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Music => Music => Topic started by: SlowPokemon on August 14, 2011, 03:36:18 AM

Title: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 14, 2011, 03:36:18 AM
Okay so I like soundtracks. :S And I like organization. And I like criticizing. So here goes with my first soundtrack review, I had fun with it and it's better than directing my criticism at others.

Soundtrack Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides by Hans Zimmer

Okay, first off, I like this soundtrack. I really do. There is some really great material here. But...much of it is masked behind some rather annoying things:

A) The horrifying fact that there are only eleven score tracks. The remaining seven are taken up by remixes of the score tracks, none of which are the least bit entertaining or good. I have no idea why Disney pushed the remixes on the soundtrack. They are not good. So I'm only reviewing the first eleven tracks.

B) The inclusion of Rodrigo Y Gabriela to the soundtrack. This is something of a mixed bag, because they are sometimes annoying and sometimes beneficial to the music. There are three tracks comprised entirely of the guitarist duo, and two more which include them playing along with the orchestra. This means that there are only a few genuine Zimmer pieces on the soundtrack, something truly to be lamented.

Okay, so the soundtrack starts off on the right foot with "Guilty of Being Innocent of Being Jack Sparrow." It's a play on the classic pirate themes from the first few movies, and it's a nice introduction to the fourth movie with an adventurous feel.

It next introduces Rodrigo Y Gabriela to the mix, accompanied by the orchestra in "Angelica." It has an extremely Spanish and tango-esque feel to it, with lots of great cello cues and the like; and while it does focus mostly on the guitars, they really fit the theme so it's all good.

Next comes "Mutiny," which has some pretty decent stuff. It's all very dramatic and tense but it's not mindless, there is some method and it's actually pretty good.

Then we come to the first track solely performed by Rodrigo Y Gabriela, "The Pirate That Should Not Be." It's rather meh, doesn't have many redeeming qualities, and is not great for multiple listenings. Should have been called "The Track That Should Not Be," in my opinion.

Next is the eerie "Mermaids." It begins blandly with faint murmurs, which slowly amounts to a haunting chorus and finally to frightening and gripping orchestral tunes with manic chanting in the background.

It is immediately followed by the second solely guitars track, "South of Heaven's Chanting Mermaids," which is pretty much a more mellow play on the theme found in "Mermaids."

After that comes "Palm Tree Escape," featuring Rodrigo Y Gabriela but (wisely) focusing more on the orchestra. It's a pretty nice track.

Then we come to the epic "Blackbeard," having several great dramatic themes in one track; yet somehow not sounding rushed or unpolished. The beginning has a great tense theme with a drunken rhythm; it's truly great.

Finally Now we have the last of the Rodrigo Y Gabriela pieces, "Angry and Dead Again," the worst piece on the soundtrack and not very fun to listen to.

The penultimate track, "On Stranger Tides," is creepy and dramatic, beginning with a poignant refresh of the Mermaids theme and leading into the dramatic theme heard in earlier tracks.

Finally, "End Credits" brings the Pirates theme back into play and ends on the note it began with (but oddly, was never referenced throughout).

Overall, it's an okay soundtrack. The remixes and guitarists take up too much room but the Zimmer tracks are good enough to merit this soundtrack a rating of **.

Track List (excellent tracks in red):
1. Guilty of Being Innocent of Being Jack Sparrow ~ Hans Zimmer
2. Angelica (feat. Rodrigo Y Gabriela) ~ Hans Zimmer
3. Mutiny ~ Hans Zimmer
4. The Pirate That Should Not Be ~ Rodrigo Y Gabriela
5. Mermaids ~ Hans Zimmer
6. South of Heaven's Chanting Mermaids ~ Rodrigo Y Gabriela
7. Palm Tree Escape (feat. Rodrigo Y Gabriela) ~ Hans Zimmer
8. Blackbeard ~ Hans Zimmer
9. Angry and Dead Again ~ Rodrigo Y Gabriela
10. On Stranger Tides ~ Hans Zimmer
11. End Credits ~ Hans Zimmer

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
ADACHI, MINAKO
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black & White Super Music Collection (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg135708#msg135708) (2010) *****
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black 2 · White 2 Super Music Complete (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg161101#msg161101) (2012) *****

AOKI, MORIKAZU
Nintendo DS Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Super Music Collection (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg144984#msg144984) (2006) *****
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black & White Super Music Collection (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg135708#msg135708) (2010) *****
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black 2 · White 2 Super Music Complete (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg161101#msg161101) (2012) *****

ATENCIO, X.
The Haunted Mansion (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg136832#msg136832) (2009) ****

BAKER, BUDDY
The Haunted Mansion (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg136832#msg136832) (2009) ****

BRION, JON
ParaNorman (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg167961#msg167961) (2012) ***

DESPLAT, ALEXANDRE
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg114542#msg114542) (2010) ****
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg115443#msg115443) (2011) ****
An In-Depth Look at the Music of Harry Potter (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg152526#msg152526) (2010, 2011) ****, ****

DOYLE, PATRICK
An In-Depth Look at the Music of Harry Potter (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg152526#msg152526) (2005) ***

ELFMAN, DANNY
Pee-wee's Big Adventure (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg167392#msg167392) (1985) ****
Beetlejuice (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg163375#msg163375) (1988) ***
Edward Scissorhands (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg120208#msg120208) (1990) *****
Big Fish (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg163562#msg163562) (2003) *****
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg131044#msg131044) (2005) ***
Dark Shadows (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg149742#msg149742) (2012) ***
Frankenweenie (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg174569#msg174569) (2012) ****
Hitchcock (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg205529#msg205529) (2012) ****

HISAISHI, JOE
My Neighbor Totoro (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg164917#msg164917) (1988) *****
Kiki's Delivery Service (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg133169#msg133169) (1989) *****
Porco Rosso (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg182388#msg182388) (1992) ***
Princess Mononoke (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg165640#msg165640) (1997) *****
Spirited Away (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg120064#msg120064) (2001) *****
Howl's Moving Castle (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg181417#msg181417) (2004) *****
Ponyo (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg122168#msg122168) (2008) *****

HOASHI, KEIGO
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg188872#msg188872) (2010) *****

HOOPER, NICHOLAS
An In-Depth Look at the Music of Harry Potter (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg152526#msg152526) (2007, 2009) ***, ****

HOSOE, SHINJI
Extreme Escape 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors Soundtrack (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg165945#msg165945) (2009) ****
Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg185590#msg185590) (2012) ****

ICHINOSE, GO
Nintendo DS Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Super Music Collection (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg144984#msg144984) (2006) *****
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black & White Super Music Collection (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg135708#msg135708) (2010) *****
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black 2 · White 2 Super Music Complete (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg161101#msg161101) (2012) *****

IIYOSHI, ARATA
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg145166#msg145166) (2009) *****

ISHIHAMA, KAKERU
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg188872#msg188872) (2010) *****

KAGEYAMA, SHOTA
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black & White Super Music Collection (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg135708#msg135708) (2010) *****
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black 2 · White 2 Super Music Complete (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg161101#msg161101) (2012) *****

KIMURA, AKEMI
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (http://forum.ninsheetm.us/index.php?topic=3581.msg238395#msg238395) (2005) ****

KONDO, KOJI
Super Mario Galaxy (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg127005#msg127005) (2007) *****

KOSAKI, SATORU
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg188872#msg188872) (2010) *****

MASUDA, JUN'ICHI
Nintendo DS Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Super Music Collection (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg144984#msg144984) (2006) *****
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black & White Super Music Collection (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg135708#msg135708) (2010) *****
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black 2 · White 2 Super Music Complete (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg161101#msg161101) (2012) *****

MIYAZAKI, SHINJI
TV Anime Pocket Monsters Original Soundtrack Best 1997-2010 (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg148547#msg148547) (2010) *****

NEWMAN, THOMAS
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg118212#msg118212) (2004) ****

NISHIURA, TOMOHITO
Professor Layton and the Curious Village (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg193594#msg193594) (2007) ***
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg193802#msg193802) (2007) ***
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg197841#msg197841) (2008) ****
Professor Layton and the Last Specter (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg125439#msg125439) (2009) ****
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg127994#msg127994) (2010) *****
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg175584#msg175584) (2011) *****

NOHARA, SATOSHI
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black 2 · White 2 Super Music Complete (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg161101#msg161101) (2012) *****

NOMI, YUJI
Whisper of the Heart (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg143822#msg143822) (1995) ****
The Cat Returns (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg169891#msg169891) (2002) ****

SATIE, ERIK
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg188872#msg188872) (2010) *****

SATO, HITOMI
Nintendo DS Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Super Music Collection (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg144984#msg144984) (2006) *****
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black & White Super Music Collection (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg135708#msg135708) (2010) *****
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black 2 · White 2 Super Music Complete (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg161101#msg161101) (2012) *****

SHIMOMURA, YOKO
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg200225#msg200225) (2005) ****
Mario & Luigi RPG: Sound Selection (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg119195#msg119195) (2009) ****
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg222939#msg222939) (2013) *****

SHORE, HOWARD
Hugo (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg143149#msg143149) (2011) ****

SONDHEIM, STEPHEN
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg139129#msg139129) (2007) *****

SUGIMORI, MASAKAZU
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (http://forum.ninsheetm.us/index.php?topic=3581.msg238395#msg238395) (2001) ****

TAKADA, RYUICHI
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg188872#msg188872) (2010) *****

TAKEBE, SATOSHI
From Up on Poppy Hill (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg225083#msg225083) (2012) ****

TANIGUCHI, TERUO
Nintendo DS Pokémon Black 2 · White 2 Super Music Complete (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg161101#msg161101) (2012) *****

WILLIAMS, JOHN
An In-Depth Look at the Music of Harry Potter (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg152526#msg152526) (2001, 2002, 2004) *****, ****, *****

YOKOTA, MAHITO
Super Mario Galaxy (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg127005#msg127005) (2007) *****

ZIMMER, HANS
The Holiday (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg164903#msg164903) (2006) ***
Sherlock Holmes (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg156058#msg156058) (2009) ***
Inception (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg128082#msg128082) (2010) ****
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg113803#msg113803) (2011) **
The Dark Knight Rises (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg159472#msg159472) (2012) ****
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Clanker37 on August 16, 2011, 02:37:20 PM
Interesting. Only 11 original tracks? That's just lazy.

I will be interested in what comes of this topic!
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: DrP on August 16, 2011, 04:03:21 PM
I see you're not going to be sticking to Alexandre Desplat for the entire time!!! haha.

Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 17, 2011, 01:26:29 AM
Ha ya jinxed yourself

Soundtrack Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One by Alexandre Desplat

So I was going to write a review of the second part's soundtrack, but I figured why not be thorough and do a two-part special?

Anyway, I love this soundtrack. It's definitely my favorite of the Harry Potter soundtracks (though they are all great). This was the first soundtrack in the franchise to feature music composed by Alexandre Desplat, a composer well known for the scores to many films such as The King's Speech and Julie & Julia. Desplat brings something completely new to the table with his work on this film, in comparison to both his previous scores and previous Harry Potter scores.

Desplat really seems to enjoy bringing a wide variety of instruments and types of music here. He includes lighthearted themes, tense themes, moving themes, really all sorts. His style overall seems to be that of subtleness; by that I mean his music is really fantastic, but there's not a lot that is what I call "hummable."

A perfect example is the "Obliviate" theme, the opening track which becomes a sort of motif for the movie, and is in my opinion the best piece on the soundtrack. It's a truly amazing piece, and a great introduction. Desplat likes to show some dark fun with the theme that appears in "Snape to Malfoy Manor" and "Death Eaters," while at the same time being moving and sorrowful in "At the Burrow," and "Harry and Ginny." "Polyjuice Potion" represents the reunion of friends theme, referenced in a couple other tracks. Desplat then turns to his lighthearted side with some playful strings in "Dobby," then segueing into the almost comical danger found in "Ministry of Magic"and "Detonators." The darkly compelling track "The Locket" brings us back into the tense music. "Fireplaces Escape" is a track that I didn't much care for on my first listen, and doesn't stand out terribly, but is nice to listen to and is very dangerous and exciting.

Desplat's subtleness once again comes out in his moody, extremely uneasy and on edge pieces "Ron Leaves," "Bathilda Bagshot," and "The Exodus." "Godric's Hollow Graveyard" and "Hermione's Parents" are both darkly emotional pieces, immediately followed by the horrifyingly compelling "Destroying the Locket." "Ron's Speech" is all about the sweet part of the bittersweet Obliviate theme, and turns out quite nicely. "Lovegood" brings back the alluring and comical quirkiness of the score, which is then followed by intriguing darkness in "The Deathly Hallows." "Captured and Tortured," "Rescuing Hermione," and "The Elder Wand" bring back some frightening themes, creating a good effect overall and managing to end on the wonderfully moving "Farewell to Dobby."

There are three bonus tracks on the iTunes soundtrack download: "Voldemort," "The Dumbledores," and "Bellatrix." Voldemort is dark and uneasy but there really isn't much to it, but the other two are very good. "The Dumbledores" is a full version of the Dumbledore theme heard in some earlier tracks like "The Will" and "Detonators." "Bellatrix" brings out the wildly dark side of the orchestra in a crazy assortment of instruments.

Rating: ****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Obliviate
2. Snape to Malfoy Manor
3. Polyjuice Potion
4. Sky Battle
5. At the Burrow
6. Harry and Ginny
7. The Will
8. Death Eaters
9. Dobby
10. Ministry of Magic
11. Detonators
12. The Locket
13. Fireplaces Escape
14. Ron Leaves
15. The Exodus
16. Godric's Hollow Graveyard
17. Bathilda Bagshot
18. Hermione's Parents
19. Destroying the Locket
20. Ron's Speech
21. Lovegood
22. The Deathly Hallows
23. Captured and Tortured
24. Rescuing Hermione
25. Farewell to Dobby
26. The Elder Wand
27. Voldemort (Bonus Track)
28. The Dumbledores (Bonus Track)
29. Bellatrix (Bonus Track)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: DrP on August 17, 2011, 02:08:32 AM
How uncanny, those are the ONLY tracks I have checked in iTunes... haha
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 19, 2011, 12:30:32 AM
Soundtrack Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two by Alexandre Desplat

Here it is, the second part of my two-part special. Alexander Desplat returns to compose the score for the second part of the final installment in the Harry Potter series. Wow. That’s a lot to live up to.

I was really impressed with Desplat’s work on the first part, and was excited to hear he was returning for part two. The soundtrack isn’t quite as amazing as its predecessor, but there is a lot to be admired here. The main thing about Desplat that I mentioned previously is that his themes are very subtle. This is more so for the second soundtrack than it is the first, where there are loud and obvious themes like “Ministry of Magic” and “Snape to Malfoy Manor.” There are those types of themes here, but mostly the soundtrack is quiet and very subtle.

“Lily’s Theme,” the opening track, is both quiet and subtle, and very simple, relying on merely a vocal part to introduce the theme and then bringing in a couple strings to reinforce it. It’s quite a powerful track despite this, and one of the best on the album. Immediately following are the Gringotts adventure pieces: “The Tunnel” brings something more blatant to the table and manages to be one of the louder, catchier, and more obvious tracks, if only for a short length; “Underworld” is a compelling track relating the underground vault, for a moment bringing back the Locket theme from the first part as a treasure theme in the second. “Dragon Flight” is a ferocious and amazingly beautiful remix of Lily’s Theme, with a full orchestra this time, and is quite powerful.

“Neville” takes an opportunity to bring back the reunion of friends theme heard in the Polyjuice Potion track from the first part. Then we have “Statues,” the real gem on the album which is heartfelt, beautiful and devastating; it really captures the feel of the whole movie overall. This theme is later reused in “Courtyard Apocalypse.” “Snape’s Demise” is a horrifying tribute to the headmaster’s death, at first heard with a sort of hissing noise in the background, and ending with a soft reprise of Lily’s Theme, signifying the ties she had with Snape. After that is “Severus and Lily,” the longest track on the album at 6:08, and one that is incredibly sad and beautiful. This piece has enormous emotional significance. I especially like how he used Snape’s first name, I think to humanize his character a bit. “Harry’s Sacrifice” is a tender and mournful remix of the Obliviate theme (finally!) that captures the sadness of the moment. “The Resurrection Stone” brings back Lily’s Theme in a soft and subtle moment, one of the best on the soundtrack. Then we have the somewhat action packed tracks, “Neville the Hero,” “Showdown,” and “Voldemort’s End.” They are a bit lackluster, but add something to the soundtrack other than just quiet themes. Finally, in a sweet track with a bit of the Statues theme hidden in there, “A New Beginning” tenderly ends the soundtrack on a sweet and soft note.

Rating: ****

Track List (excellent tracks in red):

1. Lily’s Theme
2. The Tunnel
3. Underworld
4. Gringotts
5. Dragon Flight
6. Neville
7. A New Headmaster
8. Panic Inside Hogwarts
9. Statues
10. The Grey Lady
11. In The Chamber of Secrets
12. Battlefield
13. The Diadem
14. Broomsticks and Fire
15. Courtyard Apocalypse
16. Snape’s Demise
17. Severus and Lily
18. Harry’s Sacrifice
19. The Resurrection Stone
20. Harry Surrenders
21. Procession
22. Neville the Hero
23. Showdown
24. Voldemort’s End
25. A New Beginning

Also no bonus tracks this time. Sadface. Just a video of the orchestral recording of "A New Beginning." Still cool, but yknow... :P
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Oritendo on August 19, 2011, 08:01:16 PM
How uncanny, those are the ONLY tracks I have checked in iTunes... haha
nice siggy.  :)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 26, 2011, 04:20:15 AM
So guys (anyone who actually bothers to read this, or even cares about my obsession with soundtracks xD) this week I'm gonna write a review of a soundtrack I really like, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events by Thomas Newman. So, uhh, look forward to that. Or not.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: FallenPianist on August 30, 2011, 03:10:04 AM
I really love your reviews and I actually read all of them. I've never listened Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events' soundtrack so I'm actually really interested in your (upcoming) review of it.

Keep up the good work!
And also, you're not the only one with an obsession for soundtracks  :P
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: DrP on August 30, 2011, 03:23:44 AM
Oooh! Exciting! I can't wait.

I referred Slow to some Nancy Myers films with great scores (The Holiday and It's Complicated) and one of Alexandre Desplat's greats, Julie and Julia (I am a sucker for French Provençal sounding music *hint*)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Jub3r7 on August 30, 2011, 04:35:28 AM
Holy dung, that reminds me, I still need to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 30, 2011, 11:32:52 PM
SOUNDTRACK REVIEW: Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events by Thomas Newman

I really like this soundtrack, which was actually nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score. It's quirky and bizarre, and fun to listen to. Newman uses a many of outlandish and unusual instruments with the orchestra, giving virtually all of them a place to shine. Also prominent is his use of odd and exotic percussion instruments, giving the album an extremely interesting sound.

The soundtrack opens with "The Bad Beginning," and it perfectly sets the table for the dinner that is to come (that was an odd metaphor). Beginning with a ridiculously, satirically cheerful piece that is heard in full later on, then abruptly cutting to a solemn tone, the track introduces the theme Newman uses for the Baudelaire orphans. It's fun and mysterious and a good listen. The second track, "Chez Olaf," is a sneaky and funny theme for the villain. After the melancholy "The Baudelaire Orphans" and the catchy, quirky "In Loco Parentis," we have the heartfelt "Resilience," which seems somewhat out of place here but is a very good theme. It's very bittersweet, something one would expect from a conventional Newman album. "The Reptile Room," "The Wide Window," and "Taken By Surpreeze" bring a catchy theme based around strings and heavy percussion.

In addition to the fun and upbeat pieces, we have some tracks that are the pure epitome of uneasiness and creepiness; namely, "An Unpleasant Incident Involving a Train" and "The Regrettable Episode of the Leeches." The latter actually scared me the first time I listened to it. It's just a soft, smooth chord for about ten seconds or so...then you jump a mile at the loud chord that suddenly bangs. And then you jump a mile at the second chord immediately following. It's not bad if you know it's coming, but if your volume is up because you can barely hear the original chord, it's quite startling. The two chords are used again at the beginning of "Concerning Aunt Josephine."

"Puttanesca" brings in more of the odd percussion instruments in a playful theme. "The Marvelous Marriage" is a short piece that is very silly and heavily reliant on the accordion. The extremely brief "Lachrymose Ferry" brings in the Baudelaire Orphan's theme from the first track.

Then we have a few amazing pieces, beginning with "Hurricane Herman." It begins with a short crescendo that gives me chillls, which segues into the Baudelaires' theme, and then a heart-pounding action theme. I like it because it manages to be both an action theme and very listenable by itself, as opposed to many other action themes which sound a lot like fillers.

Next is "Snaky Message," a very fun and exotic piece which utilizes a lot of wacky percussion. "Verisimilitude" brings back Count Olaf's theme, adding a violin for extra sneakiness. "Loverly Spring" is the full version of the satirically sweet song we heard in the beginning track. "A Woeful Wedding" brings in a catchier theme.

Then is "Attack of the Hook-Handed Man," which is a bit like "Hurricane Herman"; actually, I prefer this piece. It uses the same crescendo towards the beginning and goes from there.

The penultimate track, "The Letter That Never Came," is a fully fleshed-out version of "Resilience" that really shines.

Finally we have "Drive Away (End Title)" which is a bit repetitive but is extremely catchy and fun to listen to. It is rather lengthy but manages to be a good track that kind of sums up the whole soundtrack--catchy, with lots of strange percussion.

Overall, it's a great soundtrack, especially if you are a Thomas Newman fan, and it will likely keep you busy for quite a while.

Rating: ****

Track list (each rated out of five stars, no halves):

1. The Bad Beginning
2. Chez Olaf
3. The Baudelaire Orphans
4. In Loco Parentis
5. Resilience
6. The Reptile Room
7. An Unpleasant Incident Involving a Train
8. Curdled Cave
9. Puttanesca
10. Curious Feeling of Falling
11. Regarding the Incredibly Deadly Viper
12. The Marvelous Marriage
13. Lachrymose Ferry
14. Concerning Aunt Josephine
15. VFD
16. The Wide Window
17. Cold as Ike
18. Hurricane Herman
19. Snaky Message
20. The Regrettable Episode of the Leeches
21. Interlude With Sailboat
22. Verisimilitude
23. Loverly Spring
24. A Woeful Wedding
25. Attack of the Hook-Handed Man
26. Taken by Surpreeze
27. One Last Look
28. The Letter that Never Came
29. Drive Away (End Title)

xD I have so many reviews I would like to write! I think maybe next week you guys can look forward to a review of Inception by Hans Zimmer.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 02, 2011, 02:33:07 AM
Read my better review of the score here (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg193594#msg193594).

So I'm changing things up by writing a review for a soundtrack of a video game...hope you guys like it!

Soundtrack review: Professor Layton and the Curious Village by Tomohito Nishiura

Of the three games, I like Curious Village the least, both game-wise and soundtrack-wise. It's still a great game, and it's still a good soundtrack, but it is the least good of the three. It's actually a nice introduction to the series, a necessary evil. It's what you have to get past to get to the really good stuff. If you haven't played this game, you really should. Immediately. The cutscenes, voice acting, music, and plotline are all amazing for any of the three games. When I first played Curious Village, it was a completely new experience and one that I overall enjoyed. I've never been one for puzzle games, but these are really amazing.

The reason that Professor Layton's soundtracks are really good rather than great is that it's quite repetitive. The main instrument for the music is the accordion, and while it's a nice French-sounding instrument, it's used a LOT. In fact, the whole soundtrack uses essentially only accordion, piano, violin, vibraphone, and chimes.

The soundtrack starts off amazingly with "Professor Layton's Theme," a jazzy piece which becomes the main theme for the series and the basis for the main theme of consecutive games. It is followed by the fittingly creepy and mysterious "St. Mystere," which has gears winding like clockwork in the background and a very good main melody. Its runtime is just a bit too long for me, but it's a very good piece. It is remixed into a simpler, more upbeat version in "About Town."

The light "Puzzles" introduces the extremely catchy theme for puzzles, which will be heard approximately eighteen billion times during the game. "Baron Reinhold" is exactly what you'd expect from a classic murder mystery movie or something. Then we have "Down the Tubes," the theme for the sewers beneath the city, a piece that I quite like despite also sounding somewhat typical of a mystery.

"The Veil of Night" is a wonderfully soft and sweet track, it's somewhat plain but pleasant to listen to. Some fun tracks come next, "Crumm's Café," which for some reason reminds me of spinning, and the wacky "Pursuit in the Night." The melancholy "Deserted Amusement Park" is a piece where the accordion actually works very well. "The Mysterious Girl" is quite heartfelt and moving once you really start to listen to it.

Next we have the hilariously wacky and somehow menacing "The Great Don Paolo," which utilizes the accordion in a cacophony of notes, creating a fitting theme for such an odd villain.

"The Village Awakens" is another winner, using the piano more and creating a sense of unease for the second half of the game as it progresses into darker areas. "The Looming Tower" does the same with emphasis on the accordion.

Finally, we have "End Theme," a simple and heartfelt piece which manages to capture the game's heart. Here ends the in-game tracks; however, the soundtrack includes live versions of four of the songs, all of which are epic.

"Professor Layton's Theme (Live Version)" is especially awesome; this piece was made for a live performance in my opinion. "End Theme (Live Version)" really takes the piece to new heights in a must-have track. The other two live tracks, "The Veil of Night (Live Version)" and "The Looming Tower (Live Version)" are okay, but their lengths cancel out any good listening value; their themes are often too repetitive to listen to for 5+ minutes. There are also"high quality" versions of "About Town," "Baron Reinhold," and "The Village Awakens," but none sound much different from the original.

Rating: ***

Track listing:
1. Professor Layton's Theme
2. St. Mystere
3. The Adventure Begins
4. About Town
5. Puzzles
6. Baron Reinhold
7. The Plot Thickens
8. Down the Tubes
9. The Veil of Night
10. Crumm's Café
11. Pursuit in the Night
12. The Mysterious Girl
13. Deserted Amusement Park
14. The Great Don Paolo
15. The Village Awakens
16. The Looming Tower
17. Memories of St. Mystere
18. Setting Out
19. End Theme
20. Professor Layton's Theme (Live Version)
21. The Veil of Night (Live Version)
22. The Looming Tower (Live Version)
23. End Theme (Live Version)
24. About Town (High Quality Version)
25. Baron Reinhold (High Quality Version)
26. The Village Awakens (High Quality Version)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 03, 2011, 03:37:18 PM
Read my better review of the score here (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg193802#msg193802).

Soundtrack Review: Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box by Tomohito Nishiura

Okay! Here we are at the second soundtrack of Professor Layton. Much of what is wrong with the first one is also present here, but it definitely outclasses Curious Village.

Diabolical box begins with "The Elysian Box Theme," which plays off of Professor Layton's Theme in a delightful jazzy piece, one of the best this soundtrack has to offer. Then we have "In London," a dreary (and catchy) piece that actually fits the dirty streets quite well. After "Puzzles Remixed," which is nearly identical to the Puzzles theme found in Curious Village, we find a reprisal of the London theme in "The Molentary Express," which is in a major key, sounds quite distinguished and in my opinion, you can almost hear the train moving by in the background. The next notable track is "The Village of Dropstone," fairly ordinary but pleasant.

Then we have some awesome pieces. "Folsense" is a perfect theme for the phantom town--very lonely, subdued, and depressing. "The Town's Past" is a slow theme that also fits well in the game. After these slow themes, perhaps to balance out the soundtrack, comes the catchy "Time for a Break." The theme is used when playing with the Camera, Hamster, or Tea Set in the Professor's trunk.

Nishiura next brings "The Dark Forest," a peacefully dark track that, like the other themes this game, fit perfectly in the game. "Into the Depths of the Dark" is a bit like this game's tower theme; it's tense enough. Not all that great for listening value though, quite honestly. "Unspoken Feelings" is a good theme for the love story of this game that plays when reading the old diary or when the love story is mentioned (notice I'm trying to remain completely spoiler free here). "The Somber Castle" is an extremely slow track; it almost sounds like a minor version of "The Town's Past."

Next we have one of the true winners on the soundtrack: "The Ball." It uses neither accordion nor piano nor violin. It's played by a full orchestra and has an amazing waltz theme that really needs the orchestra to be great.

"Iris" is the game's end theme for the Japanese version, while the English version got "Iris ~Instrumental Version~" instead, which is slightly lesser because of the absence of lyrics. It's a beautiful song that I can listen to the whole thing of, despite it being 5+ minutes. The album also includes the music box version, which is also quite pretty.

Now we have the live tracks. "The Elysian Box Theme (Live Version)" is great but does get a bit repetitive after a few listens. "Folsense (Live Version)" is actually the true winner of the live tracks, building on the original theme and improving it. "Don Paolo's Theme (Live Version)" is, I'm sad to say, a disappointment. It ends up being too long and a bit annoying. It doesn't match up to the original at all. Then we have "Time for a Break (Live Version)," which also is better than the original. The album also includes high quality versions of "The Town's Past," "The Dark Forest," and "The Somber Castle,"and they still don't sound very different from the originals, except for "The Dark Forest" which is even more haunting in this version.

Rating: ***

Track list:
1. The Elysian Box Theme
2. In London
3. Puzzles Remixed
4. The Molentary Express
5. Suspense
6. The Village of Dropstone
7. An Uneasy Atmosphere
8. Folsense
9. The Town's Past
10. Time for a Break
11. The Dark Forest
12. Into the Depths of the Dark
13. Unspoken Feelings
14. The Ball
15. The True Folsense
16. Iris
17. Iris (Instrumental Version)
18. Iris (Music Box Version)
19. The Elysian Box Theme (Live Version)
20. Folsense (Live Version)
21. Don Paolo's Theme (Live Version)
22. Time for a Break (Live Version)
23. The Town's Past (High Quality Version)
24. The Dark Forest (High Quality Version)
25. The Somber Castle (High Quality Version)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on September 03, 2011, 04:51:43 PM
Slow, you deserve a medal for this thread.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 03, 2011, 06:43:10 PM
Read my better review of the score here (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg197841#msg197841).

What's this? Two reviews in one day? IMPOSSIBLE, you say.

Well guess what? I'VE GOT NO LIFE BUB. SO SHUT UP AND READ.

Soundtrack Review: Professor Layton and the Unwound Future by Tomohito Nishiura

At last! Here we are at the last game of the original Professor Layton trilogy. I'm pretty sure Nishiura was just holding back the first two games; this soundtrack is definitely superior.

"The Unwound Future (Live Version)" is what this soundtrack begins with, and it is definitely some of the best material the soundtrack has to offer. It is a bit like Professor Layton's Theme but...so much more complex. It's pure, undiluted awesomeness. Go listen to this. Right now. I'm not kidding.

"Puzzles Reinvented" introduces us to the new Puzzles theme, not quite as catchy as the original but definitely a good change of pace.

"London Streets" starts off the first of several London themes (all of which sound somewhat similar). This is the present London theme, and it's definitely very good. The piano plays a simple tune that carries the song through, and it's actually a compelling melody. "Searching for Clues" is the theme for inside buildings in future London, and it's the most lackluster of the London themes. Not all that fantastic, quite honestly. "More London Streets" is the future London theme, and it has a great melody but is quite repetitive and the accordions make it seem "unclean" to me. I don't know what that is supposed to mean. Finally, "A Quiet Town" is the theme for a few buildings like the subway station and the hospital, and it's pretty and melancholy and all that.

"The Gilded 7 Casino" is quite an odd track. It's catchy, makes use of the piano, and doesn't have much accordion. It breaks away from typical Layton tracks and brings something new. It's actually a great casino theme.

Not long after, we have "Chinatown," a great Asian-sounding piece that uses chimes and violin to play off the general London theme heard other places.

Next is another piece where the accordion works perfectly: "Puzzle Battle." Fast, bouncy, and tense, this track is very fun to listen to. "The Towering Pagoda" works well as a tower theme, and the beginning is reminiscent of "Into the Depths of the Dark" from Diabolical Box. "The Professor's Deductions" works well as an indicator of the mystery continuing to be solved. This is the theme during the game where the professor relays his theories and the like, and your eyes get wider and wider until finally you can only say "WTF!" It's exactly the type of theme we've come to expect from a Layton game.

Hooray, more awesome tracks next! "The Research Facility" is particularly great, as well as "The Mobile Fortress"; both of them are dangerous and whatnot, as the game begins to draw to a close. "Puzzles Reinvented 2" is a faster version of the theme, used for the extremely hard puzzles near the end of the game.

Next are the minigames the Professor has in the trunk, all of which use the same theme with heavily different arrangements. "The Picture Book" introduces this theme with a soft, music box arrangement. "The Toy Car" is the best of the three, using an upbeat and more "hummable" version. Finally,"The Parrot" uses the accordion in a waltz arrangement of the theme. All of them are pretty awesome.

End theme time! "Time Travel" is the name of the third game's end theme, and like "Iris" from Diabolical Box, there is the original "Time Travel" with Japanese vocals as well as the U.S. instrumental version. Rather than a music box arrangement, we get a piano version afterwards. It's a wonderful theme, perfect for soothing your tears that are undoubtedly flowing from the leaky faucets that are your eyeballs after finishing the game.

Finally, the bonus tracks. We have three live tracks in addition to the Unwound Future theme heard at the beginning. "More London Streets (Live Version)" is pretty much the best piece on the soundtrack. It's a great example of how much better a theme can be when performed by an orchestra. "The Research Facility (Live Version)" and "The Mobile Fortress (Live Version)" are both completely epic as well. The high quality tracks this game are "The Towering Pagoda"and "The Toy Car," and they still are pretty much unnecessary.

Rating: ****

Track list:
1. The Unwound Future (Live Version)
2. Puzzles Reinvented
3. London Streets
4. Searching for Clues
5. Tension
6. More London Streets
7. A Quiet Town
8. The Gilded 7 Casino
9. Sorrow
10. Suspicion
11. Chinatown
12. Puzzle Battle
13. Memories
14. The Towering Pagoda
15. The Professor's Deductions
16. Crisis
17. The Research Facility
18. Puzzles Reinvented 2
19. The Mobile Fortress
20. The Picture Book
21. The Toy Car
22. The Parrot
23. Time Travel
24. Time Travel (Instrumental Version)
25. Time Travel (Piano Version)
26. More London Streets (Live Version)
27. The Research Facility (Live Version)
28. The Mobile Fortress (Live Version)
29. The Towering Pagoda (High Quality Version)
30. The Toy Car (High Quality Version)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 06, 2011, 02:33:37 AM
Soundtrack Review: Mario & Luigi RPG Sound Selection by Yoko Shimomura

(http://www.squareenixmusic.com/images/covers/m/marioluigi.jpg)

Alright! This was a promotional CD given out to Nintendo club members in Japan. It's a compilation of several tracks from the Mario & Luigi series, which includes the games Superstar Saga, Partners in Time, and Bowser's Inside Story.

Ms. Shimomura has been universally acclaimed for her epic music of the Kingdom Hearts series. She also composed for the game Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. However, in the Mario & Luigi series, she does something completely different, bringing out her suitably silly side for a wacky series. If you have ever played any one of these games, you know that their bizarre plotlines and zany humor really give them a sort of quirky charm, and the music carries this charm.

Alright, so let's get to reviewing.

First, Superstar Saga. This game was for the Game Boy Advance, as opposed to the Nintendo DS platform of the other two, so of course the music lacks depth and isn't quite as good. Still, it has a certain charm and Shimomura makes up for the sound capabilities with charming tunes. "Preparing for Traveling" is the title screen theme, and it's the best of the selections from this game. It's bouncy, fun, and introduces the player to the world of M&L. The two battle themes, "Come on!" and "Come on, Again!" are both fun, the latter being the better of the two. "Welcome to the Beanbean Kingdom" is kind of exotic, which works as this is a foreign kingdom for the bros. Next we come to some fun villainous tracks. "His Name is Fawful" is a very short theme that is perfect for the rambling minion with psychedelic glasses, and this theme is later fully fleshed out in "Fawful, Cackletta." "The Last Stage" and "The Final Cackletta" are both evil, but there's nothing really fantastic about them. Same goes for "The End of Traveling," the end credits theme.

Next, Partners in Time. There are only a scant amount of selected tracks from this game, but they are all awesome. "Hello, Time Travelers!", the title screen music, is extremely catchy, almost too much for its own good. "Attack the Enemy" is the bouncy normal battle, and it's alright, but the truly epic themes come next. "Crisis for the Red and Green!" is the boss battle music, and it's really good. Catchy, tense, and it really never gets old--perfect for those annoyingly long bosses in the game. The next tracks are the two last battles. "Overture for the End" is very tense and the catchier of the two, but "Yet Another Requiem" is the true winner of the two, and we get a glimpse of the epicness Shimomura usually reserves for Kingdom Hearts. Finally, the end theme, "Dance With Babies," is a fittingly creepy waltz with lots of accordion and light harp.

Finally, Bowser's Inside Story. There are a lot of BIS tracks on the album. "To the New Adventure!" is the title screen, and it's got that quirky charm. "Oki Doki!!" is the battle theme for Mario and Luigi, and it's kind of kiddie and fun to listen to--I especially love the brief intro part. "SHOWTIME!!" is Bowser's battle theme, and it's more tense than fun. "They're Pretty Tough, Should We Be Careful?" is the boss battle theme, and it's completely fantastic. Zany, fast-paced, and also slightly dangerous. It's mostly fun though, alluding to the light side of the game rather than the dark boss theme of Partners in Time. "Fawful Is There" is the jazzy theme for Fawful now that he's the head honcho. Next we have the area themes, which have both the overworld and inside Bowser versions in the same track. "The Wind is Blowing at Cavi Cape" is a pounding theme, sounds rather mysterious. "Beachside Dream" is the ridiculously catchy theme for Plack Beach. "Let's Meet in the Mysterious Forest," or Dimble Wood, is an example where the inside Bowser version is better than the overworld. "Grasslands, All the Way" is the calm and fun theme for Bumpsy Plains. "Stolen Koopa Castle" is a winner here, being dark and insistent and quite fitting, but the inside Bowser version is quite as good as the overworld version. "Short Break in Mushroom Town" is the really pretty theme for Toad Town. "Waltz in the Lake" is a fun and bouncy underwater theme. "The Road Leading To The Secret" is also a winner, being sneaky and dark. Finally, "Deep Castle" is the theme for the final level. It would be better if the final level didn't take so long--you end up hearing this song for SO LONG. >__> Then we have "Dr. Toadley," the catchy and upbeat clinic theme. Perhaps the best battle theme so far is "The Giant," the giant Bowser battle theme. It's just amazing; Shimomura really made this awesome. Even better is "In the Final," the final battle theme that outclasses all of them. Also great is "Traveling About on a Journey of Memories," the end theme which incorporates most of the area themes.

This is a great selection, I really enjoy listening to it. My biggest complaint: there really should be more Partners in Time tracks.

Rating: ****

Track list:
1. Prepare for Traveling
2. Come on!
3. Come on, Again!
4. Welcome to the Beanbean Kingdom
5. His Name is Fawful
6. Fawful, Cackletta
7. The Final Stage
8. The Last Cackletta
9. End of Traveling

10. Hello, Time Travelers!
11. Attack the Enemy
12. Crisis for the Red and Green!
13. Overture for the End
14. Yet Another Requiem
15. Dance With Babies

16. To the New Adventure!
17. Oki Doki!!
18. SHOWTIME!!
19. They're Pretty Tough, Should We Be Careful?
20. Fawful and Midbus
21. The Wind is Blowing at Cavi Cape
22. Beachside Dream
23. Let's Meet in the Mysterious Forest
24. Grasslands, All the Way
25. Stolen Koopa Castle
26. Short Break in Mushroom Town
27. Waltz in the Lake
28. Bowser's Path
29. Deep Castle
30. Dr. Toadley
31. Clash of the Titans
32. In the Final
33. Traveling About on a Journey of Memories
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on September 06, 2011, 02:34:52 AM
*SFK is still wondering why the LoTR soundtrack wasn't the first thing Slow reviewed.*
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 06, 2011, 02:47:23 AM
Cause I've never listened to it besides with the movie, and it would take time to actually do that D:
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: fingerz on September 06, 2011, 11:19:20 PM
OMG thanks for doing the Mario & Luigi games! Do you accept requests for reviewing soundtracks?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: DrP on September 06, 2011, 11:44:36 PM
OMG thanks for doing the Mario & Luigi games! Do you accept requests for reviewing soundtracks?
There is a long line, though.

I think if you just send them to him (if he doesn't have 'em, he'll listen to 'em and write about them)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 06, 2011, 11:45:36 PM
You can request but I can't guarantee that I'll write a review of it if there's something else I want to do more. ^^ and DrP I haven't even looked at those yet, I've been busy. And lazy.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: fingerz on September 08, 2011, 11:29:30 PM
Up.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 09, 2011, 12:49:43 AM
Nope, I'm definitely not doing that right now (I may in the future though). I am going to write a review for another (better, in my opinion) soundtrack by Giacchino, the soundtrack to Ratatouille.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on September 09, 2011, 01:16:54 AM
*SFK is still wondering how Slow hasn't done a Studio Ghibli film soundtrack yet* <this one I'm actually really surprised with.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 09, 2011, 01:24:41 AM
omg how could I forget?!? Everything else on my to-do list is now not my top priority. brb writing review
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 09, 2011, 01:55:45 AM
December 9, 2012: Read my better review of the score here (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg181417#msg181417).

Bam.

Soundtrack Review: Howl's Moving Castle by Joe Hisaishi

Thank you SuperFireKirby. I don't know how my brain forgot about one of the most epic composers of all time, Joe Hisaishi, who is most well known for scoring all of Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli films. He conducts the orchestra as well as playing the piano for the soundtrack, making for some interesting performance videos.

Howl's Moving Castle is a detour from all the typical Japanese music the Hisaishi enjoys incorporating into his work. This music has a heavy European influence, the movie being set in Europe. I quite enjoy it; it's probably my favorite soundtrack of his, next to Spirited Away and Ponyo.

