Monday Music Musings

I’ve been fairly busy lately with three reviews on my plate: two soundtracks for this blog and a single for OriginalSoundVersion where I’ve pretty much settled in as their J-pop reviewer even if I prioritize on anime-related songs. Combine all of that with the workload from my day job, and that doesn’t leave me with a huge chunk of time.

Anyways, that was me trying to say that despite the catchy title, this isn’t going to be a regular column or anything. There are a couple things that caught my attention last week, and I just thought that I’d combine them all here for the sake of convenience. Take a look after the jump.

One thing that I do want to promote is Peter Shillito’s radio show for The Cat, which records out of Crewe and Nantwich in the UK. Their show, titled “Neko Desu,” focuses on anime music, mostly OP/ED stuff rather than BGM, but it promises to be an hour long and should have some interesting songs for people to check out. I found out about this through their twitter request for music and I think one of my suggestions got picked. Which one it is, I don’t know, but I’ll certainly look forward to finding out. After all, a person who likes Hidamari Sketch and anime music can’t be all bad.

The inaugural broadcast starts at 10 PM this Wednesday GMT which you can tune in here. So for folks living in the West Coast of the US, that would be 2 PM local time.

Jeriaska over at GameSetWatch posted an interview he had conducted with composer Kenji Kawai. Kawai’s background should be pretty well known to anime fans since he scored the soundtrack to shows such as Seirei no Moribito and Eden of the East and this interview focuses on his game compositions and film scores moreso than the works that he’s produced for TV series.

Much of the information given here isn’t really all too new. One question that I did find interesting was when Jeriaska asked:

Question: There is a haunting female chorus that appears in the intro of both Ghost in the Shell films. Was there a particular motivation behind finding this sound that so many viewers associate with the films?

Answer: At first the director had requested primitive drum sounds. I felt it would be even more effective if there were a chorus on top of it, something in a Bulgarian style. There are folk singers with very distinctive voices in Japan, and that’s who we found for the vocal roles.

It turned out to be quite different from my original concept of a Bulgarian style. This vocal section was extremely challenging to get right because Japanese folk songs traditionally do not have a chorus. They aren’t set to these particular rhythms, either.

Directly after the movie was released I noticed no one mentioned the music. That made me a little worried. Now that I think about it, I guess no one could critique it because it was such an unusual kind of music that no one had ever heard before. Innocence was basically a direct continuation of Ghost in the Shell, so I retained almost the exact same style.

Piece in question can be heard here.

First off, it gives a bit of an insight into the music composition process for anime series for those of you who aren’t aware of how the it all works. The other thing is that it’s indicative of Kawai’s ability to bring out the haunting atmosphere really well through the use of the chorus in general. I’m not a huge fan of his by a long shot, but the music he composed for Fate/Stay Night had a pretty good mixture of creepy and tragedy floating about and I feel that he’s at his best when he’s channeling that heavy atmosphere (it didn’t work in the case of Higurashi however).

Finally, if you wanted to know about the inner workings of the Japanese music industry with all its warts and corruption schemes, you can check out the interview that Tokyo Damage Report conducted with SATOH-SAN, a former Visual Kei record executive. While a lot of this is more on what visual-kei bands go through, it wouldn’t surprise me if a significant chunk of this applied to J-pop either, like that line about how the labels focus more on image than the actual musical content. That might explain why so many terrible artists are still given the opportunity to torment us with their singing, but I guess my niche would be dissolved if all the music that gets released were all good.

My second favorite part deals with the fans and the urgent need for all fans to be taken in by the fantasy that visual-kei bands have created for themselves so that they will attend the band’s concerts. Even better is how far aggressive fans will go in order to gain the status of the #1 fan of a given band. Fisticuffs aren’t unknown and their other activities described in the interview feel like something sports hooligans would do.

In other words, the antics in Detroit Metal City are funny, but its depiction might be frighteningly accurate.

