuka Iguchi
|July 25, 2012
|01. Platinum Disco
|Araragi Tsukihi (CV. Iguchi Yuka)
|02. Platinum Disco -instrumental-
|Araragi Tsukihi (CV. Iguchi Yuka)
|04. Niichan ato ha makaseta
|10. Batsu game
Review: Few would accuse Bakemonogatari’s music of being overly florid; Satoru Kousaki’s compositional cues in that first season were about as bizarrely spartan as the art of the show itself, and to good effect. The tracks were eerily well-suited to Akiyuki Shinbou’s art deco abstractions but fell a bit short when it came to standalone listening. What were more inspiring, though, were the show’s openers – an almost alarming shift in gear on Kousaki’s part and possibly the show’s most enduring musical legacy. The OP’s were massively entertaining character studies that added a lot of depth to the show (the fact that they were actually great songs didn’t hurt), and, coupled with the austere background tracks, really gave a glimpse at the scope of Kousaki’s composing abilities.
In Nisemonogatari, this peculiar dichotomy of sparse, minimalistic background tracks and lively, lyrical OP themes is still the modus operandi – the stylistic fingers of the first season are all over this score. Indeed, its status as Bakemonogatari’s sibling soundtrack is probably the best way to describe it, and family resemblances abound. Here’s just one example:
For the most part, “Platinum Disco” lives up to its pedigree, especially in 90-second guise. It’s a hilariously mismatched amalgam of two very different musical archetypes – 70’s disco and traditional East-Asian folk music – and it’s precisely this stylistic dissonance that makes the song tick. This track lives and breathes this duality, and it bets every penny that it can pull it off. Which it does, sort of.
To begin, the transition between the throwback disco introduction and the oriental reed flute melody is surprisingly smooth, and the song as a whole finds a very listenable middle ground. The pentatonic main melody grooves nicely with the twangy 70’s guitar and four-on-the-floor disco beat – it really is nothing like you’ve heard before. If you’ve ever feasted on bacon chocolate chip cookies or deep fried ice cream, you’ll understand how apparent contradictions can be very effective given the correct execution, which is the case here, at least stylistically.
Despite this, “Platinum Disco’s” one trick is not enough to carry the whole song. Its gimmick rapidly unravels by the halfway point, revealing little substance underneath. It succeeds in trying to combine two very different archetypes but is too generic within those to hold my interest for the full 4-minute 16-second haul. That’s too bad, because there are a few great ideas here – it’s just that they’re spread too thin. Compositionally, the song is nearly an exact copy of “Ren’ai Circulation,” but is too repetitive and fails to give off the same arresting charm as that overachieving forebear. This is another one of those songs whose strength lies in its arrangement rather than its composition.
Furthermore, Yuka Iguchi’s performance is simply adequate. She brings to the table a bit of the cute whimsicality of Emiri Katou’s Hachikuji, but none of the depth and texture of Yui Horie’s Hanekawa and Chiwa Saitou’s Senjougahara. Then again, she is not as annoying as the former and avoids the pretension of the latter two, reiterating how par for the course her work is.
Altogether, I still feel that “Platinum Disco” can stand among the likes of its familial stable of accomplished –monogatari OP’s. Though I’m ambivalent about whether or not it has the staying power of some of the stalwarts of the first season, there’s enough interesting material here to give it a pass.
Aside from the requisite OP instrumental track, the rest of the disc is devoted to those stark, alienating background numbers. Historically, the biggest complaint and compliment about Bakemonomonogatari’s OST is that it was built exclusively for accompaniment. Solitary listening was at times almost painful, but those tracks fit the show in ways almost too beautiful to describe. If the criteria were based purely on how the music complements the show, I honestly don’t think better background tracks for anime have ever been written. If you ask me, they’ve become as essential to the -monogatari experience as the visuals and the dialogue themselves.
I’m happy to report, then, that Nisemonogatari’s soundtrack, or at least this compilation, is surprisingly listenable. “Kenka,” for example, starts the trend of tracks on this disc that are initially off-putting but strangely infectious. A Spanish-styled tune, (the Andalusian Cadence lives!) it’s easy to get caught up in the exciting accordion melody, which doesn’t become stale thanks to the constant introduction of varied new elements. The crisp, dense, rapid-fire guitar riffs are actually very interesting and engaging; there is almost no repetition of material in this tune. If those are two sentences you never would have thought would describe a –monogatari soundtrack, I’m as surprised as you are.
Niichan ato ha makaseta
The quality continues. “Niichan ato ha makaseta” is an absolutely enchanting two-guitar rendition of themes from “Futakotome” from earlier in the season. The track’s aim is not really to be catchy or exciting, but rather to soothingly induce nostalgia. It’s subtle with the themes without obfuscating the melodies too badly, and that’s really what the track is best at doing, because it’s otherwise a bit tame. The two-guitar interplay could be more expressive, and there’s little in the way of an ending, but there’s much to enjoy here, and it’s a welcome addition.
“Nisemono” is probably the tune most often associated with Kaiki from the show, and it positively oozes style. The main melody on the cello drips with an unsettling sleazy unsavoriness. The song, in truth, is a bit repetitive, but it stands on the merits of the utterly contagious main melody.
“Jouken” and “Kairaku” are probably two of the more surprising additions on this OST, and are the most robust representatives of classical music in the –monogatari musical canon. The songs are mostly played for laughs in the show, but, as far as I’m concerned, they are actually very good songs, with a very whimsical, carefree air. I could swear that they’re repurposed homages of existing songs, but have failed to conclusively identify them as such.
For some reason, the latter half of this list takes a turn toward resembling Bakemonogatari’s OST in a lot of ways. Everything is less melodic and engaging and more reserved and atmospheric, though, as a whole, more listenable than the bulk of the first season. “Yuutousei” and “Shikigami” are good examples of this – the former aims for a jazzy, laid back atmosphere while the latter offers a more edgy, creepy persona. They’re both serviceable tunes, though whether you want to spend 2 minutes listening to either one is really up to how well you can withstand music that’s so minimalist.
All in all, this compilation represents a boost in listenability in an area that didn’t really need one while the previously stellar OP’s (at least in this case) has been taken down a notch. Those disappointed with the soundtrack from Bakemonogatari won’t be won over by this, but there’s enough to like here that I can call this album Decent.