Casually listening to the tracks, you'll probably come across a central theme that plays throughout the album, the Merry-go-Round of Life theme, which is excellent to the infinite degree. It's pretty much the best movie theme ever. It's simplistic and very hummable, yet also complex and extravagant. It first appears in the very first track, "Opening ~ The Merry-go-Round of Life," as a soft piano theme, very light and not at all fully developed. It is arranged into great versions later on. Let’s look at the other tracks in order of appearance.

"Cheerful Cavalry" is the insistent war theme, as the soldiers march proudly into the town square. It's short but catchy enough. "Sky Stroll" is great, opening in a playful plucked string version of the main theme and leading into a wonderfully extravagant version of it. "Heartbeat" is a 20 second or so emotional piece focusing on the piano. "Witch of the Wasteland" has a creepy clarinet solo opening and a tense middle section. A good character theme, which is used again in "The Indelible Curse."

"Wandering Sophie" is one of the best tracks on the album, featuring one of the best arrangements of the merry-go-round theme that utilizes first the accordion and harpsichord and leading into a full orchestral arrangement. "Magic Door" is a lengthy playful piece that's fun and quite catchy at times. After the somewhat forgettable tracks "Spring Cleaning," "To the Lake of Stars," and "Quiet Thoughts," we have "In the Rain,"the best piano arrangement of the main theme that becomes playful with time.

"Vanity and Friendship" is one of the most playful pieces on the album, outlining Sophie's walk to the castle, and it's not all that epic but is quite fun to listen to. I can see Hisaishi grinning broadly as he conducts this bouncy piece. After "A 90-Year-Old Girl" we have the insanely awesome "Suliman's Magic Square ~ Return to the Castle," which first highlights the awesome tension in Madame Suliman's room before leading into creepy chanting and then an epic danger version of the main theme. The incredibly moving track "The Secret Cave" brings something unexpectedly emotional from Hisaishi. "Moving" is another unexpected piece that manages to be nostalgic and pleasant. The same theme is later used in "Family." We then have one of the true winners on the soundtrack, "Flower Garden," which uses almost entirely a string orchestra to develop the merry-go-round theme into an incredibly moving arrangement.

Following the playful track "Run!" is a slow piano version of the theme, "It's Love, Isn't it?", a very sorrowful version of the theme. "Love of War" and "Escape" are both tense tracks, but "Sophie's Castle" brings back the danger theme heard in "Suliman's Magic Square ~ Return to the Castle."

Finally, we have the last two tracks, each being amazing. The shockingly moving and lengthy "The Boy Who Drank Stars" builds on the Secret Cave theme, and reminds me of a Desplat soundtrack. Lastly we have "Ending ~ The Promise of the World ~ The Merry-Go-Round of Life." It begins with a four minute or so vocal piece, sung in Japanese, "The Promise of the World." It's very beautiful and it's immediately followed by a full-blown orchestral arrangement of the main theme.

I love this soundtrack so much. Ultimately it's the merry-go-round theme that makes it exceptional, but it's not the only highlight.

Rating: *****

Track list:
1. Opening ~ The Merry-go-Round of Life
2. Cheerful Cavalry
3. Sky Stroll
4. Heartbeat
5. Witch of the Wasteland
6. Wandering Sophie
7. Magic Door
8. The Indelible Curse
9. Spring Cleaning
10. To the Lake of Stars
11. Quiet Thoughts
12. In the Rain
13. Vanity and Friendship
14. A 90-Year-Old Girl
15. Suliman's Magic Square ~ Return to the Castle
16. The Secret Cave
17. Moving
18. Flower Garden
19. Run!
20. It's Love, Isn't it?
21. Family
22. Love of War
23. Escape
24. Sophie's Castle
25. The Boy Drank Stars
26. Ending ~ The Promise of the World ~ The Merry-go-Round of Life
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: triforced1 on September 09, 2011, 01:58:44 AM
One of my friends has this movie and we used to watch it every time I came over. It didn't make much sense at the time, since I was like 8 xD
But the soundtrack is great. And Studio Ghibli is great in general. And Slow, you sir, are great.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Ruto on September 12, 2011, 03:53:03 PM
*SFK is still wondering why the LoTR soundtrack wasn't the first thing Slow reviewed.*

I've owned the first two full soundtracks for 4 years and I've haven't had the time to listen to it all xD

Odd thing is that when you buy the CDs, there's actually 2 copies of the entire soundtrack in it ;)

I'm also waiting for you to do Spirited Away :P
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 12, 2011, 05:04:51 PM
Coming next. :) I actually like Spirited Away's a bit better than Howl's Moving Castle. XD
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 12, 2011, 11:28:21 PM
Soundtrack Review: Spirited Away by Joe Hisaishi

Ahh. Hisaishi's masterpiece. This is a wonderful and quirky soundtrack for a wonderful and quirky movie. I enjoy this more than any of his other scores. It's mysterious and surprising. It has a lot of listenability outside of the film. (Look, ma, I invented a word!)

"One Summer's Day..." is the opening track, introducing the main theme of the movie, a heartfelt and relaxed piano theme, before segueing into the fast and playful segment of the car's dangerous roller coaster ride. The piano theme is beautiful, the kind of theme we have come to expect from Hisaishi, similar to his main themes for My Neighbor Totoro and Castle in the Sky. I especially like the use of xylophones/mallets in the latter half, adding to the playfulness. It's followed by the peaceful--and ultimately least listenable--"A Road to Somewhere," a calm piece mainly for the piano. “The Empty Restaurant” brings some fun drums before bringing in some tense music. "Nighttime Coming" is decidedly lackluster, though it does have a certain dangerous quality. "The Dragon Boy" is what one would expect from a Japanese-originating film, and it's quite good. It makes good use of the piano, strings, and mallets most of all.

"Sootballs" is incredibly fun to listen to. It has a fun, whimsical quality that I enjoy as well as being compellingly dark. Actually, it's quite reminiscent of Danny Elfman. It begins softly and through a massive crescendo ends with the piano as the main centerpiece, very effectively done. "Procession of the Gods" is also a winning track, with playfully light strings and heavy brass, finally emerging in the main theme of the bathhouse, a grand and extravagant (if somewhat brief) theme that appears roughly halfway through the track. Then we have the extremely dark "Yubaba," beginning with a short piano intro that utilizes both the lowest and highest octave. It all sounds very odd and creepy, but the highlight in this piece is the section in the middle that creates a creepy lullaby-like theme for Yubaba's enormous baby. In contrast, "Bathhouse Morning" is refreshing and lovely in its calmness; this track also brings back the Sootballs theme. "Day of the River" is the main piano theme in full, and a beautiful track.

"It's Hard Work!" is a fun and very catchy theme for the bathhouse. Very typical of Hisaishi. Next is the refreshingly bizarre track, my personal favorite, "The Stink God." It begins with very weird stomping percussion that becomes the underlying rhythm of the piece, a simple "DUM. DUM. DUMDUM" that suits the creepy monster. The overall feeling of this track is humorous uneasiness, apparent with the strange percussion instruments that come in after the intro, then with delightfully tense strings. It ends with a full-blown brass version of the piano theme, almost unrecognizable. Following this is the also tense "Sen's Courage" which begins with No Face's theme with chaotic bells and continues into nervous strings. "The Bottomless Pit" is wild and raging but doesn't amount to much other than typical movie score. "Kaonashi (Faceless)" is a wonderful track. It begins with a "final confrontation" style of No Face's theme, which segues into nervousness and finally into a chaotic cacophony of instruments that paint a vivid picture with music alone.

Almost deliberately, the next track, "The Sixth Station" relies heavily on the piano and is a sorrowful and beautiful piece. "Yubaba's Panic" is all over the place, wild and raging, showing another dark side of the orchestra.  "The House at Swamp Bottom" is calm and tranquil (it seems like they did their best to alternate these tracks between calm and wild...). Next is one of the best on the soundtrack, "Reprise..." which is lovely and beautiful and heartfelt and...I just can't really explain it, you have to listen to this track to really understand why I feel this way. Maybe I'm overhyping it, I don't know, but it's really pretty. "The Return" begins with a spirited (no pun intended) restatement of the bathhouse theme before becoming a beautiful rendition of the piano theme, except this time with the piano and strings sharing the spotlight. Finally, "Always With Me" is a pleasant ending song with Japanese vocals.

I love this soundtrack. It's amazing, and it's a wonderful movie as well.

Rating: *****

Track List:
1. One Summer's Day...
2. A Road to Somewhere
3. The Empty Restaurant
4. Nighttime Coming
5. The Dragon Boy
6. Sootballs
7. Procession of the Gods
8. Yubaba
9. Bathhouse Morning
10. Day of the River...
11. It's Hard Work!
12. The Stink God
13. Sen's Courage
14. The Bottomless Pit
15. Kaonashi (Faceless)
16. The Sixth Station
17. Yubaba's Panic
18. The House at Swamp Bottom
19. Reprise...
20 The Return
21. Always With Me

There ya go, Ruto. :)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Ruto on September 13, 2011, 05:52:06 AM
Haha, great! Thanks :D

I actually really love the Sootballs theme...particularly the one played/arranged by Delldongo. (If anyone would like to ask him for the sheet or arrange it, that would be great xD). Anyway, Reprise=Waltz of Chihiro, right? Is there good sheet music for that?

I looked into a bit on trains in that movie, I read somewhere that, in Japanese films, trains symbolize passage between childhood and adulthood. The thing I read used the example of a country boy going into the city (to find work) by train as an example. Sorrowful? XD
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 14, 2011, 12:58:04 AM
Soundtrack Review: Edward Scissorhands by Danny Elfman

Elfman's masterpiece. I only recently discovered this movie, and its soundtrack, in the last week. Which is extremely odd considering how much I have loved Burton's and Elfman's work for the last five years or so, ever since I saw The Nightmare Before Christmas.

This is a truly great soundtrack. If not Elfman's best, it can at least try for the top spot. It's dark, creepy, haunting, beautiful, and wacky. It's brilliant overall and if you haven't heard this soundtrack but consider yourself even a moderate Elfman fan, you need to check this out as soon as possible.

It begins fantastically with "Introduction (Titles)," which becomes the main overarching theme for the film. It's a light and haunting waltz that will linger with the listener for quite a while after hearing it. The soundtrack continues with "Storytime," a pretty piece that hints at the second main theme for the movie. The next track, "Castle on the Hill," is quite lengthy and stands well inside the film, but doesn't accomplish a whole lot by itself. It's good, but not amazing. "Beautiful New World/Home Sweet Home" adds a happy note to the soundtrack, beginning with a bouncy string section and segueing into a subtly sweet melody. "The Cookie Factory" clearly found Elfman in a wild mood, with wacky brass meshing with the light strings.

"Ballet De Suburbia" is a fun and methodical piece that very closely foreshadows Elfman's work later on for The Simpsons theme song. "Ice Dance" is perhaps the most well-known track on the album, bringing in the second main theme, a sort of bittersweet love theme for Edward. It sounds very pretty but is a bit generic in its melody. "Etiquette Lesson" is a light reprisal of the main titles theme. One of the most colorful tracks on the album, for a particularly bizarre scene, is "Edwardo the Barber," beginning with typical catchy, wacky Elfman strings and then becoming a wonderful mock-tango rhythm. The frenzied, devilish violin solo represents Edward in his wildest moments before returning to the tango-esqe theme. Elfman was obviously in a playful mood while composing for this scene. A brief and weird deviation is found in the accordion based track, "Esmeralda," which is less than thirty seconds.

"Death!" is angry and frightened, not much to see here other than sorrow. "The Tide Turns" is one of the more interesting tracks on the soundtrack, bringing in a suitable theme for the neighborhood's turn on poor Edward. "The Final Confrontation" is all about fright and the climax of the film, while "Farewell..". is all about the bittersweetness that runs rampant in the film. Finally, "The Grand Finale" is a brilliant restatement of the ice dance theme, and "The End" is a creepy reprisal of the main titles theme. It also includes a bizarre song, "With These Hands" by Tom Jones, which has a minor part in the story and doesn't really add anything to the soundtrack.

Rating: *****

Track list:
1. Introduction (Titles)
2. Storytime
3. Castle on the Hill
4. Beautiful New World/Home Sweet Home
5. The Cookie Factory
6. Ballet De Suburbia (Suite)
7. Ice Dance
8. Etiquette Lesson
9. Edwardo the Barber
10. Esmeralda
11. Death!
12. The Tide Turns (Suite)
13. The Final Confrontation
14. Farewell...
15. The Grand Finale
16. The End
17. With These Hands ~ Tom Jones

Next, look forward to either Ponyo by Hisaishi, another Elfman soundtrack, or something completely random.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: triforced1 on September 14, 2011, 01:16:43 AM
Will you do Beetlejuice?  :D
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 14, 2011, 01:20:20 AM
xD What a coincidence you would mention that. I just downloaded the soundtrack last night, and I rewatched that movie today for the first time in ages. Sure, I can do that, it has some really good music but is sort of lackluster overall... the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack had me listening to "Edwardo the Barber" for quite some time, then I gradually began to appreciate the other tracks.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: triforced1 on September 14, 2011, 01:31:55 AM
I just really like the "Opening Titles" theme. One of my favorite songs by Elfman.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 14, 2011, 02:52:06 AM
Yah it's great but there isn't much amazingness except for that theme. I'll review it anyway though.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: triforced1 on September 14, 2011, 02:59:56 AM
You really don't have to xD It was just the first Elfman soundtrack that came to my mind.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 26, 2011, 11:26:32 PM
Soundtrack Review: Ponyo by Joe Hisaishi

Yay! Ponyo (or Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, as it is known in Japan) has got to be the cutest movie ever. Maaaaybe My Neighbor Totoro is cuter. This movie is still adorable though.

Hisaishi, as pointed out before in soundtrack reviews of Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, is a man who can really work wonders with music. His music isn't often the most complex, but it has a certain nostalgic heart to it and serves great for Miyazaki's films.

His work on this film is not as good as what I consider his two masterpieces, Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away; but then again, the movie is not as good as those two, and it doesn't have nearly as much emotional depth. That being said, it’s supposed to be like Totoro in that it's "cute" and aimed at a young audience. However, this score proves more satisfying than Totoro--this time, Hisaishi has better quality opportunities as well as being able to use a full orchestra rather than including tons of synthesizers.

The soundtrack begins with the amazing "Deep Sea Ranch."The opening of the film, in which a wondrous underwater world is shown, filled with elegant jellyfish and spectacular scenery. This theme becomes a theme for the ocean. Hisaishi then plays around with the orchestra in a silly-sounding bouncy section before returning to this motif. At the very end, we get a brief glimpse at the theme for Ponyo, a cute and heartwarming piece that is visited quite often throughout the soundtrack.

The second track is "Mother of the Sea," a beautiful operatic song with a lovely voice (though the vocals are in Japanese so I can't understand them...). It's completely breathtaking and is sure to create chills down your spine. This theme later becomes attached to the personification of the ocean, Ponyo's mother, Granmanmare. It's absolutely beautiful.

With the intro tracks (totaling nearly seven minutes) being done, we get to the actual story, and the music is made to accompany the movie for the majority (which is somewhat disappointing but nevertheless allows some great moments). In the short "Encounter" we get another brief reference to Ponyo's main theme. "Ura Town" is great, having all the beautiful hustle and bustle of a seaside town. In this track we are briefly introduced to Fujimoto's theme. It's dark and kind of creepy, to go with the fact that Ponyo's father is seen as somewhat evil by the characters. "Kumiko" and "Ponyo and Sosuke" never really amount to much, being mostly mood music for the film. "Empty Bucket" introduces the sorrowful theme heard later in the movie; it's quite listenable and fits some scenes really well.

After this, we have one of the best pieces on the soundtrack, "Flash Signal," a beautiful piece that I think represents Sosuke's family. I don't know, but either way it is briefly referenced in other tracks pertaining to his house and family, but never in full as it is here. This is a truly wonderful piece of music. "I Become Human!" is one of the most fun pieces on the album, being the scene when Ponyo accidentally transforms herself into a froglike creature, then a chickenlike creature. The best part in the film is watching Fujimoto break into a sweating panic trying to restrain her. It ends on a dark note in Fujimoto's theme. It's still the most fun track, very good to listen to. Next we get the full version--sort of--of the theme in "Fujimoto." It suits the character very well and is quite a good theme, but it's never really fleshed out. The scene is too short; it doesn't allow for a long reprisal. This is on my list of tracks that I wish Hisaishi would rearrange in an image album or something. :P

"Little Sisters" is bold and brazen, and quite upbeat for the part in which all of Ponyo's little sisters gnaw away at the bubble surrounding Ponyo to free her, and thereafter transform into giant fish to help her get to the surface. It's a great scene, and it has great music. "Flight of Ponyo" is also epic, and a full-blown orchestral piece that makes good use of the heavy brass. It's an oddly brave theme for a five-year-old fish-girl. In "The Sunflower House in the Storm" Hisaishi brings out his lighter side a bit before moving into the dramatic storm sequence in "Ponyo of the Fish of the Wave." "Ponyo and Sosuke 2" is cute but not fantastic.

"Lisa's House" is undoubtedly the most playful track. It begins with a slow reprisal of the flash signal theme before immediately segueing into a bouncy theme. It's so much fun to hear; it's impossible to listen to this and not smile, especially if you've seen the movie. It's hard to get the image of her trying to cool her drink, or wrapped up in a fluffy towel, out of your head. "Ponyo's Lullaby" is adorable; I can just see her fighting to stay awake. "Lisa's Decision" brings back the empty bucket theme briefly.

In "Granmanmare," Hisaishi returns to the opening sequence theme for breathtaking beauty. Next, in "Night of the Meteor," he returns to this theme briefly before reprising the Mother of the Sea motif. It works quite well, with a solo violin performing the main melody. "Hot-Bulb Engine Ship" plays on the main theme of Ponyo. "To the Sea of Dipnorhynchus" begins with low brass that sounds almost depressing before becoming more lighthearted as time goes on. "Fleet March" and "Fleet March 2" are comically serious tracks, and the brief and silly "Baby and Ponyo" seems slightly out of place between them. "Sosuke's Tears" is another great track, being a full piano version of the empty bucket cue.

"Underwater Town" focuses on careful beauty, while "Toki San" is all about wackiness in playing off of the dangerous storm theme. The second "Little Sisters" isn't nearly as rewarding as the first, but "Song of Praise for Mother and the Sea" is outstanding, using the Mother of the Sea theme combined with the opening song in a startlingly beautiful piece. "Finale," despite being brief, is quite pretty, using a moving piano version of the usually upbeat main theme. Finally, "Gake no Ue no Ponyo (Film Version)" is the main theme in full, and it's still catchy but sounds better without vocals.

In overview, Hisaishi gives us far more material than we're used to, and although some of the music sounds childishly optimistic, it's still one of his most brilliant works.

Rating: *****

Track list:
1. Deep Sea Ranch
2. Mother of the Sea
3. Encounter
4. Ura Town
5. Kumiko
6. Ponyo and Sosuke
7. Empty Bucket
8. Flash Signal
9. I Become Human!
10. Fujimoto
11. Little Sisters
12. Flight of Ponyo
13. The Sunflower House in the Storm
14. Ponyo of the Fish of the Wave
15. Ponyo and Sosuke 2
16. Lisa's House
17. New Family
18. Ponyo's Lullaby
19. Lisa's Decision
20. Granmanmare
21. Night of the Meteor
22. Hot-Bulb Engine Ship
23. To the Sea of Dipnorhynchus
24. Fleet March
25. Baby and Ponyo
26. Fleet March 2
27. Sosuke's Voyage
28. Sosuke's Tears
29. Underwater Town
30. Mother's Love
31. Tunnel
32. Toki San
33. Little Sisters
34. Song of Praise for Mother and the Sea
35. Finale
36. Gake no Ue no Ponyo (Film Version)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on October 24, 2011, 02:23:39 AM
Soundtrack Review: Professor Layton and the Last Specter by Tomohito Nishiura

Yay, new Layton soundtrack! Well, I also have the one for the movie, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, but I won’t be posting a review until it comes out and I’ve seen it. So, this soundtrack is pretty damn awesome. Good quality, but still with that somewhat annoying, somewhat beneficial accordion-piano-violin centered music. However, as opposed to previous games, Last Specter does this well without having the tracks sound too repetitive or similar. The whole soundtrack is whimsically lonely and hauntingly beautiful, similar to Diabolical Box rather than Unwound Future’s happier themes. So let’s do a track-by-track analysis now.

“The Specter’s Melody” is the brief haunting flute solo heard in the game, and is referenced briefly in later pieces. It’s not really something that can stand alone as a song because of its one instrument and 22 second length, but it’s interesting how it begins with this as a sort of introduction to the soundtrack’s motif.

“The Last Specter’s Theme (Live Version)” is amazing. It’s the title screen/main theme music, and I literally sat there for a few minutes just listening to it when I first turned on the game. It’s quite reminiscent of Unwound Future’s theme and, by extension, Professor Layton’s Theme (both of which are excellent), but it’s darker and I think works better for this game. It’s not quite as blatant as the others. Of course, subtlety isn’t always good.

“The Specter Appears” is the dark, chaotic theme for the specter’s rampages across Misthallery. It works quite well.

“Misthallery’s Many Canals” is a wistful waltz that is absolutely beautiful. Its lonely beauty really sets the stage for the whole game, similarly to “Folsense” from Diabolical Box. That’s the best piece I can compare it to.

“More Puzzles” is surprisingly really fantastic. The chimes might seem a bit tired at first, but keep listening and you'll realize it's a beautiful melody and perfect puzzle solving music that complements the game's score greatly.

“A Strange Story” is the track in which the details of the mystery (like…background?) is given towards the beginning, like “Tension” and “Suspense” from Unwound Future and Diabolical Box, respectively.

“The Wind on Highyard Hill” is simplistically beautiful. It really reminds me of the soundtrack of Kiki’s Delivery Service by Joe Hisaishi. It’s light and is a nice change from the haunting themes heard everywhere else.

“The Darkened Manor” is moody and dark (as its name might possibly suggest). I don’t care for it much myself; there isn’t much to it besides sorrow and moodiness.

“A Quiet Afternoon” is pretty and bouncy as a waltz, but it’s so cheery that it’s almost annoying. Think “Searching for Clues” from Unwound Future, but nowhere near as annoying. It is a little offbeat. There a crapload of waltzes in this game series…

“Rumble!”, in comparison, is wonderful. It’s fast, wacky, and just screams “what the heck is this nonsense?” It’s unbelievably catchy, as well.

“Puzzle Deductions” is rather good as well. It’s the theme for puzzles that aren’t quite puzzles (you have to play the game to understand). It’s actually a remix of “More Puzzles” if you listen carefully, just much better. It’s jazzy, with the classic Layton piano-accordion-violin formula.

“The Black Market” is…well, it’s tense and quick, with excessive piano (which really is the best thing for this theme), but never quite amounts to much. It is catchy, at least.

“Quiet Moments”…. Umm, I’m not sure how to even review this. It’s so slow and sad and out-of-place when compared with the fast paced songs surrounding it… It’s kind of pretty, I guess… yeah, not much to see here.

“Foggy Misthallery” is beautiful and slow. It uses mostly the flute and piano, with a relaxing waltz-like feel. However, it’s not a waltz, it just feels like one. I can imagine people dancing to this.

“The Fish” is the first of the three minigames, and while they all use the same basic theme, they are all arranged drastically different. “The Fish” uses mostly bounciness to get across the theme, which is fitting… as you play the game by moving around bubbles. My main problem with the theme in general is that it references heavily to “The Toy Car” and the other minigames from Unwound Future. Except the theme isn’t as good here. This could be compared to “The Parrot.”

“The Puppets” is easily the most like “The Picture Book,” in both game and song. It uses the same instrument as that song, and even arranges the theme into a waltz.

“The Toy Train” is nearly the same as “The Toy Car” in minigame, with the same format in song. It’s the best of the three minigame songs. It’s quite catchy, and lets me have a reference for what the theme actually is (weird, because it comes after the other two).

“The Abandoned Factory” isn’t fantastic. It begins slow then turns into a brave theme as a sort of “final dungeon” for Layton, Emmy and Luke.

“Descole’s Theme” is pretty great. It uses the organ and timpani heavily towards the beginning in a classic villain-style theme, and then evolves into a more piano/accordion-centric motif that works better. Btw, Descole is actually pronounced “Des-co-lay.” Who knew?

“The Final Battle” is tense enough, but it sounds so typical. I can’t really recommend this as anything great.

“The Golden Garden” is light and whimsically beautiful, with lots of harp and music box towards the beginning and then becoming gradually one with strings. It’s quite pretty but also very slow and hard to get into.

“Loosha’s Theme” is a refreshingly wonderful song that’s easy to get into. It begins with the Specter’s Flute melody, and builds on that until it’s sorrowfully beautiful. It’s even more beautiful if you’ve played the game and seen the ending.

“Paxmaveiti” is the ending theme, and it’s very beautiful. In the US release, the end credits has an instrumental version (as with the previous two games), which is just as beautiful. I really wish I understood Japanese so I could get what these lyrics mean! Just like with “Iris”…

Next, three live tracks (Level-5 wisely chose to leave out the high quality versions this time around). “More Puzzles (Live Version)” is first. The live version, though it starts out similarly to the in-game version, evolves into a far better theme. It’s actually fairly wonderful towards the latter half. It uses strings to become quite beautiful. “The Final Battle (Live Version)” is also better as a live theme. It’s far more fun to listen to. Finally, “Descole’s Theme” is also far better than the in-game version. It uses strings and brass more prominently than the organ, and although it hardly deviates from the original melody at all, it’s just better. I can’t put it any more clearly than that. Just listen to the song.

My consensus: Though it hardly deviates from the type of music we’ve come to expect from Layton games, it manages to create a more effectively beautiful soundtrack than Diabolical Box did.

Rating: ****

Track list:
1. The Specter’s Melody
2. The Last Specter’s Theme (Live Version)
3. The Specter Appears
4. Misthallery’s Many Canals
5. More Puzzles
6. A Strange Story
7. The Wind on Highyard Hill
8. The Darkened Manor
9. A Quiet Afternoon
10. Rumble!
11. Puzzle Deductions
12. The Black Market
13. Quiet Moments
14. Foggy Misthallery
15. The Fish
16. The Puppets
17. The Toy Train
18. The Abandoned Factory
19. Descole’s Theme
20. The Final Battle
21. The Golden Garden
22. Loosha’s Theme
23. Paxmaveiti
24. More Puzzles (Live Version)
25. The Final Battle (Live Version)
26. Descole’s Theme (Live Version)

…I used the word beautiful waaay too many times…lol
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on October 24, 2011, 11:39:26 AM
This review is beautiful.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: FallenPianist on October 25, 2011, 03:47:07 AM
Is it just me or does the end of The Last Specter's Theme (Live) sound a lot like one of Zimmer's theme in Sherlock Holmes? (Can't remember which one)
Awesome review for an awesome soundtrack!
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on October 31, 2011, 05:52:20 AM
I agree! Also i must edit my post to award More Puzzles (Live) the excellent track status.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on November 07, 2011, 03:40:11 AM
Soundtrack Review: Super Mario Galaxy by Mahito Yokota and Koji Kondo

Possibly the GREATEST venture in video game music ever (along with its sequel), Super Mario Galaxy has a TREMENDOUS amount of PHENOMENAL music, all performed by a live orchestra. Revolutionary in the video game music industry. The specific album I am reviewing is the platinum version of the soundtrack, which includes the original soundtrack plus a second disk, making for nearly every song in the game, and a grand total of eighty-one tracks. If the theme for Professor Layton was beautiful, the theme for this is epic.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Mahito Yokota was the main composer for Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, and composed or arranged nearly all of the songs. He is currently Nintendo’s orchestral head, and has assisted with the music of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (which is also utilizing a live orchestral score).

Koji Kondo is the most famous video game composer in this age, composing for Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and many, many others in those series. He is epic, but only composed four songs for this album (not including his older compositions which Yokota has remixed).

From the beginning, Yokota introduces us to the Super Mario Galaxy main theme in “Overture”—it is a two-measure, six-note motif that can be heard in several other pieces and is perfect for Mario’s cosmic adventures. The rest of the piece is calm compared to what one would expect from an overture, but still pretty and, yes, it sounds like space. The theme is used again in “Daybreak – A new Dawn.” “Space Junk Road” and “Gateway Galaxy” use a similar spacey idea, expanding into a more beautiful (Space Junk) or upbeat (Gateway) motif. “The Star Festival” brings a cosmic, cheerful, and undoubtedly Marioesque theme into play. It is absolutely great and fun to listen to.

The four songs composed by Kondo are in truth only two. The first, “Egg Planet” is the first course in Super Mario Galaxy, and is practically the essence of the game. Fun, brave, and blatantly courageous, this song is definitely one of Kondo’s best. The second is the theme for the Comet Observatory, and it’s a very, very pretty waltz piece. There are three different versions: the first is quiet and restrained, with only a few soft instruments singing the melody; the second is more bold, with more melody and parts of the orchestra, and the third is a brazen, extravagant version which utilizes (it seems) as many instruments as it possibly can. The theme is used as a BEAUTIFUL piano solo in the final track on the album, “Family.”

And as for the rest of the galaxy themes, Yokota shows a ridiculously broad variety of styles of music in addition to the peaceful style mentioned above—all of them masterful. In “The Honeyhive,” he brings a relaxed, carefree style which is almost addictive to listen to. “Big Bad Bugaboom” uses a frantic version of the theme for a dangerous battle with two unfriendly mandibugs. The epic “Battlerock Galaxy” sounds like an army going to battle. I honestly cannot describe this piece; it is amazing. In “Beach Bowl Galaxy” and the underwater version of the same track, he uses a tropical approach for a beach setting. “Waltz of the Boos” is his attempt at creepiness, and it works amazingly. This is quite reminiscent of Danny Elfman. “Melty Molten Galaxy” is also good for a lava theme—but is almost lackluster when put in comparison to the others. “Ice Mountain” and “Lava Path” are interesting, to say the least. They are the same theme arranged two different ways to sound fiery or freezy. CAUSE FREEZY IS TOTALLY A WORD. O__O Anyway, “Dusty Dune Galaxy” is the cooler-than-you desert theme, which is reminiscent of Kondo’s earlier desert/volcano theme from Super Mario 64. “The Galaxy Reactor, as the final level, is dark and moody—full of win. “Enter the Galaxy” and “Buoy Base Galaxy” are both great tries for epicness, but the true winner of all the galaxy themes is “Gusty Garden Galaxy.” This game has been out for several years, so you ought to have heard this song by now. If you have not. GO LISTEN TO IT RIGHT NOW. It is epic, beautiful, simple but complex, and just…just…flawless.

Next I’ll tackle boss battle themes, several of which are actually a bit…well, annoying. The first is “Dino Piranha,” and is actually fairly jazzy. XD Same goes for “King Kaliente,” which is better due to its less frenzied style. Sounds like a theme for a secret agent, now that I think about it. “Megaleg” is cute in its electronic march, but sounds less like a boss fight—not “epic” enough. “Major Burrows” is catchy with its overt use of brass. “Kingfin” is actually quite frightening, especially since it plays also when you fight Bouldergeist, whose Daredevil Run is practically impossible…just throwing that out there. But it’s tense and stuff. “Heavy Metal Mecha-Bowser” (though I don’t know if this qualifies as a boss theme) is a kiddie march that’s nice for those oddly cute Mecha-Koopas tromping around in the Toy Time Galaxy. “Kamella” is playfully catchy, and kind of bizarre, to be honest. I like it. And of course, you have the EPIC Bowser fights. “King Bowser” is probably the best boss theme to date. I honestly can’t think of another Mario game besides Super Mario Galaxy 2 that has this amazing of boss music. “Final Battle with Bowser” is also dangerous and scary and such.

The comet themes are few and brief. “Purple Comet” is easily the best, beginning oddly before bringing in the Gusty Garden theme for a second helping. “Speedy Comet” is nice in its wild piano thuddings. And “Cosmic Comet” is a bit of a mix between Kondo’s “Underground” and “Overworld” classic Mario themes; it’s quite odd to listen to.

Speaking of which, I’ll now describe the remixes of Kondo’s past themes. “Attack of the Airships” and “Airship Armada” are remixes of his Super Mario Bros. 3 airship theme, which sounds SO MUCH MORE EPIC performed by a live orchestra. “Blue Sky Athletic” is a remix of the well-known athletic theme from the same game, which is decidedly addictive and extremely fun. “Super Mario 2007” is the inevitable remix of Mario’s main theme, which is electronic and works well with puffs, whistles, and windings. The underground theme appears in “Space Athletic.” “The Fiery Stronghold” is the epic remix of Super Mario 64’s “Koopa’s Road.” “Rainbow Mario” is the remix of “Wing Cap” from the same game.

Next, we have some random themes that don’t quite fit anywhere else. “Enter Bowser Jr.!” is a great (if somewhat annoying) theme for the creepy little son of a Koopa. “Birth” is a beautiful piano solo using the Gusty Garden theme. Yokota also uses a theme for Rosalina and the Lumas, which appears in “Luma” and “A Wish.” It’s quite pretty and soothing; it sounds like a child’s lullaby. He also has an incredibly catchy race theme, heard first in “Aquatic Race” and later arranged into a delightfully quirky waltz in “Boo Race.” “Chase the Bunnies!” uses a similar athletic theme. “Bowser Appears” is a guilty pleasure of mine—I love those heavy evil drums.

Lastly, the ending theme, “Super Mario Galaxy,” brings a theme that is at once beautiful, heartfelt, adventurous, and, for the last time…EPIC. With a brief deviation in the middle for a soft reprisal of the Gusty Garden theme, and a short intro of the overture theme, it’s a truly fantastic piece.

There are also several tracks I haven’t mentioned, simply because they don’t compare to the ones I have. They’re all pretty nice though.

In overview: This is an amazing soundtrack which captures the essence of Mario, and great orchestral scores.
DOWNLOAD IT: If you enjoy wonderful orchestral scores, Mario music, or video game music of any kind.
DON’T DOWNLOAD IT: If you don’t have ears. Seriously, everyone should have this soundtrack on their iPod.

Rating: *****

Track listing (excellent tracks in red):

DISC ONE
1. Overture
2. The Star Festival
3. Attack of the Airships
4. Catastrophe
5. Peach’s Castle Stolen
6. Enter the Galaxy
7. Egg Planet
8. Rosalina in the Observatory 1
9. The Honeyhive
10. Space Junk Road
11. Battlerock Galaxy
12. Beach Bowl Galaxy
13. Rosalina in the Observatory 2
14. Enter Bowser Jr.!
15. Waltz of the Boos
16. Buoy Base Galaxy
17. Gusty Garden Galaxy
18. Rosalina in the Observatory 3
19. King Bowser
20. Melty Molten Galaxy
21. The Galaxy Reactor
22. Final Battle with Bowser
23. Daybreak – A New Dawn
24. Birth
25. Super Mario Galaxy
26. Purple Comet
27. Blue Sky Athletic
28. Super Mario 2007

DISC TWO
29. File Select
30. Luma
31. Gateway Galaxy
32. Stolen Grand Star
33. To the Observatory Grounds 1
34. Observation Dome
35. Course Select
36. Dino Piranha
37. A Chance to Grab a Star!
38. A Tense Moment
39. Big Bad Bugaboom
40. King Kaliente
41. The Toad Brigade
42. Airship Armada
43. Aquatic Race
44. Space Fantasy
45. Megaleg
46. To the Observatory Grounds 2
47. Space Athletic
48. Speedy Comet
49. Beach Bowl Galaxy – Undersea
50. Interlude
51. Bowser’s Stronghold Appears
52. The Fiery Stronghold
53. The Big Staircase
54. Bowser Appears
55. Star Ball
56. The Library
57. Buoy Base Galaxy – Undersea
58. Rainbow Mario
59. Chase the Bunnies!
60. Help!
61. Major Burrows
62. Pipe Interior
63. Cosmic Comet
64. Drip Drop Galaxy
65. Kingfin
66. Boo Race
67. Ice Mountain
68. Ice Mario
69. Lava Path
70. Fire Mario
71. Dusty Dune Galaxy
72. Heavy Metal Mecha-Bowser
73. A-wa-wa-wa!
74. Deep Dark Galaxy
75. Kamella
76. Star Ball 2
77. Sad Girl
78. Flying Mario
79. Star Child
80. A Wish
81. Family

Whoa, this took me a while! Hope you guys read it, and I’m planning on reviewing the second game’s soundtrack next week sometime! :)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Cobraroll on November 07, 2011, 06:37:07 PM
One word:

Epic.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Clanker37 on November 08, 2011, 11:51:52 AM
I agree completely. Super Mario Galaxy(2)'s sountrack is just epic.

Did anyone else lol when they heard "SOAP!" and "Popcorn!" being sung during the Final Bowser music?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Nebbles on November 11, 2011, 01:48:30 AM
Aahhh Galaxy's soundtrack is flawless. I agree with Gusty Garden. My god. No words <3

ALSO YOU SHOULD REVIEW THE 2ND GALAXY AS WELL. THE MUSIC IS EVEN BETTER.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on November 11, 2011, 04:00:44 AM
Whoa, this took me a while! Hope you guys read it, and I’m planning on reviewing the second game’s soundtrack next week sometime! :)

But it may have to wait until after my review of Eternal Diva's soundtrack.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on November 19, 2011, 04:13:54 AM
Soundtrack Review: Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva by Tomohito Nishiura

So. The latest chapter in the Layton saga without a doubt also has the best and highest quality music. This is due in part to the fact that Eternal Diva is a feature-length film, with a full orchestral score. It is also due to the fact that roughly 75% of the music consists of arranged music from the games. I am literally in heaven when I hear this soundtrack. Beautiful. Absolutely fantastic.

The soundtrack begins with “Cold Open,” and it is the first of three arrangements of Professor Layton’s Theme. It is also the best of the three, and a great opening to the film. This really is a great theme—mysterious, jazzy, tango-esque.

The soundtrack also includes the three puzzle themes so far. “Prologue to the Adventure” is a neat arrangement of the original, and “Puzzle Number 001” is of Unwound Future’s; neither stray much from the original versions. “Puzzle Number 002” is beautiful, but is pretty much a carbon copy of the live version of “More Puzzles” on Last Specter’s soundtrack.

Descole’s Theme appears several times, the most extravagant version early in the soundtrack in “Departure to the Voyage.” It actually gets somewhat tiresome after a while, I must admit, and none of the incarnations except the aforementioned one quite lives up to the live version on Last Specter’s soundtrack.

Several of Curious Village’s themes find their way here: “About London” is a cute and brief reference to “About Town” that will surely leave you grinning; “People of the Past” is an arrangement of “The Looming Tower” that’s also quite distinctive; “Puzzle Number 004” is a nice little remix of “The Plot Thickens”; and “Adjusting the Pace” is a wacky remix of “Pursuit in the Night.” All of them are quite nostalgic and fun.

Oh, and Diabolical Box fans might be disappointed in the lack of homage to the game, but will find brief fun in “Melina’s Tenacity,” which is a reference to the creepy theme “An Uneasy Atmosphere.”

With the game arrangements out of the way, I can make way for some of the true magic—the new themes Nishiura has presented us with, as well as some filler tracks.

Nishiura composed several new themes for this film. The most extravagant and best by far is Whistler’s Theme, which is prominent in a mere four tracks. We first are introduced briefly towards the beginning in “Detragan’s Echoes,” which is entirely an organ solo. The theme sounds quite haunting in this incarnation. “The Passionate Whistler” is the theme in full, and it is EXTRAVAGANT and BREATHTAKING and FANTASTIC and OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS. It’s a gigantic, sweeping, bouncing orchestral incarnation. Listen to it. NOW. O_O “Father’s Memories” is a roughly 30 second long piano piece, using only a single note at a time for a sad moment. Finally, in the best version (on par with The Passionate Whistler), “The Feelings Will Always be Close” is a sorrowful, epic, and completely beautiful. It’s FANTASTIC.

Another theme he uses is the Theme of Ambrosia, which is only heard a few times. It’s very whimsical and pretty but isn’t as OMG AMAZING as the rest of the soundtrack.

 “Detrigiganto’s Theme” is heard a few times, with harsh pounding drums before some tense music. It’s namely heard in the brief Compensation tracks.

Finally, there is the Eternal Diva’s theme, not technically composed by Nishiura but orchestrated/conducted by him, which is referenced briefly in “Professor Layton’s Piano” in a short piece. However, it is in the final track, the ending song, that it is fully fleshed out and is ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING. “The Eternal Diva/Janice Quatlane (CV Nana Mizuki)” is a beautiful, fantastic piece that begins with the harsh organ, and segues into a wondrous orchestral score—all backing up a lovely female voice singing the whimsical, powerful, and somewhat haunting theme. It’s nearly seven minutes in length, and the final minute or so is taken up by a piano performance that really steals the show. Wonderful.

Some of the filler tracks are quite fun as well, and you’ll find yourself having fun with “Future British Gentleman” and “Emmy’s Efforts” which contain new themes for Luke and Emmy respectively, or the crisis situation “Puzzle Number 003”, or the relaxed and fun “Rest” and even “The Final Battle” and “Approaching Pursuer”…but none of these will be as good as the ones I’ve mentioned above.

Overall: Nishiura’s mind for genius is phenomenal and exceptionally prominent in this soundtrack, where orchestral capabilities are wonderfully available. The sky truly was the limit—and he surpassed it.