Hat tip goes out to JPMeyer for that last article via GRSI.


Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

0 thoughts on “Monday Music Musings

  • March 9, 2010 at 2:19 am

    I also am not a hardcore fan of Kawais music, but I really like his music for the GitS movie, especially Chant III – Reincarnation, with the great middle part when the choir is silent. I thought I had heard this part in the Seirei no Moribito soundtrack (which is also great, btw, I love Kawais folksy/ethnic compositions) too, but couldn’t find it when I checked. 🙁
    Looking forward to your coming soundtrack reviews. 🙂 Are they about recent releases or older ones?

  • March 9, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Yeah, those are pretty awesome and I’d say that Seirei’s soundtrack is one of his stronger releases recently. I haven’t been able to think of an album that reaches the high bar that he’s set.

    As for my reviews, all of them will be 2009. I do intend to revisit older stuff at some point, but that’s what my Reminiscence column will be all about. We’ll see!

  • March 10, 2010 at 1:34 am

    “the labels focus more on image than the actual musical content.”
    It’s a sad truth of the music industry everywhere.

    Anyways, I was wondering about where I knew Kenji Kawai from earlier. This reminded me. Fate/stay night’s track is pretty good.

  • March 10, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    >> After all, a man who likes Hidamari Sketch and anime music can’t be all bad.

    I applaud his effort to promo anisong, but it is a headdesk-inducing experience for me thus far, 10 minutes into the program.

  • March 10, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    That’s all too a commonality that we wish could be otherwise. Oh well, if all else fails, they could just lip-sync 😡

    I’d still take Seirei’s soundtrack over F/SN though since that one just felt more epic and I’m partial to epic moreso than dark/creepy stuff. It’s not ahead by a whole lot though.

    It’s a start and well, at least Love and War got in the mix. If there’s anything to enjoy, it’s that he did go for a wider selection. I’ll take what I can get.

  • March 11, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Mmmm, looking forward to more of these Monday Music Musings. It was interesting to read about the thoughts of the composer on the chorus of the GiTS intro. Now that I think about it, I do associate that music with GiTS but haven’t really thought about it before.

  • March 11, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Seirei’s soundtrack is far above F/SN’s for my tastes. I tried to listen to the latter yesterday and couldn’t bring myself to like it, regular J-Pop doesn’t stand a chance against songs like ‘Nahji no Uta’ for me, and I couldn’t find any instrumental that was ‘special’. But then again I don’t like much J-Pop in general, or better said I am really repulsed by most of it. I like quite a few Kokia songs though (but is her genre really J-Pop?) and the OP of Dennou Coil isn’t bad either.

  • March 12, 2010 at 2:19 am

    I guess it comes down to whether I find anything newsworthy for me to keep up the pace. It’s one of those times where I wish I knew Japanese. As for Kawai, yeah, I think most people do have that association, but it’s a subconscious one.

    Definitely agree there with both the J-pop to a lesser degree, but the instrumentals are spot-on for F/SN. You’d have to be in the right mood and have the context right in front of you to fully enjoy. Kawai’s good at managing the atmosphere like I mentioned, but to enjoy the atmosphere, you have to be watching the show.

    J-pop can be fun if done well. I mean, yeah, the themes get recycled a lot and the field is infested by people who can’t put a drop of emotion in their music, but once in awhile, you’ll find a gem here and there. KOKIA would probably be one of those rare artists who can deliver consistently. Same goes for Kalafina, but that’s because of Kajiura.

  • March 16, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Not a bad idea for reviewing soundtracks, maybe i should do that <.<

    Fate/stay night track is pretty cool, and ye it does have this heavy atmosphere, but nicely done, suits the anime perfectly.

  • March 16, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Well, let me know if you decide to do so! I’d love to read other people’s perspectives on anime music in general, mostly because it’s not something I see a whole lot, yet it’s something that’s very relevant to my interests.


Leave a Reply