|Shiki Original Soundtrack Mini Album “Rouge”
|ANZB-9404 (Bundled with DVDs)
|November 24, 2010
|1. Day and Night
|4. Eau de Vie
|5. Muddy Water
Review: Of the composers who’ve entered my radar in 2010, none have made a bigger splash than Yasuharu Takanashi. I was first exposed to his excellence in his Fairy Tail soundtrack, which featured a dazzling synthesis of Celtic tonality and rhythm set to rock. As delightful as that combination is, many would say that his forte lies in composing soundtracks to horror anime; my brief forays into Jigoku Shoujo’s score have supported this statement. In Shiki, Takanashi once again demonstrates his ability to weave a compelling horror atmosphere while conveying the scope of the tragedies that arise during the course of the anime.
Through “Day and Night,” the scenes for the tragedy are set. Its introduction, played using the glockenspiel and acoustic guitar, bear a melancholy tone, but it’s the vocalist’s entry that really nails the bleak mood. Normally, such a wispy, halting delivery would be cause for concern, but here, it works well in revealing the depths of the despair that settles upon the village. This atmosphere is further amplified by a grim violin passage that wouldn’t feel out of place at a funeral, reflecting the aura of death that hangs over Shiki’s setting. A calming chorus section comes in the second half and one might easily think it a reprieve from the haunting melody that preceded it if it didn’t feel so much like a benediction for the fallen. Its presence is soothing, carrying with it an air of acquiescence towards one’s fate and lingers there before the violin returns once more, with its mournful dirge.
Day and Night
If “Day and Night” captures Shiki’s emotional side seeped in despair, it’s “Pendulum” that depicts the horror. Its dissonant chant is downright eerie, carrying an ominous tone fitting of some dark ritual. The piece isn’t content to let just one voice draw out the horror; gradually, more vocal parts enter the picture and the piece, with its heavy rhythm running through the background, crescendos, growing more threatening with each passing note, bringing a murderous atmosphere to the fore. And then there’s the creepy chuckles near the end which add to this chaotic air, until the ponderous melody, complete with an organ playing a haunted house theme, leaves one with no doubt that the village of Sotoba (Shiki’s setting) is doomed.
Just as you think the end has come, “Crimson’s” heartfelt piano melody hearkens to happier times, granting a reprieve from all the darkness. The track is seeped in contentment, traipsing along without a care in the world, and in the process, conveys that brief, intimate, and charming moment.
Unfortunately, it’s just far too short as “Eau de Vie” returns us to the action with a heavy dramatic track suggestive of covert actions taking place with the goal of bringing about Sotoba’s doom. Here, you’ll notice that Takanashi recycles the general melodic structure from “Day and Night,” setting it to a faster tempo so as to convey the scope of the Shiki’s (the show’s chief protagonists) nocturnal activities. Once again, the chorus serves to heighten the creepy factor that, along with the strings, form a dynamic rich in grim and foreboding tones while maintaining a mournful air in the face of the tragedies which continue to mount with dizzying speed.
Eau de Vie
The extent of these nightly activities are fully manifested through a tension-filled “Muddy Water,” which seems to draw inspiration from Shoji Meguro’s Persona soundtracks. This track utilizes a heavy dose of synth early on as well as a moaning sound to nail the horror, but that’s nowhere as notable as the beatboxing that follows shortly after. I’m not quite sure why Takanashi went this route aside from it being a popular device to illustrate the chaos and uncertainty that the humans find themselves in as the shiki’s plans roll into action. The electric guitar and bass feature heavily here and there’s even a bit of R&B (hence, the comparison to Persona) to add to the confusing fabric. All this gibbering matches with Shiki’s atmosphere, but it’s a bit too in-your-face for my liking and not something I’d listen to without the context.
The mini album then closes out with the introspective, yet emotional “Mosaic,” which, once again, takes the melody from “Day and Night” and sets it to a piano and glockenspiel duet. This arrangement works out well, bringing out the extent of the despair and the loneliness that afflicts humans and shiki alike. The internal struggle manifested through this piece’s lonely theme is a perfect reflection of Seishin Muroi’s ongoing depression, captured poignantly through its tragic aura that continues to linger. There is a bit of closure, but the conclusion it depicts is rather depressing, which is not a surprise in light of the unfolding tragedies as shiki hunts man and man himself becomes a monster.
It’s just a shame then, that we’re not getting a standalone soundtrack that fully encompasses, in music, the events that transpire in Shiki. Takanashi’s efforts in weaving a horror atmosphere and unveiling the tragedies have been solid thus far, and I thirst for more of what he has to offer up.
Rating: Very Good