Rating: *****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Cold Open ~Professor Layton’s Theme
2. Prologue to the Adventure ~Puzzles
3. Travel Guide ~Descole’s Theme
4. Compensation 1 ~Detragiganto’s Theme
5. Departure to the Voyage ~Descole’s Theme
6. Detragan’s Echoes ~Whistler’s Theme
7. Rules for the Survivors ~An Uneasy Atmosphere
8. Puzzle Number 001 ~Puzzles Reinvented
9. Compensation 2 ~Detragiganto’s Theme
10. Puzzle Number 002 ~More Puzzles
11. Melina’s Tenacity ~An Uneasy Atmosphere
12. People of the Past ~The Looming Tower
13. The True Crown ~Descole’s Theme
14. About London ~About Town
15. The Passionate Whistler ~Whistler’s Theme
16. The Legendary Kingdom ~Theme of Ambrosia
17. Rest ~Time for a Break
18. Approaching Pursuer 1 ~Approaching Pursuer
19. Puzzle Number 003 ~Revolutionary Idea
20. Adjusting the Pace ~Pursuit in the Night
21. Compensation 3 ~Detrigiganto’s Theme
22. Escape! ~Professor Layton’s Theme
23. Puzzle Number 004 ~The Plot Thickens
24. Descole Appears ~Descole’s Theme
25. Professor Layton’s Piano ~Song of the Sea
26. Approaching Pursuer 2 ~Approaching Pursuer
27. Emmy’s Efforts ~Emmy’s Theme
28. Whistler’s Experiment ~Dangerous Experiment
29. The Mystery Explained! ~Professor Layton’s Theme
30. Great Conspiracy ~Descole, Ambrosia’s Theme
31. Prelude to Destruction ~Descole’s Theme
32. Detragiganto Appears ~Detragiganto’s Theme
33. Janice’s Crisis ~Tense Decision
34. Future British Gentleman ~Luke’s Theme
35. The Final Battle ~Time of Conclusion
36. The Dream Collapses ~Theme of Ambrosia
37. Father’s Memories ~Whistler’s Theme
38. The Feelings Will Always Be Close ~Whistler’s Theme
39. The Eternal Diva/Janice Quatlane (CV Nana Mizuki)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on November 20, 2011, 03:53:04 AM
Soundtrack Review: Inception by Hans Zimmer

Well. Here we are, at the second Zimmer soundtrack I’m reviewing. This soundtrack, and its movie, has received several awards, and was notably nominated for the Academy Award “Best Original Score.” And…quite honestly…I can’t figure out why. Is it a good soundtrack? Of course. Pretty great, actually. Is it phenomenal? No. Not quite.

Zimmer himself has described it as a “very electronic” score, and I can somewhat see that. Mostly I think it’s an epic score, not epic as in a freshman adjective, but epic in the way that The Odyssey is considered an epic. And I suppose the heavy brass and electric guitar do feel “electric” (not necessarily because the latter actually is). Another good word for this soundtrack is “trippy,” as another review I read pointed out.

With only twelve tracks, and two bonus tracks, it is a rather short album in that respect. Some of the tracks are rather lengthy, though, so maybe that’s how that works out? Either way, on to the review…

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Hans Zimmer is a man all about simplicity. His music is for the most part all exceedingly simple. Zimmer just has a fabulous flair for making simple sound dramatic—be it tempo, orchestration, dynamics… It’s all very well done, despite the music itself being somewhat lackluster. This is why I consider Hans Zimmer to be a genius, essentially.

“Half Remembered Dream” is the opening track, and all is silent for about twenty to thirty seconds before far away in the distance, two harsh brass notes sound. Then again. Then again. THEN AGAIN. THEN AGAIN. And then all is quiet again, the crescendo abruptly halting. “What the f*** was that?” you say to yourself. Well, I will tell you, you have just been introduced to Zimmer’s score.

Here is a brief intermission during which I will explain something to you about that track. Okay, in the movie… hmm… well, there’s this… hmm… on second thought, just watch this youtube video and prepare to have your mind somewhat blown, if you didn’t already know about this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVkQ0C4qDvM

Got it? Remember how I said Zimmer was a genius? Yeah, you agree with me now, am I right? Okay, moving on.

“We Built Our Own World” is next, and it’s quite interesting, to say the least. It introduces a haunting theme that will be used later for the relationship between Cobb and Mal. It’s quite effective, especially if you’ve seen the movie and know the backstory.

Next we have simply the best piece on the soundtrack, and probably the most recognizable: “Dream Is Collapsing.” If you haven’t heard this piece yet, you really should. It’s Zimmer at his best. It is incredibly simple. All of it. No exceptions. Only one general chord progression is used throughout. It is quite dangerous at the beginning, but the true amazingness comes about a minute and a half into the song. The two brass notes are prominent in this wonderfully dangerous piece that I consider to be perfectly suited to the apocalypse.

“Radical Notion” is repetitive and annoyingly simple. Not really much to be seen here…or, rather, heard.

“Old Souls” is quite the oddity. It’s a seven and a half minute overture dedicated to the haunting theme representing Mal. Slow, sorrowful, slightly creepy, and undeniably compelling and beautiful; the piece is a magnificent work of art, although it is admittedly lengthy. It ends in a fantastic crescendo, very dramatic. It’s worth at least one listen, in my opinion.

“528491” is quite interesting. The sorrowful, building strings don’t feel that electronic in one of the more tense and noteworthy moments of the score.

“Mombasa” also feels slightly out of place, as it is one of the few places on the album we hear any percussion. It’s quite fun but dangerous, and it’s extremely fast-paced. It’s rather popular, though I don’t care for it as much as some of the other pieces.

“One Simple Idea” is repetitive but undeniably catchy. It plays for pretty much the entire first thirty minutes of the movie—or at least that’s what it felt like to me.

“Dream Within A Dream” is quite good. It begins with the “Dream Is Collapsing” idea before becoming tense and ending in the last fifteen or so seconds with a motif that is actually quite frightening. Wonderful; Zimmer does great here.

“Waiting For A Train,” at approximately nine and a half minutes, is the longest piece on the album, and follows a similar path to “Old Souls.” It’s more drawn out and has more variety, though, at seven minutes briefly using the French song mentioned in the youtube video above. It ends in a trippy, quirky-tempo main theme idea seen in earlier tracks.

“Paradox” is slow, and…uhh, kinda boring… not really noteworthy at all.

“Time,” on the other hand, is brilliant. It’s really the only song that sounds at all happy on the album. It’s a dramatic, tear-jerking crescendo that feels electric but also wholesome rather than hollow… it’s a great piece.

The two bonus tracks are good and worth downloading (they are free downloads on the official site, http://www.inceptionscore.com) although they do feel like a rehash of the entire soundtrack. “Projections” is not boring by any means, despite having a similar length to “Old Souls.” It ends with the Dream Is Collapsing motif, making for a fun idea. “Don’t Think About Elephants” is chaotic and fun to listen to… basically, if you liked the soundtrack, the two bonus tracks are more of the same thing. No new material, really.

Rating: ****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Half Remembered Dream
2. We Built Our Own World
3. Dream Is Collapsing
4. Radical Notion
5. Old Souls
6. 528491
7. Mombasa
8. One Simple Idea
9. Dream Within A Dream
10. Waiting For A Train
11. Paradox
12. Time
13. Projections (Bonus Track)
14. Don’t Think About Elephants (Bonus Track)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on November 20, 2011, 09:08:20 PM
BWOM BWOM.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on November 20, 2011, 09:12:56 PM
what is bwom... ??? big waste of money?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on December 13, 2011, 09:16:53 PM
-_- Dat noise in one of the tracks that everyone always mimics for fun.

http://zipmic.dk/sjov/bwoon.swf
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on December 20, 2011, 09:33:06 PM
Soundtrack Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Danny Elfman

Warner Brothers’ Tim Burton-directed venture into Roald Dahl’s classic book was a great movie, in my opinion, and I liked it better than the original. This soundtrack, while not often thought of when Danny Elfman is mentioned, is in truth a fantastic album. Throughout, I can’t help having a smile on my face—be it one of joy or wickedness. It’s a great soundtrack; I can’t understand why I’ve never really listened to it before.

The album is arranged with the five vocal songs first, in chronological order, followed by the score, which is mainly in chronological order.

The vocal songs, each performed by Danny Elfman, are fantastic. “Wonka’s Welcome Song” is simply brilliant. Not because it is necessarily a great song, but because of what it stands for—I think Elfman wrote this as a mockery of cheerful theme park songs, and specifically “It’s a Small World.” It’s ridiculously cheerful, and the lyrics are laughable. The scene in the movie is especially great, with all the Small World-esque puppets melting and bursting into flames.

Next we have the Oompa-Loompa songs, each with lyrics taken from Roald Dahl’s genius poems in the book rather than paying homage to the creepy Oompa-Loompa songs in the 1971 adaptation (thank god). “Augustus Gloop,” a Bollywood-style Indian theme, is catchy and foreign enough to be a great opener for the Oompa-Loompas (all played hilariously by Deep Roy in the movie). “Violet Beauregarde” seems to be acknowledging disco tunes of the 80s, with an upbeat song with plenty of synthesizer to go around. “Veruca Salt” is a hilarious theme that almost feels like it mocks the 70s’s peace movements and hippies. Finally, “Mike Teavee” is more like head-banging music, reminiscent of Queen and, at one moment, The Beatles (who are referenced with a sight gag). They’re all very catchy and very funny.

On to the score! “Main Titles” really sets the stage for the album. Opening with a creepy waltz that becomes a sort of Willy Wonka theme, and moving into the main theme for the movie, which is a creepy metallic factory theme. Everything is very Elfman-esque and is dramatic, with a great flair. Listen a little more closely and you can hear Elfman chanting “OOMPA LOOMPA” over and over when the chorus of the theme hits.

“Wonka’s First Shop” uses a bit of Wonka’s theme, with a sort of cheerful and zany mix. “The Indian Palace” is obviously Indian-influenced in the first half, set in a boiling desert. It works well for the scene and is a bizarre and brief deviation. The second half is largely dark and builds on the main theme. “Wheels in Motion” begins with a sweet theme for the Bucket family, and then segues into a brief reprisal of the main theme before becoming madcap, referencing the styles of several different countries. “Charlie’s Birthday Bar” returns to the slow strings of the Buckets. It’s poignant and beautiful.

“The Golden Ticket/Factory” is also a winner, beginning with hopeful and happy music before turning into a somewhat nightmarish waltz as a factory theme which is played upon for the remainder of the piece. It actually segues into the next track, “Chocolate Explorers,” which plays on more of the same style but with different elements and themes, becoming haunting and mysterious. “Loompa Land” is a bizarre jungle expedition theme that begins with Elfman’s crazy “UGGA CHUGGA” chanting. Very, very odd but fun to listen to. “The Boat Arrives” uses a weird ritual-sounding slow humming which becomes a grand, majestic piece. The humming serves as the main theme for “The River Cruise” and “The River Cruise – Part 2,” which really don’t add much to the soundtrack.

“First Candy” is haunting and brilliant, using Wonka’s waltz theme for the flashback. It begins slowly but becomes powerful. “Up and Out,” on the other hand, begins with a wonderfully frantic string movement that joins with a creepy chorus before becoming more relaxed. “Charlie Declines” and “Finale” both build on the bittersweet string theme for the Buckets, signifying a happy ending. Finally, “End Credit Suite” is a montage of the five songs, with instrumental bits, serving as an interesting ending as Elfman typically composes a separate end credit theme.

Overall: This is a wonderful Elfman score, and unless I’m mistaken was my first introduction to his music six years ago. Definitely worth a listen or even a buy.

Score: ***

Track Listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. Wonka’s Welcome Song
2. Augustus Gloop
3. Violet Beauregarde
4. Veruca Salt
5. Mike Teavee
6. Main Titles
7. Wonka’s First Shop
8. The Indian Palace
9. Wheels in Motion
10. Charlie’s Birthday Bar
11. Golden Ticket/Factory
12. Chocolate Explorers
13. Loompa Land
14. The Boat Arrives
15. The River Cruise
16. First Candy
17. Up and Out
18. The River Cruise – Part 2
19. Charlie Declines
20. Finale
21. End Credit Suite
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on December 20, 2011, 10:31:23 PM
Gene Wilder > Johnny Depp

Also, the old Oompa Loompa songs were a million times better than the new ones.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on December 20, 2011, 11:00:09 PM
Gene Wilder > Johnny Depp

Also, the old Oompa Loompa songs were a million times better than the new ones.

:( aww

I don't agree.

I can kinda see the Gene Wilder thing, but I didn't mention Depp's performance. You should do a comparative review in your thread! :D
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: triforced1 on December 21, 2011, 01:37:12 AM
Gene Wilder > Johnny Depp

Also, the old Oompa Loompa songs were a million times better than the new ones.
^

The movie was great, just the old one was better.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 08, 2012, 04:24:12 AM
Soundtrack Review: Kiki’s Delivery Service by Joe Hisaishi

So this is my…third? No, fourth…review of a soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi. He’s a brilliant musician with a lot of talent for making music perfect for Miyazaki’s wonderful films. Ponyo, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle are obviously his masterpieces. However, today we take a look at one of his early soundtracks, Kiki’s Delivery Service, from 1989.

Even though it is an older one, Hisaishi was at this point by no means a novice composer. For Miyazaki alone, he had already scored the films Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Laputa: The Castle in the Sky, and My Neighbor Totoro. Nausicaa and Laputa used deeper, more emotionally moving scores while Totoro used an overall happier score. Kiki draws more from Totoro’s style of happier, less complex music, but in my opinion does a better job of creating an effective score.

The main theme is introduced in the first track, “On a Clear Day…” It is a waltz, simplistic in nature; but the simplicity works very well in the film. It reminds me of a blue sky, with clouds lazily rolling by. Or, perhaps more fitting with the movie, Kiki floating by aimlessly on a broomstick. The piece gives an impression of content, nostalgia, and general all-around warmth. It also is the first of many tracks to interestingly use the harpsichord. This piece is meant to be a main theme and indeed it shows up in several other tracks.

The theme in “Departure” is also great, being a more heartfelt piece that captures the more sad bits of the movie. It really fits with anyone leaving home, bittersweet with the beauty of life. The somewhat cliché piano gives way shortly to strings that portray the music in a better fashion.

“A Town With an Ocean View” is clearly one of the big winners on the soundtrack. The intro in itself is powerful enough, but the theme for the next two minutes or so of the piece is fantastic, being classic Hisaishi that captures the more amazing events. It segues into a somewhat out-of-place ending theme that functions as a catchy waltz for the hustle and bustle of the market and the city.

“Flying Delivery Service” is almost a carbon copy of “On a Clear Day…”; there isn’t much new.

The brief deviation “Helping the Baker” is very nice, fast and happy as the newly-settled-in Kiki expresses her excitement and joy. For one brief moment, I can hear a slight foreshadowing of Howl’s Moving Castle.

The next piece, “Starting the Job,” is one that I simply cannot listen to without a silly smile spreading across my face. It just has such a fun, upbeat, immediately catchy melody. It’s simple, but it works and it’s fun.

“Substitute Jiji” is also a fun one, a silly and bouncy ragtime-ish piano piece that is perfect for the classic funny scene of Jiji pretending to be a stuffed cat as a giant dog, Jeff, examines it. Jiji’s breakout of sweat and discomfort is Miyazaki comedy at its best and this music goes perfectly with the scene.

Speaking of which, the next piece, “Jeff,” is dedicated to the dog. It uses clumsy, awkward brass to represent the lumbering dog and even brings the brass into the main waltz theme towards the end, making for a very bouncy motif: the strings are flying high as the brass tries to pull it down to earth… it’s a great piece.

“Very Busy Kiki” and “Late for the Party” use the hustle-and-bustle theme heard previously in “A Town With an Ocean View,” building upon it and playing with the idea, making it tense in the latter track.

“Osono’s Request…” is a beautiful piece. Beginning with an accordion version of the intro from the Town With an Ocean View track, it then becomes a rendition of the “Departure” theme.

“Propeller Bicycle” is…different, at the very least. It’s energetic but the melody isn’t as catchy as—nor does it fell well into—the rest of the soundtrack.

The terror-stricken “I Can’t Fly!” is also a somewhat odd deviation, but its follow-up “Heartbroken Kiki” creates a perfect fit for the soundtrack, sounding similar to all the great main themes but never directly referencing any of them.

To stick to the foundation, “To Ursula’s Cabin” builds on the main waltz theme, making it prettier and better suited to the more poignant scenes.

“A Mysterious Cabin” is reminiscent of some of the more mellow tracks from Totoro; it’s mysterious (as the name might suggest) and is very different from the rest of the album.

“The Adventure of Freedom, Out of Control” is a tense track that’s admittedly fun, while “The Old Man’s Deck Brush” is a wild suite for the climax of the film.

Finally, Hisaishi uses a more upbeat and fast version of the main waltz theme to end the soundtrack on a happy note with “Rendezvous on the Deck Brush.”

As a side note, the two vocal songs add to the score, particularly the bouncy "Message of Rouge."

Rating: *****

Track Listing (Excellent Tracks in Red)
1. On a Clear Day…
2. Departure
3. A Town With an Ocean View
4. Flying Delivery Service
5. Helping the Baker
6. Starting the Job
7. Substitute Jiji
8. Jeff
9. Very Busy Kiki
10. Late for the Party
11. Osono’s Request
12. Propeller Bicycle
13. I Can’t Fly!
14. Heartbroken Kiki
15. To Ursula’s Cabin
16. A Mysterious Cabin
17. The Adventure of Freedom, Out of Control
18. The Old Man’s Deck Brush
19. Rendezvous on the Deck Brush
20. Message of Rouge
21. If I've Been Enveloped By Tenderness
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Meta-Ridley on January 12, 2012, 10:27:03 AM
Am I allowed to review something? and can it be a game's soundtrack?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 12, 2012, 12:07:10 PM
If you want, in your own topic
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 25, 2012, 04:15:47 AM
Soundtrack Review: Nintendo DS Pokémon Black & White Super Music Collection by Shota Kageyama, Jun’ichi Masuda, Go Ichinose, Hitomi Sato, Morikazu Aoki, and Minako Adachi

Wow... REALLY long soundtrack. It comes from being a long game with lots of frivolous small tracks like “Obtained a Pokemon Egg!” or “Victory Over the Wild Pokemon!” or “Pokemon Healed!”...you get the idea. This type of length in a soundtrack makes it difficult to produce an organized review. So what I’m going to do is look at things in sections (and of course, I’m not going to mention all 171 tracks...rest assured, though, I have listened to the whole soundtrack, many times). Also note that I have localized

Note that I won’t list any composers in my review; I have the list if you’re really that interested. The only thing you can assume is that if it’s a battle theme, Jun’ichi Masuda composed it. Masuda also composed themes like the Pokemon Center, Gym, Route 4, and a few others. Go Ichinose handled many of the “Eye Contact” themes, as well as some major route and city themes; however, he composed the fewest of all the main music producers. Let it be noted, though, he also was in charge of each Pokemon’s unique cry. Hitomi Sato handled few songs as compared to her monstrous amount of composition for Diamond and Pearl but all of the songs she did compose are quite high in quality. Shota Kageyama, the lead music developer, composed most major themes as well as the most of anyone. Aoki composed the Pokedex evaluations, move forgotten, receive Pokemon Egg, receive BP, and the Gear Station. Adachi composed one musical, the victory over Team Plasma, the chemistry themes, and Lostlorn Forest. If you’d like to know which composer wrote which song, I have a google document with that information.

The music is excellent, and notice that all of it--nearly every single track--has an “electronic” feel to it. And not just because it’s from a game. I feel like this electronic feel was done on purpose, similarly to how I felt that HeartGold/SoulSilver sounded “exotic” and “tropical.”

PART I: BATTLE THEMES
Why are battle themes the most important? Well, you certainly hear the trainer music several hundred thousand million billion times throughout the course of the game. That theme alone is pivotal in your viewpoint of the game. The one thing they have in common is that they are blatant, repetitive, and fast-paced themes. All of these were composed by Jun’ichi Masuda.

“Battle! Cheren & Bianca” is a bouncy piece that perfectly suits your zany rivals--uptight, know-it-all Cheren and flighty, ditzy Bianca. It’s heard several times throughout the course of the game, and it’s the first battle theme heard in game.

“Battle! Wild Pokemon” is probably the catchiest of all wild battle themes, save maybe Sinnoh. Wild Pokemon themes have to be good, or else you’ll want to ragequit whenever you run into a random battle. I don’t know why, but I always picture a Minccino when I hear this theme. xD

“Battle! Trainer” is also a good trainer battle theme. It makes excellent strategic use of dynamics. It’s overall my...fourth favorite battle theme out of five, but it’s certainly better than Hoenn’s at least. There are some nostalgic elements in here.

“Battle! Team Plasma” is THE catchiest of all evil team battle music, no exceptions. It’s heard in all of Team Plasma’s themes as a group, and it’s absolutely brilliant.

“Battle! Gym Leader” begins with a furious, pounding rhythm, developing into a fast-paced, fun theme. It ties with HeartGold/SoulSilver’s Kanto gym leader and Diamond/Pearl’s gym leader theme for my favorite.

“Battle! N” is pretty tense and heavy. It may not be much to listen to (especially considering how easy N was to defeat throughout the game), but Jun’ichi Masuda put a LOT of thought into composing N’s two battle themes. See his blog for more details.

“Battle! Elite Four” is amazingly dark and keeps tension high. There is a direct reference to Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald’s Elite Four battle theme (possibly alluding to remakes? I don’t know.). It’s catchy.

“Decisive Battle! N” is the final showdown with N, and it’s a chaotic, frightening revamp of the normal battle. This is the theme that Masuda put so much thought into, and he went over his composing method in his blog.

“Battle! Ghetsis” is the most epic battle theme in the game. Heard only once the entire game, this theme was also really well thought out by Masuda. The excessive timpani and creepy vocals complement each other surprisingly well. He elaborated on the simplistic melody: Looking up music that is considered “evil,” he found that a certain G chord (literal translation “Ghe”) and a C-sharp (lit. Tsis) were considered “music of the devil.” So he named the character after the evil chords and used them prominently in his musical theme.

“Battle! Battle Subway Trainer” is a clever remix of the Trainer battle theme. It’s quite good in its subtle differences--upon a first time listening to the two, you might not be able to tell there’s a difference. However, the difference is greatly exaggerated after hearing the original Trainer battle so many times.

“Battle! Legendary Pokemon” is quite an odd tune. It changes tempo and key dramatically several times. It’s somewhat catchy but quite honestly more annoying than fun.

“Battle! Powerful Wild Pokemon” is a clever remix of the Wild Pokemon battle theme (similarly to how the Battle Subway Trainer remixes the regular Trainer). It’s more frantic and chaotic, bringing for a good theme--despite the fact that you hear it mostly with Audino, who is not remotely threatening. (Heal Pulse, oh no! ::))

“Battle! Kyurem” is fairly catchy. Better than the regular legendary theme at any rate. I just feel like so much of it is recycled bits from other battle themes from other games.

“Battle! Champion” is one of the best battle themes in the game. It perfectly suits Alder, surprisingly strong and flame-headed. It’s also fairly pleasant to listen to, with deep guttural tones and high-pitched brass. It’s very enjoyable and says, “Yes, this is tough, but at least he’s a nice guy!”

PART II: CITY AND TOWN THEMES
Why are city themes the most important? Because they’re where all the action takes place as far as story, of course! Battles are just mindless fun, and routes shuffle you from place to place, but cities? They’re the center of Pokemon (no pun intended). All composers but Jun’ichi Masuda contributed to the city themes, with the lead Shota Kageyama, the veteran Go Ichinose, and the lovable Hitomi Sato each composing several.

“Nuvema Town” is relaxing and heartfelt. Kageyama manages to make it sound just like home, like the other composers have done with the original towns--Masuda with Pallet Town, Ichinose with New Bark and Littleroot, and Sato with Twinleaf.

“Accumula Town” is decidedly lackluster. It’s so bright and cheery that it’s annoying. It was cool in the game how the piano and drums were added after conversing with the town musicians, but...meh. Not much else. Boring town, boring song. Sorry, Kageyama-san.

“Striaton City” by Sato is brilliant, a playful waltz bringing the city to life. I would walk around this town for ages, just listening to the soundtrack! Was that just me? XD

Ichinose’s “Nacrene City” is pleasantly relaxed. I find the beginning slightly reminiscent of Violet City! The music in game isn’t very good without the accordion player, but luckily the soundtrack incorporates it.

By itself, Kageyama’s “Castelia City” is kind of annoying. But in game, it complements the gigantic city wonderfully! This was such a wonderful town to explore. Great use of 3D mechanics.

“Nimbasa City” is annoying, aggressive, and grating. No matter which angle you look at it from.  It could be catchy? But it’s too simple and heavy for me. Sorry, Kageyama-san... your themes so far are pretty annoying, save for Nuvema Town.

“Driftveil City” is pretty amazing. Hitomi Sato really doesn’t get enough credit, in my opinion. This nightclub-like theme is catchy enough to disprove anyone who says she’s not a worthy Pokemon composer.

Classic, wonderful Ichinose is found in “Mistralton City.” It has for sure the most epic of all the town themes. Catchy, and not just catchy but complex. Sounds like flying, just like the airplane city.

In Kageyama’s “Icirrus City,” he finally gives us something to rave about. The upbeat, happy tune is classic Pokemon. The clapping in the background alludes to playfulness and just...this song is pretty great.

Next, Ichinose throws us a clever and worthwhile curveball by composing separate themes for the drastically different Opelucid Cities in each game. The Black Version is modern and upbeat, with lots of electronic noises and a synthesizer carrying the main melody (which is catchy and moving). The same melody is tweaked drastically for the sorrowful White Version, which uses a string instrument rather than a synthesizer and the instrumentation is generally more traditional. The two themes are drastically different but they both work well and are great.

Kageyama handled both “Black City” and “White Forest,” the former being somewhat jazzy and dark while the latter is upbeat and playful. Both are great.

There are also two themes for “Undella Town,” Sato’s Fall-Spring theme being the better. It’s quiet and brings out the waves in a moving display. Kageyama’s Summer theme is tropical and upbeat, but doesn’t prove as effective in the end.

“Lacunosa Town” is great. It manages to create that small-town feel while also suggesting hustle-and-bustle. I swear, like a good 50% of my favorites are Hitomi Sato’s compositions.

“Anville Town” is also brilliant. Ichinose brought out his lighter side with a peaceful flute and piano duet playing the simple but effectively moving melody while strings in the background carry the piece along.

PART III: ROUTE THEMES
Why are route themes the best? Because the routes are where all the magic happens. The route themes have to be grand enough to carry you to the next city but also suit the route well. I am happy to report that all route themes are great. Each of the four main composers wrote at least one.

“Route 1” is great. Rewriting Route 1 isn’t easy. Ichinose wrote a perfect one, though, creating an almost carousel-like atmosphere with happy-go-lucky tambourines in the background.

“Route 2” is fantastic, albeit slightly overplayed towards the beginning of the game. It’s true that when I first heard Sato’s piece I played it on my iPod over and over, though. So I guess it was intended for that effect. Each of the four seasons has a different intro, with Spring having a flute, Summer a string movement, Fall a piano, and Winter chimes. Each characterizes the different seasons well, and rather than include four separate songs, the producers only included two and simply changed the season halfway through the song, making it play once in one season and repeat with a different. And they’re spaced out, which is good.

“Route 4” is also great, and is the only non-battle music Masuda composed for this game (not including remixes of older themes). It’s triumphant and rollicking, and it not only suits the route, but the professor’s introduction to the game. The four different versions are spaced out, with one on each disc: Spring begins with a flute, summer a double layer of trumpets, fall with mallets of some sort, and winter with chimes.

“Route 6” by Kageyama is what I consider to be Black and White’s main route theme. Majestic, grand, and moving, it’s a great piece that works extremely well. The four seasons have not just different intros, but also different instrumentation throughout the piece.

“Route 10” is Kageyama’s tribute to the final winding road before the last cave. The accordion doesn’t feel out of place at all, and makes an already moving melody feel even more real.

“Route 12” is beautiful. Sato’s slightly off-kilter beginning gives way to a truly moving, heartfelt, and grand performance. Is it slightly overplayed in the post-game areas? Yes. Of course. But it’s still great.

PART IV: Remixes of Older Themes
Why are classic themes the best? Nostalgia, of course. New themes can be tossed around as much as you like--but older themes will always win out.

“A New Adventure!”, taken from the second part of the intro, is a remix of the classic intro theme from Red and Blue, and it has never sounded better.

“Title” is great. Masuda and Ichinose collaborate on this remix of the main theme. The opening include oddly positioned chords, almost exactly how Ghetsis’s battle uses C# and G to sound ominous later.

“Pokemon Center” is of course a staple of the series by this point, and for the first time since Gold and Silver I feel like Masuda was trying for a more classic approach to this version. It’s not my favorite--Hoenn’s Ruby and Sapphire remix takes that title--but it’s friendly and nice.

“Taken Along” is a grin-inducing reference to the omnipresent theme, taking the chord progression exactly from the Gold and Silver versions. Silly and cheerful as ever, it’s just classic.

The somber, annoying, repetitive “Evolution” (also trading theme) is here as always, of course.

It’s a mark of how versatile Masuda is that at this point even “Pokemon Gym” can be made to sound novel and new. It’s the same theme, just peppered with Black and White’s electronic style.

“Shopping Mall R9” is a remix of Ichinose’s great Pokemart theme, but it relies too heavily on sounding almost sleazy; I prefer HeartGold/SoulSilver’s remix. The theme is the same as ever, though.

“Looker’s Theme” is great and dangerous and exciting for the somewhat incompetent member of the police.

“GTS” is a great remix, but the strings and mallets make for a performance that is somewhat lacking in bass.

“Cynthia’s Theme” is a dramatic and frenzied piano solo; it doesn’t sound that different from Diamond and Pearl’s version.

However, “Battle! Cynthia” is a great remix. The electronic, heavy-metal nature of the melody itself works even better in Black and White.

Perhaps the award for Best Remix goes to Hitomi Sato for “Mystery Gift,” who takes the theme to a whole new level of playfulness, with synthesizers mixed with an orchestral ensemble.

“Team Rocket!?” is a laugh-out-loud easter egg in the game, and I love Ichinose for remixing this classic theme.

PART V: Character Themes and Trainer Eye Contact Themes
Why are character themes the best? Because they make already complex, interesting and funny characters even better! Why are Trainer “Eye Contact” themes great? Because they introduce the player to their opponent before they even meet his Pokemon!

“Professor Juniper” is a dancingly blatant melody mixed with a friendly and catchy atmosphere. It suits the somewhat zany professor perfectly.

The theme is later altered for “Papa Juniper,” in a relaxed but also exotic and dancing version.

“Team Plasma’s Secret Maneuvers” is technically not a character theme, but I always associate it with Ghetsis since it always plays when Ghetsis is in sight. It’s creepy and slithering, and is reminiscent of the intro theme, “The Day I Was Crowned King.”

“Cheren’s Theme” is undeniably catchy and rockin’. But I don’t know if it quite suits the arrogant, bookish character of Cheren. I love the guy, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not that cool.

“Bianca’s Theme,” on the other hand, suits the ditzy, flighty, and lovable girl perfectly. It’s upbeat and cute. Is Bianca a bit annoying? Maybe. But you can’t help but love her. She deserves it, after all the merciless beatings you laid down on her Pokemon.

“One Captivated by Formulae” is N’s creepy, sinister, and fun theme. I love it, it’s good for the nerdy, mumbling and admittedly intimidating N.

“Champion Alder” presents a western/desertish theme that’s mysterious and fun. I really like Alder’s character, though his character struck me as detached, and when he was in the plot I was never particularly impressed with him. His Bouffalant proved me otherwise, though. (*yeesh*)

“N, the Pokemon Child” is a slower, music box version of N’s theme. That toy room really freaked me out, I’m not gonna lie.

“Eye Contact! Shorts Youngster” is upbeat and fun, and the mallets make it even more so.

“Eye Contact! Miniskirt” includes adorable chimes and strings in a catchy theme. It’s probably my favorite of the Trainer themes.

“Eye Contact! Twins” is similarly bouncy and cute.

“Eye Contact! Businessman” uses the piano for a particularly jazzy theme.

“Eye Contact! Backpacker” is brief but undeniably effective. Burly brass combine later with nostalgic beeps to make a really fun little piece.

“Eye Contact! Parasol Lady” is heavy with strings and is nice, I guess, but it’s a little hard to get into.

“Eye Contact! Scientist” is great but I think borrows too heavily from the Pokemaniac Theme of Gold and Silver. The piano is creepy and great here, though.

“Eye Contact! Psychic” is the biggest failure of all of them, but it really does fit Psychic Trainers. It just has literally no melody, all random synthesizers.

“Eye Contact! Team Plasma” is catchy and borrows from the Battle theme, which is always good.

“Eye Contact! Skinhead” has little in the “consistent time signature” area but is sleazy and fun.

“Eye Contact! Ace Trainer” is fun and wild and I CANNOT LISTEN TO THE BEGINNING WITHOUT THINKING OF “THRILLER.” THAT IS ALL.

“Eye Contact! Cyclist” may be simple but I quite like it. Ichinose was clever here, even if the melody isn’t that great.

“Eye Contact! Daisuki Club” is great and fun, mostly used for Harlequin Trainers. I think it’s just a generally all-around good Pokemon piece.

“Eye Contact!  Gentleman” is pompous and cute.

PART VI: Other Location and Activity Themes
These are the “in the field” areas you live for--caves, ruins, towers, forests, bridges...All are important. Yup yup yup. In addition, some activity themes are here.

“Pokemon Research Lab” is soft and special and really hits a sensitive place in my heart. It’s nostalgic, even though you may never have heard it before.

“Dreamyard” is one of the biggest disappointments. And it’s just plain annoying. There is no other way to say it. Ichinose was going for a smooth jazz feel, mabe? It feels more like “on hold” music than anything and suits literally zero of the areas it plays in.

“Gate” is a calm, relaxing piece relying on a drum set and a piano. I quite like it, though it takes some time to really appreciate.

“Skyarrow Bridge” is fun and upbeat, perfect for the bridge that really showcases Game Freak showing off. :) Just kidding, this was one of the coolest moments in the game.

“Bicycle” and “Surfing” are two more necessary additions, but neither ones really match any other entries into the series.

“Driftveil Drawbridge,” creepy and brooding, has some interesting and moody parts in the latter half of its music. Worth a listen, though you wouldn’t guess it from the first minute.

“Cold Storage,” also the theme for Twist Mountain, just sounds cold. The weird twanging instrumentation is almost funny, but it isn’t one of the best tracks on the album.

“Chargestone Cave” is another characteristic entry into the Pokemon franchise, but I feel like it is trying way too hard to be Mt. Moon.

“Dragonspiral Tower” is the creepy, serene theme that uses echoing piano and strings to create an intended uneasy atmosphere.

“Relic Castle” quite honestly never amounts to much, with twanging of strings and a halfway attempt at a desert feel.

“Tubeline Bridge” makes me want to grin broadly and never stop. It’s a bit cliche but ultimately is a good piece.

The grand waltz “Champion Road” is an interesting feel for a final cave. Typically Ichinose goes for tenseness, but here he’s almost channeling sorrow, longing and majesty.

On the other hand, “Pokemon League” is too simple in its tenseness. I kind of wish Kageyama had gone a little outside the confinement of the safe route to do something different, like Ichinose did with “Champion Road.”

He quickly redeems himself, however, in “N’s Castle,” with heartbroken strings and a merciless pipe organ battling for the spot. It’s a great piece.

Yet another great Kageyama track is the light and achingly beautiful “Cruiseferry S.S. Royal Unova,” which uses trembling and hesitant strings most of all.

“Gear Station” is Aoki’s clever, aggressively jazzy remix of his Battle Tower theme with a bizarre piano performance. This track is pretty awesome.

“Musical Hall” is a pompous, extravagantly bouncy waltz that anyone will find catchy. It’s one of the best waltzes made for a video game I’ve ever heard, besides maybe some Professor Layton stuff as well as earlier Pokemon themes like “Lilycove City.”

The electronic, methodical, and (I’m just gonna say it) boring “Ferris Wheel for Two” leaves me disappointed that Sato didn’t do anything exciting with this great opportunity.

“Marvelous Bridge” is fun and uses some sky-high strings as well as a simple piano-centered melody to create an effective piece.

One worth noting is “Someone’s High Link,” in which we hear jungle-esque drums in a fun piece.

“Lostlorn Forest” is one of Adachi’s extremely few tracks, mixing an uneasy woodwind with some creepy strings and percussion. It gives the feeling of, fittingly enough, being lost and forlorn in a forest.

Sato’s “Undersea Ruins” isn’t great but accomplishes what it needs to.

“Village Bridge” is quite moving and peaceful, if you can get past those bizarre synthetic vocals.

The four musicals are a surprising treat, save for Kageyama’s piece. Ah, poor Kageyama. Your good pieces are really good, but when you’re meh, you are undoubtedly meh. The piece in question is similar to “Black City,” but is called “Exciting Nimbasa” and uses the piano in a dark and longing way that never really develops. Sato’s “Stroll in the Woods” would probably have to be the highlight, with its playful percussion and smiling clarinet and flute. Her “Sweet Soirée” is cute and comes in a tie for second with Adachi’s synthesizer-led “Stardom!”

PART VII: Part of the Story
These are the themes that move along the story and are vital to the game.

“The First Day” is the opening song with a reference to Nuvema Town’s theme on the piano.

“Let’s Go Together!” is a theme similar to “Skyarrow Bridge” and in most aspects is just excited and joyous.

“Unwavering Emotions” is bittersweet. It’s beautiful but sadly never amounts to a lot. I would like it better if it reached a sort of climax.

“N’s Farewell” does just that. It’s beautiful and does indeed reach a climax that satisfies. Kageyama tries too hard sometimes. This is not one of those times. He uses only piano and strings, with a simple melody, but it’s still more effective than many of his other pieces.

“ENDING -To Each Future-” is the epic ending theme, a fast-paced and crazed roller coaster ride that ends on a darker note--and I find that great.

PART VIII: Remixes (Bonus Tracks)
These are the four bonus tracks on the disc--and none disappoint. The four main composers each remixed one of their songs for the CD.

First up is Hitomi Sato with “Summer in Lacunosa.” She takes her Lacunosa Town theme and makes it better--not so fast-paced, but with higher-quality instrumentation. She doesn’t play with the theme a lot but it’s still a great remix.

Next is Go Ichinose with a lengthy rendition of Anville Town, “Lullaby for Trains.” Rather than both the flute and piano playing the melody, here he is free to leave the piano with bass and the flute go off and ad lib the beautiful melody, while strings move things along in the background. There’s a particularly great section in the middle with a purposely low-quality vintage style solo played by a pianist with a flair for ragtime.

Third is Jun’ichi Masuda with a crazy remix of the “Decisive Battle! N” theme, entitled “LAST BATTLE -N^n mix-” It is legit head banging music with bizarre sound effects. I love what he’s done with the piece, but it’s not my type of music.

Finally, Shota Kageyama brings us home with “N’s Farewell -refrain-” which is by far the best of these. It’s achingly beautiful. If you thought the original N’s Farewell was good (or even disappointing) you will love this piece. For once, the remixes on a Pokemon album are great. And I’m stoked about that.

This was really fun to write. Pokemon Black and White are my favorite games music-wise. I hope that comes through. Also sorry about all the Kageyama-bashing. Some Pokemon themes have to be annoying. :)

DOWNLOAD IT: If you enjoy Pokemon music and love a wide variety of clever (albeit simple and somewhat repetitive) music pieces.
DON’T DOWNLOAD IT: If you hate soundtracks with too many annoying filler tracks, because this album has a LOT.

Rating: *****

Track listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. The Day I Was Crowned King
2. A New Adventure!
3. Title
4. Now for the Adventure!
5. The First Day
6. Nuvema Town
7. Battle! Cheren & Bianca
8. Taken Along 1
9. Professor Juniper
10. Pokemon Research Lab
11. Received a Key Item!
12. Let’s Go Together!
13. Route 1
14. Battle! Wild Pokemon
15. Victory over the Wild Pokemon!
16. Level Up!
17. Accumula Town
18. Taken Along 2
19. Pokemon Center
20. Recovery
21. Pokedex Evaluation... Onwards!
22. Team Plasma’s Secret Maneuvers
23. Route 2 (Spring-Summer)
24. Live Caster
25. Eye Contact! Shorts Youngster
26. Battle! Trainer
27. Victory over the Trainer!
28. Eye Contact! Miniskirt
29. Obtained an Item!
30. Striaton City
31. Pokedex Evaluation... Not Yet
32. Dreamyard
33. Team Plasma Appears!
34. Battle! Team Plasma
35. Victory over Team Plasma!
36. Evolution
37. Congratulations on Evolving!
38. Eye Contact! Twins
39. Cheren’s Theme
40. Here Comes Trouble!
41. Nacrene City
42. Pokedex Evaluation... Do Your Best!
43. Gym
44. Battle! Gym Leader
45. Victory is Right Before Your Eyes!
46. Victory over the Gym Leader!
47. Received a League Badge!
48. Obtained a Technical Machine!
49. Gate
50. Skyarrow Bridge
51. Castelia City
52. Eye Contact! Businessman
53. Route 4 (Spring)
54. Eye Contact! Backpacker
55. Nimbasa City
56. Bianca’s Theme
57. Unwavering Emotions
58. One Captivated by Formulae
59. Battle! N
60. Crisis in Battle!
61. Bicycle
62. Champion Alder
63. Driftveil Drawbridge
64. Driftveil City
65. Cold Storage
66. Route 6 (Spring-Summer)
67. Eye Contact! Parasol Lady
68. Eye Contact! Scientist
69. Chargestone Cave
70. Mistralton City
71. Papa Juniper
72. Pokedex Evaluation... You’re On the Way
73. Forget a Move
74. Eye Contact! Psychic
75. Icirrus City
76. Dragonspiral Tower
77. Eye Contact! Team Plasma
78. Dragonspiral Tower Top Floor
79. Route 4 (Summer)
80. Relic Castle
81. Tubeline Bridge
82. Shopping Mall R9
83. Eye Contact! Skinhead
84. Opelucid City (Black)
85. Opelucid City (White)
86. Route 10
87. Champion Road
88. Eye Contact! Ace Trainer
89. Pokemon League
90. Battle! Elite Four
91. Pokemon League Under Siege
92. Carrying Out a Mission
93. N’s Castle
94. N, the Pokemon Child
95. N’s Dragon
96. Dragon Awakened
97. Decisive Battle! N
98. Ghetsis’s Designs
99. Battle! Ghetsis
100. N’s Farewell
101. ENDING -To Each Future-
102. Looker’s Theme
103. Route 2 (Fall-Winter)
104. Received a Pokemon Egg!
105. Cruiseferry S.S. Royal Unova
106. Wi-Fi Connection
107. Global Terminal
108. GTS
109. Spin Trade
110. Pokedex Evaluation... Just a Little More!
111. Route 4 (Fall)
112. Gear Station
113. Battle Subway
114. Battle! Battle Subway Trainer
115. Received BP!
116. Musical Hall
117. Obtained Goods!
118. Dressing Up With Goods
119. The Curtain Rises on the Musical
120. Musical “Stardom!”
121. Musical “Stroll in the Woods”
122. Musical “Sweet Soirée”
123. Musical “Exciting Nimbasa”
124. Ferris Wheel for Two
125. Checking Your Chemistry!
126. Your Chemistry is the Best!
127. Your Chemistry is Getting There
128. Your Chemistry Doesn’t Measure Up?
129. Route 6 (Fall-Winter)
130. Battle! Legendary Pokemon
131. Anville Town
132. Marvelous Bridge
133. Route 12 (Spring-Summer)
134. Eye Contact! Cyclist
135. Shift Factory
136. Poke Shifter: Choose Your Pokemon!
137. Poke Shifter: Catch Your Pokemon!
138. Eye Contact! Daisuki Club
139. Black City
140. White Forest
141. Game Sync
142. High Link
143. High Link Mission Start!
144. Someone’s High Link
145. Mission Success!
146. Mission Failed...
147. Eye Contact! Gentleman
148. Undella Town (Fall-Spring)
149. Undella Town (Summer)
150. Cynthia’s Theme
151. Battle! Cynthia
152. Lostlorn Forest
153. Battle! Powerful Wild Pokemon
154. Surfing
155. Undersea Ruins
156. Route 12 (Fall-Winter)
157. Lacunosa Town
158. Village Bridge
159. Mystery Gift
160. Route 4 (Winter)
161. Challenge for the Battle Conference
162. Team Rocket!?
163. Battle! Kyurem
164. Pokedex Evaluation... Perfect!
165. Battle! Champion
166. Victory over the Champion!
167. Congratulations on Entering the Hall of Fame!
168. Summer in Lacunosa
169. Lullaby for Trains
170. LAST BATTLE -N^n mix-
171. N’s Farewell -refrain-
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: K-NiGhT on January 25, 2012, 04:34:37 AM
I enjoyed this review :)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Nebbles on January 25, 2012, 04:39:58 AM
Ahh, B/W, I was waiting for this!!

I was surprised you didn't mention the in-game instrumental adds in the towns/cities! That was an interesting quirk on its own.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Jub3r7 on January 25, 2012, 04:43:01 AM
That's a lot of songs to review. o.o
You could be a journalist.

Anyways,
Quote
“Eye Contact! Miniskirt”
I don't know why but that made me lol.

e: Also, the Eye Contact songs are very catchy. I tend to wait a whole minute before the battle starts just to listen to the music. XD
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 25, 2012, 05:58:44 AM
Ahh, B/W, I was waiting for this!!

I was surprised you didn't mention the in-game instrumental adds in the towns/cities! That was an interesting quirk on its own.

Oh I meant to. I guess I only mentioned it briefly with Nacrene City and Accumula Town in passing. :P I thought it was cool! Also the way percussion begins playing in routes as you begin to walk!

That's a lot of songs to review. o.o
You could be a journalist.

Anyways,I don't know why but that made me lol.

e: Also, the Eye Contact songs are very catchy. I tend to wait a whole minute before the battle starts just to listen to the music. XD

Lol the Miniskirt song? Me too, the name is hilarious. I like the song though. That was one of the ones where I did just what you said in game! Also the Daisuki Club one.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Bespinben on January 25, 2012, 04:33:36 PM
There are far too many tracks to call this my NO.1 favorite track, but I really, REALLY love the Lostlorn Forest theme, as it has a very Pokémon Mystery Dungeon-esque vibe to it. The introduction to it is very grand and oriental too.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 26, 2012, 02:07:45 AM
Soundtrack Review: Trapped by Jordan Knapp (SlowPokemon)

Today, seeing as Jordan has actually written this soundtrack, it would be unfair for him to write the review. So I, the left side of his brain—his cynical, arrogant, and sarcastic alter ego—will be reviewing his work.

About the Artist: Jordan Knapp (alternately known here as SlowPokemon) is a fifteen-year-old student, prone to arrogance and self-pity, while also well-liked among peers. He has had literally no experience with composing before this album, save a couple piano pieces. I’ll try to bear in mind that it’s his first work while reviewing.

Trapped is a video game that someone Jordan knows made for a technology club—TSA—in the hopes of taking it to the state competition. Whether it will actually be judged adequate to go will be decided next week. When this friend asked him to join on as music and sound director, and compose the music, Jordan jumped on the opportunity. He reportedly “had a blast” writing the music and said it was “a great first project.” We shall see whether it is, in fact, a blast to listen to.

Trapped has the player controlling a vehicle which navigates a number of mazes in different environments. First, Knapp introduces the area themes with a very basic one-instrument “cutscene” theme which plays while the vehicles enter the new areas. The cutscenes take up roughly half the soundtrack, and as each are 30 seconds or less, they are somewhat lacking in memorability. It is a nice idea to use a simple motif before adding other instruments on top of it, though.

“Title (Main Theme)” is the first track, and it’s not much of a main theme. Using only three notes for the main melody in the entire song, it’s very simple and repetitive. I suppose he might have been going for that? I’m not quite sure. Starting out, an uneasy contrabass carries the bass while a violin plays the main melody. Other instruments are added, including a bass drum, cello and viola, and then in the closest thing to a climax this piece ever amounts to, a piano overlies the strings in a harsh and pounding performance. The piano is really the only thing that makes this piece worth listening to. With a bit more in the melody department, and the right instrumentation, this piece could be great—I could see it as a horror theme. Here it’s sadly lacking a bit. Knapp says this piece, which originated with him playing the piano part and transcribing it into Finale, was inspired by Hans Zimmer’s score to Inception. I can see that, but he fails to do much beyond the simple melody.

“A Cave Story” is the first level theme, for a cave setting. The piano (playing throughout the piece) mimics fluttering bats overhead, and while it’s a bit risky to use the same exact two measures throughout the piece, it works better than expected. The bassoon, contrabass, clarinet and flute combine to make what is in reality another simple, eerie melody quite effective.

“I Lava the Volcano” is the theme for the volcano. Knapp could have gone any number of ways with an area like that, but he opted to make the piece moody and brooding. The piano is also omnipresent in this piece, playing continuous quarter notes, usually along with the bass drum. Contrabass, cello and viola play sinister bass melodies while the violin carries the main melody—again simple, but he plays with the melody a little and draws it out more. It’s good to see him doing a little more and being a bit more ambitious. The piece has its flaws, but it’s an improvement over what we’ve heard so far. Listen closely and you’ll hear a couple bars of the main theme.

“Just Deserts” is the desert theme, with a piano and timpani playing an “Arabian Nights”-style bass. In the beginning, Knapp references his own main theme for the game with a violin, and interestingly enough, it works rather well. Especially great is that rather than just making the main theme section repeat, he adds a new composition played with oboe and then flute, making the piece a little more original and distinctive.

“Underwater” is of course the underwater theme, repetitive in nature but clever in content. The harp mimics bubbles and the flute, clarinet and (very briefly) violin suggest an ancient, creepy atmosphere. There is not much to this piece, but it’s effective at creating a fitting underwater atmosphere.

“Into the Forest” is the forest theme which begins with an eerie piano before bursting into flute, oboe and a frenzied harp which carries throughout the piece. It matches the rest of the soundtrack melody-wise, but the main focus will be on the harp. The piece is rather short, but it does the job.

Finally, “A Winter’s Snow” is the snow theme, beginning with a simple piano mimicking jingle bells, a triangle, and flute—before relying on the timpani, accordion, and violin to make what is actually the only song on the album in a major key. The violin’s entrance may seem a bit familiar—Knapp has openly admitted to taking a few notes from a theme from Mario, though he has yet to reveal which. Whether this was just laziness or he was incorporating elements of a song that he respected and believed would do the job, it’s a nice piece, albeit one that deviates from the moody, creepy feel of the rest of the soundtrack.

Overall consensus: For a first project, Knapp does quite well. He was certainly ambitious, but ambition isn’t enough—good melody and technique is also important, and that is an aspect which he lacks in certain places. For what it is, though, he accomplishes quite a lot.

Download it: If you’re interested in what a teenager could produce in his first composition, or if you find simplistic ensemble pieces amusing or fun.
Don’t download it: If you’re expecting anything fantastic or legitimately good music, or if you dislike simple music that never reaches much of a climax.

Rating: **

Track Listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. Title (Main Theme)
2. Cutscene (Approaching Cave)
3. A Cave Story
4. Cutscene (Approaching Volcano)
5. I Lava the Volcano
6. Cutscene (Approaching Desert)
7. Just Deserts
8. Cutscene (Approaching Ocean)
9. Underwater
10. Cutscene (Approaching Forest)
11. Into the Forest
12. Cutscene (Approaching Snow)
13. A Winter’s Snow
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on January 26, 2012, 02:10:31 AM
First you say the LoTR soundtrack isn't the greatest thing in existence, then you give the Trapped soundtrack a 6.5. Gosh Slow, you are just terrible at this whole reviewing thing.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Nebbles on January 26, 2012, 02:11:15 AM
...you... reviewed your own soundtrack. |D
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 26, 2012, 02:45:40 AM
Lol it was meant for two purposes:
A) A joke
B) The mark of any artist: Shameless Self Promotion
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: fingerz on January 30, 2012, 01:48:07 AM
Quote from: SlowPokemob
“Nimbasa City” is annoying, aggressive, and grating. No matter which angle you look at it from.  It could be catchy? But it’s too simple and heavy for me. Sorry, Kageyama-san... your themes so far are pretty annoying, save for Nuvema Town.

I look at it from my angle and don't find it annoying, aggressive and grating. One of the best songs in the game, in my opinion. :P
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 30, 2012, 02:52:00 AM
I'm Slowpokemob? Wtf? ;)

Also yeah most either hate it or love it, I'm definitely a hater of Nimbasa. I respect your opinion though! But my new favorite city music has got to be Opelucid City (Black)! The White version is good too but I just think the Black version is catchy and emotionally moving (lol I almost accidentally wrote sexy) and just has a great atmosphere. The other one is pretty awesome too though.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: fingerz on January 30, 2012, 02:56:28 AM
I'm Slowpokemob? Wtf? ;)

Also yeah most either hate it or love it, I'm definitely a hater of Nimbasa. I respect your opinion though! But my new favorite city music has got to be Opelucid City (Black)! The White version is good too but I just think the Black version is catchy and emotionally moving (lol I almost accidentally wrote sexy) and just has a great atmosphere. The other one is pretty awesome too though.
Whoops. XD
Yeah, I'd have to agree. My brothers don't like Nimbasa. After arranging Opelucid City (Black), I've grown quite fond to the song. :D
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on February 01, 2012, 10:46:06 PM
Soundtrack Review: The Haunted Mansion by Disneyland/Buddy Baker and X. Atencio

The last time I was at Walt Disney World, in January 2010 (wow, has it been that long?), I picked up a copy of “The Haunted Mansion,” a 40th anniversary soundtrack for the classic ride, being both a soundtrack enthusiast and a lover of the attraction. It has proved to be quite a worthwhile buy, even if only for a couple tracks—after all, the CD has only seven.

All are based around Buddy Baker and X. Atencio’s classic theme song “Grim, Grinning Ghosts,” the simple, creepy and catchy song that plays in several different formats throughout the ride. So basically, if you do not like that theme, there is a good chance you will not enjoy this album. Just a thought.

It starts off with the 13-minute “The Haunted Mansion,” which has the ride’s soundtrack as well as Paul Frees’ classic narration. From the cheesy puns to the genuinely clever aspects of the mansion, this track should prove nostalgic as well as entertaining. All the narratives are here, most notably Madam Leota—she’s the floating head in the crystal ball. “Grim, Grinning Ghosts” is heard prominently here: firstly as an organ-led funeral dirge to introduce the tour of the mansion, and then, as the guest enters the ballroom, an extravagant waltz which encompasses the ghosts dancing around the hall. Shortly thereafter, a piano solo of a truly creepy and haunting variation of the Wedding March, played while the deceased bride, killed by her husband, makes dark comments. A jazzy remix is used for the graveyard scene, heard first by itself, then with a small ensemble band, and finally with the singing busts singing the actual lyrics. The haunting chorus fades into nothing as Little Leona implores the guests to hurry back.

Next is “Ghostly Music Box,” which is my least favorite. It’s a great music box arrangement of “Grim, Grinning Ghosts” but…it’s a music box. It’s not going to be great.

“Otherwordly Concerto” works best when you know the backstory. Basically, the composers, Baker and Atencio, sat down at an organ to record the background music for the ride. The first two minutes are variations on the funeral dirge from the beginning of the ride, while the rest consists of an extended anthology of the waltz theme heard in the ballroom. It’s great but runs on a little too long.

“A Swinging Wake” is the graveyard background music, heard with no sound effects and no other accompaniments. It’s really catchy.

“The Graveyard Band” is the band that plays in the graveyard, without the background music and sound effects heard in the ride. It’s a fun little brass ensemble piece.

“999 Happy Haunts” is every single version of the actual song “Grim, Grinning Ghosts” heard in succession. Basically, it’s an extended version of the song with different voices. The first is obviously the most recognizable, a deep-voiced man, and the woman singing should be familiar as well, but some of the voices are just downright hilarious. From a zombie-sounding man who seems to have trouble opening his mouth to a ridiculously gruff monster voice, all the voices on this 7-minute track are worth listening to, if only for teh lulz.

Finally we come to the last and best track on the album, “Phantom Manor Suite,” which is the soundtrack with no narration to the Disneyland Paris version of the attraction. It is nothing like the other tracks on the album. Film composer John Debney (who was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005 for his score to “Passion of the Christ”) wrote this sweeping orchestral interpretation. I’m going to skip a line, because if you’re skimming over this review, I want you to see this part; it’s important.

If you are a fan of orchestral music at all, it is imperative that you listen to this track.

Thank you. Anyway, as I was saying, it’s wonderful. The first half of the song is a waltz, including strings and then adding a lovely female voice who accompanies the rest of the song, in addition to a wonderful and intense piano-led section. This leads into a very brief segment of the song “Grim, Grinning Ghosts,” only including the one minute or so that features the deep-voiced man. What’s better, some of the orchestra plays over the top, making it more real and jazzy and making it fit in better with the piece. After this, the score becomes very dark and creepy before digressing back into the waltz theme for a fitting ending. I’m not kidding when I say this track is almost worth the whole soundtrack.

Rating: ****

DOWNLOAD IT: If you are a fan of the Haunted Mansion attraction, its theme song, orchestral music in general, OR if you love hearing a wide variety of variations on a single theme.

DON’T DOWNLOAD IT: If you dislike “catchy” songs or hate albums that center around one melody, OR if you hate extended tracks that could be shorter.

Track listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. The Haunted Mansion
2. Ghostly Music Box
3. Otherworldly Concerto
4. A Swinging Wake
5. The Graveyard Band
6. 999 Happy Haunts
7. Phantom Manor Suite

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET THIS SOUNDTRACK, PM ME AND I WILL SEND IT TO YOU.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on February 20, 2012, 08:10:31 PM
Soundtrack Review: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Music and Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim

Performers:
Johnny Depp (as Sweeney Todd)
Helena Bonham Carter (as Mrs. Lovett)
Alan Rickman (as Judge Turpin)
Jamie Campbell Bower (as Anthony Hope)
Jayne Wisener (as Johanna Barker)
Ed Sanders (as Toby Ragg)
Laura Michelle Kelly (as the Old Beggar Woman)
Timothy Spall (as Beadle Bamford)
Sacha Baron Cohen (as Pirelli)

“Sweeney Todd” is the tragic tale of a tortured man. Fifteen years before the story takes place a corrupt figure of the law, Judge Turpin, had a young barber, Benjamin Barker, arrested on corrupt charges, and deported to Australia for a life sentence—all because he lusted after Lucy, Barker’s wife. Now an escaped convict, Barker returns to London under the name Sweeney Todd, bent on seeking revenge on those who wronged him.

The soundtrack begins with the eerie, haunting, and ultimately grandiose and extravagant “Opening Title,” a replacement for the musical’s “Ballad of Sweeney Todd.” It uses the same background music, more or less, and it’s a fantastic piece. The orchestra really shines in what is the only instrumental track on the album. Creepy strings, a pipe organ, and finally blaring brass sing, and sometimes scream, a haunting theme. An excellent piece.

The rest of the tracks are all vocal, of course. And there is a lot to love here. Sondheim proves wonderfully diverse, even by show tune standards.

“No Place Like London” is a subtly haunting song which introduces Anthony, a young sailor, and Sweeney Todd. Todd’s shaking bitterness is evident in Sondheim’s lyrics and Johnny Depp’s wonderful delivery, especially in the lines muttered to himself halfway through: “There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit/And it’s filled with people who are filled with sh*t/And the vermin of the world inhabit it…” The last minute or so is stolen by a lengthy instrumental section, wild and fast-paced, before becoming slightly cheery to lead directly into the next song, the upbeat and surprisingly moving “The Worst Pies in London,” which introduces the second central figure of the plot, Mrs. Lovett, portrayed beautifully by Helena Bonham Carter. “Poor Thing” follows, also performed by Bonham Carter, in which she relates what happened to Lucy. “My Friends” is a particularly slow and yet somehow beautiful piece in which Todd caresses his razor blades and Mrs. Lovett attempts to convey her feelings for him. Uhh…yeah I’m leaving that one alone. It finishes with the wonderful chord progression from the opening title.

“Green Finch and Linnet Bird” is the only song the movie included for Johanna, Todd’s daughter, portrayed rather well by Jayne Wisener. It’s soft, fluttering, and lovely, and serves a nice deviation from all that creepy music. The same can be said for what may be the most widely known song from Sweeney Todd, “Johanna,” which is sung by Anthony and is beautiful and tender.

“Alms! Alms!” is the song of the old beggar woman, slow and screechy. The longing piece doesn’t really have much effect over the rest of the soundtrack.

Next we come to the comical march “Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir,” sung brilliantly by Edward Sanders, who plays Tobias (Toby), the small boy. The highlight, however, has to be Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett proclaiming the “elixir” to be nothing special after all. (“What is this? …Smells like piss…looks like piss…this is piss, piss and ink.”)

“The Contest” is a song for Pirelli, played fantastically by the great Sacha Baron Cohen (who you might know as the Station Inspector from the recent movie Hugo). It’s ridiculously over-the-top and serves almost as comic relief.

“Wait” is the creepily slow song sung by Mrs. Lovett, advising Todd to bide his time. “Ladies in Their Sensitivities” is the Beadle’s song (played by Timothy Spall). It is not all that memorable. “Pretty Women” is notable, if for no other reason than it has Alan Rickman (as Judge Turpin) singing!!! His singing voice leaves a little something to be desired, and the piece is a bit boring, but you know. “Epiphany” is a lot of fun, as Sweeney Todd (and by extension Johnny Depp) goes mad with anger and starts yelling at random citizens, and then switches quickly to singing longingly for Johanna and Lucy.

That in turn leads to what I consider to be the best song from Sweeney Todd, “A Little Priest,” in which Mrs. Lovett and the demon barber waltz gleefully around the kitchen while plotting to bake people into pies to boost business and allow Sweeney to satisfy his murderous rage. The song gets its name, in case you didn’t know, from the section which finds Mrs. Lovett advising Sweeney to try the freshly baked priest: “It’s priest/Have a little priest”/“Is it really good?”/“Sir, it’s too good at least/Though they don’t commit sins of the flesh/So it’s pretty fresh”/”Awful lot of fat”/”Only where it sat”/”Haven’t you got poet or something like that?”/”Ah, but you see, the trouble with poet is how do you know it’s deceased?/Try the priest.” It’s a brilliant, satirical, and quite sadistic song, one with a bouncy waltzy melody, and the final few seconds might give you chills in its pure extravagance.

Next is another great song, “Johanna (Reprise),” which begins with Anthony reprising the same melody heard in the first version, and then comes to a more steady, pounding version which has Sweeney and Anthony singing over one another—but Johnny Depp’s performance proves more rewarding. And the Beggar Woman sings sporadically in a couple verses, incorporating her “City on Fire” sections, as she grows steadily more hysterical and insane. One of the most bizarre things about this song is the fact that Sweeney sings it while slitting several peoples’ throats. It’s pretty strange to look at.

“God, That’s Good!” is Mrs. Lovett and Toby singing to pie shop customers. It uses a similar structure and melody to “Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir.”

“By the Sea” is one of the movie’s more humorous moments, in which Mrs. Lovett tells Todd of her fantasies that one day they will be married and have a house by the sea.

“Not While I’m Around” is pretty and moving. Toby’s commitment to Mrs. Lovett is almost sad. And it’s delightfully creepy when she starts singing.

I won’t spoil the ending, but the ten-minute “Final Scene” is very well-done, and it reprises practically every other song in the soundtrack, if only briefly.

Rating: *****

DOWNLOAD: If you enjoy musicals OR the macabre.
DON’T DOWNLOAD: If you don’t enjoy show tunes or creepy music, OR are expecting Depp or Bonham Carter to be phenomenal singers.

Track Listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. Opening Title
2. No Place Like London
3. The Worst Pies in London
4. Poor Thing
5. My Friends
6. Green Finch and Linnet Bird
7. Alms! Alms!
8. Johanna
9. Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir
10. The Contest
11. Wait
12. Ladies in Their Sensitivities
13. Pretty Women
14. Epiphany
15. A Little Priest
16. Johanna (Reprise)
17. God, That’s Good!
18. By the Sea
19. Not While I’m Around
20. Final Scene
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Winter on February 21, 2012, 05:59:18 PM
After ctrl+f ing my name, I thought you talked about me like fifteen times. But it turns out that winter is just used in normal conversation on every thread. Also your signature xD

And yes.

I ctrl+f my name.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on February 21, 2012, 06:21:28 PM
Well Pokemon Black and White has several songs with "Winter" in their names and one of my songs from Trapped does as well.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: shadowkirby on February 22, 2012, 01:52:27 AM
My dad was in a stage production of sweeney todd.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on February 22, 2012, 02:08:08 AM
That's awesome!! What part did he have, a main part or an ensemble or something?

But yeah my school's doing it for the spring musical, a few of my friends are in it...I'mma go see it.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: shadowkirby on February 22, 2012, 02:43:43 AM
He was a chorus part... But it was still really cool.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on February 22, 2012, 02:45:27 AM
That is cool! I have three friends in the chorus part. And I know this senior guy, who arranged the Howl's Moving Castle Theme for me to play with the band last year, and also works at my local Gamestop, who is playing Pirelli... he's a great person for that role.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on March 24, 2012, 04:47:17 PM
Soundtrack Review: Hugo by Howard Shore

Hugo was a fantastic film by Scorsese, who often uses the brilliant Howard Shore (the man responsible for the award winning scores to Lord of the Rings) to write the scores for his films. And I can’t see how any other score would work better than Mr. Shore’s does.

While the orchestra is often present, Shore also uses a smaller ensemble to perform many of the pivotal parts of his score—an ensemble consisting of a highly prominent piano, musette, and guitar, as well as a bass, ondes martenot, and a percussionist.

The best thing about this score for me is either the French-influenced atmosphere or the multitudes of solid themes that Shore establishes and references throughout everything. These themes are everywhere. The first, representing clocks, mystery, and the overarching story, is heard at the very beginning of the first track, “The Thief.” It’s characterized by winding arpeggios and piano notes dropping octaves at a time. It’s quite pretty in waltz form, and in “The Clocks” is arranged into 4/4 time.

The next theme is Hugo’s theme, and appears in the first track immediately after the aforementioned motif. It’s characterized by a bright waltz, usually with accordion, and overall is quite joyous and represents Hugo well.

The Station Inspector’s theme is heard in several tracks, the first being the second one, “The Chase.” It’s quite French-inspired and this is probably one of the themes you’ll carry with you from the soundtrack, it being so catchy and somewhat chaotic.

The theme for Hugo’s father is heard in a LOT of the tracks (if only for an instant) but is heard in full in (fittingly enough) “Hugo’s Father.” It consists of several fast, mysterious notes, usually played on the piano, then repeated in a slightly different manner. In this track Shore goes farther and allows the guitar to build on it, making it more sorrowful and bittersweet.

Another winning theme is first heard in the second half of the soundtrack, in “Papa Georges Made Movies.” It’s sweet and reminds me of stars, and in the second half of that track is arranged into an uptempo version using the accordion, fun percussion, and piano. The second half is quite similar to the style Ratatouille’s “Le Festin.”

Finally, the last theme is first heard fleetingly in “The Invention of Dreams” then later in full in “The Magician.” It uses sweeping strings before going off on a fun, chaotic rant.

There are some other winners on here, obviously. “Coeur Volant” is the first ending credits song, using many of Shore’s motifs, and sung beautifully in French by the artist Zaz. The second end credits song, “Winding it Up,” covers several of Shore’s themes.

I quite enjoyed Hugo. But it might not be everybody’s thing. If French-inspired music is your type of thing, this soundtrack is an absolute must. However, if an accordion in waltz tempo makes you want to cut your ears off, this is probably not the album for you.

Rating: ****

Track listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. The Thief
2. The Chase
3. The Clocks
4. Snowfall
5. Hugo’s Father
6. Ashes
7. The Station Inspector
8. Bookstore
9. The Movies
10. The Message
11. The Armoire
12. Purpose
13. The Plan
14. Trains
15. Papa Georges Made Movies
16. The Invention of Dreams
17. A Ghost in the Station
18. A Train Arrives in the Station
19. The Magician
20. Coeur Volant (performed by Zaz)
21. Winding it Up
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Ruto on March 24, 2012, 08:29:20 PM
Since it's a bit much to ask you to do the entire LOTR soundtrack, what about doing the Cardcaptor Sakura: The Sealed Card one? I won't laugh at you for watching the movie or listening to the songs xD I'm interested in what you think of an old anime soundtrack composed by someone who doesn't even have a Wikipedia page.

Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on March 27, 2012, 02:05:41 AM
Forget that. I downloaded all three lotr soundtracks.
 
(http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lfp2hoS7xu1qc9f5v.jpg)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Ruto on March 27, 2012, 04:53:17 AM
That's how many hours of music there? XD

I have the first two complete soundtracks actually...attended the first* one of the orchestrated screenings at Radio City, met Howard Shore and got him to autograph something. Looks like we're both obsessed with it, woooo...


*would have went to the others if I had the money. $90+ for an average seat isn't exactly cheap.../poor college student
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on March 27, 2012, 05:02:05 AM
That's how many hours of music there? XD

I have the first two complete soundtracks actually...attended the first* one of the orchestrated screenings at Radio City, met Howard Shore and got him to autograph something. Looks like we're both obsessed with it, woooo...


*would have went to the others if I had the money. $90+ for an average seat isn't exactly cheap.../poor college student

Pics please

I loved his score for Hugo so freaking much
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Ruto on March 27, 2012, 05:25:06 AM
I don't think I took a pic of me and Howard Shore...even if I did, it would be on my old camera and its memory card that I put aside, years ago. I think I have a picture OF him though. Yeah, my friend left me right after the show so I think that's probably why I don't think I had a picture with him. The line for autographs was at least an hour long.

But I'm sure I still have the program he autographed. It might be a bit battered, though. I'll find it and get a pic of it possibly on Friday.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on March 29, 2012, 02:40:20 AM
Soundtrack Review: Whisper of the Heart by Yuji Nomi -- specially ded. to the memory of Yoshifumi Kondo

With Studio Ghibli, you can for the good majority of the time count on one thing: that you are about to see something you’ve never seen before, something extraordinary. Whisper of the Heart defies this notion, and is in fact the only Ghibli film I have seen that contains no supernatural elements. And yet it is a wonderful film: one that tells of the innocence of young children, and the loss of that innocence, and first love, and all that mess. It is a deeply moving, poignant look at everyday life. It’s one of my favorite Ghibli films because of this. It also has a bit of a sad story behind it: the reason its director, Yoshifumi Kondo, Miyazaki’s protege, never went on to direct any other films, is because of his untimely tragic death due to a ruptured aneurysm. He was only forty-seven. His death brought Miyazaki out of retirement to direct such masterpieces as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away--but you have to wonder what kind of films Kondo would have gone on to produce.

The score was done by Yuji Nomi. This was his first job composing for films, and in fact (as far as I know, and his one-sentence Wikipedia entry reads) his only job until seven years later when Studio Ghibli released a spinoff of Whisper of the Heart, entitled The Cat Returns. In my opinion, they are both great scores and Nomi deserves a lot of credit.

The movie features John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Road” heavily in the story, and Nomi actually wrote alternate lyrics titled “Concrete Road” to be featured in the film. The soundtrack album features a violin version with Yoko Honna (the voice of the main character, Shizuku) singing in a lovely piece, and is also ended by a full orchestrated version, once again with her singing. Both are lovely. The instrumentation is better in the violin version, but the actual song at the end of the album is gorgeous.

The original score is very, very good. The (surprisingly sparse) themes are just lovely. The main thing that sticks with me after listening to the score, though, is the lavish orchestration. Just listen to the opening track, “Hilly Town.” It contains what I consider the main theme of the movie (though it only shows up in one other track). It begins slowly with just a piano performing the poignant theme, then moves to some easygoing strings before becoming fast-paced. The strings, woodwinds, piano, just everything about this piece is lovely and really shows Nomi’s talent for orchestration. “On the Hill, Breezy” takes a more relaxed version of the theme and they’re both extraordinarily pretty in their quiet loveliness.

Another theme which is first heard in small snippets in the all-too-brief “The End of the Summer” is referenced in numerous other tracks but really is intended to be the theme of Baron. It can be heard briefly in "Let's Fly! We'll Catch the Updraft" and beautifully in full in “The Song of Baron.” It uses a strange chord structure, but it is pretty great (though that squeaky violin is quite a lot to handle).

A main theme for the second half of the album--a sort of love theme for Shizuku and Seiji--is introduced in a similarly wonderful way in the track “Floating Clouds, Shining Hills,” in which a similar orchestration to the opening track is used. It is quite a beautiful theme which is heard in the more upbeat synthesized cue “I’ve Decided! I Will Write a Story” and a slow violin piece, "Canon." One of the more innocent, poignant tracks is “Recollections,” which is orchestrated beautifully as with the aforementioned tracks. It tells of lost love and also a regained sense of hope come from sadness. It's worth grouping "The Elf Queen" with this one. "The Forest of Doubts" is gorgeously uneasy, representing Shizuku's struggle with life.

“A Confidential Talk” is an excellent example of musical humor. The clarinet and other woodwinds lead into a violin and then accordion section that’s really cute (if you’ve seen the movie you can probably understand my opinion of it).

Finally, I really must mention the harpsichord-led "Angel's Room," which has a beautiful string movement of the Baron's theme in the middle. It's a cute sort of track, accompanying Shizuku and Seiji's innocent young love.

There are a lot of cues that use some strange synthesizer instruments, which sound a bit out of place next to the other wonderfully orchestrated tracks. They’re good, just not as good as the album’s highlights.

All in all, the score is a bit of a mixed bag. The opening track and several others down the road (the COUNTRY road) are beautifully handled, but other simpler tracks seem almost lazy by comparison. I quite enjoyed the album, though, and would recommend a listen for those fans of the film (who will ultimately get the most out of it).

Rating: ****

Track listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. Hilly Town
2. Chasing a Cat
3. The Earth Shop
4. The Elf Queen
5. The End of the Summer
6. A Confidential Talk
7. On the Train
8. On the Hill, Breezy
9. Angel’s Room
10. (Violin Tuning)
11. Country Road (Violin Version)
12. The Stars in Heaven
13. Floating Clouds, Shining Hills
14. I’ve Decided! I Will Write a Story
15. Let’s Fly! We’ll Catch the Updraft!
16. An Old Windprint
17. Canon
18. The Forest of Doubts
19. Recollections
20. The Song of Baron
21. Daybreak
22. Country Road (Theme Song)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Ruto on April 05, 2012, 04:42:14 AM
For Slow: A blurry camera pic!

(http://i662.photobucket.com/albums/uu347/deku_nut/IMG00427-20120404-2144.jpg)

I have a snap of the cover as well, didn't upload that yet though.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on April 05, 2012, 04:49:08 AM
Wow that is absolutely brilliant!
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Ruto on April 06, 2012, 01:10:05 AM
Hahaha thanks!

I had to buy the program for the show, it was $10 and the tickets already cost me $90+ (I think). Sort of highway robbery but then I had to after I found out he was signing them :D
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on April 06, 2012, 04:34:15 AM
Soundtrack Review: Nintendo DS Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Super Music Collection by Jun’ichi Masuda, Go Ichinose, Morikazu Aoki, and Hitomi Sato

So this is the second Pokémon soundtrack I’m reviewing (the first being Pokémon Black and White) and luckily this one is not nearly as monstrous. However, at 149 tracks, it is fairly formidable, so this will probably end up being quite a long review. Alright, it seems like most of the main themes were handled by Sato and Ichinose, with Masuda composing all battle music as well as a couple of the “night” remixes of routes, some Dialga/Palkia themes, and some assorted remixes of his past themes. The only tracks that Aoki is credited with are “Get a Berry” and “Forget a Technique,” in addition to “Battle Tower” which don’t quite merit this composer any other mentions on this list. Shame, considering all the wonderful music composed by him for Ruby and Sapphire. Oh well. On to the review.

The album has quite a distinctive sound to it. Just as Ruby and Sapphire overused the trumpet and occasionally the strings, Diamond and Pearl heavily feature a jazz organ of sorts, a contrabass, and some other strange bass instrument that underlies many of the tracks. Interestingly, all of the city and route themes have both day and night versions, typically with the night being more relaxed and the day being more upbeat. It’s a clever idea, but for the most part isn’t overtly noticeable--there are of course great exceptions.

PART I: CITY AND TOWN THEMES
I’ll start, this time, with a look at city and town music. This category starts off strong with Sato’s wonderful “Twinleaf Town (Day).” It’s heartfelt and quite beautiful. I really like how it’s pretty while not boring or slow. The instruments are perfectly used. The night version feels like it uses “quieter” instruments for a more relaxed effect. In this version, the strings and mallets make the piece flow more smoothly. Ichinose’s “Sandgem Town” brings the organ into play, as well as playful mallets which make this a fun (if forgettable) piece. Sato’s “Jubilife City” suffers a similar fate. The music isn’t bad, but there’s nothing compelling or wonderful about it. Her “Oreburgh City” is slightly more memorable, and is more fun. The town music thus far (excepting Twinleaf Town) is all instantly recognizable, but not amazing on its own. All of this changes with “Floaroma Town” in which Sato brings a lilting, elegant waltz, using a bouncing harp and strings as well as what sounds like a muted trumpet to make a very pretty theme. The night version is even better; it uses incessant strings to make it flow beautifully.

Another great track is found in “Eterna City” in which Ichinose uses horse clops, a lazy swing eighths tempo, and a wonderful flute and later harmonica to carry the melody. It’s pretty and fits the old fashioned city well. “Hearthome City”’s happy melody and incessant percussion makes even the night version sound upbeat. “Solaceon Town” is quite nice, though I do feel that this theme was quite overused in the games. The jazzy piano in “Veilstone City” is just lazy and catchy enough to make this a worthy theme, before it explodes into a full-blown jazz piece. I think one of the truly fantastic pieces from the games is “Canalave City.” The beautiful piano mingles with strings in a flowing piece that I really do love. “Snowpoint City” uses the piano in several lone notes before developing a bit, but it suffers from being less memorable and--let’s face it--good than the others. “Sunyshore City” has a wonderful intro before becoming annoyingly upbeat with that omnipresent organ underlying everything. “Pokemon League” is a beautiful piano piece. I like “Fight Area” simply because of its overwhelming “Pokémon-ish-ness.” It just sounds like it belongs in a Pokémon game, with courageous brass and a blatantly adventurous tone. Finally, “Valor Lakefront” brings a relaxing, quietly beautiful piece that is great for all the areas it appears in. Sounds a bit lonely and, well, like the beach. The night version focuses more on strings to carry the piece a bit more smoothly.

PART II: BATTLE THEMES
Next, battle themes, all composed by the lovable Jun’ichi Masuda. The battle themes really shone this generation, with most of them being great even in spite of their overusage in the game and excessive timpani. “Battle! Wild Pokémon” is, in particular, one that I usually cannot stand due to repetitiveness and the crazy amount of times you hear it. But here, it isn’t so bad. “Battle! Trainer” is also great; in fact, it’s probably my favorite of all the Trainer battle themes. I really like “Battle! Gym Leader”; it’s catchy and borrows some of the melody from the infamous “Lighthouse” from Pokémon Gold and Silver. A higher key version of this song is used for “Battle! Elite Four.” “Battle! Team Galactic” and “Battle! Team Galactic Commander” are jazzy and chaotic, using a similar theme. I quite enjoy them. “Battle! Team Galactic Boss,” on the other hand, is minimal, quiet and menacing on its own, deviating greatly from the normal team battle themes. I like that contrast. I have to say, though, probably my favorite battle theme this game is “Battle! Dialga, Palkia” in its tenseness and strangeness. I love the use of the piano, it gives the music a new dimension. I love “Battle! Champion” this region, with relentless snare drums and an amazing head-pounding rhythm. “Battle! Uxie, Mesprit, Azelf” is pretty fantastic in its tenseness and general cool melody featuring a relentless slap bass in the background. “Battle! Legendary Pokémon” is fairly lackluster, never really developing much.

PART III: ROUTE THEMES
Next, route themes, and that is where Diamond and Pearl really shines. No doubt players will get nostalgic at the cheery, smile-inducing “Route 201 (Day)” which tells players to have fun and go places, while the night version suggest it might be past your bedtime. “Route 203” is the least good of the route themes, with the organ being overused to a point where I might actually turn my music down to avoid hearing it. It picks up in the latter half but that intro is enough to scare me away. “Route 205” is beautiful in its elegance, and encourages exploration everywhere. “Route 206,” however, is a worthwhile track which sounds epic and like an adventure. From the opening with excessive pizzicato strings, it’s sure to evoke smiles. However, one of the most absolutely fantastic of the route themes is found in “Route 209” which sounds to me like rain. The elegant piano dips into the song throughout, with flowing strings and brave snare drum backing up the beautiful melody carried by a trumpet before picking up with other percussion and becoming briefly more exotic. In contrast, “Route 210” finds a theme that is great simply because of its sound of plowing ahead, no matter what. While 209 sounds like standing under an umbrella and admiring the beauty of the rain, 210 suggests forgetting the umbrella and recklessly running ahead through the mud. “Route 216” is a very surprising track. Rarely does Pokémon ever use music like this for routes. It begins with a brass instrument being dark, and continues to be slow for a while before exploding into a great theme for the most snowy place in the history of Pokémon. The night version uses the piano to its advantage. “Route 225” is probably, along with Route 209, the route music that epitomizes Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. The electric guitar, synthesizers, and rockin’ atmosphere really gives a great idea of what the games are. I enjoy how the night version is in a considerably higher key. Finally there is the excellent “Route 228,” written for the desert routes. It’s quite jazzy, and here is another of Sato’s pieces that are wonderfully different in the day and night versions. The day version focuses on an excellent brass ensemble with piano underlying, while the night version, in addition to being in a higher key, focuses exclusively on the rather show-offy piano part, with brass backing it up. I love the theme.

PART IV: REMIXES OF OLDER THEMES
Next we come to the remixes of older themes. The first is the Pokémon Center theme, which also got both day and night versions. The day is the typical Pokémon Center theme, but the night was excellently handled. It’s melancholy and lonely and is a great example of what the potential for the day and night themes is. “Friendly Shop” contains the excellent remix of the shop theme, upbeat and sounding like a supermarket in this version. There’s quite a piano part in this version. There’s the omnipresent, happy-go-lucky “Take Along” as usual. “Gym” is more marchlike than ever, in one of my favorite versions of the theme. The synthesizer-led “Battle Tower” is an effective remix. Finally, “Contest Assembly Hall” and “Super Contest” are great remixes of the contest themes first heard in Ruby and Sapphire. Oh, and we can’t forget “Opening Demo,” the inevitable remix of the main theme.

PART V: CHARACTER THEMES AND TRAINER SPOTTED THEMES
I personally love these themes as they are typically the catchiest of the bunch in Pokémon games. A problem I have with this particular game is that the themes for the three main characters (Rival, Dawn, and Lucas) all kind of suck. I see how the rival’s theme might fit his reckless personality, but it doesn’t stop it from being annoying. And truthfully, I don’t even know where Dawn and Lucas’s themes are trying to go. Not my personal favorites. “Enter the Elite Four” is jazzy but forgettable. The only other character theme is the epic piano solo “Champion Cynthia” which really caps off the character. As far as the spotted themes go, they’re a bit hit and miss with this region, though there are definitely winners. “Spotted! Youngster” does what it needs to do but, as usual, isn’t really memorable. “Spotted! Lass” is cute, though, and I enjoy its teasing style. The brief “Spotted! Twins” uses mallets in a cute fashion. “Team Galactic Enters” is quite a good piece, epitomizing Team Galactic well, if briefly. Another winner is “Spotted! Biker” which has a mocking grandeur in its melody, with excessive timpani and wonderful mallets and trilling flutes giving the impression of a big-band style march. The accordion in “Spotted! Hiker,” however, gets fairly old fairly quickly in this very brief piece. “Spotted! Ace Trainer” is fairly annoying in its supposed coolness. I don’t care much for it. The crazy synthesizers and electric guitar in “Spotted! Black Belt” is surprisingly catchy this region. I really, really like the creepy themes this time. “Spotted! Sailor” is jazzy and sleazy with its saxophone, and it’s admittedly catchy. “Spotted! Collector” is unapologetically creepy, though, with great orchestration. It’s a fun theme. And the jazzy “Spotted! Gambler” is really fun. I like the sleazy brass quite a lot. On the other hand, I really can’t stand the annoying symphony bells in “Spotted! Aroma Lady.” This category ends well with the awesome piano ragtime, “Spotted! Artist.” It’s just all around good jazzy fun.

PART VI: OTHER LOCATION AND ACTIVITY THEMES
Here are the themes that don’t quite fit in the “route” or “city” categories. “Lake” is Ichinose’s try for an elegant piece, but it is generally more annoying and repetitive than anything. “Laboratory” is the excellent theme for Professor Rowan, heard in the opening selection, and here performed on the piano. “Oreburgh Gate” uses pizzicato strings and doesn’t develop much. “Oreburgh Mine” does not serve well with repetitive bells, either. However, “Mt. Coronet” is beautiful in its almost horrific ensemble piece. Beginning slow and then developing, it’s an excellent cave theme. I actually like “Eterna Forest” with its odd time signature (is that 5/4 I hear?) and mystery, though it is repetitive after a while. “Eterna Galactic Building” is wonderfully jazzy and dark, a great villainous theme (if it is somewhat brief for my liking). This game also houses my favorite of the “Bicycle” themes, this one using more timpani and sounding more adventurous in contrast to all the others which sound playful. The tenseness of “Team Galactic Headquarters” is alright but doesn’t really leave an impact. However, “Deep Within the HQ!” is worth a listen, if only because its random beeps and noises will leave you very curious. I love the “Spear Pillar” theme which borrows from the motif Masuda introduced in “Battle! Dialga, Palkia.” I really enjoyed the mystery of “Victory Road” this region, with a great violin/piano/flute/random percussion ensemble--though at only 36 seconds it is ridiculously short. Ichinose redeems himself, though, with a great theme for “Jubilife TV.” It uses nostalgic beeps along with a march-style tempo and rockin’ synthesizers. Truth be told, I didn’t care much for the dreamy “Surf” waltz this time around, though the style did work way better than the awful surf theme in Black and White. A great, if repetitive, march is found in the stampeding “Sinnoh Underground” with timpani and piano performing in great unison. However, all of this is made strange by the bizarre, banjo-led “Capture the Flag Underground!” which was an unapologetically country-style deviation from anything I would have expected. One of Ichinose’s best contributions was “Old Chateau,” a fantastic haunted house theme using mainly piano, strings, and timpani in addition to some creepy synthesizers and bells. Love this piece overall. “Great Marsh” is one of the winners on this soundtrack. It is by far the most upbeat, happy, song I’ve heard from Pokémon that still manages to leave an impression. Love the exotic percussion and dancingly happy tempo. Ichinose uses an electric guitar to lead yet another of his excellent “Game Corner” themes. I absolutely love Masuda’s slot winning themes, though, because he referenced his Mt. Moon theme from Pokémon Gold and Silver in honor of Clefairy being featured on the slot games. He also proves to be a master of tenseness, however, with “Lake Crater” which features a simple four-note main theme. I enjoy the carelessly cheery “Amity Square” as it features some fun instruments and melodic ideas. The two dances, “Easy Dance” and “Difficult Dance” both work well, the first attempting cuteness and the second coolness (both achieving their goals, more or less). But Ichinose’s “Stark Mountain” is where he goes all-out in a full-blown frightening exotic theme. It’s quite catchy and works well in context. “Deciding Battle! Pokémon League” is the theme for inside the Pokémon League, and it’s also full-blown with incessant piano and even using a haunting chorus briefly. Especially the intro is fantastically done.

PART VII: PART OF THE STORY
Only a few themes are mentioned here. First is Professor Rowan’s theme, introduced in “Opening” then used in “Laboratory” and “Hall of Fame.” It’s instantly recognizable due to its strange time signature and epic-sounding melody. Secondly and lastly is the “Ending” theme which begins slow and beautiful before developing into  fast-paced theme that’s also heartfelt.

General consensus: While not on the same scale technically or musically as Black and White, Diamond and Pearl offers some quality themes and deserves a listen. Don’t download if repetitive music is not your thing.

Rating: *****

Track listing (excellent tracks in red)
DISC ONE
1. Opening Demo
2. Opening
3. Special Program “Follow the Red Gyarados!”
4. Twinleaf Town (Day)
5. Rival
6. Route 201 (Day)
7. Lake
8. Happening at the Lake!
9. Battle! Wild Pokémon
10. Victory Against a Wild Pokémon!
11. Dawn
12. Item Acquisition
13. Sandgem Town (Day)
14. Laboratory
15. Take Along
16. Pokémon Center (Day)
17. Recovery
18. Spotted! Youngster
19. Spotted! Lass
20. Battle! Trainer
21. Victory Against a Trainer!
22. Jubilife City (Day)
23. Get an Important Item
24. Friendly Shop
25. Route 203 (Day)
26. Battle! Rival
27. Oreburgh Gate
28. Get a Technique Machine
29. Oreburgh City (Day)
30. Oreburgh Mine
31. Gym
32. Battle! Gym Leader
33. Victory Against a Gym Leader
34. Get a Badge
35. Spotted! Twins
36. Level-up
37. Floaroma Town (Day)
38. Get a Berry
39. Route 205 (Day)
40. Team Galactic Enters
41. Battle! Team Galactic
42. Eterna Forest
43. Let’s Go Together!
44. Eterna City (Day)
45. Eterna Galactic Building
46. Battle! Team Galactic Commander
47. Victory Against Team Galactic!
48. Evolution
49. Congratulations on Evolution
50. Bicycle
51.  Spotted! Biker
52. Route 206 (Day)
53. Hearthome City (Day)
54. Route 209 (Day)
55. Spotted! Hiker
56. Solaceon Town (Day)
57. Get a Pokétch Application
58. Route 210 (Day)
59. Veilstone City (Day)
60. Valor Lakefront (Day)
61. Canalave City (Day)
62. Route 216 (Day)
63. Snowpoint City (Day)
64. Team Galactic Headquarters
65. Battle! Team Galactic Boss
66. Deep Within the HQ!
67. Mt. Coronet
68. Spear Pillar
69. Legendary Pokémon Appears!
70. Cataclysm!
71. Battle! Dialga, Palkia
72. Sunyshore City (Day)
73. Victory Road
74. Spotted! Ace Trainer
75. Pokémon League (Day)
76. Fight Area (Day)
77. Route 225 (Day)
78. Route 228 (Day)
DISC TWO
1. Twinleaf Town (Night)
2. Route 201 (Night)
3. Pokémon Center (Night)
4. Wi-Fi Communication
5. Sandgem Town (Night)
6. Lucas
7. Jubilife City (Night)
8. Jubilife TV
9. GTS
10. Surf
11. Canalave City (Night)
12. Forget a Technique
13. Route 203 (Night)
14. Spotted! Black Belt
15. Oreburgh City (Night)
16. Route 205 (Night)
17. Spotted! Sailor
18. Eterna City (Night)
19. Sinnoh Underground
20. Capture the Flag Underground!
21. Spotted! Aroma Lady
22. Floaroma Town (Night)
23. Old Chateau
24. Solaceon Town (Night)
25. Great Marsh
26. Route 206 (Night)
27. Spotted! Collector
28. Veilstone City (Night)
29. Game Corner
30. Success at the Slots
31. Great Success at the Slots
32. Spotted! Gambler
33. Route 209 (Night)
34. Snowpoint City (Night)
35. Route 216 (Night)
36. Lake Crater
37. Battle! Uxie, Mesprit, Azelf
38. Route 210 (Night)
39. Discovery with Poké Radar!
40. Sunyshore City (Night)
41. Spotted! Artist
42. Amity Square
43. Get an Accessory
44. Hearthome City (Night)
45. Contest Assembly Hall
46. Poffin
47. Super Contest!
48. Contest! Dress-up
49. Easy Dance
50. Difficult Dance
51. Contest! Announcing the Results
52. Contest Victory!
53. Route 228 (Night)
54. Valor Lakefront (Night)
55. Fight Area (Night)
56. Battle Tower
57. Route 225 (Night)
58. Stark Mountain
59. Battle! Legendary Pokémon
60. Mystery Gift
61. Pokémon League (Night)
62. Deciding Battle! Pokémon League
63. Enter the Elite Four!
64. Battle! Elite Four
65. Victory Against the Elite Four!
66. Champion Cynthia
67. Battle! Champion
68. Victory Against the Champion
69. Hall of Fame
70. Congratulations on Entering the Hall of Fame!
71. Ending
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on April 07, 2012, 05:20:52 PM
Soundtrack Review: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky by Arata Iiyoshi

This soundtrack is a bit of an oddity. I quite like it. The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games have quite a cult following, and not only is the gameplay fun and addictive, the plotlines are moving and filled with twists. And the music is excellent. Here’s the thing. The music is not very high quality. Most of it sounds like it could be from a GBA game. But the really surprising thing is the number of good quality compositions behind the low quality. And it’s not like the music quality is AWFUL--it definitely gives the music a distinctive feel. Perhaps this style works best for this music.

I am not familiar with any of Iiyoshi’s other works and to be honest I have not bothered to even look him up on Wikipedia before writing this review. So I am not sure if this is a first job for him, or what, but he shows a lot of ambition. At 141 tracks this album is longer than the Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire one by a good thirty tracks or so. And all the songs are carefully thought out. The problem is that while he shows ambition and has several really good compositions, so many of the dungeon themes suffer from a lack of memorability. So a lot of the tracks won’t get a mention here.

There’s a sense of brave and courageous adventure throughout the score, most blatantly in the main theme of the game, “Pokémon Exploration Team Theme.” It uses brass to give a really happy and yet courageous feeling. I find it funny how Iiyoshi uses the theme with chimes and pizzicato strings in “Top Menu Theme” to make it more timid. You’d hardly recognize that it was the same motif. The same idea of adventure is expressed in “Mt. Horn” which has blaring brass and excessive timpani to convey a grand adventure. And “Temporal Tower” definitely sounds like a final showdown. The main theme is brought back in “Ending Theme” which makes an impact. A lot of the music is just on a grand scale, ahead of its time. “Northern Desert” has a sweepingly slow, lazy waltz that could really make someone sway with the music. Another example is the surprisingly dangerous “Dark Forest” which manages to leave an impact. The three that really leave an impact as being powerful are “Through the Sea of Time” which despite its brevity might leave you in tears, “Time Gear” which arranges the theme into a 3/4 tempo, and “In the Hands of Fate” which is the Time Gear theme on a smaller scale--using mainly chimes. It’s worth noting that “Dialga’s Fight to the Finish!” uses a similar idea.

There are also some pieces that really showcase the lighter side of the orchestra. “On the Beach at Dusk” conveys a serene happiness that gives me chills, despite the simplicity. There’s also the adorable, sleepy“Goodnight” which is nostalgic and moving. “Waterfall Cave” might surprise you in its moodiness for a dungeon theme. It’s pretty mellow and serene. The simple happiness in “At the End of the Day” is cute and smile-inducing, while “Defend Globe” is so heartfelt that it’s almost ridiculous to be in a video game. The elegance in “Treeshroud Forest” and the quiet beauty in “Hidden Land” is hypnotic. The “Hidden Highland” is surprisingly dark but still is one of the more beautiful pieces on the album--again sounding more like a film score. The ticking in “Temporal Spire” is reflective and moody. And several of the ending tracks are downright tear-jerking. “Don’t Ever Forget...” is quite poignant and sorrowful, as are the few tracks that follow it, setting up the ending theme brilliantly. “In the Morning Sun” is similar. “In the Nightmare” is beautiful and also a bit chilling. “Steam Cave” is pretty much the definition of moody music, with a relentless slap bass in the background playing the same incessant note throughout.

That’s not to say the soundtrack doesn’t have its playful moments. Often these are a highlight. From the wacky, off-kilter “Spinda’s Café” to the laid-back fun of “Marowak Dojo,” the playful tracks really add some fun to the album without detracting from the beauty in other tracks. "Treasure Town" is a cute Irish jig.“Guildmaster Wigglytuff” manages to be silly and still be quite an impressive piece, while “Team Skull” suggests Skuntank’s fumes through dissonant and creepy chords which are also quite fun. “Apple Woods” is a quiet waltz, bouncy and serene. Elsewhere, “Outlaw!” lets loose in full-blown chaos. The chimes in “Cave and Side Path” are quite fun to hear, with minimal percussion before it gets to other instruments scattering around chaotically. The mystery and sway of “Foggy Forest” and “Crystal Crossing” will most likely captivate you. Two really playful tracks despite their overlying creepiness are found in “Dusk Forest” and “Deep Forest” with its tempo which is bouncy, devilish and impish. “Shaymin Village” is also quite fun with a slow, happy waltz tempo. The excellent Tiny Woods remix in “Murky Forest” is as threatening and creepily happy as always--always good for a listen. There are always the relentless bongo drums in “Southern Jungle” which make me think the player is being chased by cannibals or something. “Team Charm’s Theme” really brings a rockin’ atmosphere in a theme song for the trio led by Lopunny.

Overall, Iiyoshi shows a lot of diversity, though most of the dungeon themes are stereotypical video game music--catchy and brief, with little memorability. Download if you’re into that kind of thing, or if you think the really moving tracks are worth a download. Overall not bad.

Rating: *****

Track listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. Pokémon Exploration Team Theme
2. Top Menu Theme
3. Welcome to the World of Pokémon!
4. On the Beach at Dusk
5. Beach Cave
6. In the Depths of the Pit
7. Title Theme
8. Wigglytuff’s Guild
9. Guildmaster Wigglytuff
10. Goodnight
11. Wigglytuff’s Guild Remix
12. Drenched Bluff
13. Job Clear!
14. Treasure Town
15. Heartwarming
16. Growing Anxiety
17. Oh No!
18. Mt. Bristle
19. Boss Battle!
20. Time Gear Remix
21. The Gatekeepers
22. Outlaw!
23. I Saw Something Again...
24. Waterfall Cave
25. Kecleon’s Shop
26. Team Skull
27. Spinda’s Café
28. Ludicolo Dance
29. Apple Woods
30. Craggy Coast
31. Cave and Side Path
32. Mt. Horn
33. Foggy Forest
34. Steam Cave
35. Upper Steam Cave
36. Amp Plains
37. Far Amp Plains
38. Monster House!
39. Rising Fear
40. Northern Desert
41. Quicksand Cave
42. Quicksand Pit
43. Crystal Cave
44. Crystal Crossing
45. At the End of the Day
46. In the Future
47. Planet’s Paralysis
48. Chasm Cave
49. Dark Hill
50. Sealed Ruin
51. Sealed Ruin Pit
52. Dusk Forest
53. Deep Dusk Forest
54. The Power of Darkness
55. Treeshroud Forest
56. Brine Cave
57. Lower Brine Cave
58. Hidden Land
59. Hidden Highland
60. Battle Against Dusknoir
61. Time Gear
62. Through the Sea of Time
63. In the Hands of Fate
64. Temporal Tower
65. Temporal Spire
66. Temporal Pinnacle
67. Down a Dark Path
68. Dialga’s Fight to the Finish!
69. Time Restored
70. Don’t Ever Forget...
71. Have to Get Home
72. Farther Away...
73. A Wish for Peace
74. Memories Returned
75. Ending Theme Intro
76. Ending Theme
77. Epilogue Theme
78. Mystifying Forest
79. Do Your Best, as Always!
80. Shaymin Village
81. Sky Peak Forest
82. Sky Peak Cave
83. Sky Peak Prairie
84. Sky Peak Coast
85. Sky Peak Snowfield
86. Sky Peak Final Pass
87. Blizzard Island Rescue Team Medley
88. Surrounded Sea
89. Miracle Sea
90. Aegis Cave
91. Defy the Legends
92. Concealed Ruins
93. Mt. Travail
94. In the Nightmare
95. Palkia’s Onslaught!
96. Dark Crater
97. Deep Dark Crater
98. Random Dungeon Theme 1
99. Random Dungeon Theme 2
100. Random Dungeon Theme 3
101. Marowak Dojo
102. Pelipper Island
103. Sympathy
104. Beyond the Dream
105. Air of Unease
106. Star Cave
107. Deep Star Cave
108. One for All, All for One!
109. Murky Forest
110. A Fun Exploration
111. Fortune Ravine
112. Fortune Ravine Depths
113. It Can’t Be...
114. Defend Globe
115. Defend Globe (Ending)
116. Spring Cave
117. Lower Spring Cave
118. Spring Cave Depths
119. Here Comes Team Charm!
120. Southern Jungle
121. Boulder Quarry
122. Illusion Stone Chamber
123. Limestone Cavern
124. Deep Limestone Cavern
125. Team Charm’s Theme
126. For a New Life
127. Barren Valley
128. Dark Wasteland
129. Spacial Cliffs
130. Dark Ice Mountain
131. Living Spirit
132. Icicle Forest
133. Proud Achievement
134. Vast Ice Mountain
135. Vast Ice Mountain Peak
136. In the Morning Sun
137. A New World
138. It’s Not a Miracle
139. Thoughts for Friends
140. A Message on the Wind
141. Life Goes On! (Ending)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Bespinben on April 07, 2012, 11:12:47 PM
(http://i1111.photobucket.com/albums/h475/Bespinben/Applause.gif)

You, sir, have won my internet. I'm going to organize my response on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis (meaning my second paragraph, the next one, will be in response to your second paragraph.

I've tried various occasions to gather details on Iiyoshi-san, but all I can come up with is that, outside of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon 1 and 2, he supervised the Super Smash Bros. Brawl arrangements of Skyworld (Kid Icarus), Dark World (LoZ: Link to the Past), and White Land (F-Zero). On the matter of the vastness of PMD2 soundtrack, I think that THAT in itself contributed to the forgetability of a few dungeon themes. In contrast, I could name for you any song from PMD1: Blue/Red Rescue Team upon hearing it, simply because the soundtrack is half the size as it's sequel (and maybe because of my bias that I slightly prefer PMD1 soundtrack over PMD2).

Possibly my favorite variation of the "Time Gear" motif that occurs in "Sacrifice" (i.e. "Through the Sea of Time), "In the Hands of Fate", and other songs is the "Fogbound Lake" theme. The way all of the parts interact in "Fogbound Lake" create a wondrous polyphonic texture, and is truly the epitome of the beautiful music in this game.

I'm really happy you gave mention to "Steam Cave", that's another one of my favorites. The moodiness really reflects the feelings of dread you might have as you approach the possibility of discovering your identity once you meet Uxie atop Fogbound Lake.

I've compared the PMD2 Sky "Murky Forest" and PMD1 "Tiny Woods" tracks a number of times, and I don't believe it's a remix at all. In fact, on a passive listen, one might even mistake Murky Forest to be a direct audio port of Tiny Woods. The only differences I could note were extremely subtle intonation differences due to having slightly different soundfonts. Oh, and I likewise enjoy "Outlaw!" - the chromatic runs really make it very fun and chaotic.

Thanks for your excellent review Slow  ;) I really enjoyed it.

Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on April 08, 2012, 03:40:25 AM
Hmm which one is Fogbound Lake? I don't have a song on my album called that--what's it called on my album?

As far as Murky Woods, yeah the sounds are slightly different in a couple place--I think it can be compared to what the music developers for HGSS did for the Gameboy Sounds; just recreated the piece while not really changing anything. So remix isn't really the best word. It's the same for all of the Sky Peak songs which were primarily remixes of the first games' themes.

But yeah I like the soundtrack. It's good for casual listening because the tracks don't loop and the songs are easy to get into.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Bespinben on April 08, 2012, 03:46:53 AM
Hmm which one is Fogbound Lake? I don't have a song on my album called that--what's it called on my album?

Time Gear - (track 61). I have a tendency to use fan-assigned names from before Explorers of Sky was released (ex: "I Don't Want to Say Goodbye" as opposed to "Don't Ever Forget"). The first minute is all build-up, and then you have a wondrous climax.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on April 08, 2012, 03:57:25 AM
Ah, yeah! That's one of my favorite tracks on the album. I've had it on my ipod for some time now. Just I never thought to write a review.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on May 03, 2012, 03:19:02 AM
Soundtrack Review: TV Anime Pocket Monsters Original Soundtrack Best 1997-2010 by Shinji Miyazaki

Okay, so technically Jun’ichi Masuda and Go Ichinose and Hitomi Sato and the rest COMPOSED these tunes, but Miyazaki orchestrated all of them for the anime. I’m doing a fast review this time, only pointing out some highlights. This album, for those of you that don’t know, has selections from the first four generations of games, orchestrated for use in the anime series.

First off, the music is very high quality. These pieces have never sounded better as far as that goes. All of them were done very well. So I have no qualms calling this album essential to any Pokémon music-lover. The pieces just seem so much more in their elements when they’re orchestrated.

Part I: Kanto
The Kanto pieces are quite enjoyable. “Opening” is here in what’s probably its finest incarnation. It sounds fantastic, actually. I think that this is what Masuda envisioned this piece as while composing for the limited Game Boy. “Guide” is a great remix of the playful song that will surely leave you smiling. “Pokémon Center” is also a worthy remix, probably the best version that exists (though SSBB’s version was great as well). The route music here is wonderful. “The Road to Hanada - From Moon-viewing Mountain” (Route 4) is overflowing with nostalgia, while “The Road to Shion - From Kuchiba” is a faster version of the Route 11 theme (which was my personal favorite route music from Red/Blue). The battle music is even better. “Battle (VS Trainer)” is easily my favorite version of the song, with chaos flying through your headphones as electric guitar and percussion blast into your ears. The cutest, though, is “Cycling,” which uses a wavering, cute flute to carry parts of the melody.

Part II: Johto
Johto has several standouts which are wonderful. Most immediately impressing upon me was the poignant “Enju City” (Ecruteak City) which had a beautiful piano/strings combo that hit me hard in the heart. “Route 38” was also a beautiful version. This song only sounds great when it’s performed as a blatant, brass-led march, but Miyazaki incorporated strings effectively as well. Another good one was “Fight! Trainer (Jouto).” Especially because of the old 8bit-style intro after a slow string section, and interesting twanging throughout. “Surfing” is another great one. Gold/Silver had my favorite surfing theme besides Ruby/Sapphire, and it’s beautiful here (though I probably like the HeartGold/SoulSilver version about the same or better). Next up are two expertly handled remixes: “Eye Contact! Rocket Gang” takes a classic version of the theme, while “The Radio Tower Takeover” uses instead a slow, incredibly creepy string version that you probably wouldn’t recognize unless you were looking for it. The jazzy, exotic “Nibi City” (Pewter City) is also worthwhile if you liked the original. “Ending” uses a pleasantly relaxed version of the theme. To be honest, I would have preferred an upbeat version, but this is still quite pretty.

Part III: Hoenn
Hoenn probably has my favorite remixes. I love the “Opening Selection” which arranges the typically upbeat and adventurous theme into a more heartfelt version. I like it a lot. “Kotoki Town” also sounds very pretty here, with rolling strings and a flowing melody. An interesting choice was “Victory over a Gym Leader!” which is actually five seconds longer than the Pokémon Gym remix which precedes it. It sounds good here, not annoying in the least. I was pleasantly surprised. “Cross the Sea” is utterly unrecognizable in a slow piano movement rather than the fast and bouncy version heard in the game. “The Oceanology Movement” also uses the harpsichord prominently (and almost exclusively) in a very fun piece that sounds stately and noble. Two city remixes are up not long afterwards, of two of my favorite songs. “Hiwamaki City” (Fortree City) uses mallets and wonderful pizzicato strings to make a bubbly, happy orchestrated version, and “Minamo City” (Lilycove City) may be my favorite track on the album, with a beautiful ensemble including an accordion to perform the piece. “Ceremony - Fire Mountain” is also an interesting arrangement of Mt. Pyre, although it’s too bizarre and creepy to listen to often. “Enter the Magma Gang!” is very well-done, with playful mallets towards the beginning establishing Team Magma’s theme. “Fight! Aqua Magma Gang” is also great (I just really like that theme though). “Fight! Elite Four” is a great piece, especially in the intro with clapping in the background allowing for a playful beginning before breaking out the brass and electric guitar. “Abandoned Ship” dropped the upbeat style of the original in favor of more awe and wonder--don’t worry, it suits the piece.

Part IV: Sinnoh
Sinnoh had wonderful remixes. But there are too few! And there are THREE versions of the Laboratory theme...which is okay I guess but really nothing special. It didn’t do so much for the game in my opinion. However, they are immediately followed by the absolutely BEAUTIFUL “Futaba Town (Day)” (Twinleaf Town) which is definitely one of my favorites on the whole album. If you’re going to check out one track on the whole album to decide whether you want to download it or not, this would be the one. “Route 201 (Day)” is also great; I always liked this cute little song. “Hakutai Woods” (Eterna Woods) is quite mellow, with synthesized piano and what sounds like whistling carrying the main melody. “Eye Contact! Pokémon Collector” is also great, with beautifully dissonant, creepy instruments meshing to form the sleazy, unnerving trainer theme. I also very much enjoyed “Route 206 (Day) which is a bit of a typical route theme but which is quite nostalgic for me personally. “Eye Contact! Artist” is all around good fun, with the jazzy theme not using the piano at all (let alone exclusively, like the original piece). An impressive remix is “Difficult Dance” which rather than keeping the coolness motif of the original piece, instead takes a sweeping, elegant waltz which will make you want to sway with the music.

Rating: *****

Track listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. ~Opening~
2. ~Opening~ II
3. ~Opening~ III
4. The Road to Tokiwa - From Masara
5. The Road to Tokiwa - From Masara II
6. Battle (VS Wild Pokémon)
7. Fanfare - Got a Pokémon
8. Guide
9. Pokémon Center
10. Pokémon Center II
11. The Caves of Moon-viewing Mountain
12. The Road to Hanada - From Moon-viewing Mountain
13. Purin’s Song
14. A Trainer Appears (Boy Version)
15. Battle (VS Trainer)
16. Battle (VS Trainer) II
17. Pokémon Gym
18. Pokémon Gym II
19. Battle (VS Gym Leader)
20. The Road to Shion - From Kuchiba
21. Cycling
22. Pokémon Tower
23. Pokémon Tower II
24. Pokémon Flute
25. The Sea
26. The Sea II
27. The Final Path
28. Last Battle (VS Rival)
29. ~Ending~
30. Title
31. Route 29
32. Fight! Wild Pokémon (Jouto)
33. Enju City
34. Fight! Rival
35. Bug Catching Contest
36. Bicycle
37. Route 38
38. Fight! Trainer (Jouto)
39. Surfing
40. Eye Contact! Rocket Gang
41. The Radio Tower Takeover
42. Route 26
43. The High-speed Liner
44. Nibi City
45. Fight! Champion
46. Ending
47. Title ~Main Theme~
48. Opening Selection
49. Kotoki Town
50. Fight! Wild Pokémon
51. Touka City
52. Gym
53. Victory over a Gym Leader!
52. Congratulations for the Evolution
53. Cross the Sea
54. The Oceanology Museum
55. Enter the Aqua Gang!
56. Contest!
57. Hiwamaki City
58. Minamo City
59. Recovery
60. Ceremony - Fire Mountain
61. Enter the Magma Gang!
62. Hideout
63. Fight! Aqua Magma Gang
64. Fight! Ancient Pokémon
65. Champion Road
66. Champion Road II
67. Fight! Elite Four
68. Abandoned Ship
69. Proclaimed Stone Chamber
70. Fight! Regirock - Regice - Registeel
71. Laboratory (Opening)
72. Laboratory (Opening) II
73. Laboratory (Opening) III
74. Futaba Town (Day)
75. Route 201 (Day)
76. Fight! Wild Pokémon
77. Masago Town (Day)
78. Hakutai Woods
79. Eye Contact! Pokémon Collector
80. Route 206 (Day)
81. Eye Contact! Karate King
82. Eye Contact! Artist
83. Super Contest!
84. Difficult Dance
85. Fight! Gym Leader
86. Route 210 (Day)

I highly recommend you find and download this, Pokemon fans.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Cobraroll on May 03, 2012, 08:22:22 AM
No mention of the Contest! theme? I found it amazing. Petalburg city was also great.

Also, was it bad of me to go through track by track and rename them to the respective English names when I got the soundtrack?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on May 03, 2012, 12:23:06 PM
Nah I typically do that with the games, but here it felt "pure" to keep them with their original names.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on May 12, 2012, 09:09:07 PM
Soundtrack Review: Dark Shadows by Danny Elfman

About the artist: Danny Elfman, who prior to scoring films was a member of the band Oingo Boingo, began working on films in the mid-1980s, beginning with Tim Burton’s Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Burton and Elfman have held a long-standing collaboration; Elfman has scored all of his films besides Ed Wood, which was produced during a falling-out between the two in the 1990s, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which was an adaptation of a musical written by Stephen Sondheim. Although Elfman has written the music for many well-known, non-Burton works such as Men in Black and Spiderman, and even the title themes for television shows The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives, it is with Tim Burton that he creates his more memorable efforts like Edward Scissorhands and Batman. More recently, he composed the score for Cirque du Soleil’s show Iris.

Upon first hearing of the film Dark Shadows, I can imagine your reaction.

“Hmm? A new remake of a creepy 1960s soap opera? Who’s directing that, Tim Burton? Hahaha...wait, what? Oh, well let’s hope he’s not using Johnny Depp for the main...what’s that? Again? Oh. Well, is he at least not super pale with sunken eyes this time?”

(https://encrypted-tbn1.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRaukKXH6qrFZM6Dew6BKZvK95LOL4fZlVeDj6OC0Pyt-Mxs7SU)

“...Wow. Okay. Well, he’s not including Helena Bonham Carter, the mother of his children, again. Right?”

(https://encrypted-tbn3.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT0uNEAT98fe5BefQ6H6XQ_UeWwpCkqpKSQUN1z1Gf4bKWwT65b)

All joking aside, yes, Burton’s regular crew is back. Maybe you’re growing a bit weary of this by now. However, also returning is the expert composer, Danny Elfman. And this time he’s gone for what sounds closer to a horror film score than anything I’ve heard from him in the past.

Part of this, from what I can gather, is that the fun scenes were all accompanied by hilariously bad era-specific songs. Still, I’m not complaining. This style is quite becoming.

What we hear in the beginning is a breathtaking opening piece, “Dark Shadows Prologue (Uncut).” Starting out with an eerie bass flute motif that we hear occasionally throughout the score, then segueing into tragic string movements, it begins to grow progressively more uneasy before letting all hell break loose. I have not yet seen the film, so can’t vouch for what happens at this part, but I’m willing to bet it’s horrifying and/or scary. This is clever and effective scoring, and he also introduces the main theme for Dark Shadows, a five-note motif heard quite frequently over the soundtrack. The theme is used very well with synthesizers in “Shadows (Reprise),” and my personal favorite version makes up the all-too-brief end track, “We Will End You!” If you were going to look for any sort of main theme, I’d recommend looking at that last track.

There’s some great scary mood music in several of the tracks, particularly “Vicki’s Nightmare” and the companion tracks “Killing Dr. Hoffman” and “Dumping the Body.” A great example is “The Angry Mob,” one of my favorites for its scary tone and progressively horrifying sound. Some of the tracks incorporate bizarre synth sound effects, particularly the trippy “Hypno Music” and later in “Lava Lamp” and“House of Blood.” “Burn Baby Burn / In-Tombed” uses vibes in another great piece, while “Roger Departs” is more light and poignant with string sections. However, the end suite tracks are where the action can truly be heard. “Final Confrontation,” “Widows' Hill (Finale),” and “The End? (Uncut)” are all great for their purely excellent nature.

Overall, I really enjoyed this score. I listened to it several times (it’s probably less than an hour altogether) and it hasn’t lost any effect. In fact, I could go on to say that I didn’t find a single weak cue on the album. It’s not as perfect as Elfman’s masterpiece, Edward Scissorhands, but it definitely comes from the same man. The horror-film style is excellent when used by Elfman. I’m looking forward to what I’m assuming will be a zany score for Frankenweenie later this year--and of course we can’t forget Men in Black 3 in a couple weeks. This album managed to get me excited about Elfman during a time when I thought he had lost his touch a bit. I’d recommend this to any Elfman fan.

DOWNLOAD: if you are interested in a more horror-oriented score rather than the typical lilting or zany efforts of Danny Elfman.
DON’T DOWNLOAD: if you are expecting this to be a rehash of Elfman’s excellent earlier scores from the 1980s/1990s, because it’s definitely a different style.

Rating: ***

Track listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. Dark Shadows Prologue (Uncut)
2. Resurrection
3. Vicki Enters Collinwood
4. Deadly Handshake
5. Shadows (Reprise)
6. Is It Her?
7. Barnabas Comes Home
8. Vicki’s Nightmare
9. Hypno Music
10. Killing Dr. Hoffman
11. Dumping the Body
12. Roger Departs
13. Burn Baby Burn / In-Tombed
14. Lava Lamp
15. The Angry Mob
16. House of Blood
17. Final Confrontation
18. Widows' Hill (Finale)
19. The End? (Uncut)
20. More the End?
21. We Will End You!
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on June 02, 2012, 08:16:14 PM
An In-depth Look at the Music of Harry Potter

Harry Potter is a legacy. With books, films, and entire theme parks devoted to it, the series has been a huge pop culture phenomenon during the last decade. Having just visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, I feel Pottermania taking its course and feel like now would be a good time to review all the music of the Harry Potter films, even those two which I already have. So let’s start with the first film.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by John Williams
John Williams is the man who started it all. He launched the franchise’s music and set the tone for what the other films should be. In addition, he gave Harry Potter one of the most instantly recognizable main themes which appears in all the other scores, if only fleetingly--”Hedwig’s Theme.” There are several different movements of the theme, beginning with a whimsical floating melody on what sounds like a celesta or something similar, followed by a majestic, sweeping waltz typically taken up by the entire string section, and finally a 4/4 section which typically is associated with Quidditch or some other dangerous scenario. It’s a brilliant, truly magical piece of music which Williams uses not-so-sparingly throughout the first and second films. Another theme that Williams introduces is the “Harry’s Wondrous World” theme, which starts with the second section of Hedwig’s Theme before breaching into a warm, beautiful piece with several variations. While this theme is quite good, it’s worth noting that it is not quite as effective as Hedwig’s Theme. And now we come to the actual score beyond these two themes. There is some wonderful music here and it is not hard to see why it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score. Here are some tracks worth looking at. “Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters and The Journey to Hogwarts” contains music that is bustling, fun, and silly before seguing into a beautiful reprisal of Hedwig’s Theme. “Hogwarts Forever! and The Moving Stairs” is stately and noble, perfect for the mysterious but welcoming Hogwarts castle. “The Norwegian Ridgeback and A Change of Season” is downright wacky, the silly opening being quite comical, contrasting with the second half which contains a beautiful reprisal of the Harry’s Wondrous World theme. “Leaving Hogwarts” is the last highlight for me, an overall great end to the album before the oddly-positioned Hedwig’s Theme. There are some other good motifs here, like one consisting of three startlingly creepy notes for Voldemort or a fun, wondrous one for Diagon Alley, but really the tracks I mentioned are the highlights. This was a successful start to the series, and an album that any fan should possess.

Rating: *****
Best track: “Hedwig’s Theme”
Also check out: “Harry’s Wondrous World,” “Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters and The Journey to Hogwarts,” “Hogwarts Forever! and The Moving Stairs,” “The Norwegian Ridgeback and A Change of Season,” “Leaving Hogwarts”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by John Williams
It’s Williams round two for this score, and of course it will be similar to the first. That’s honestly the biggest complaint here--we’ve heard a good portion of this music before. However, while Hedwig’s Theme and other motifs like Voldemort or Diagon Alley make more appearances, and Harry’s Wondrous World actually merits a spot on the soundtrack a second time, there is still plenty of exciting, great new music. Williams seems to concentrate mostly on character themes this time rather than music specifically designed for scenes. The scene-specific music is here (sort of), but it takes a backseat to the themes heard within them, a welcome departure from the first score. Just listen to “Fawkes the Phoenix” to hear the majesty and downright gorgeousness in the bird’s theme, or “The Chamber of Secrets” to hear to a similar theme but in a distinctly minor key, sending shivers down your spine. Williams seems to relish in his comedic march theme, “Gilderoy Lockhart,” his frenzied, out-of-control piece “The Flying Car,” and his slitheringly creepy “The Spiders.” And who wouldn’t love the sheepish, pleasant “Dobby the House Elf” or the unnerving and chord-clashing “Moaning Myrtle?” The new material is great, an improvement over the first. And the rehashes of the old themes are not in fact rehashes all of the time. The prologue is the same stuff, sure, but just listen to “Polyjuice Potion” or “Cakes for Crabbe and Goyle” to hear a delightfully blundering take on the third movement of Hedwig’s Theme. Overall this is a bit of a disappointment after the first score, not as polished but including a wider variety of themes.

Rating: ****
Best track: “Fawkes the Phoenix”
Also check out: “The Chamber of Secrets,” “Gilderoy Lockhart,” “The Flying Car”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by John Williams
Williams is back for the final time, and he proves that the third time truly is the charm (no pun intended). He takes a dramatic departure from the mold, hardly using Hedwig’s Theme at all throughout the film besides some necessary intro music. In its place are a variety of wonderful pieces which suit this darker film considerably better. “Aunt Marge’s Waltz” is the first new piece of music, and my personal favorite piece that Williams has contributed to the Harry Potter series. Beginning with a light intro and becoming steadily more magical sounding, it hits the chorus, a heavy, comical “BOMBOMBOM” motif which bounces throughout the main section of the song as Aunt Marge is blown up into a despicable balloon. The main theme, which rises up and then comes down again, weighed down by a pompous french horn or other instruments, is sure to tickle your funny bone, and the end of the piece, a sweeping, flighty and majestic departure as she floats up, up and away, will be sure to lift your spirits. A truly spectacular piece in my opinion. Not long after, we hit the main theme for this movie, “Double Trouble.” An eerie, bubbling melody undertones a childrens’ choir singing lyrics taken from Shakespeare’s Macbeth in a really cool piece. Williams arranges the theme into a mystical waltz in the second half of the decidedly Potter-esque “Hagrid the Professor.” Another fantastic addition is the floating, awe-inspiring “Buckbeak’s Flight,” which truly makes the listener feel like he or she is soaring through the air. A more mellow, but no less beautiful piece is “A Window to the Past,” which finds a woodwind carrying the moving melody. Some of the music for the Dementors is downright terrifying and sounds like it belongs in a full-scale horror film. If that is your sort of thing, I’d recommend looking at “The Dementors Converge.” It’s also worth noting the third track, “The Knight Bus,” for its frenzied jazzfest. It’s too crazy for me, but some really like this piece so I figured I’d mention it here. The last highlight is “Mischief Managed,” the credits music. A brief reprisal of Hedwig’s Theme, which has been largely absent, appears before numerous takes on the Double Trouble theme. The downside of this track is that after about three minutes of that, the rest of the track (which totals a little over twelve minutes) is taken up by a medley of many other tracks, completely unchanged from their original states. Overall, this score was Williams’s best contribution and possibly the best score from the series.

Overall score: *****
Best track: “Aunt Marge’s Waltz”
Also check out: “Double Trouble,” “Buckbeak’s Flight,” “A Window to the Past,” “Hagrid the Professor,” “Mischief Managed”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by Patrick Doyle
Patrick Doyle replaced Williams for the fourth film. Doyle is a fairly well-renowned composer whose works you may have heard in films such as Thor or the highly acclaimed La Ligne Droite. However, many questioned originally whether he had what it took to continue on the legacy that Williams began. The answer is yes and no. Yes, he delivers an effective and enjoyable score. No, it doesn’t match Williams’s tone, or quite match up to what Williams created. Essentially Doyle scrapped most of William’s themes, save for slight references very sparingly here and there. This is not a bad thing--it’s new and exciting! But it feels less like Harry Potter. This score was also considerably darker than the last, which is appropriate considering the darkness of the storyline at this point. Alright, so anyway, one of the highlights is in the very first track, “The Story Continues.” Here we are treated to an extremely ominous and creepy reference to Hedwig’s Theme, making for a very interesting (if too brief) take on the piece. The light-hearted Irish jig found in “The Quidditch World Cup” provides a sense of fun and silly happiness, while the flighty and sly “Rita Skeeter” is sure to leave you smiling. Doyle’s two waltzes for the score, “Neville’s Waltz” and “Potter Waltz” are both fun, the first concentrating on simple beauty and the second making a sweeping impression as a more traditional waltz. In addition, some of his themes are breathtaking in their amazing beauty, most notably “Harry in Winter.” I would definitely look at this track, and while it does get a bit tiresome and is unlikely to be the highlight of the score that you’ll listen to over and over, it is quite a pretty piece of music. Overall, while this is decidedly not the best score from the series, it is clearly a worthwhile addition.

Overall score: ***
Best track: “Neville’s Waltz”
Also check out: “The Story Continues,” “Rita Skeeter,” “Harry in Winter,” “Potter Waltz”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by Nicholas Hooper
Alright, new director and new composer for the fifth film. This was arguably the worst of the Potter films, and I’m sorry to say that the same could be said of its score. This doesn’t imply that the score is bad. It is most definitely not bad. It’s just not amazing. Williams set the tone, built upon it, and then did something a little different but something which worked well, and then Doyle went off and did his own thing which was still appropriate for the film. Newcomer Nicholas Hooper, however, pretty much took a totally different style which complemented the film while being decidedly lackluster on its own. No longer was the music noticeably awesome, save for a few key moments. It was just part of the movie. Still, there are a few highlights within the score. The thing I noticed about Hooper’s style is that it is quite brooding, moody and quiet. While some character themes are outspoken and brave, several of the tracks are very subtle and not as blatant as the themes we’ve grown accustomed to. Hedwig’s Theme is also used very sparingly, only obvious in a couple tracks. Anyway, the album begins with two of Hooper’s “outspoken” tracks. First we have “Fireworks” which is quite reminiscent of Doyle’s Quidditch World Cup theme. An Irish-inspired rhythm takes its course over this fast-paced piece. By contrast, the next piece, “Professor Umbridge,” is particularly brilliant and completely original. The bouncy swing that accompanies the character does a perfect job of emulating her smug, pompous attitude and devilishly sweet demeanor. Some other highlights can be found in several unsuspecting places, like the wonderful “Dumbledore’s Army,” which has a beautiful string motif that underlies woodwinds performing the adventurous min melody. “The Room of Requirement” has a fun, mischievous bouncy swing motif that carries throughout. And there is a legitimately beautiful, flighty piece filled with poignant chimes, “The Kiss.” “The Ministry of Magic” is also taken up by a comical, carefree swing before seguing into a shimmering, awed theme. Finally, the score is finished off by “Loved Ones and Leaving,” which starts off beautifully but then fades into the unremarkable. Overall, this is a decent score, with some great highlights. But the sum of its parts is greater than the whole, if you understand what I mean.

Overall score: ***
Best track: “Dumbledore’s Army”
Also check out: “Professor Umbridge,” “The Room of Requirement,” “The Kiss”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by Nicholas Hooper
Alright, Hooper’s second and final score for the series comes next. Happily, this score is much more effective and enjoyable. Interestingly, Hooper doesn’t directly reference any of his previous themes for Order of the Phoenix (though his Dumbledore’s Army and Fireworks themes did make brief appearances within the film). However, there are clever variations. “Professor Umbridge” and “The Room of Requirement” are absent, but the bouncy spirit present in both of them is also found in “Living Death.” “Fireworks” is missing, but “The Weasley Stomp” is clearly meant to emulate it. Anyway. One worthwhile track is “Opening,” which begins with a slight reference to Hedwig’s Theme before including a beautiful choral theme meant to represent Dumbledore’s death, and finally a fast-paced, menacing theme representing Death Eaters. The choral theme is heard later in full in the absolutely breathtaking “Dumbledore’s Farewell,” and the Death Eater theme is later reused in “Into the Rushes.” After an interesting fast-paced string piece (“The Story Begins”) we hear hints of a love theme for the movie in “Ginny” before it breaks into a full reprisal of Hedwig’s Theme (finally!). This love theme is heard at its best in the totally heartbreaking “Harry & Hermione,” while also being heard as a classical guitar version in “When Ginny Kissed Harry.” Another surprisingly moving piece is “Farewell Aragog,” which has a southern-inspired fiddle playing at first before realizing a full string movement. “The Friends” has a poignant string melody similar to (but more effective than) the ending track for Order of the Phoenix. Slughorn is given his own flighty, moving theme, in “Slughorn’s Confession.” “Ron’s Victory” is blatant and fun string manipulation, with a grounding timpani for good measure.And Hooper, after his slightly comical Umbridge theme, has finally realized he can effectively score comedy. “The Slug Party,” in its uneasy jazz, is both funny and catchy, and the wacky “Wizard Wheezes” also creates a full-throttle jazz piece. Both are worthwhile. All in all, Hooper redeemed himself in creating one of the best scores of the series, both moving and immersing.

Overall score: ****
Best track: “Dumbledore’s Farewell”
Also check out: “Opening,” “Wizard Wheezes,” “Ron’s Victory,” “Harry & Hermione,” “The Friends”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 by Alexandre Desplat
Alexandre Desplat, while not as much of a household name as John Williams, still has moments of greatness throughout his career. This is one of them. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the most emotionally concentrated of the installments, clearly calls for intensely fantastic music. Desplat delivers. Mostly. No, this isn’t a perfect score. Yes, it is a score that any lover of music should probably take a look at. The score starts off with a beautiful piece, which becomes a main theme that is used in several other places--”Obliviate.” Gorgeous orchestration, an insistent, melancholy main melody, and a true sense of emotion invade this track. Whether it’s being used as a piece that is horribly somber (“Ron Leaves”), tremblingly sensitive (“Ron’s Speech”), or heartbreakingly bittersweet (“Farewell to Dobby”), the theme is effective and resounding with the listener. Desplat, like Williams in Chamber of Secrets, also concentrates on character, object, and even location themes. A playfully mischievous theme accompanies “Dobby,” an ominous, exotic waltz is found with “Lovegood,” and a terrifyingly uneasy trembling string movement appears in “Bathilda Bagshot.” In addition, “Detonators” gets an insistent, continuous staccato theme, “The Locket” includes a creepy, evil Horcrux theme, and “The Deathly Hallows” is treated to a mysteriously slithering theme. As far as locations go, “Ministry of Magic” is the most fun, but also the most dangerous-sounding, making comical danger the effect. “At the Burrow,” however, has the most emotionally moving. And “Godric’s Hollow Graveyard” is just downright depressing. And creepy. In the end, this score is absolutely brilliant, a welcome departure from the scores preceding it, and an impressive accomplishment by Desplat.

Overall score: ****
Best track: “Obliviate”
Also check out: “Ministry of Magic,” “Ron Leaves,” “Ron’s Speech,” “Lovegood,” “Farewell to Dobby”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part Two by Alexandre Desplat
Desplat returns to score the second half of the final film, keeping a nice continuity. Or at least you’d think. However, Desplat rarely uses his excellent themes from the first part. We get a bit of Obliviate in “Harry’s Sarifice,” a bit of Polyjuice Potion in “Neville.” But never blatant references besides Hedwig’s Theme (which in the film was used in full, and is heard throughout the album in brief spasms). However, he did completely rerecord Nicholas Hooper’s “Dumbledore’s Farewell” as well as Williams’s “Leaving Hogwarts” for two scenes (not heard on this album). Using those two pieces was a great touch in my opinion, and a nice addition to the film. However, we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about the original score. And it begins beautifully with a new main theme, “Lily’s Theme.” I cannot express how gorgeous this is. It appears later briefly in several tracks such as “Dragon Flight,” “Snape’s Demise,” “Voldemort’s End,” and “The Resurrection Stone,” that last track being where we hear it in full. It’s a great main theme, as it reminds us that Harry is dealing with the absence of his parents throughout everything. It’s true that Lily’s Theme is the main attraction for the soundtrack, but we also hear a few excellent themes beyond it. “Statues” and “Courtyard Apocalypse,” in particular, are amazing. They use the same theme, a steady 4/4 theme which conveys sadness and awe effectively. “Severus and Lily” is the true highlight of the film and score, a sad love theme for Snape and Lily being introduced to express the unrequited love and the relationship that never was. In addition, “A New Beginning” rounds off the score well, with a brief but heartfelt piece. All in all, maybe the best score in the whole series, though as a whole the series had wonderful music.

Overall score: ****
Best track: “Lily’s Theme”
Also check out: “Statues,” “Courtyard Apocalypse,” “Severus and Lily,” “The Resurrection Stone,” “A New Beginning”

Final Ranking of Harry Potter Scores In Ascending Order:
8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part One
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part Two
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

AND THE TOP HARRY POTTER SCORE.......
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Anyway I hope you guys enjoyed my reviews of the Harry Potter series...I sure enjoyed writing them!
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Meta-Ridley on June 14, 2012, 02:38:22 PM
I enjoyed reading them definately, and I agreed with you on the most part. However I think Sorcerer's Stone should get more credit. I think it really captures the wonderment that Harry would have felt becoming part of the wizarding world. But I agree - I didn't really like Hooper's scores much.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on June 14, 2012, 03:10:51 PM
Having recently watched the first movie, I was thinking the same thing, I didn't give it enough credit. Hooper's scores were the least enjoyable, along with Doyle's. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably list Prisoner of Azkaban as the best.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Arceus79 on June 28, 2012, 04:26:11 AM
Pointing back to a while ago, I just found your review on the PMD: EoS soundtrack.  I love the mention you gave to some of my favorite songs from the game, such as "In the Sea of Time" and "Dialga's Fight to the Finish!". In your list, although you didn't mention it in your review, you labled song 141: Life Goes On! (Ending) as an excellent song, and I completely agree! After giving notice to others of my favorite songs, such as "Temporal Tower", I'm surprised you didn't add them to your list.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on June 28, 2012, 05:38:39 AM
Until Slow reviews a score by Jeremy Zuckerman or Howard Shore, this thread is MEH.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on June 28, 2012, 03:50:00 PM
Until Slow reviews a score by Jeremy Zuckerman or Howard Shore, this thread is MEH.

Ahem. (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=3581.msg143149#msg143149)

Pointing back to a while ago, I just found your review on the PMD: EoS soundtrack.  I love the mention you gave to some of my favorite songs from the game, such as "In the Sea of Time" and "Dialga's Fight to the Finish!". In your list, although you didn't mention it in your review, you labled song 141: Life Goes On! (Ending) as an excellent song, and I completely agree! After giving notice to others of my favorite songs, such as "Temporal Tower", I'm surprised you didn't add them to your list.

You're right! I think that while some songs were clever and showed impressive ambition, I only marked them as "excellent" when they stood out to me personally as fantastic.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on July 01, 2012, 01:23:59 AM
Soundtrack Review: Sherlock Holmes by Hans Zimmer

So here we are at another Zimmer review. I’ve been meaning to write a review of this score for quite a while, but somehow never got around to it. Ah, well. So this is a classic Zimmer soundtrack, which I’d classify as having about twelve to fifteen tracks, all of the tracks being named after random phrases from the movie, and having one super long “suite” track. This habit of naming the tracks after random movie lines is amusing to look at, but also makes it incredibly difficult to locate where in the film anything is played. I’m pretty sure he just writes this and then has a really long spotting session with the director and places different bits of the music in places where it seems to fit. Meaning, of course, much of the soundtrack album isn’t even in the film (a la The Dark Knight).

But, enough ranting about the artist. Let’s look at the album. We have twelve tracks, which is few enough that I can take it on a track-by-track basis. So without further ado, the first track, “Discombobulate.” This is obviously the main theme of the film, and it’s also the best track on the album. It was smart of Zimmer to place the main theme at the front (rather than The Dark Knight where we had to wait until the very end to hear it); this grabs the listener’s attention and makes him want to hear more. The opening theme itself is a good summary of the score. The infamously broken-down piano, squeaky violins, and generally off-kilter and quirky style bring life to the film, complementing Holmes’s character surprisingly well. Only a few notes make up this truly discombobulating theme, but it’s very well done. A++.

The next track, “Is It Poison, Nanny?”, is also decidedly good, but has a painfully slow start. We hear eerie music for the first section of the piece, with a strange strumming instrument and squeaking violins as well as moody string and brass movements. At around 1:30 it picks up to a faster pace, but it isn’t until 1:55 that we hear the next central theme for the film, which is repetitive but also suits the movie well. I think of it in my head as a “danger theme” of sorts. It shows up in other places and is easily listenable, giving Holmes another distinct sound.

“I Never Woke Up In Handcuffs Before” is arguably the strangest track on the album. It is oddly out of place, even for a score so bizarre. A painfully shrill violin and later an entire ear-piercing string section carry variations on the main Discombobulate theme as other instruments produce a polka-like bass melody. It’s a bit headache-inducing, to be honest, but you can tell Zimmer really had fun with it.

“My Mind Rebels At Stagnation” is firstly a fun reprisal of the Discombobulate theme, trading the jarring aspect of the theme for a more gentle version that becomes more Holmes as it develops. This goes on until roughly 1:55, at which point it becomes entirely creepy and eerie, contrasting with the fun and bounciness of the first part. At about 2:28 we hear a clashing brass note repeated several times, which is a foreshadowing of what I call the “horror theme” of the score. Shortly after 3:00 we hear the “mournful theme” which is represented by a violin. This constitutes the rest of the piece, which I feel would have been more successful if it were divided into two tracks.

“Data, Data, Data” is distinctly Arabian sounding at the beginning, with a few flute notes that eerily introduce the piece. Soon it becomes more of a tango than anything, restrained by the flute notes occasionally but also carried through a dance by a violin. This foreshadows his later work for the piece “Angelica” in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

“He’s Killed The Dog Again” begins softly with a few scattered notes from the Discombobulate theme. At about 0:50 we hear the mournful theme in a fast paced tempo, soon underscored by heavy pounding drums. At 1:43 there’s a fast-paced rhythm, with heavy strings and brass carrying the Discombobulate theme almost unrecognizably. At 2:14, though, heavy drums and random string notes move the piece along with the same heavy instruments playing the main theme underneath everything before it abruptly ends.

“Marital Sabotage” begins uneasily with a barely-detectable melody amidst lots of low strings. 35 seconds in, we hear the familiar Discombobulate motif reprised. This sounds honestly like Holmes aboard a train. That’s what I could best compare it to. It fades out and then picks up sporadically throughout the piece. This track best works as film underscore, not listening apart from the film.

“Not In Blood, But In Bond” begins with a truly painful violin solo, mournful and weeping. At 1:05 we finally bring in other parts of the orchestra, but it only produces eerie string movements. Arguably the weakest track on the album.

“Ah, Putrefaction” has a similar feel to the main Discombobulate theme, but instead brings in a relatively original theme. It’s rather refreshing and one of the highlights amid the less listenable tracks that appear. I’d give it a listen, the string movements in the latter half are actually quite moving.

“Panic, Shear Bloody Panic” is quite effective, using the mournful theme briefly at the beginning before gradually building up to a great reprise of the Discombobulate theme in near full. It’s thoroughly enjoyable and a nice reminder of what’s good about this score.

“Psychological Recovery… 6 Months” is a monster. At 18:18, it’s the longest song I have on my iPod and as such it’s easy to get lost among the various motifs and themes represented. To help you listen to this, I’ve broken it down as best I could. The results are as follows:

0:00 – We hear a tense string instrument before hearing the danger theme heard earlier in “Is It Poison, Nanny?”
0:25 – Creepy strings abound before settling into complete silence briefly
0:46 – A string movement which is vaguely similar to Discombobulate, but in a mournful vein, appears
1:15 – The danger theme appears in a very menacing incarnation
1:57 – The danger theme is underscored by the same heavy instruments with the main theme heard in “He’s Killed The Dog Again”
2:30 – We hear a tipsy, off-balance version of the Discombobulate theme briefly
3:00 – A thoroughly enjoyable remix of the Discombobulate theme takes inspiration from the style of Zimmer’s work on Pirates of the Caribbean
3:20 – A banjo carries Irish-like variations on the main theme
4:11 – We hear the first hints of a menacing variation on the classic clock tower theme, representing time running out; this was incredibly clever of Zimmer to implement this
4:52 – A very menacing motif vaguely takes inspiration from the mournful theme
5:35 – The heavy Discombobulate theme underlies the main action again
6:01 – A serious, solemn string movement carries the piece
6:39 – We hear tiny hints of the danger theme before back to the mournful theme
7:00 – A sad version of Discombobulate is heard
7:20 – We hear the danger theme on a low piano and hints of the main theme briefly
8:03 – Alternates from quiet to dangerous before bringing in the heavy Discombobulate theme again
8:30 – Finally we hear the clock tower motif repeated a few times, more fast-paced and dangerous
9:11 – First a slowed-down clock tower reprise, then the mournful theme reappears with the clock tower again
9:48 – A tense, high-maintenance Discombobulate theme
10:30 – A string instrument carries a fast rhythm while the clock tower is heard, very drawn-out
11:05 – Very, very eerie, sad theme based on the main theme
11:47 – Horror theme finally appears, jarring and frightening with clashing brass everywhere
12:10 – More clock tower briefly, then a sort of mix with the mournful theme
12:45 – Danger theme is heard
13:00 – Contrabass is barely audible with the clock tower theme
13:38 – Horror theme and the sad clock tower theme alternate clashingly
14:32 – The mournful theme is heard on the violin, and a gradual crescendo takes place
15:26 – A climax of sorts takes place
15:40 – Clock tower is heard underneath what sounds like epic fight music, then silence
16:06 – A sad violin is heard with vague references to “Data, Data, Data”
16:26 – Menacing brass notes lurk underneath
16:50 – Sad piano version of Discombobulate; quite moving
17:33 – A minimal reprise of the danger theme, strings join in
Ends with very minimal danger theme

“Catatonic” opens creepily with a pitchy violin before a banjo and piano/brass carry the Discombobulate theme minimally. Then a faster version, with more suitable instruments. Moving strings underlie the theme, then take the theme entirely, very slowly and fairly menacingly. The instruments alternate this mournful version. At 2:25 we hear a waltz version of theme which carries on for some time. At 3:17 it changes pace to a fast, creepy drum motif with a vague reprisal of “Ah, Putrefaction,” which gradually crescendos before abruptly ending.

Overall, this score is entirely unique and quite a strange effort. It was nominated for an Academy Award, though I suspect this is mainly because the Academy loves Zimmer, rather than because they were overtly impressed with the score. Really, your love for this score depends on your ability to handle or tolerate weirdness—or your love for Zimmer, for despite everything, his touch is utterly unmistakable.

Rating: ***

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Discombobulate
2. Is It Poison, Nanny?
3. I Never Woke Up In Handcuffs Before
4. My Mind Rebels At Stagnation
5. Data, Data, Data
6. He’s Killed The Dog Again
7. Marital Sabotage
8. Not In Blood, But In Bond
9. Ah, Putrefaction
10. Panic, Shear Bloody Panic
11. Psychological Recovery… 6 Months
12. Catatonic
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: MaestroUGC on July 01, 2012, 04:25:59 AM
What, no mention of the cimbalom anywhere?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on July 01, 2012, 05:17:29 AM
IS THAT WHAT THAT THING IS CALLED?!?!?! I had NO IDEA and it was bugging the hell out of me
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: MaestroUGC on July 01, 2012, 05:41:37 AM
You don't listen to enough Eastern European music.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on July 01, 2012, 06:13:54 AM
No....probably not
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on July 21, 2012, 07:42:03 PM
Soundtrack Review: The Dark Knight Rises by Hans Zimmer
(https://encrypted-tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSQGyiR9MfigVHHoDKFjZhUsOVUud5wU9InwnGyyTscXNP0f7wY)

Alright, so I’ll come out and say it: I like Hans Zimmer’s work on the Dark Knight trilogy. I’m not a Zimmer fanboy, but I’m sure as hell not a Zimmer basher either. In case you weren’t aware, there is something of an ongoing feud between the so-called “fanboys” and “haters.” Zimmer can do no wrong as far as the former are concerned, and he has no true musical talent as far as the latter are concerned. Filmtracks, a website that publishes film score reviews, is particularly infamous for over-the-top biased reviews against Zimmer. This would be the site that called the piece “Why So Serious?” “unlistenable” and “nine minutes of your life you’ll never get back.” The reviewer in question continues to argue that “intellectuals” can clearly see Zimmer is talentless and has introduced nothing worthwhile in any of his Batman scores. I tend to disagree. It’s true Zimmer’s theme for the dark knight is repetitive and fairly simple, but it works. What is the big deal whether it’s “intelligent music” or not? I find it fairly intelligent music myself, and I appreciate that each composer has a radically different style. I have no qualms saying the previous installment’s piece “A Dark Knight” is one of my favorite pieces of music I’ve ever heard. That being said, the trilogy as a whole is not the best film music out there.

Alright, now that I’ve tried to prove I’m not biased by saying that people on both extremes annoy the hell out of me, let’s get to the actual score. I’ll take it on a track-by-track basis--this usually helps me understand the score better. In this album, however, you’ll probably miss the change to the next track if you aren’t watching for it, as nearly ll of the tracks simply segue into one another with no gap at all. This was great album mixing and serves the score well as it appears as a full suite rather than multiple bite-sized pieces. The album begins with the 37-second track “A Storm Is Coming.” Beginning with the signature “swooping” sound effect heard in all three films, then diverging into eerie music, it’s the perfect length to introduce us to this dark, hopeless film. It segues into the second track, “On Thin Ice,” whose high-pitched quavering synthesizers and strings portray the main theme in a chilling and elegant tone. “Gotham’s Reckoning,” however, is where things really begin to heat up, with Bane’s theme and the infamous chant. For those of you who don’t know, six or seven months ago, Zimmer (always looking to do something different) collected recordings of people chanting from all around the world. The result is something brilliant and terrifying, rather like Bane himself. The insistent pounding of the kettle drums and chanting combine to make this one of the better new additions. The chanting, incidentally, is “deh-shay, deh-shay, bah-sah-rah, bah-sah-rah,” which is Moroccan for “he rises, he rises.”

Following this is the theme for Selina Kyle (better known as Catwoman), “Mind If I Cut In?” This track begins with suspicious strings before getting to insistent tambourine and mysterious, elegant piano notes which carry throughout the piece. I enjoyed this piece despite its repetition. After this track is “Underground Army,” which is basically a bunch of ominous strings and synthesizers. I didn’t enjoy this track as much as others on the album, and it runs a bit too long for what it is, but it was great underscoring for the film. Odds are you won’t get much out of this track, though. “Born In Darkness” is mournful and depressing, fitting for the film, but not quite as moving as it could be, with no clear motif. However, the next track, “The Fire Rises,” which is another variation on Bane’s theme, really shows what Zimmer can do with an action scene. It begins with a bang and doesn’t really let up, enduring through the blasting brass, frantic strings, relentless kettle drums and chaotic chanting until the very end with only a small stagnant section in the middle. “Nothing Out There” finally gives us the familiar Batman theme sixteenth notes in all their glory before becoming Selina Kyle’s theme in a lightly pouncing movement. In the second half, a mournful piano and string theme appears, offering an idea of the senseless tragedy that has befallen Gotham. “Despair” marks the return of the swoop effect underlying fast-paced strings and the D-F brass movement of the Batman theme which makes its first appearance here. Somewhere in the middle, the synthesizers take over completely which does get a bit tiresome but it is immediately followed by the heroic brass again. Before long, it reaches the version of the theme heard at the beginning of the end credits for the first two, which is a welcome return. But it’s all too brief, making this track more underscore than listening material.

“Fear Will Find You” begins with a chaotic rendition of the theme heard in “The Fire Rises,” with Batman’s two heroic brass notes appearing before the chanting kicks in again. At 0:46, we hear the Batman theme kick in briefly, and at 1:10, we hear the movement used ever so sparsely throughout The Dark Knight. Again, it’s a welcome throwback and does something new with a theme that should really be quite old by now. “Why Do We Fall?” is really an excellent piece. The tragedy is acknowledged, and risen above, and before the end it returns to the original Batman theme. I predict that this will become one of the more popular pieces on the soundtrack. Abruptly ending, it leads to the 23-second “Death By Exile” which is a bit terrifying in all honesty. This comes to “Imagine The Fire,” which is about seven and a half minutes of pure epicness. It’s new material over the chanting and it takes a while to really get going, but just go with it and I think you’ll like what you hear. Walk down the street listening to this, you’ll probably feel like you’re off to save the world from a terrorist, maybe one wearing a mask which keeps him alive. “Necessary Evil” is shorter but just as effective, with slow eeriness mixing with the Batman theme for an effective conclusion to Bane’s character. “Rise” is the best track on the album, starting with the chaos theme but soon becoming a painstakingly slow remix of a beautiful, poignant, tragic motif heard in “A Dark Knight” from the previous film. The whole track is beautiful and emotionally moving, and if you were to download just one track, I’d recommend this one.

As a whole, the score works for me. I enjoyed it wholeheartedly, and if you liked what you heard in the first two films, there’s likely a lot for you in this score; the last five or six tracks, especially, will most likely capture your interest.. If you did not, do not buy this album by any means, because the style is essentially more of the same.

A side note: I didn’t review any of the bonus tracks, because I’m really annoyed at the way they handled them. If you bought the CD album (like I did), you can go online to verify your purchase and receive the three tracks “Bombers Over Ibiza (Junkie XL Remix)”, “No Stone Unturned,” and “Risen From Darkness.” However, if you download the soundtrack digitally via iTunes, you receive the remix track and two tracks called “The Shadows Betray You” and “The End.” What’s more, another bonus track, “All Out War,” was given to you if you bought tickets for the movie via movietickets.com. It’s essentially a cash cow on the part of Warner Bros. and, like the previous soundtrack, you must buy multiple albums in order to get the complete score. I’m giving a review of the essential album, because that is the main attraction in my opinion and I don’t want to say one set of bonus tracks are better than the other. I got the album for $11.99 ($1.55 as I had a gift card) and I wouldn’t spend more money on iTunes just for a few bonus tracks. I think they should have done what they did with Inception, where the bonus tracks were available online for anyone to download. It sure would make it easier.

BUY IT: If you were impressed with the first two scores, or liked them on any level. The style is the same, though the material is largely new.
DON’T BUY IT: If you’re a Zimmer hater, or didn’t think the first two scores were as good as they could have been.

Rating: ****

Track listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. A Storm Is Coming
2. On Thin Ice
3. Gotham’s Reckoning
4. Mind If I Cut In?
5. Underground Army
6. Born In Darkness
7. The Fire Rises
8. Nothing Out There
9. Despair
10. Fear Will Find You
11. Why Do We Fall?
12. Death By Exile
13. Imagine The Fire
14. Necessary Evil
15. Rise
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on July 22, 2012, 05:10:11 AM
Oh, also, I finally fixed all the weird symbols after the forum update, and I added a table of contents to the first post for those of you who actually read these and want to find a specific one. :)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Jub3r7 on July 22, 2012, 07:34:52 AM
You should be a journalist.  ::)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: MaestroUGC on July 22, 2012, 10:17:42 PM
I'd just like to comment on what was said about "intelligent music."

There is no such thing. Music, above all else, like all arts, a designed to serve whatever context and ends they were written for. All music is written for a reason, and as such must serve to define, defend, decry, celebrate, etc whatever was designed for. In serious classical music, as such as it has been defined, more often than not, every piece has a reason. There's a point, a means for which it was written, or an end it is supposed to serve. Even if it was written just to make a quick buck (I'm looking at you, Donizetti), it was written for a reason.

With film, music has a clear role in the process; to serve either the story or action. The better film scores are able to do both within the span of the score. However the composer chooses to achieve this is up to him, but it's success depends on how it serves the story/action. Scores that serve the action more than the story don't usually find much success outside of the film it was written for; scores that serve the story usually find greater success. And I believe I can tell you why: Scores built on the story often use motifs, these motifs link an idea to a distinct sound, thereby resonating with the audience far better. This is the same reason Video Game sountracks enjoy great individual success.

Intelligent music is usually connected to classical music, which is what I'm assuming the commenter in question was implying. The problem with that is that it implies all other music is not intelligent, which is flawed for multiple reasons but there's a major one that I want to focus on. Folk music has a long, proud history, with each culture having its own, distinct style. Implying that folk music is not intelligent also implies that everything derived from folk music is not intelligent; this means blues and everything derived from it, such as rock and jazz, most notably. Those genres have produced several, intelligent acts and composers. But folk music was also adopted by other forms, such as classical. Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Chopin, the list is endless. Nearly every singe major composer has used folk music to some capacity, hell it even constitutes some composers' entire libraries, such as Bartok. Saying that these composers, and their works in question, aren't intelligent, or at least their music, means that the very foundation of intelligent music doesn't exist. Now as both a listener and collector of classical music, and a composer of the same, I will be the first to say that there is no such thing as "intelligent music".

I realize that this really as nothing to do with the film score in question, but I couldn't let that comment slide. I may not be a big purveyor of film music, but I do enjoy the music in it's function, and I've often found myself humming a couple of motifs every now and then.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on July 22, 2012, 10:45:39 PM
You do realize I hold every belief you just mentioned, right? If you'd read closely, you'd see I was annoyed by reviewers who hold such standards. Look at this review and how biased it is--this is the one I was referring to: http://www.filmtracks.com/titles/dark_knight_rises.html

I hate people who consider certain types of music "intelligent" over others. It's snobbish and foolish. I really want to punch that reviewer in the face; he sounds arrogant and he really doesn't know what he's talking about.

So yeah, read closely before you start crucifying me. Film music is often simplistic, but it's also my favorite type, so I wouldn't call it--or really any type of music--unintelligent.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: MaestroUGC on July 22, 2012, 10:57:00 PM
I wasn't talking about you, at no point was that ever directed toward you.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on July 22, 2012, 11:02:47 PM
Ah, it seemed that way. Yeah that comment had me outraged as well, though.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 01, 2012, 12:48:35 AM
Soundtrack Review: Nintendo DS Pokémon Black 2 • White 2 Super Music Complete by Jun’ichi Masuda, Go Ichinose, Hitomi Sato, Teruo Taniguchi, Shota Kageyama, Minako Adachi, Morikazu Aoki & Satoshi Nohara

Wow, that’s a ton of artists who worked on this thing. Okay, the deal with this album was interesting—a four disc set, the first three discs were dedicated to all the new music of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, while the fourth contained previously unreleased music from Pokémon Emerald and Pokémon Platinum. On the day of this album’s release, it and all other Pokémon “super music complete” sets were released digitally on iTunes, meaning that if you live in Japan you can now download all the Pokémon music from iTunes. Hooray! This also means that for all Pokémon games to date, there is an official album and as such no gamerips are necessary. BIGGER hooray! Note that Pokémon Gold and Silver have no album, but as the Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver album contains all the GB Sounds tracks, all of the originals are available. I’ll only be reviewing the first three discs, as you probably know by this point the highlights of Pokémon Emerald and Pokémon Platinum—though I admit, it was a lot of fun to go through those tracks and remember them as they came along.

Concerning the artist situation—the bulk of the tracks were composed and arranged by Ichinose and Sato. Masuda composed nothing new for this soundtrack, and what remixes he did compose, Ichinose and Sato handled the arrangements. His influence is clear in many of the pieces, however. Kageyama, from what I can tell, didn’t compose anything new either, besides a couple bonus musicals that are available in Black and White. He is credited as composing a few remix tracks, but he didn’t handle any of their arrangements. It’s funny how he went from major sound director/composing everything to this. However, all of the old towns, cities, and routes retain their original music, making his music prominent throughout the game. Newcomer Teruo Taniguchi is credited a mere six tracks, all of them brief jingles, for a grand total of 35 seconds on the album. I’m interested to see a new name under the album notes and am also interested to see what this person will go on to do in the future. Minako Adachi is credited only with one of the bonus musicals, and Morikazu Aoki and Satoshi Noharu are credited only the Emerald/Platinum disc.

I would like to take this moment to apologize to all my readers and personally to Ms. Hitomi Sato. Yes, MISS Sato. All of my previous reviews have referred to Ms. Sato as a male. It’s quite embarrassing. I apologize if I confused anyone. xS

Now, on to the review.

Remember how I said that the music in the first Black and White games felt more “electronic” than previous Pokémon installments? This applies less so, and more so, to Black 2 and White 2. The music as a whole feels more orchestra and less synthesizer—barring the battle music. The battle music is so electronic it’s almost headache-inducing. I preferred the “blaring trumpet” battle themes to the “blasting synthesizer” themes that wreak havoc throughout Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. This style is more appropriate given the atmosphere and the growing technology that this generation focuses on, however. The “Battle! Trainer” and “Battle! Wild Pokémon” and “Battle! Gym Leader” themes, revamped, are better than ever before and are my favorite versions of the themes. But whereas the “Battle! Ghetsis” piece from the original Pokémon Black and White was beautifully, elegantly terrifying in its excessive timpani and haunting chorus, this game’s remix of that piece nearly gives me a headache listening to it.

But we’ll get to remixes later; first, I want to talk about the brand new music. First, the new town music. Ichinose kicks it off with “Aspertia City,” the theme for the first town. It’s beautiful and I honestly find myself wondering how the sound team can consistently come up with such nostalgic themes for the player’s hometowns. Ichinose’s “Sangi Town” uses panpipes and occasionally an accordion in a lilting waltz melody to simulate a merry-go-round, while its counterpart “Sangi Ranch” is an unabashed accordion polka. It’s a lot of fun and I can’t help listening to this without smiling. I also feel need to point out “Yamaji Town,” which is exotic salsa music that you’re sure to enjoy. “Segaiha City” is also compelling, a carefree rhythm done in the style of Opelucid City (which is one of the best tracks on the Black and White soundtrack).

As far as route themes, “Route 19” is suitably fun and happy as it bounces along, a departure from typical route themes. “Route 22” is more adventurous and feels like a classic Pokémon game. “Route 23” was apparently written to resemble the style of “Route 26” from Pokémon Gold and Silver, although I don’t see many similarities. This route feels less awe-inspiring and more fun and reckless.

The four new battle themes are interesting, and feel very much a different style—the reason for this being, of course, that Jun’ichi Masuda did not compose them. Go Ichinose handles the techno rival battle, which is a great catchy theme for the rival, and the Black Kyurem/White Kyurem battle. The latter tends to especially annoy me because of its disorienting right ear-left ear alternations, and neither are up to par with Masuda’s themes. Hitomi Sato’s themes fare slightly better—“Battle! Colress” is quite annoying with the voice counting down throughout and no solid melody to carry it, but “Battle! Champion Iris” more than makes up for it in its cute style. And Colress's theme definitely fits his unpredictable, all over the place character.

But the true star of the first disc especially is the PokéStar Studio section. All of these tunes are memorable and fun, not a single one boring. I especially love the off-kilter piano in “Shooting in the PokéStar Studios!”

As far as remixes go, there are a LOT of remixes to be heard in this soundtrack. Less than half of the material is brand new, never-before-heard material. The good side to that, though, is that most of the remixes are thoroughly enjoyable. Every single Gym Leader battle theme and Champion battle theme to date (barring Alder’s theme) is given a remix on this album, as the Pokémon World Tournament allows you to fight Gym Leaders and Champions from previous games as a welcome throwback. And the Champion theme from Pokémon Red and Blue is given two remixes, as the remix that was used during the world championships is on this album. Of all of these remixes, a few stood out to me. All of these themes are memorable and great, but it was one of the lesser-remembered themes, “Battle! Gym Leader (Hoenn),” which wowed me with its slightly classical instrumentation. It is an interesting remix, and one I won’t easily tire of hearing. The Champion. Another one is “Battle! Champion (Sinnoh),” which surprised me mostly because it was still an effective remix after just hearing this theme remixed in Pokémon Black and White. This is my favorite version of the theme currently, and I’m impressed with it. As for the others, they struck me as standard remix fare—fun to listen to, but nothing outstanding.

“Underground Ruins” is a remix of the haunting “Sealed Chamber” from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, in a brilliantly orchestrated track. I was even impressed by “Heart Cave,” the subtly frightening revamp of the lake cave theme from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. The battle remixes for the Sinnoh Legendary Pokémon, Uxie/Mesprit/Azelf and Regirock/Regice/Registeel were entertaining, but again I felt like these were standard remix fare.

And in case you didn’t know, all of the Gyms get their own theme. They’re all variations on the classic theme, and they’re all very clever. I won’t say much about them because I don’t want to spoil these, but I will say that a few which that stood out to me in particular were “Virbank Gym (Perfomers • DOGARS),” which is one of a few tracks to use vocals, and “Mistralton Gym,” which indeed sounds like flying. The catchiest has got to be "Driftveil Gym," though.

As far as the original Black and White themes go, however, the remixes were wonderful. I’ll name a few here. First and foremost, and most impressive to me, was “Title.” This borrows heavily from the title theme of Pokémon Black and White, but it was expertly altered to make this the best title theme of the series thus far. I was also happily reminded of what was so great about the first Black and White games in “Bianca’s Theme,” “Cheren’s Theme,” and “N’s Theme.” These are hands down the best remixes on the soundtrack, and N’s Theme even gets a happy section after his signature minor key waltz (according to the composers, this was intended to remind the player of the protagonists of the original game). It’s worth noting “N’s Castle,” which has a flickering noise in the background of the minimalist remix, and “N’s Room,” which somehow got even more terrifying in the time period between the games. The chimes are broken and off tempo this time, and it’s a brilliant remix.

I haven’t come close to mentioning everything the album has to offer, but I can’t do that or the review will get even more long winded. But I can say that those of you who enjoyed the first Black and White soundtrack should definitely check this out, either now or after you play the game. It’s essentially more of the same, with more Ichinose and Sato, and less Kageyama. You’ll enjoy it a lot even if you enjoy it half as much as I did.

Rating: *****

Track listing (excellent tracks in red):

DISC 1
1. Opening
2. Title
3. Signs of the Beginning
4. Aspertia City
5. Bianca’s Theme
6. Route 19 (Spring~Summer)
7. Battle! Wild Pokémon
8. Sangi Town
9. Sangi Ranch
10. Rival’s Theme
11. Battle! Rival
12. Virbank City
13. Virbank Gym (Performers • DOGARS)
14. Team Plasma, Again
15. PokéStar Studios
16. Shooting in PokéStar Studios!
17. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Confrontation
18. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Glory
19. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Defeat
20. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Invasion
21. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Success
22. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Defeat
23. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Strange
24. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Love
25. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Sorrow
26. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Horror
27. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Purification
28. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Fear
29. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Humor
30. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Despair
31. PokéStar Studios • Theme of Shock
32. Statue was Built in PokéStar Studios!
33. Castelia Sewers
34. Castelia Gym
35. Eye Contact! Clown
36. A Fes Mission is Being Held!
37. United Tower
38. Colress’s Theme
39. Battle! Trainer
40. Join Avenue
41. Join Avenue – Level Up 1
42. Join Avenue – Level Up 2
43. Join Avenue – Greeting!
44. Nimbasa Gym • Runway
45. Eye Contact! Beauty
46. Nimbasa Gym • Stage
47. Battle! Gym Leader
48. Victory is Right Before Your Eyes!

DISC 2
1. Driftveil Gym
2. Pokémon World Tournament (PWT)
3. PWT Venue
4. Battle! Gym Leader (Kanto)
5. Battle! Champion (Kanto)
6. Battle! Gym Leader (Johto)
7. Battle! Champion (Johto)
8. Battle! Gym Leader (Hoenn)
9. Battle! Champion (Hoenn)
10. Battle! Gym Leader (Sinnoh)
11. Battle! Champion (Sinnoh)
12. PWT Finals!
13. PWT Victory!
14. Won the PWT!
15. Underground Ruins
16. Battle! Regirock • Regice • Registeel
17. Plasma Frigate • Deck
18. Zinzolin’s Theme
19. Cheren’s Theme
20. Mistralton Gym
21. Medal Rally – Finish!
22. Medal Box Renewal!
23. Yamaji Town
24. The Road to Rebirth Mountain
25. Rebirth Mountain (Black)
26. Rebirth Mountain (White)
27. Stranger House
28. Battle! Legendary Pokémon (Sinnoh)
29. Opelucid Gym
30. Assault! Opelucid City
31. Frozen Town
32. Eye Contact! Team Plasma
33. Battle! Team Plasma
34. Shadow Triad’s Theme
35. Marine Tube
36. Segaiha City
37. Segaiha Gym
38. Route 22 (Spring~Summer)
39. The Plasma Frigate Takes Off

DISC 3
1. Infiltrating the Plasma Frigate!
2. Battle! Colress
3. Awakening
4. Confrontation
5. Absorption
6. Coalescence
7. Battle! Black Kyurem • White Kyurem
8. Battle! Ghetsis
9. Route 23
10. N’s Castle
11. N’s Room
12. N’s Theme
13. Battle! N
14. Unova Link
15. Live Caster Minigames!
16. Live Caster • Game Start!
17. Live Caster • Won the Game!
18. Route 19 (Autumn~Winter)
19. Heart Cave
20. Battle! Uxie • Mesprit • Azelf
21. Black Skyscraper • Entrance
22. Black Skyscraper
23. White Tree Hollow • Entrance
24. White Tree Hollow
25. Tympole Choir
26. Route 22 (Autumn~Winter)
27. The Habitat Picture Book was Filled!
28. Collected All the Medals!
29. Battle! Champion Iris
30. Staff Roll
31. THE END
32. Musical “Lovestruck Munna”
33. Musical “Pokémon Party”
34. Musical “The Fashionable Pokémon Center"
35. Musical “MELOETTAAA!”
36. Pokémon World Championships Final
37. Relic Song
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: spitllama on August 01, 2012, 01:02:45 AM
I thought this would be coming soon ;D

Good review. Looks promising based on what you've said.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 01, 2012, 01:36:05 AM
Yeah, I was really happy with the album overall.

On another note, I went back and changed all the "he" and "his" referring to Ms. Sato to "she and "her" XD I was so annoyed at myself for not knowing that she was female.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 13, 2012, 02:59:49 AM
Soundtrack Review: Beetlejuice by Danny Elfman

This is one of those scores that someone like me views as a hidden gem. By the time I saw Beetlejuice and heard the score, I had long since been a fan of Tim Burton and Danny Elfman. I was thrilled hearing the composer’s second foray into the world of film, for it had elements of what I originally found to love about him. The score’s wackiness is quite in tune with The Nightmare Before Christmas, one of Elfman’s best scores in his career. That being said, it’s not a perfect score--but I couldn’t imagine a better one for this film.

The score has a few central themes, the first being the theme of the overarching plot and all its wackiness. It’s characterized by a piano playing octave notes repeatedly, with an ensemble joining in momentarily to produce the full effect. The most famous track, “Main Titles,” is where we hear the full theme, and this is easily the best moment on the album. However, it’s worth noting a few other places it appears as well. I think one of my personal favorite cues is “In the Model,” as the theme meanders a bit and Elfman allows mallets and piano to, well, go crazy as the dead couple unearth the bio-exorcist in one of the director’s most memorable scenes to date. “The Incantation” mixes the piano with tribal drums and an effectively shimmering, creepy motif which gradually gets more out of control, making this a very worthwhile track. “Showtime!” and “‘Laughs’” utilize the main theme with creepy circus music, with a gleefully ominous result.

Another theme that pops up a couple times is the satirical, bouncily happy “Travel Music” theme which is a perfect fit for this film. It’s merry, but it’s Elfman merry, meaning there are some strange chords and it seems a bit off-kilter. A theme that Elfman seems to particularly relish in is his theme for Beetlejuice himself, in all his perverseness and sleaziness. It first appears in the second half of “The Book!/Obituaries” and it feels like a creepy tango which couldn’t fit this monster better. Elfman teases at the theme in a few of the later tracks before bringing it out fully in the final part of the ending credits. Finally, there’s Lydia’s theme, which is a dreamy, reflective waltz on harp, and it is heard whenever Lydia is in sight. I must say, I quite like the whimsical sorrow heard in her theme.

“End Credits” is the track you should check out to get a feel for the score as a whole--you’ve got three sections, beginning with the title theme, segueing into Lydia’s theme, and ending with the Beetlejuice theme which serves as a nice overview of the score.

Basically, if you are a fan of Elfman’s earlier wacky scores such as Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, you should check out this one. Even if you aren’t, this is one of the greats in comedy/horror flicks and serves the film quite well, despite the tiring moments on the score that seem to be just frenzied notes, such as “Beetle-Snake” and “Enter... ‘The Family’/Sand Worm Planet.”

Rating: ***

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Main Titles
2. Travel Music
3. The Book!/Obituaries
4. Enter... “The Family”/Sand Worm Planet
5. The Fly
6. Lydia Discovers?
7. In the Model
8. Juno’s Theme
9. Beetle-Snake
10. “Sold”
11. The Flier/Lydia’s Pep Talk
12. The Incantation
13. Lydia Strikes a Bargain...
14. Showtime!
15. “Laughs”
16. The Wedding
17. The Aftermath
18. End Credits

I think Triforced1 requested this like a million years ago when he was still here, but I never got around to reviewing it and thought now might be a good time.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 14, 2012, 02:34:44 AM
Soundtrack Review: Big Fish  by Danny Elfman

Another Elfman review! This is another hidden gem, as I only saw the film Big Fish in the last four to six months. I absolutely loved it, like many, and I think Danny Elfman’s Oscar-nominated score, while not his best, is certainly one of his most powerful and emotionally moving. The film, concerning an Alabama man who struggles to relate to his dying father, is Burton’s most heartfelt to date alongside Edward Scissorhands and certainly calls for a score to match. While as moving as the score to Edward Scissorhands, it is moving in a different way, and this is definitely an acquired taste of music. Much of the music is reflective, thoughtful, and subtle, as compared to the beautiful, more obvious motifs in Scissorhands. I didn’t see what was so special about it the first time I heard it, but with repeated listenings grew to love it greatly. This score managed to remind me why I loved Danny Elfman in the first place.

And of course, as with all of his scores, the main titles is where to look first. The first few minutes are slow and painstakingly determined--beautiful in an unorthodox way--but the real highlight begins at 3:10, when Elfman introduces his overarching theme for the film. Achingly beautiful and poignant, it represents the relationship that Will has with his father. If you like what you find there, you’re likely to enjoy the end track, “Jenny’s Theme,” as well. This latter theme is dreamy, lovely and melancholy in its tale of unrequited love. The final central theme is the beautiful “Sandra’s Theme,” which tells of true love and its heartfelt joys. I love the contrast of the themes of the two women in Edward Bloom’s life, how his wife’s theme was beautiful and the theme of the woman who loved him more than he ever loved her is longing and sorrowful. The last thing I’ll mention is not a specific theme, but rather all the southern-sounding fiddles throughout some of the cues. The most effective example of this is in “End Titles,” which literally swims around excitedly for a bit before settling on the main theme.

Those are the main themes, and it’s interesting to see how Elfman utilizes and alters them throughout the score. The original Jenny’s Theme is dreamy and longing, but it has obvious ominous intentions in “Leaving Spectre.” Sandra’s theme gets lesser use than Jenny’s, but still shows up in “The Journey Home” which, along with “Sandra’s Farewell” and “Finale,” is one of the most tear-jerkingly beautiful cues I’ve heard in a long while.

In case you haven’t gotten this by now, this isn’t a wacky score like the one I reviewed yesterday, save for some moments in the growing montage and finale cues. This is an emotional score that explores the deepest sorrows and joys we experience in life. I honestly can’t think of anything to compare it to that he’s done in the past. In fact, it feels more like a Thomas Newman score than a Danny Elfman score to me. Newman fans, you’ll devour this score. Elfman fans, if you are looking for something in a different vein from anything else he’s done before. It’s Elfman, but not distinctively so. I think if you give this score a fair chance, you’ll enjoy it thoroughly as I did.

Rating: *****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Pictures
2. Big Fish (Titles)
3. Shoe Stealing
4. Underwater
5. Sandra’s Theme
6. The Growing Montage
7. Leaving Spectre
8. Return to Spectre
9. Rebuilding
10. The Journey Home
11. In the Tub
12. Sandra’s Farewell
13. Finale
14. End Titles
15. Jenny’s Theme

I hope you all check this soundtrack or at least this film out--I feel that it’s underappreciated in both cases.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: DrP on August 14, 2012, 05:06:01 AM
Do the soundtrack I gave you!!!

I wanna see what you think!
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 20, 2012, 11:30:53 PM
Soundtrack Review: The Holiday by Hans Zimmer

Or, rather, by Hans Zimmer and a bunch of composers who weren’t listed on the cover. Further investigation reveals that only two tracks are entirely composed by Zimmer, similarly to Pirates 4 and a lot of his other works. But anyway. Here we are at another Zimmer review by request from Nik, who pointed me at this score when I was growing weary of 4500+ songs of film scores on my iPod. I was happy to accept new music, and especially happy to discover more of Hans Zimmer, whose scores for Sherlock Holmes, The Dark Knight, and Pirates of the Caribbean had made me rediscover the joys of film music all in the last year and a half. However, those were action-packed scores, something that Zimmer shines at. The Holiday is not an action-packed film. It’s closer to a romantic comedy. Well, I thought, this should be interesting. And I was wrong--but also right. I was wrong because a lot of the music isn’t very interesting. But I was right because it was interesting to see what Zimmer did with a film such as this one.

There are several core themes, including one main one that stars in tracks such as “Kiss Goodbye.” This theme is pretty, and obviously heartfelt, but it doesn’t feel as if it amounts to much. It left me feeling a bit empty and unsatisfied--like, I think this theme could be great with a little more development. But instead it was only slightly subpar. It’s true that the emotion is clear, but I didn’t get any chills from it like I did his excellent, simpler Dark Knight theme--I felt that the latter, while simpler in structure, was imbued with much more emotion. That being said, this score does its job effectively--providing the film with appropriate underscore while never outshining the film. I find myself enjoying this score’s various pieces, even including the aforementioned theme. I think the sum of its parts is, in fact, greater than the whole. It’s easy to get caught up in “Gumption” or “Kayak For One” or “Light My Fire” but there’s never any concern or intrigue about the music I’m hearing.

Essentially, this is music you listen to exactly when I did--when you’re looking for something different. I will undoubtedly return to The Holiday, especially with such gems as “Kiss Goodbye,” “Maestro,” and “Gumption” which, although they aren’t as emotionally packed as his other scores, still deliver great listening music. I’m glad Nik showed it to me, but I still think it’s Zimmer’s weakest score that I’ve heard thus far.

Rating: ***

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Maestro
2. Iris and Jasper
3. Kayak For One
4. Zero
5. Dream Kitchen
6. Separate Vacations
7. Anything Can Happen
8. Light My Fire
9. Definitely Unexpected
10. If I Wanted To Call You
11. Roadside Rhapsody
12. Busy Guy
13. For Nancy
14. It’s Complicated
15. Kiss Goodbye
16. Verso E Prosa
17. Meu Passado
18. The “Cowch”
19. Three Musketeers
20. Christmas Surprise
21. Gumption
22. Cry
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 21, 2012, 01:30:28 AM
Soundtrack Review: My Neighbor Totoro by Joe Hisaishi

Miyazaki’s third film with Studio Ghibli (if you count Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, which was only released under the Ghibli label later on) also marks his third collaboration with composer Joe Hisaishi. Nausicaa and Castle in the Sky called for sweeping, grand orchestral scores with moving melodies. However, this film was to be a family film--kids as young as six and seven were part of the target audience. So obviously Hisaishi needed to write music accordingly, and I can’t imagine a better score for this film. I first saw it as a 10 year old in fifth grade, and I don’t think I could possibly have loved it more. I watched this movie all the time. This movie, along with Howl’s Moving Castle, were easily my favorite movies at the time. And with both of those movies, the music really stood out to me. It’s true that Howl’s Moving Castle had a bigger impact on me, but this music is honestly a great animation score as well.

That being said, let’s look at the score. It’s simultaneously childish and intelligent--Hisaishi doesn’t look down on simple melodies, but rather embraces them, knowing that these are the kinds that will click with the moviegoers.

I think I’ll talk about the vocal songs first. The opening song, “Stroll,” is a pure delight, with a Japanese vocalist singing Miyazaki’s lyrics unabashedly. This is a great opener to the types of melodies that will be found within the score. Those looking for an instrumental version can refer to “Let’s Go to the Hospital,” but honestly I think it’s one of those songs that’s just better with lyrics. The same goes for the ending song, “My Neighbor Totoro,” which is simple but also heartfelt in its adventurous tone. However, you may be surprised to find a truly moving melody in “A Lost Child” which is similar in structure to Hisaishi’s theme for Castle in the Sky. Honestly, all three are enjoyable and I wouldn’t snub them just because they’re vocal songs.

Much of the score is based on those vocal pieces, but that’s far from all the score.

The main theme, which is heard in sporadics throughout, is first really heard in “The Huge Tree In the Tsukamori Forest” and later heard in full in “The Path of the Wind.” I really enjoyed this theme as a kid watching the movie, and it really made an impact. It’s the type of theme that sticks with you--if you see the film, likely you’ll be able to hum the tune years later. Hisaishi even has a motif for Totoro--five notes, the first four the same pitch before dropping one full step. Listening to “Totoro,” it should become apparent that this monster is friendly, a little scary, and heavy. It’s one of the quieter sections of score, along with “A Drenched Monster” in which a light theme for rain is heard. This latter one is utterly relaxing and beautiful in its simplicity. A theme for the village is “The Village in May,” which you’ll instantly recognize as the beginning of the story, is happily bouncy and carefree, fitting in well with other bouncy pieces such as the bubbly “Catbus,” which just makes me picture Hisaishi grinning broadly and dancing as he conducts.

Overall, this score is brilliantly realized. It effectively conveys mystery, childlike happiness, sorrow, adventure, and beauty--not bad for a score which is at least 50% synthesizer. Don’t let anything you may be apprehensive about--childlike music, synthesizer, vocal songs--scare you from Hisaishi’s first true masterpiece, which is a pure delight from start to finish. If you’re in the mood for pure, innocently childlike music, give the score a listen--hell, see the film if that’s an option.

Rating: *****

Track listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. Stroll (The Opening Song)
2. The Village in May
3. A Haunted House!
4. Mei and the Soot Sprites
5. Evening Wind
6. Not Afraid
7. Let’s Go to the Hospital
8. Mother
9. A Little Monster
10. Totoro
11. The Huge Tree in the Tsukamori Forest
12. A Lost Child
13. The Path of the Wind
14. A Drenched Monster
15. Moonlight Flight
16. Mei is Missing
17. Catbus
18. I’m So Glad
19. My Neighbor Totoro (The Ending Song)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 25, 2012, 06:09:06 PM
Soundtrack Review: Princess Mononoke by Joe Hisaishi

It’s my goal to eventually review all of Hisaishi’s works, and I figured now would be a good time to look at one of Miyazaki’s most acclaimed films, Princess Mononoke (known in Japan as Mononoke-Hime). The film is a shocking, dazzling, and thoroughly incredible piece of art, bringing together the story of Ashitaka, a young boy who has been cursed by a boar god; San, a formidable girl who was raised by wolf gods; and Lady Eboshi, who wants to destroy the forests in order to make way for human development. It’s a beautiful film, and calls for a totally different style of work than anything Hisaishi had done in recent years. It wasn’t to be childish or happy-go-lucky a la Kiki’s Delivery Service, or even passionate and melancholic like his then-recent Porco Rosso. No, this story was a heroic epic, and needed music that was emotional, often brooding, and ultimately aware of the darkness and sacrifice life entails.

And that is exactly what Hisaishi’s first main theme, referred to as the Legend of Ashitaka Theme, provides. The opening title introduces the theme, and we hear it in its beautiful full form over the end credits. It’s perfectly sorrowful and dramatic. The end credits suite represents the best overview of the score, and it’s one of Hisaishi’s most triumphant pieces to date. His second main theme, the Princess Mononoke Theme Song, is mysterious and sorrowful, as well as effectively lighter than the heavy Ashitaka theme.

But does the score match up to the main themes? It’s a question that is perhaps justified. I think that yes, it complements the film well. The “Requiem” pieces seem almost an extension of the Ashitaka theme. You have chaotic evil in “The Demon God” and quiet beauty in “Lady Eboshi” and longing sadness in “The Journey to the West.” And, in one of the score’s only playful moments, “Kodamas” utilizes mysterious pizzicato strings to convey wonder and awe. I think some might have complaints about the lack of satisfactory battle music, but I personally enjoy it. “The Battle Drums,” while pretty much containing only percussion, really gets you in the mood to watch a fight scene. Similarly, “The Battle in Front of the Ironworks” isn’t really action-packed, but is great at hyping up the tension. And the score manages to finish with a lovely piano piece, “Ashitaka and San.”

Overall, this score is more brooding than it is upbeat. It’ll probably take a few listens before you start to appreciate anything besides what I feel will be most popular with fans of Hisaishi’s other works, “Ashitaka and San,” “Princess Mononoke Theme Song,” and “The Legend of Ashitaka Theme.” However, if you take the time to think about and appreciate the score, I think you’ll be glad of it in the end.

Overall score: *****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. The Legend of Ashitaka
2. The Demon God
3. The Journey to the West
4. The Demon Power
5. The Land of the Impure
6. The Encounter
7. Kodamas
8. The Forest of the Gods
9. Evening at the Ironworks
10. The Demon God II - the Lost Mountains
11. Lady Eboshi
12. The Tarata Women Work Song
13. The Young Man from the East
14. Requiem
15. Will to Live
16. San and Ashitaka in the Forest of the Deer God
17. Princess Mononoke Theme Song (Instrumental Version)
18. Requiem II
19. The Battle Drums
20. The Battle in Front of the Ironworks
21. The Demon Power II
22. Requiem III
23. The Retreat
24. The Demon God III
25. Adagio of Life and Death
26. The World of the Dead
27. The World of the Dead II
28. Adagio of Life and Death II
29. Ashitaka and San
30. Princess Mononoke Theme Song
31. The Legend of Ashitaka Theme (End Credit)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 26, 2012, 10:19:52 PM
Soundtrack Review: Extreme Escape 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors Soundtrack by Shinji Hosoe

This game, as some of you already know, profoundly impacted me. The first “visual novel” I had ever played, it was a brilliant production featuring wonderful art, beautifully realized characters, and an intriguing, compelling, and somewhat disturbing plot. And, believe it or not, the music contributes to the game as much as anything. It wouldn’t be half the game it is without the music. For that reason, I took the liberty of obtaining the soundtrack for review shortly after completing the game.

The music is what you’d typically expect from this sort of game, with a few surprises along the way. The music feels very electronic and heavily synthesized, but it’s not generic. Most of the escape themes seem to gravitate toward heavy electronic styles, but the moments in between don’t follow suit, being mysterious or often genuinely moving and emotional. That being said, I believe that there’s something on this score for everyone.

The score, as a whole, does its job incredibly effectively, and one thing the music does better than anything is hyping up the tension. My personal favorite of the suspicion themes is “Extreme Extrication” which has a very catchy style to it. It introduces the mystery and suspicion of the plot and it’s a theme that you hear quite frequently in between your escapes. Similarly frequent pieces such as “Eternitybox,” “Chill and Rigor” and “Who is Zero?” build up the tension for the player, leaving an uneasy feeling in his or her stomach; and “Trepidation” when combined with the story almost makes you sick with anxiety--a feat to be commended, considering it’s just music and a few words.

Leaving suspenseful themes alone for a moment, we can move on to the actual escape music, which will please some while evoking passionate hatred from others. I like the escape tracks, especially “Senary Game” which has creepy percussion and fast paced chords that are quite catchy. It seems like they are all designed to convey urgency to the listener, as if being locked in a room wasn’t cause enough for alarm. It’s more effective than simply saying “you’re locked, find a way out.” The puzzles have no time limits, but the music makes you feel that you’re on a very tight agenda and can’t afford to waste any time, as exemplified in “Unary Game.” The percussion and guitar in "Ternary Game" is also quite catchy and interesting.

However, if the suspicion themes bore you and the escape music is too electronic, you’ll probably gravitate toward the more emotional themes. The best examples of the capabilities for moving melodies are the final tracks, “Morphogenetic Sorrow” and “9years.” They are both quite beautiful, the former in a sorrowful way and the latter in a more heartfelt, nostalgic way. And, interestingly enough, “Imaginary” which is a lighter piece reminds me of “Old Souls” from Inception. I don’t think I’ve heard game music as moving as the last two tracks since I played Professor Layton and the Last Specter nearly a year ago.

I could mention a lot more of the album’s twenty-five tracks, but A) I don’t want this to be too drawn-out; and B) I don’t want to ruin the music’s surprises for you! I have a feeling this will appeal more to fans of the game, but I also think it’s very likable for someone just looking for listening material--especially for fans of catchy music a la Phoenix Wright, or moving music a la Pokémon Mystery Dungeon.

Overall score: ****

Track list (excellent tracks in red)*:
1. 9hours, 9persons, 9doors
2. Unary Game
3.Extreme Extrication
4. Binary Game
5. Riddle and Puzzle
6. Ternary Game
7. Foreboding
8. Quaternary Game
9. Recollection
10. Quinary Game
11. Trepidation
12. Senary Game
13. Quietus
14. Imaginary
15. Septenary Game
16. Tranquility
17. Tinderbox
18. Eternitybox
19. Who is Zero?
20. Octal Game
21. Nonary Game
22. Chill and Rigor
23. Digital Root
24. Morphogenetic Sorrow
25. 9years

*Note that I think every track from this score is excellent; just within the game itself. I’m not sure how the unmarked ones will hold up to someone who has never played the game.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 04, 2012, 03:30:32 AM
Soundtrack Review: Pee-wee’s Big Adventure by Danny Elfman

So here we are at Danny Elfman’s first film score, and first collaboration with Tim Burton. Zanier than even Beetlejuice, this score seems to have more energy than any of Elfman’s others. This score is just fun, even if it is occasionally a bit too frantic for the listener to keep up with.

The opening titles serves as the main theme for the film, and quite frankly I can’t think of any way to describe it besides crazed circus music. It’s just a lot of wacky fun to listen to, and sounds a bit like Elfman’s later work on The Simpsons. This immediately segues into the triumphant theme for Pee-wee’s prized bike, an unabashedly joyous motif. Shortly afterward is the Breakfast Machine theme, which is both instantly likable and intensely psychotic. Any piece of music this frighteningly fun is to be commended, especially from a totally inexperienced composer.

Some other major motifs include Simone’s theme, a mysterious and beautiful waltz, the horribly creepy (in the best possible way) Clown Dream theme, and the Studio Chase theme which is bizarrely reminiscent of the Wicked Witch’s theme in The Wizard of Oz.

Not much detail in this review, but there isn’t much more to be said about this music. It needs to be heard to be understood. So, all Elfman fans, do yourselves a favor and locate this soundtrack. It deserves your attention. Especially “The Park Ride” which had me laughing out loud at Paul Reubens’s vocals.

Rating: ****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Main Title/Bike Race
2. The Breakfast Machine
3. The Bike
4. The Park Ride
5. The Mall
6. Music Shop and Beyond
7. Stolen Bike/Lonely Walk
8. Francis’s House
9. The Bath
10. The Basement
11. Hitchhike
12. Edsel Over the Edge
13. Simone’s Theme
14. Dinosaur Theme
15. Andy Chase
16. Alamo
17. Bus Station/Simone
18. Clown Dream
19. Studio Chase
20. Pet Shop
21. The Drive-In
22. Finale
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 08, 2012, 06:18:24 AM
Soundtrack Review: ParaNorman by Jon Brion

I had never heard of Jon Brion before viewing the film ParaNorman. And indeed, looking upon his rather short filmography, the only film I have seen with a score by him is The Other Guys, which I didn’t think was a good film, let alone good enough to look at the score. However, this film was quite impressive to me. As a fan of stop-motion animation, I went in hoping for another Coraline or maybe even Nightmare Before Christmas to sweep me off my feet. And indeed, Laika (who produced Coraline) was the producer of this film, so I had reason to hope as much. Luckily, I was not disappointed. The film, which has more sex and innuendo than any PG-rated film I’ve ever seen (animated or not), was incredibly impressive. Never boring in its very dark humor, and carrying a truly moving message, it reminded me what I loved about this genre. With the slight misfire that was Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows still looming over the summer, ParaNorman more than made up for my slight disappointment with Burton’s summer film.

So the film is great; what about the score? Is it good? Yes. Is it great? Yes. Is its effect diminished somewhat when removed from the film? Yes.

The score has a truly moving main theme, probably best exemplified by “Norman’s Walk.” The strings, guitar and easygoing flute create a lazy swing that feels more like summertime than Halloween. It’s used for title theme as a hesitant, fragmented piano solo, and used in a slow, beautiful string-centered movement in “Resolution.” Those three tracks form the basis for the main theme, which is also heard scattered throughout the score in its more sentimental moments, and even darker moments like “Aggie Fights,” in which it plays over pounding drum beats.

The score in between these rousing main theme reprisals is where one needs the accompanying film to be truly enjoyable, however. While it is undeniably clever to write a zombie theme based on eighties flicks, with thumping synthesizer and comically horrifying motifs, these moments may leave you weary and are even quite annoying at times. Luckily, this theme is used fairly sparsely throughout, including the end credits where it is bizarrely combined with the main theme. But it’s not just the synthesizer sections that will cause you to drift off. The orchestral passages are quite lengthy and while they are undeniably clever in structure and theme, it takes a few listens before one can even pick out anything worthwhile. And with ginormous cues such as the nearly sixteen-minute “People Attack,” it may be too tedious to sit through the “in-between” tracks more than once or twice, which is a shame considering the high quality of the music and recordings.

It’s fun to pick out the wacky woodwind-driven theme for Mr. P, or the sneaky motif for Alvin, the school bully, or even to just listen to the nervous energy found in “Zombies Attack” and the untempered chaos in “People Attack,” it’s definitely not for everyone and only those willing to spend a long time with the score should buy the entire album.

In conclusion, I think it’s obvious that the tracks “Norman’s Walk” and “Resolution” will be the most popular--and rightfully so. Those looking for the moving, easily accessible aspect of the score should undoubtedly download “Norman’s Walk” and forget the rest. This is a drastically different type of score than I’m used to listening to, but I’m looking forward to the challenge of taming this great beast. This is obviously top-notch film scoring, but it’s a very acquired taste.

Rating: ***

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Zombie Attacks in the Eighties
2. Norman at the Piano / Main Title
3. Norman’s Walk
4. Alvin Attacks
5. Enter Neil / Mr P / Ghost Walk / Ghost Dog
6.Goodbye Mr P / Historic Drama / Grounded / Heavy Visitation
7. Alvin Again / Scary Bedroom
8. Norman Tries to Keep it Cool / Grandma’s Got Your Back
9. Moth Rock
10. The Dead Shall Be Raised
11. Zombies Attack
12. People Attack
13. Are We There Yet?
14. Aggie Fights
15. Resolution
16. Oh, and One More Thing
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 22, 2012, 07:45:22 PM
Soundtrack Review: The Cat Returns by Yuji Nomi

A while back, I reviewed one of my favorite film scores of all time, Studio Ghibli’s 1995 film Whisper of the Heart, composed by Yuji Nomi. However, that was not the end of Nomi’s work for Studio Ghibli. In 2002, the studio released a spinoff based on fantasy sequences within Whisper of the Heart, and that would be this film.

The most obvious difference between the two films is that Whisper prominently features the real world, with plausible characters and situations, while The Cat Returns is entirely fantasy. Oddly enough, the latter proved less touching and ultimately less entertaining than the former, indicating perhaps that the Ghibli films are most effective when they concentrate on human nature and relatable themes.

One thing that really bothered me about Whisper’s score was that for a good portion of the time it felt like beautiful orchestra music covered in a mess of synthesizers. Luckily, this score is entirely orchestral, and Nomi really shows his mastery of a full orchestra rather than a smaller ensemble. And, although the first film is a good half hour longer than its sequel, the score material for the second is far more extensive.

The main theme for this work is a whimsically dreamy, lilting waltz representing Haru’s memory, and by extension the cat Yuki. Personified best in “Chat With a Cat” and “Haru’s Memory,” the motif is really gorgeous and, bizarrely, reminds of the 1995 film’s cue “A Confidential Talk,” which is meant to be a comedic waltz. There is also a theme for the Baron, which (a bit disappointingly) doesn’t directly reference Nomi’s previous Baron theme, but holds its own as a majestic, sweeping march. Indeed, it’s hard not to be sucked into the magic and beauty in “Baron” and “I’m Humbert von Gikkingen,” as well as other tracks using the Baron’s theme. A heavily ominous bouncing theme for the cat king can be heard in “To the Castle of the Cat King,” “Me, a Cat?” and finally in a full suite within “The Cat King.” I’m particularly fond of this theme, since there was no really dark music in Whisper and it’s great to hear how talented Nomi can be at producing unease. Those three themes are the ones you’ll hear repeated, but there is a LOT of great material which only spans one cue or so.

Indeed, Nomi seems to hint at themes before actually establishing them. The bizarrely exotic “Procession of the Cat King” is eerie but oddly doesn’t employ the theme later established for the king, though perhaps that’s intentional as the king doesn’t reveal his true colors until later. Similarly, “The Cat Returns” and “Welcome to the Cat Office” use exuberant and majestic ideas but never directly use Baron’s theme; and “At the Juuji-gai” is a carousel-like waltz that perhaps foreshadows the memory theme. I’d even say “Waltz Katzen Blut” is the winner of the lot, using a wistful accordion to open up before becoming a full-blown orchestra waltz.

And then there are the brilliant references to his original score. It was great that these were used so sparingly--it makes searching for them a bit of an easter egg hunt, and only those very familiar with the original score could pick them out. You can hear the Baron’s theme in “Mysterious Voice,” foreshadowing what’s to come, and then it’s finally used as it was meant to be heard originally in the last minute of “I’m Back, I’m Back Home Now!” This theme sounds more majestic on brass than it did as a squeaky violin piece in Whisper, and it makes the wait well worth it. As stated previously, “Baron” doesn’t use the theme directly, but it does interestingly play around with a brief idea found in Whisper’s cue “The Forest of Doubts.” While “Dull Time After Lessons” doesn’t use any themes from the first film, its style is clearly a reference to some of the violin music such as the “Canon” cue. Yes, it’s disappointing that “Following Muta” doesn’t use Muta’s theme from the first score, but is that really such a big deal? The theme was annoying in the first place.

While the first score was entertaining and had some beautiful moments, this score is easily superior. Your love of the first one depended upon your love of the film, while this score is easily loved by anyone. The Cat Returns holds that interesting title of being a film I don’t care much for, but a score to die for. And truly, there isn’t a weak or boring cue of the lot.

Rating: ****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Opening
2. Have You Woken Up, Haru?
3. Encounter With Lune
4. Chat With a Cat
5. Procession of the Cat King
6. The Cat Returns
7. Dull Time After Lessons
8. Mysterious Voice
9. At the Juuji-gai
10. Following Muta
11. Welcome to the Cat Office
12. The Abduction to the Seraglio
13. Is This the Catland?
14. To the Castle of the Cat King
15. Me, a Cat?
16. Rumba of the Juggler Cat
17. Polka of the Belly-Dance Cat
18. Waltz Katzen Blut
19. I’m Humbert von Gikkingen
20. I’m Not a Decoy
21. Escape from the Labyrinth
22. Lune and Yuki
23. Escape
24. I’m Back, I’m Back Home Now!
25. Become the Wind
26. Baron
27. The Cat King
28. Haru’s Boogie
29. Pastorale
30. Haru’s Memory
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on September 22, 2012, 07:55:37 PM
Very interesting soundtrack reviews... :)
I was wondering if you take suggestions for which soundtracks to review?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 22, 2012, 08:03:24 PM
You can always request soundtracks, but I can't always guarantee I'll get to them anytime soon. Do you have some in mind?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on September 22, 2012, 08:39:26 PM
You can always request soundtracks, but I can't always guarantee I'll get to them anytime soon. Do you have some in mind?
I don't know which ones you've done before, but I had two in mind:
Movie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_Episode_V (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_Episode_V)
Video game: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HOMM_II (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HOMM_II)
Both of these soundtracks would be interesting to hear your opinions on.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Nebbles on September 22, 2012, 08:50:48 PM
The Okami soundtrack would be awesome...
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: MaestroUGC on September 23, 2012, 12:23:05 AM
All of the Star Wars Soundtracks are mammoth affairs, both because of size and because of their influence and influences. Besides, if you do one you really have to do them all.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Yugi on September 23, 2012, 02:23:10 AM
You should do the Soundtrack of Final Fantasy XII
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 23, 2012, 02:39:23 AM
Haven't seen anything I'd be interested in reviewing yet, thanks for the ideas though
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on September 23, 2012, 07:35:05 AM
Suggestions you say?

AVATAR.
DARK CLOUD 2.
MORE DARK CLOUD 2.
AND MAYBE SOME AVATAR AFTER THAT.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on October 28, 2012, 05:50:33 AM
Soundtrack Review: Frankenweenie by Danny Elfman

Tim Burton’s film Frankenweenie is a remake of a mid-1980s short film Burton created while working at Disney. The film appalled the others working there, and it caused Disney to promptly fire him. Twenty-eight years later, this film is produced, and is proudly released under the Disney banner in as many theaters as possible. It was met by mostly critical acclaim, with critics praising the return to the style of “vintage Burton.” And Danny Elfman also seems to have gotten the memo, as this score is highly reminiscent of his early works for Burton. That being said, it’s on to the full review to attempt analysis of the score.

Elfman uses a few main motifs here. The opening titles has a theme for the relationship between Victor and Sparky. Tender, innocent and knowing, this conveys the pureness of a boy’s love for his dog. Unfortunately, the progression is painfully similar to some of Elfman’s other works. Although the piano solo in “The Funeral” cue is original (albeit uninspired), cues such as “Happy Ending” would not sound out of place in Edward Scissorhands, and it is almost impossible to ignore how familiar they sound. It’s a wonderful theme that suits the movie brilliantly, and it winds around itself with incredible intelligence, but it is undeniably very familiar. That being said, there are several moments on the score which are pure delights in their originality, implying that Elfman has not lost his touch in the slightest. The gleeful mockery and evil in “Frankenweenie Disney Logo,” despite its somewhat predictable course, is a wonderful reminder of how Elfman gets when he dedicates himself to dark humor. We hear other types of humor in “Mr. Burgermeister / Noses Meet,” where extravagantly heavy bouncing strings are complemented later by Sparky’s theme, appropriately energetic. Sparky’s theme is the one which this score seems to gravitate towards, and the score is all the better because of it. We hear the eager theme with subtly ominous undertones in “Game of Death” before all sorrow breaks loose and the piece explodes with sadness.

“Electricity” is effective at setting the stage for the rest of the film. In this track, we hear the monster theme first hinted at by the organ in the opening track (performed here by strings). It’s a progression very similar to Elfman’s Batman theme, but different enough that it is clearly its own melody. The ensuing “Re-Animation” is undoubtedly a highlight of the score, its dark chaotic sections a pure delight and its more tender areas also effective. This was the first cue on the score during which I got chills down my back and thought to myself, “Here is the reason that I love Danny Elfman.” Hints of the same devious aspect are heard at the very beginning of “Invisible Fish / Search for Sparky,” where the pipe organ finally makes its entrance. The middle section of that cue is left to stew, plotting its revenge which shows itself briefly in an evil pipe organ/rapid strings movement before the Sparky theme is something of a sigh of relief, a calm before the storm. And what a storm it will be. There is a brief deviation in “A Premonition,” which serves as a theme for the inexplicably amusing and wide-eyed Weird Girl. Its Mars Attacks!-like synthesizers represent the alien character quite well. After a couple more irrelevant cues, we get back to the action. “Getting Ready” is one of my personal favorite cues on the album, excellent creepy music. It begins with the pipe organ performing the monster theme, and leads into a string performance of a rapidfire apprehension idea. It’s brilliant buildup to the real show, but it’s so good you don’t even realize it’s all setup. “Making Monsters” is the turning point of the film, and as such, all hell appropriately breaks loose. It’s pure chaos, wonderfully twisted and frighteningly fun chaos.

Overview: It’s a brilliant Elfman work if you can get past its similarities to older Elfman works. I must say that I prefer Elfman’s Dark Shadows score from earlier this year, due to its more haunting and serious tone, but this is easily classic Elfman, and it should not be missed.

Rating: ****

Track list:
1. Frankenweenie Disney Logo
2. Main Titles
3. Mr. Burgermeister / Noses Meet
4. Game of Death
5. The Funeral
6. Electricity
7. Re-Animation
8. Sparky’s Day Out
9. Dad’s Talk
10. The Bride / Edgar Knows
11. Invisible Fish / Search for Sparky
12. A Premonition
13. The Speech
14. Mom’s Discovery / Farewell
15. Getting Ready
16. Making Monsters
17. Sea Monkeys Attack
18. Mad Monster Party
19. The Final Confrontation
20. Happy Ending
21. Alternate Main Titles
22. Over the Fence
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on October 28, 2012, 07:50:37 AM
This thread would be far more handsome if you started taking my advice, Slow.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on November 04, 2012, 06:13:00 AM
Soundtrack Review: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask by Tomohito Nishiura

Professor Layton’s first foray into 3D saw a huge change in gameplay elements, and the same goes for the music to the game. The soundfont is an incredibly high quality. I’m not sure what happened between the last game’s music output program and this game’s, but each of these tracks sounds like it was performed live. And this is both a good thing and a bad thing. The sound is much higher quality, but it’s also a departure from the Layton sound that fans love. Two pieces from previous games, “Puzzles” and “Searching for Clues” are recreated in this soundfont within the game, and they sound wonderful--but very very different. That being said, I’ll try to review this as a sole entity rather than comparing too much.

The music itself will sound familiar to anyone who’s ever played a Layton game. Accordion waltzes bounce and squeeze into most of the themes, and while that sounds as if one might go insane hearing all of them, there is enough differentiation from piece to piece that each new one is quite fun to experience. “Monte d’Or: Carnival Night” is indeed a waltz performed primarily by accordion and a solo string instrument, but there’s nothing familiar about the aggressive bouncing at the beginning. This piece starts out in a very unusual way, and due to the odd structure it’s very hard to determine whether it is in major or minor. While I was considering this, I had an epiphany: that’s on purpose. A carnival should be fun, and happy--but there’s something elegant and sorrowful about Monte d’Or. Therefore, it stands to reason that the opening uses minor chords in the bass while the tempo dances around wildly. A different version of the theme, very similar but small differences including no percussion, is “Monte d’Or: City of Miracles.”

Some of the waltzes are quite typical, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoyable. “Inside the Circus Tent” and “Pumpkin Park” stand out due to their “dirty” accordion feel, while “Stansbury: Halcyon Days” shines in its elegance as strings carry the bass melody. “Norwell” is a mysterious piano waltz, capturing all the intrigue and fear accompanying Norwell and the Akbadain Ruins. “The One-Stop Shop” and “Rabbit in the Spotlight” really stand out due to their cutesy Parisian influences. Although it’s natural to be wary of so many waltzes (and this is barely half of them), only a few will have you turning down your volume with a headache.

And of course there are other notable pieces. “Mask of Miracles Theme,” which really is performed live and sounds impressive (albeit very familiar), has a beautiful intro before becoming more forced and less engaging towards its end. “Puzzles Abound” is a truly gorgeous piece. One of the most high quality pieces in the game, the new puzzle theme is elegant, mysterious and consistently enjoyable. “The Gentleman’s Theme” utilizes flighty strings in another very fun piece, threatening yet extremely entertaining. Jazz enthusiasts will have no qualms with “The Scorpion”’s cool piano. ‘A Time for Battle” is a nice refresher on what an accordion can sound like when it’s not bouncing in a waltz. “Targent’s Theme” is truly a breath of fresh air. The most threatening piece within the game, the simple melody is made great by harsh brass performing tritone chords and dangerous strings backed by relentless timpani. Finally, “A Treasure That Lasts” is truly gorgeous and tear-jerking.

However, there are also a lot more unengaging tracks on this score. The Akbadain Ruins themes are annoying at best, and make an already tedious level all the more boring. The ending theme is godawful. Not that it’s bad, but it doesn’t suit the ending at all. I shed a tear or two during the climax, and then you have an annoyingly cheerful, happy-go-lucky ending theme. I truly loathe this piece. And of course, almost all of the waltzes not listed above are tired and familiar.

This is a necessary score for a diehard Layton fan, or anyone looking for a good waltz or two. The Monte d’Or themes, as well as a few other odds and ends, will not disappoint, but much of the filler tracks of score will. As no official soundtrack was released (for the first time in the series), you’ll have to find a gamerip if you want this.

Rating: *****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Mask of Miracles Theme
2. Puzzles Abound
3. Monte d’Or: Carnival Night
4. Misgivings
5. Dangerous Pranks
6. The Gentleman’s Theme
7. Fierce Chase
8. Expectations
9. Illusion
10. Monte d’Or: City of Miracles
11. A Moment of Calm
12. Inside the Circus Tent
13. The Scorpion
14. The Racetrack
15. Stansbury: Halcyon Days
16. Stansbury: Moonlit Knoll
17. Norwell
18. Akbadain Ruins
19. Akbadain Breakthrough
20. A Time for Battle
21. Grief
22. Unforgettable Memories
23. Pumpkin Park
24. The Reunion Inn
25. A Treasure That Lasts
26. Targent’s Theme
27. The Toy Robot
28. The Robot’s Battle
29. The One-Stop Shop
30. The Rabbit Show
31. Rabbit in the Spotlight
32. Mysterious Flower
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on November 05, 2012, 06:00:42 AM
This review reminds me of a puzzle.

Listened through it. Tis a fantastic OST. I never even played a Layton game, but Nishiura's work is just too awesome to ignore, so I've listened through every single one of them. Makes me wish I owned a DS. :(
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on November 05, 2012, 01:06:26 PM
I totally agree. I've been meaning to get ahold of the Dark Cloud 2 soundtrack. I just love the Layton music so much I can't afford not to. Do you have any favorites in particular as far as Layton goes?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SuperFireKirby on November 05, 2012, 06:27:59 PM
You'd enjoy the DC2 OST, because a lot of it's music could fit right into a layton game and vice versa. The music styles are very similar. Though Layton uses a lot more bells.

Some of my favorite Layton songs are probably Layton's Theme, because it's so insanely Dark Cloud 2-ish, Indigo Memories, Eternal Diva, The Veil of Night, Mask of Miracles, and a bunch of others.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: November on November 06, 2012, 04:34:53 AM
You taking requests, Slow?
If you have the time, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the new AC3 soundtrack. I haven't been able to take a look at it myself, but I do know that it has a new(ish) composer and I'm wondering how that turned out.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on November 06, 2012, 12:57:50 PM
You'd enjoy the DC2 OST, because a lot of it's music could fit right into a layton game and vice versa. The music styles are very similar. Though Layton uses a lot more bells.

Some of my favorite Layton songs are probably Layton's Theme, because it's so insanely Dark Cloud 2-ish, Indigo Memories, Eternal Diva, The Veil of Night, Mask of Miracles, and a bunch of others.

Not sure if you know this, Nishiura didn't actually compose the ending themes for the games, or the eternal diva theme. So Indigo Memories and Eternal Diva aren't actually his work :P it's still a fantastic theme though.

You taking requests, Slow?
If you have the time, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the new AC3 soundtrack. I haven't been able to take a look at it myself, but I do know that it has a new(ish) composer and I'm wondering how that turned out.
If you're talking about assassin's creed, I've never played one so idk about that. If you're talking about animal crossing, I'd definitely consider that once it comes out.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: TheZeldaPianist275 on November 06, 2012, 02:27:55 PM
Not sure if you know this, Nishiura didn't actually compose the ending themes for the games, or the eternal diva theme. So Indigo Memories and Eternal Diva aren't actually his work :P it's still a fantastic theme though.
If you're talking about assassin's creed, I've never played one so idk about that. If you're talking about animal crossing, I'd definitely consider that once it comes out.

Assassin's Creed & Animal Crossing?  XD  Wow.  That's quite the pair to get mixed up.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: November on November 06, 2012, 07:51:02 PM
If you're talking about assassin's creed, I've never played one so idk about that. If you're talking about animal crossing, I'd definitely consider that once it comes out.
Ah, sorry. I just sorta assumed that you did :P
Yeah, I meant Assassin's Creed. Although feel free to do Animal Crossing once it has come out (I myself haven't played it, but I might be interested in the soundtrack).
Title: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Kman96 on November 11, 2012, 10:35:05 AM
Slow, you make me jelly in everything you do. I wish I knew how to get soundtracks like you do... :'(
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Yugi on November 11, 2012, 10:35:37 AM
I wish I knew how to get soundtracks like you do... :'(
Look around.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Kman96 on November 11, 2012, 11:13:57 AM
Look around.
...Slow is the best of the very best. I go to him when I can't find anything else. He has some kind of magical power that my internetz cant handle.

...Idk. I try, but I fail. and then I go to Slow, and honestly I ask too much of him. I am not worthy.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: shadowkirby on November 12, 2012, 03:42:57 AM
That's because you are using a mac.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on November 12, 2012, 04:17:02 AM
That's because you are using a mac.

1049573920% true
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on December 10, 2012, 01:14:08 AM
Re-reviewing this score because my original reviews here sucked and this deserves better. I will leave the other one up for anyone who wants to remember how sucky I was at talking about music. I will most likely revise other reviews as well.

Soundtrack Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Joe Hisaishi

Howl’s Moving Castle is an interesting film. It is highly popular with his fans and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature, yet is generally agreed to be one of Miyazaki’s worst among critics--notably Roger Ebert, who typically has nothing but praise for Miyazaki yet awarded this film two and a half out of four stars. It’s one of my favorites in the Ghibli canon, and while the film is a huge part of that, almost as big a factor is the score. This, you see, was the first movie in which I noticed the background music. As anyone who knows me will attest, I am a film score fanatic--and this is where it all started. I will be reviewing all three albums released based on the movie: the soundtrack album from the film, the image album (which Hisaishi wrote based on early storyboards of the film), and the single album (containing the ending theme “The Promise of the World” as well as the instrumental version of that song and the full version of “The Merry-go-round of Life”).

The most recognizable theme from the score, the one that anyone familiar with the work can hum on cue, is the “Merry-go-round of Life” theme which pervades most of the score. In its complete form, it begins with a slow piano waltz and progresses into a full-blown orchestra piece. As it sways effortlessly through the orchestra, one cannot help but to be profoundly moved by its wise journey that tells of love, heartbreak, and, above all, life--as suggested by the title. The best rendition of this piece is that which is found on the single album, and it is easily Hisaishi’s most moving piece to date. It is scattered throughout the soundtrack album as well, but interestingly is not found on the image album. The reason for that is Miyazaki was not impressed by the image album, finding it lacking in continuity and too orchestral, with no clear motif. The piece came to be when Miyazaki requested a clear main theme for the film, as was the tradition. And indeed, as mentioned previously, the theme is found all over the score. From Hisaishi’s signature comical pizzicato representations in “Sky Stroll” and “Vanity and Friendship” to a courageous, 6/8 march in the second half of “Suliman’s Magic Square / Return to the Castle,” as well as the tear-jerking piano renditions in “In the Rain” and “It’s Love, Isn’t It?”, this theme never tires and truly is a masterpiece. “Flower Garden” also gets special mention: the slow string version of the idea is absolutely gorgeous.

And that is a very good thing, as without that theme the score would be a bit vague in intentions and listenable material. There are, however, a number of great themes for this work, highlighted by the “Cave of Mind” theme on the image album. On the soundtrack, it appears in “The Secret Cave” and “The Boy Who Drank Stars.” This suggests hope and sorrow and while it is at first a bit too long-winded for the casual listener, with repeated listenings one grows to love the meandering trumpet solo and the strings’ passionate journey into Howl’s mind. Indeed, this piece is more instantly moving than even the merry-go-round theme, although it perhaps does not resonate quite as well.

Another impressive identity is the theme for Calcifer, the fire demon that controls Howl’s castle--originally intended to be Howl’s theme, as suggested by the image album. Characterized by the opening chord progression do-re-sol which sinisterly lurks and stews at the bottom of the orchestra, it soon becomes an impressive if slightly wacky idea that traverses the orchestra before sneakily taking over the woodwinds to represent Calcifer. On the soundtrack album, the best representation of this theme is “Magic Door” while on the image album it appears in “The Wizard of the Moving Castle.”

The theme for the sense of family among the inhabitants of the castle is also a joy. It first appears in hesitant snippets at the introduction of “Magic Door” as a theme for Markl (the only member of the family at the time) and later is used in full within “Moving” and “Family,” which makes sense as the family has fully developed by that time. It is truly heartwarming, if a bit underused within the film. On the image album, this theme is found as “Sophie’s Tomorrow,” which is most similar to “Moving.”

The last theme worth mentioning here is the “danger” theme, which starts out on very low, barely audible instruments backed by a harsh timpani. Represented on the image album by “The Allure of Dawn,” its most effective representation on the soundtrack is the first half of “Suliman’s Magic Square / Return to the Castle” as well as the track “Escape.” While the panicky strings heard as the piece develops do convey danger, they become a bit tedious separated from the film. If the entire piece stayed within the style of the introduction (with the harsh timpani) it would be a bit more effective.

Finally, the ending theme, “The Promise of the World,” is absolutely beautiful. Hisaishi didn’t compose it, but he arranged it, and his flair for piano and orchestra makes this song one of the best from the film. It’s performed by Chieko Baisho, the Japanese voice of Sophie (old and young). On the soundtrack album, it’s combined with the bare-bones version of the merry-go-round theme which plays over the end credits. The single album gives this piece its dues, with the song by itself as well as an instrumental version. It honestly sounds better with lyrics, but the instrumental version is a great way to notice the details of the backing orchestra.

The rest of the score consists of individual tracks that tend to be a bit tiresome. “Courageous Cavalry” is an example of this; the triumphant brass-led waltz is obviously a victory theme for Sophie’s country as they’re at war, but is quite annoying and I find myself thanking Hisaishi for making the cue less than a minute.

Overall, this score is far more accomplished than 2001’s Spirited Away which was already a great feat. This is due to the presence of a very solid main theme and a backup reservoir of other themes. The soundtrack album is all most will require, but the image album is a great expansion of themes that aren’t given proper representation on the soundtrack, as well as material not used in the final film. The single album is truly for diehard fans, but is worth obtaining due to the instrumental version of “The Promise of the World” and the full version of “The Merry-go-round of Life."

Rating: *****

Track listings (excellent tracks in red):

Soundtrack Album
1. -Opening- The Merry-go-round of Life
2. Courageous Cavalry
3. Sky Stroll
4. Heartbeat
5. Witch of the Wasteland
6. Wandering Sophie
7. Magic Door
8. The Indelible Curse
9. Spring Cleaning
10. To the Lake of Stars
11. Quiet Feelings
12. In the Rain
13. Vanity and Friendship
14. A 90-Year-Old Girl
15. Suliman’s Magic Square / Return to the Castle
16. The Secret Cave
17. Moving
18. Flower Garden
19. Run!
20. It’s Love, Isn’t It?
21. Family
22. Love of War
23. Escape
24. Sophie’s Castle
25. The Boy Who Drank Stars
26. -Ending- The Promise of the World / The Merry-go-round of Life

Image Album
1. Mysterious World
2. The Wizard of the Moving Castle
3. Sophie’s Tomorrow
4. Boy
5. Moving Castle
6. War War War
7. Wizard’s Waltz
8. Secret Garden
9. The Allure of Dawn
10. Cave of Mind

Single Album
1. The Promise of the World
2. The Merry-go-round of Life
3. The Promise of the World (Instrumental)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on December 16, 2012, 11:06:14 PM
Soundtrack Review: Porco Rosso by Joe Hisaishi

Porco Rosso is that interesting film which is great but perceived to be lackluster. This, of course, is due to Miyazaki’s other films, which are generally considered to be of a higher quality, leaving this one quite literally the runt of the litter. Despite that, I personally enjoy his tale of Porco’s exploits, and it stands as a wonderful if underappreciated effort.

The score for Porco Rosso is a gem for Hisaishi collectors. While it doesn’t quite match most of his other works, there is plenty to love about it. One would think that, given the premise for the film, Hisaishi would have concentrated on a comedic style; however, there are several pieces in which he seems to have gravitated toward a melancholic, passionate aspect of the story. The theme for Marco and Gina, heard best in “The Bygone Days” (which also serves as Hisaishi’s signature piano performance), is a beauty in its nostalgic longing for the past. Its glittering arpeggio chords give the impression of shimmering flight and memories.

However, it is true that much of the score functions as comedy--though this by no means detracts from the work. The opening piece, “The Wind of Time: When a Human Can Be a Human,” is my personal favorite track on the album. The sharp, flighty strings perform a rising-falling introduction, with the odd tritone chord to create a distinctly zany sound. The mischievous flute, soaring brass and cutting cellos expand on this idea, creating a triumphant and perfectly off-kilter theme for the flying pig. I wish that Hisaishi would have used this theme in the rest of the film, but as mentioned earlier it would seem that comedy is not the main focus for the hero. While this idea is only briefly referenced in two other cues, a very similar style is employed in cues such as “Dog Fight.”

The comedy in the score mainly comes from the various marches of the rival pirate gangs. “MAMMAIUTO,” “Serbia March,” and “Flying Boatmen” all use a distinct march rhythm with a triumphant victory melody foreshadowing the style of his later “Courageous Cavalry” piece for Howl’s Moving Castle.

Hisaishi’s theme for Piccolo and his granddaughter Fio seems to head in the direction of playfulness, particularly when the token pizzicato strings complement the idea in “Women of Piccolo.” “Fio: Seventeen” is a more exotic representation of the motif, effectively characterizing the mischievous yet lovable character Fio. It’s difficult to tell if the brief tango-esque section in “Doom / Cloud Trap” was meant to foreshadow Porco’s involvement with these characters, as the ideas are similar in structure if not identical.

Intentionally or not, Hisaishi frequently sounds similar to his most recent work, Kiki’s Delivery Service, particularly in the enjoyable waltz heard in “To the Adriatic Sea,” which is almost a carbon copy of the main theme from Kiki. The opening of “Porco e Bella (Ending)” also sounds similar to the ending track of that score. Interestingly (though this is going in a completely different direction), the “Porco e Bella” theme also sounds similar to Hisaishi’s next work, Princess Mononoke.

Overall, this score is worth downloading for any true Hisaishi fan. At no point will you be bored or want to drift off during the score, though after the excellent opening titles, at no point will you be awed either. Unfortunately, this very good score (much like its film) seems doomed to forever languish as less than great when compared with other productions by the Miyazaki-Hisaishi team.

Rating: ***

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. The Wind of Time: When a Human Can Be a Human
2. MAMMAIUTO
3. Addio!
4. The Bygone Days
5. A Sepia-colored Picture
6. Serbia March
7. Flying Boatmen
8. Doom / Cloud Trap
9. Porco e Bella
10. Fio: Seventeen
11. Women of Piccolo
12. Friend
13. Partnership
14. Madness / Flight
15. To the Adriatic Sea
16. In Search of the Distant Era
17. Love at First Sight in the Wilderness
18. At the End of the Summer
19. Lost Spirit
20. Dog Fight
21. Porco e Bella
22. The Time of Cherries*
23. Once in a While, Talk of the Old Days*

*Performed by Tokiko Kato
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Bubbles on December 16, 2012, 11:07:30 PM
I cant remember any music from that movie, but I do remember laughing. It was so good

And I promise Ill actually read these once I find the time
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on December 16, 2012, 11:14:31 PM
It's okay if you don't, I mostly write these for myself XD
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Meta-Ridley on December 17, 2012, 11:42:30 AM
Hey, I have a request! Would you mind doing the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe? It's composed by Harry Gregson-Williams.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on December 31, 2012, 09:19:55 PM
Soundtrack Review: Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward by Shinji Hosoe

Aksys games took a big gamble in localizing the visual novel/puzzle game Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors for North Americans, who had never quite seen anything like it despite the genre being a big hit in Japan. It was met with universal acclaim and has acquired a large cult following due to its fascinating characters and intriguing, mind-bending story. So naturally many were concerned when announcements of a sequel, entitled Virtue’s Last Reward, surfaced. Could the game possibly live up to its predecessor? Would a sequel spoil what was so great about the first game’s plot? How would the game be without the cast of characters that were already beloved? As it turns out, very good indeed. You can read my spoiler-free review of the game here (http://www.ninsheetm.us/smf/index.php?topic=4986.0).

Now I take some time to do a review of only the soundtrack. It is quite similar to that of 999. In the game, several pieces are directly ported from that game and played in fitting times, including when events from that game are referenced. A few others are lucky enough to get a remix. However, the vast majority of pieces are brand-new, making this soundtrack able to hold its own.

Rather than the escape and story themes being dispersed randomly across the two discs, as they were on the 999 album, the two discs are split into the “escape” portion and the “story” portion. This is much better and also easier to listen to--the pieces flow much better. However, the escape side is much more accessible and fun to listen to, meaning that the story pieces on the other disc will undoubtedly receive some neglect that they might not have otherwise. Because unfortunately, the story pieces just aren’t as easily accessible outside of the game. Pieces like “Sinisterness” simply serve as mood music: they work fantastically within the game, making the player feel very uneasy, but they don’t serve much as music one would listen to in their free time unless he or she wanted to feel like he was playing the game. It’s all very horror-centric and minimalist.

The piano is used quite frequently within the story’s score. Whether it’s meandering malevolently in the aforementioned “Sinisterness” or “Portentousness,” darkly brooding in “Placidity,” or weeping sorrowfully in “Confession,” it is heard quite frequently and one gets the feeling Hosoe enjoys composing for the piano, as heard in the previous soundtrack’s “9years.”

The overarching theme for the series, heard in the previous game’s “Morphogenetic Sorrow,” continues to develop in “Virtue’s Last Reward ~Orchestra~” and “Virtue's Last Reward ~Piano~,” both of which serve as end credit themes. The piano version is ultimately the better incarnation, but both are tremendously moving and invoke sorrow in the listener before breaking off into an ominous techno theme not unlike the main theme from the previous game, “9hours, 9persons, 9doors.” The melody itself is relentlessly sad and moved me to tears several times throughout the game’s 11 “real” endings after which it plays. “Blue Bird Lamentation” seems to take a cue from those pieces, a broken music box performing a pitiful melody before wavering strings take over. Finally, the strings break forth with the melody, powerful and unbelievably sorrowful. It sounds like a young girl sobbing to me, poignant and expressive.

The electronic theme heard in the main theme serves as foreshadowing for the escape themes, which continue to include crazy and catchy percussion and odd sound effects. Repetitive, simple, and often utterly devoid of melody, the escape themes are nevertheless the more successful themes on the album. The most familiar is “Ambidexterity,” which is a remix of “Unary Game” from the previous soundtrack. It doesn’t work quite as well, and goes on a bit too long, but it’s a nice throwback and certainly reminds of Junpei trying desperately to escape that cabin filling up with water. The electric guitar, in particular, suits the Ambidex Game’s high-pressure “ally or betray” situation very well. “Lounge” is wonderfully eerie, a synthesized bass melody providing an eerie intro before the catchy percussion comes in. The strange, unsettling chord progression used throughout allows for an effectively tense, mysterious, and frightening piece. “Cabin” is the first time we hear that signature upbeat, chaotic tempo Hosoe perfected in 999. It manages to simultaneously frighten and hype up the player--like all of the other escape themes. “Gaulem” is very much an effective piece, the electronic noises and metal-sounding percussion fitting the room full of humanoid robots. “Pantry” is one of my personal favorites: its main beat sounds like someone drumming on a kitchen pot with a spoon, and the off-kilter rhythms that follow include a stomping noise that suits the situation perfectly. “Decompression” includes a similar stomping noise as well as kettle drums used to complement its uneasy melody--this is one of the more frightening pieces on the album. “Biology” is exceedingly strange, the main sound effect utterly unidentifiable and sounding like something squishing or a person saying “waaah.”

“Biotope” is the oddity of the group, ironically for being too normal. I don’t care for its laid-back style--it doesn’t fit in with the other pieces. The mallets in “Data” are unnerving, and the unconventional rhythm effectively complements this feel. “Annihilation” is truly unsettling, though--this sounds like one could be killed any second. “Monitor” seems like a “last-ditch” effort, an all-or-nothing type of thing. One gets the idea of importance and determination from these dedicated synthesizers. “Director” achieves a similar result, but takes a different pathway--this sounds so dangerous that I half-expect something to start screaming. Finally, the airy tone of “Q” seems a bit of a lackluster conclusion.

I realize that I probably repeated myself a bit with the escape themes (and I didn’t even mention all of them) but the main idea is that they hype up tension while also unsettling the listener and engaging him or her through the use of very catchy percussive rhythms.

In conclusion, the album is more successful than 999 despite having less effective story themes. The escape themes are much more engaging than those in 999 and the two main theme tracks as well as “Blue Bird Lamentation” are alone worth downloading the album for. For Zero Escape fans, there shouldn’t be any question--though there is something here for everyone.

Rating: ****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
Disc 1 (Escape Side)
1. Virtue’s Last Reward ~Orchestra
2. Ambidexterity
3. Lounge
4. Dispensary
5. Cabin
6. Gaulem
7. Recreation
8. Pantry
9. Decompression
10. Biology
11. Treatment
12. Biotope
13. Data
14. Annihilation
15. Monitor
16. Director
17. Q

Disc 2 (Story Side)
1. Sinisterness
2. Placidity
3. Eeriness
4. Strain
5. Consternation
6. Desperation
7. Anxiousness
8. Portentousness
9. GLTM-KM506
10. Confession
11. Clarification
12. Sublimity
13. Divulgation
14. Demise
15. Blue Bird Lamentation
16. Virtue's Last Reward ~Piano~
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 12, 2013, 09:43:53 PM
Soundtrack Review: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya by Satoru Kosaki, Ryuichi Takada, Keigo Hoashi, and Kakeru Ishihama (featuring classical music by Erik Satie)

WARNING: Minor spoilers to follow

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is an anime wildly popular in both Japan and North America despite (or, rather, because of) its quirky storytelling, strange characters and bizarre situations. It is in itself a parody of anime, clearly acknowledging anime tropes such as fanservice, otaku, and contrived plotlines while emulating those same tropes. Based on an award-winning series of novels, the anime ran for two seasons and released one theatrical feature film before being put on hiatus indefinitely. The film in question is The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, based on the fourth novel in the series and taking place after the chronologically final episode of the anime. The music was largely composed and produced by Satoru Kosaki (who also wrote the score for the anime) and also features a few pieces by collaborating composers as well as classical pieces by French romantic composer Erik Satie.

It’s hard not to smile at the Kosaki’s orchestral interpretations of his main background theme from the anime, “The Usual Scenery,” which bookends this album. “The Story Begins With the Usual Scenery” begins as a simple recreation of that piece, with the full orchestra eventually picking up the theme.”The Story Ends With the Usual Scenery” is a further extension, playful pizzicato strings and brass backing the main melody after everything ends well. Its laid-back, meandering melody celebrates the idyllic normalcy portrayed at the beginning and end of all of Kyon’s would-be adventures. It’s more than enough to satisfy Haruhi fans looking for musical nods to the anime, which is good as the rest of the album contains no references whatsoever. It’s worth noting, however, that the second and third tracks, particularly “SOS Brigade Christmas Party,” follow in a style very much like anything else from the anime, even though they aren’t direct references to any existing theme.

Much of the album takes its cue from string pieces, whatever the style is. Fast-paced excitement flows throughout “The Clue of Haruhi Suzumiya,” one of the score’s most effective pieces: the repetitive strings move Kyon along on his journey to find Haruhi, soaring and flying through truly wondrous musical ideas, perfectly emulating the situation. A very similar style is heard in “Chasing the Memory of That Day.” “SOS Brigade Once More” oddly reminds of a leitmotif from Pirates of the Caribbean, but soon deviates into playful fun as Haruhi gathers up a bewildered SOS Brigade in an altered universe. Asakura’s themes are perfectly unobtrusive while also effective at tensing up the audience. “The Woman Named Ryoko Asakura” is sharp, jagged and fragmented in its cello patterns, dragging out Kyon’s initial view of her entering the classroom and briefly deviating in the middle for an angelic choir as her face is finally shown on screen. “Turning Point of History” is astoundingly horrific, as a stabbing string section emulates Bernard Herrmann’s work on [/i]Psycho[/i] and a harsh choir tragically underscores the scene. In its latter half, truly angelic vocals accompany Kyon’s rescue.

The album is most effective, however, when the string section is utilized for more poignant, subtle motifs. The best instance is in “Ready?” which provides a sense of mourning and hope. “Within the Heart of Yuki Nagato” tends to be more obviously sorrowful while also using more light chords to balance out the sadness. Strings are finally used as a tender, heartfelt device in “Meeting Brigade Members Once More,” which in its nostalgic smile carries a truly moving main idea which no doubt ensures that tissues are a prerequisite for this film. The film definitely takes a departure into the serious, whereas the anime was often quite silly, and this is proof of Kosaki’s flexibility and ability to provide fitting music for both styles.

The classical pieces by Erik Satie are performed as they originally appeared on piano, with the exception of “Gymnopédie No. 2” on the first disc, appearing as an orchestra rendition. The pieces themselves are interesting choices for this film. The Gymnopédies in particular are soft and tender, but carry a significant amount of dissonance. The Gnossiennes are more obviously dissonant, while “Je te Veux” is more than a little out of place as an extravagant piano waltz. The piano is noticeably absent from much of the score, and these pieces fill in the gaps as a device to represent Yuki and the poignancy of Kyon’s relationship with her. They fit very well with the film and do not sound awkward amidst the original pieces.

In conclusion, this is a great album for any fan of film scores, string pieces, piano pieces, Haruhi Suzumiya, or good music in general. This represents what all film scores should strive to be--music that complements the film perfectly while also  performing well on its own. The score will no doubt be most pleasing to Haruhi fans, but some of the string pieces--most notably “Ready?”--are great concert pieces that will appeal to any lover of classical music. This is an album that will tug at your jacket and your heartstrings.

Rating: *****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
Disc 1:
1. The Story Begins With the Usual Scenery
2. SOS Brigade Christmas Party
3. Noisy Time
4. Everyday Things Lie Ahead
5. The Woman Named Ryoko Asakura
6. From Anxiety to Fear
7. Betrayed Expectation
8. Lonely World’s Expanse
9. The Pros and Cons of a Changed World
10. The Clue of Haruhi Suzumiya
11. Popular Spirit and Feet That Won’t Move
12. Memories Tied Together
13. SOS Brigade Once More
14. Ready?
15. Chasing the Memory of That Day
16. Words Spoken by the Leading Woman
17. Footprints to the Future
18. Gymnopédie No. 2
19. Within the Heart of Yuki Nagato
20. Awakening Self-Consciousness
21. Turning Point of History
22. Meeting Brigade Members Once More
23. The Story Ends With the Usual Scenery

Disc 2:
1. Gymnopédie No. 1
2. Gymnopédie No. 2
3. Gymnopédie No. 3
4. Gnossienne No. 1
5. Gnossienne No. 2
6. Gnossienne No. 3
7. Je te Veux
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Waddle Bro on January 12, 2013, 10:08:33 PM
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Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: K-NiGhT on January 13, 2013, 05:36:52 AM
Now do the Les Miserables soundtrack!

Oh, wait. That's like the whole movie. Lol.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Mashi on January 13, 2013, 05:42:39 AM
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Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 25, 2013, 02:30:24 AM
Re-review, Vol. 2

Soundtrack Review: Professor Layton and the Curious Village by Tomohito Nishiura

While not quite mainstream, the Professor Layton series has a large cult following due to its intriguing plots, addictive and challenging puzzles, and consistently high quality presentation. Produced by gaming studio Level-5 and published by Nintendo, the series has won over players and critics alike. Today I take a look at the soundtrack of the first game, Professor Layton and the Curious Village. This was my first introduction to the franchise and I was very impressed with the music upon hearing it.

One cannot analyze Professor Layton music without mentioning the accordion. Its distinctive sound is omnipresent throughout the entire series, and the game’s European setting is effective thanks in no small part to this instrument as it effortlessly glides through the score. Chimes and mallets are also incredibly frequent. That being said, with so much of those instruments it does occasionally become tiresome, especially in some of the more formulaic tracks.

The opening “Professor Layton’s Theme,” which is by far the most fun piece, opens with a distinctive and quirky piano bouncing as a solo violin cuts through, occasionally passing the meandering melody to the accordion, with an incredibly catchy beat led by the piano underscoring the whole affair. Unfortunately, this piece tends to clash a bit compared with the rest of this album. Not much else in the score is really in this style of music. That’s absolutely fine, as the rest of the music suits the game perfectly. The story is first and foremost a mystery, and the title theme, “St. Mystere,” creates a mood to match. Its main melody is darkly mysterious, and the entire piece feels mechanical, with a guiro, tambourine, and triangle behaving like clockwork as the accordion accents the offbeats. Two string instruments carry the main melody and bass line, which suits the feel of the piece. This main theme is rearranged in “About Town,” which mimics the clockwork with a mallet instrument and accordion comprising of the entire ensemble. The bass melody is unusually high, and at some points the accordion even dips below the mallets. Be that as it may, this theme, while repetitive, perfectly suits the town of St. Mystere and despite the fact that it is played constantly within the game, it never feels overused or annoying.

The “Puzzles” theme develops in a similar way, with high chimes and mallets creating an atmosphere that can only be described as utterly mechanical yet wholly elegant. “Baron Reinhold” begins with the same instruments, but adds the accordion after the piece’s introduction. This piece is quite fitting for a mystery; it sounds like an old cheesy mystery film with its over-the-top suspicious atmosphere. It goes hand-in-hand with “The Plot Thickens,” which begins a bit annoyingly yet progresses into the closest thing to the jazz heard in the main theme. The rhythm in this piece is addictive in its exotic nature, and the accordion’s melody is catchy and complements the mallets very well. Unfortunately, the mallet/accordion combination doesn’t fare well at all in “Crumm’s Cafe,” which is just plain grating with its spinning “melody”--I use quotes because the melody is more a series of repetitive trilling mallet notes. “Down the Tubes,” which concentrates heavily on mallets and accordion while adding a bass and bassoon, is also quite tiresome after the interesting tritone chord at the beginning degrades into typical mystery-esque music that becomes too repetitive. “Deserted Amusement Park” also fails to bring much worthwhile, though while bland its inherent waltz tempo is more interesting than either of the previous two.

A few of the more relaxed themes, however, use chimes and accordion to their advantages-- “The Veil of Night” is incredibly repetitive, with chimes performing the same four notes throughout the entire lengthy piece, but the mood established by this piece is incredibly effective. The relaxing nighttime image is lovely in its innocent sleepiness. “The Mysterious Girl,” in contrast, feels more like a lullaby; the chimes carry the melody before the accordion squeezes in, sounding wistful, nostalgic, and lonely. “Setting Out” and “End Theme,” which segue into one another, offer some of the best of the album, their simple melodies managing to capture the series’s charm and heart.

The rest of the score treads a variety of territories. “The Great Don Paolo” is an obvious highlight, providing the most innovative use of the accordion on the album. The wacky villain’s theme is nothing more than a few manic accordions ranting wildly, but its effectiveness is astonishing, and the track offers a welcome comical deviation. In contrast, the lumbering accordions in “The Looming Tower” provide a great and engaging setup that never really goes anywhere. “The Village Awakens” is in a similar boat, with an ominous bouncing piano and forlorn accordion highlighting a somewhat meandering piece that doesn’t quite develop fully.

The real prizes of the soundtrack album are the bonus tracks. The soundtrack for Curious Village contains four arranged tracks performed by the Layton Grand Caravan Orchestra. The obvious highlight is of course “Professor Layton’s Theme,” a piece that was destined to be performed live. Much of the piece’s mechanical nature has been removed, replacing it with a sense of genuine jazz, and the orchestration is sublime. “End Theme” is also wonderful, the main melody allowed to truly shine on instruments other than the in-game version’s mallets and accordion. The percussion is quite effective at complementing the oboe and various strings that enhance the quality of this piece. “The Veil of Night” is exquisite in its quality and orchestration, but at 5+ minutes it does tend to drag on. “The Looming Tower,” in a track that is actually a good bit shorter than the in-game version, develops its theme a bit more effectively with the aid of strings and other instruments.

Other bonus tracks include welcome “high quality” versions of three tracks, all of which sound crystal clear. While there are no differences in the actual pieces, these use a more polished, realistic-sounding soundfont.

In general, the soundtrack for Professor Layton’s first adventure is thoroughly charming and quaint and offers a few gems that stand very well on their own, despite containing an undeniably large number of pieces that strike the listener as bland and formulaic. It is a solid effort from Nishiura, but demands more in the future.

Rating: ***

Track list (excellent tracks in red) [official English sound test names]:
1. Professor Layton’s Theme
2. St. Mystere
3. The Adventure Begins
4. About Town
5. Puzzles
6. Baron Reinhold
7. The Plot Thickens
8. Crumm’s Cafe
9. The Mysterious Girl
10. Down the Tubes
11. Pursuit in the Night
12. The Veil of Night
13. Deserted Amusement Park
14. The Great Don Paolo
15. The Village Awakens
16. The Looming Tower
17. Memories of St. Mystere
18. Setting Out
19. End Theme
20. Professor Layton’s Theme
21. The Veil of Night
22. The Looming Tower
23. End Theme
24. About Town
25. Baron Reinhold
26. The Village Awakens
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: MassiveMayhem on January 25, 2013, 05:01:32 AM
<3 You approach these reviews with such accuracy precision. I love it. Awesome review.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 25, 2013, 06:32:55 PM
Thanks bud. <3

Have you played Layton or heard the music?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 25, 2013, 08:48:00 PM
Re-review, Vol. 3

Soundtrack Review: Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box by Tomohito Nishiura

Following the first game in the Professor Layton series was Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, my personal favorite of the video games. With a polished gameplay and puzzle system, a rather darker plot, and several new settings to explore, the game successfully improved on the last one while bearing in mind the age-old expression “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” The music takes a similar cue, using essentially the same ensembles of instruments and using plenty of accordion. However, this soundtrack greatly benefits from the lack of chimes and bells which so often pervaded the first installment.

The opening “The Elysian Box Theme” continues in the same vein as “Professor Layton’s Theme” (which here serves as the title piece), with a mysterious piano opening, soon backed by a low string instrument. This piece is significantly darker than the aforementioned one, especially in the introduction, which fits as the plot of Diabolical Box is much darker than that of Curious Village. However, it is classic Layton jazz as soon as the more upbeat rhythm begins, the instruments performing perfect underscore for the passionate final scene. However, it is worth noting that this theme does not develop as well as it could, and it seems that it ends too soon; the ending feels abrupt and forced. Nishiura’s “Puzzles Remixed” theme borrows heavily from the first game’s puzzle theme, virtually identical other than percussion and a few subtle noises in the second half. It’s just different enough that anyone who made it through the first game will be able to tell the difference immediately. However, it seems a bit odd that a new puzzle theme was nixed in favor of the existing one, considering the theme uses elements from the score of Curious Village.

“In London” introduces the first of several London themes that will be heard later on, and the accordion’s dirty sound perfectly suits the nasty streets of the city. This theme is introduced as a major key piece in “The Molentary Express,” one of the better tracks on the album. One can hear the train rocking as Layton and Luke explore the area and the French waltz tempo is a great use of the accordion. “The Village of Dropstone” takes a similar cue; despite its 4/4 time, it borrows heavily from the style of waltzes and primarily uses the accordion. These three pieces are quite similar to the style of Curious Village; however, the tone begins to change with “An Uneasy Atmosphere,” which marks the start of the more dark themes on the album. That piece in particular is quite a tone shift, switching from a merry accordion ballad to a string-centered piece featuring a lot of harsh timpani. “Folsense” uses piano and accordion with violin to create a very lonely, haunting, and sorrowful tone, hypnotic in its beauty and sadness. Similarly reflective is “The Dark Forest,” which is very effective at evoking a sense of sad beauty in the listener, turning something frightening into something sorrowful.

“The Town’s Past”  is the oddity of the bunch, concentrating on bassoon and oboe to establish a relaxingly dull tone. It tends to drag on, but despite this is an interesting change of pace, its tones warm and inviting. “The Somber Castle” is arranged in a similar fashion, but with harpsichord and violin leading the dignified and solemn piece. “Unspoken Feelings,” its counterpart, uses chimes and violin in a rather ineffective droning way, giving the unfortunate impression of being a carbon copy of some of the Curious Village themes. “Into the Depths of the Dark,” too, sounds incredibly similar to Curious Village, seeming a more fast-paced extension of “The Looming Tower.” The fact is, this piece could benefit from instruments other than the accordion.

With all of the depressing themes on the album, “Time for a Break” is a welcome relief with its upbeat and relaxed jazz style. Folsense is a lonely place, and though the darkness is intriguing and engaging, the game definitely benefited from the lighthearted minigames. “The Ball” is the only orchestral waltz to be found on the album, which is a shame as Nishiura really seems to master the art of arranging for chamber strings. The sweeping melody is swaying and contagious, an excellent ballroom dance. The choral piece “The True Folsense” is also achingly beautiful, but unfortunately suffers from a short runtime that doesn’t allow any development.

The best piece in the game, in my opinion, was not a work of Nishiura and does not even appear on the soundtrack; the ending theme, “Iris.” It is only represented on the soundtrack as a music box solo, and while calming it does not come close to representing this wonderful piece. Heartbreaking and beautiful, “Iris” appears in the Japanese game as a song performed by Salyuu, whose lovely voice passionately conveys the central relationship in the game. The English games instead receive an instrumental version, with violin and accordion handling the main melody. It is still beautiful, but in my opinion not as effective as the vocal version. I’d recommend adding this piece to your iPod, despite its lack of inclusion on the official album, and most downloads of the soundtrack include these pieces as bonuses.

Once again, the listener is treated to four live arranged tracks and three high quality tracks. The live performances are the real prizes, beginning with “The Elysian Box Theme.” At over three and a half minutes, the piece is finally allowed to develop fully, with a great sense of tragedy amid its catchy jazz rhythm. “Folsense” is the best of the arranged tracks, featuring a great orchestra and retro style in its second half. It may be small, but I really appreciated the echoing “drip” sound effect applied in the second half; it added to the depth and emotion. A guest appearance is made by “Don Paolo’s Theme,” which is performed by world-famous accordionist Tetsuya Kuwayama. It is thoroughly enjoyable, despite its repetition and wacky polka-like nature. It is laugh-out-loud outrageous, a welcome addition to the album. “Time for a Break,” unfortunately, tends to drag on after its great first act, the arrangement a tad too long for the lack of melody and exaggeration of smooth jazz; however, jazz enthusiasts will adore this arrangement.

The high quality arrangements are phenomenal once again, “The Dark Forest” benefiting the most from the soundfont upgrade. Great substitutions for the actual pieces.

Overall, the soundtrack is about as accomplished as its predecessor, but due to the smaller number of pieces, the lengthy nature of some of the more dull themes, and occasional over-reliance on accordion, tends to be a bit disappointing, especially coupled with the absence of the ending theme, “Iris,” which is an absolute must-have addition to the soundtrack.

Rating: ***

Track list (excellent tracks in red) [official English sound test names]:
1. The Elysian Box Theme
2. In London
3. Puzzles Remixed
4. The Molentary Express
5. Suspense
6. The Village of Dropstone
7. An Uneasy Atmosphere
8. Folsense
9. The Town’s Past
10. Time for a Break
11. The Dark Forest
12. Into the Depths of the Dark
13. Unspoken Feelings
14. The Somber Castle
15. The Ball
16. The True Folsense
17. Iris (Music Box Version)
18. The Elysian Box Theme
19. Folsense
20. Don Paolo’s Theme
21. Time for a Break
22. The Town’s Past
23. The Dark Forest
24. The Somber Castle

Also check out:
25. Iris
26. Iris (Instrumental Version)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Bubbles on January 25, 2013, 10:00:52 PM
Track list (excellent tracks in red) [official English sound test names]:
1. The Elysian Box Theme
2. In London
3. Puzzles Remixed
4. The Molentary Express
5. Suspense
6. The Village of Dropstone
7. An Uneasy Atmosphere
8. Folsense
9. The Town’s Past
10. Time for a Break
11. The Dark Forest
12. Into the Depths of the Dark
13. Unspoken Feelings
14. The Somber Castle
15. The Ball
16. The True Folsense
17. Iris (Music Box Version)
18. The Elysian Box Theme
19. Folsense
20. Don Paolo’s Theme
21. Time for a Break
22. The Town’s Past
23. The Dark Forest
24. The Somber Castle

Also check out:
25. Iris
26. Iris (Instrumental Version)

fixed
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Waddle Bro on January 25, 2013, 10:18:47 PM
good fix
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on February 10, 2013, 06:34:29 PM
Re-review, Vol. 4

Soundtrack Review: Professor Layton and the Unwound Future by Tomohito Nishiura

The final game in the first trilogy of the Professor Layton series, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is to this day generally hailed as having the best plot of the games, with an intriguing tale of time travel and a genuinely moving conclusion. The soundtrack, much larger in quantity, does a lot more of the same, treating the listener to Nishiura’s signature Layton sound.

The album begins with a bang. “The Unwound Future” marks the first time that a live orchestra recording was used within the games, and it is easily the most energetic piece on the album. It blends together the jazzy piano, subdued violins, and meandering accordion sound from “Professor Layton’s Theme” and “The Elysian Box Theme” while also introducing much its own style. This piece feels more epic than its predecessors, with a sense of tragedy and climactic action that propels it forward. One of Nishiura’s best jazz efforts to date, and certainly fitting for the game.

As usual, the rest of the tracks don’t relate much to the main theme. Smooth jazz is surprisingly infrequent throughout the score, the energetic piece “The Gilded 7 Casino” being a highlight. The piano, violin, drum set, and saxophone ensemble is perfect for what is actually a great jazz piece. In addition, “The Professor’s Deductions” provides a nice throwback to “Professor Layton’s Theme” with its mysterious piano performing the same chords and the violin meandering in a similar manner.

The chimes make their return in “Puzzles Reinvented,” which sounds exactly like clockwork, brisk and mechanical. A straightforward minor key melody is the focus here, not as memorable or effective as the original puzzle theme but a welcome bit of new material. The theme is used several times throughout the score. “Suspicion” is the piece that plays during mystery exposition sequences as well as the recap that plays before resuming your game, and it’s very much the same instrumentation as “Puzzles Reinvented.” Far too typical and perhaps overlong, the piece is nevertheless effective at enhancing the mysterious aspect of the plot. “Puzzles Reinvented 2” is a carbon copy of the original piece, played a bit faster and with a few odd chords to the effect of hyping up the danger ever so slightly. “Puzzle Battle” goes absolutely crazy in its bouncing accordions, very reminiscent of “Don Paolo’s Theme.” The puzzle theme doesn’t appear until well into the piece, but its brief violin passage is a great nod, winking at careful listeners while not being so lazy as to use the exact same music.

Accordion-led waltzes have become by this point a staple in the Layton series. There are several themes representing London in this score, all of them waltzes and most of them accordion-led. “London Streets,” the theme for London in the present, is extraordinarily catchy. The fragmented, minimalist piano, dirty-sounding accordions, sly violin, and wandering clarinet perfectly convey an upbeat, swing melody. “Searching for Clues” is a bit more happy in its approach, the calm accordions perfectly underscoring the violin’s brief passage. “More London Streets” is the closest thing London has to a main theme, the accordions and violin performing an almost tragic melody as Layton’s gang wanders amiably through Future London. Love them or hate them, the accordions in this piece perfectly suit the dirty streets of London. “A Quiet Town” rounds off the London themes, ignoring the accordion and instead opting for a string waltz. It represents the lighter, more elegant aspect of London, still melancholic in nature but undeniably more graceful.

The chimes are at their most prominent in “Chinatown,” whose Asian tones and fragmented melancholic ideas complement the mechanical waltz tempo. “The Towering Pagoda” takes a large cue from “The Looming Tower” and “Into the Depths of the Dark” from previous installments. I hardly think it’s necessary at this point to include such familiar tower themes; either of the aforementioned tracks could have achieved the exact same effect as “The Towering Pagoda.”

Some of the more tragic themes are too generic and simply unmoving, most notably “Sorrow” and “Memories.” The former is simply too overplayed and fails to evoke emotion, and the latter sounds utterly forced and familiar (not to mention extraordinarily repetitive). Luckily, the themes for danger and action more than make up for this, nearly all of them being exciting and worthwhile. “Tension” and “Crisis” do well to set things up, particularly the latter in its uneasy accordions. “The Research Facility,” however, is where things get truly exciting. Its perfect structure builds tension and places the listener in a state of fascinated uneasiness and discomfort. “The Mobile Fortress,” however, while definitely tense and frantic, feels a bit too anticlimactic; it’s clear that “The Unwound Future” was meant to play during the climax, leaving this section of the album seemingly empty and unfinished.

This awkwardly segues into the minigame theme, arranged three different ways: “The Picture Book” is a cute, lullaby-like chime piece, “The Toy Car” is an upbeat romp, and “The Parrot” is yet another accordion waltz. The melody is passive and catchy, and never gets too annoying, making it the perfect fit for each of these. With all the hours you’ll put into the minigames, you’ll undoubtedly be humming this tune for quite a while.

The ending theme, “Time Travel,” as with the previous game, was not composed by Nishiura and is represented on the album by a piano solo. The original and its instrumental counterpart are both beautiful, and the piano version on the album is a great substitute (as compared to “Iris” which only received a music box version). Its sad but comforting melody is a great way to slowly console yourself after you inevitably broke down sobbing at the ending.

The live arrangements are once again a highlight. “More London Streets” is easily the best in this category; rather than accordions, elegant strings take up the melody, which becomes shimmering and beautiful rather than melancholic and droning. “The Research Facility” is also great, the piece allowed to really expand with more instrumentation and development and more of a sense of climax than the original. Unfortunately, “The Mobile Fortress” benefits very little, the arrangement basically serving as a high quality version of the original. The real problem, though, does not lie with the arrangement--rather, this was not a great choice to pick for a live performance. It only leaves me wondering what an arrangement of “London Streets” or “Chinatown” or “Puzzle Battle” would have sounded like. The high quality tracks, “The Toy Car” and “The Towering Pagoda,” prove less worthwhile than those in previous album releases, much for the same reason as “The Mobile Fortress”’s live arrangement--they simply were not the right choices.

Overall, while the live arrangements and high quality bonus tracks are something of a disappointment, the rest of the score clearly surpasses the previous two Layton soundtracks, if only by a small margin. An absolute must-have for any fan of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future.

Rating: ****

Track list (excellent tracks in red) [official English sound test names]:
1. The Unwound Future
2. Puzzles Reinvented
3. London Streets
4. Searching for Clues
5. Tension
6. More London Streets
7. A Quiet Town
8. The Gilded 7 Casino
9. Sorrow
10. Suspicion
11. Chinatown
12. Puzzle Battle
13. Memories
14. The Towering Pagoda
15. The Professor’s Deductions
16. Crisis!
17. The Research Facility
18. Puzzles Reinvented 2
19. The Mobile Fortress
20. The Picture Book
21. The Toy Car
22. The Parrot
23. Time Travel ~Piano Ver.~
24. More London Streets
25. The Research Facility
26. The Mobile Fortress
27. The Towering Pagoda
28. The Toy Car

Also check out:
29. Time Travel
30. Time Travel (Instrumental Version)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Bubbles on February 10, 2013, 07:11:14 PM
Track list (excellent tracks in red) [official English sound test names]:
1. The Unwound Future
2. Puzzles Reinvented
3. London Streets
4. Searching for Clues
5. Tension
6. More London Streets
7. A Quiet Town
8. The Gilded 7 Casino
9. Sorrow
10. Suspicion
11. Chinatown
12. Puzzle Battle
13. Memories
14. The Towering Pagoda
15. The Professor’s Deductions
16. Crisis!
17. The Research Facility
18. Puzzles Reinvented 2
19. The Mobile Fortress
20. The Picture Book
21. The Toy Car
22. The Parrot
23. Time Travel ~Piano Ver.~
24. More London Streets
25. The Research Facility
26. The Mobile Fortress
27. The Towering Pagoda
28. The Toy Car
Also check out:
29. Time Travel
30. Time Travel (Instrumental Version)
Fixed :3
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: blueflower999 on February 10, 2013, 07:20:33 PM
I probably shouldn't read this >.<
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on February 10, 2013, 07:43:47 PM
I probably shouldn't read this >.<

Eh there are very minimal spoilers, mostly stuff that could be read in a review or in some cases even the back of the box! But you can at least read the curious village one, lol.

Also thx for feedback bubbles
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Bubbles on February 10, 2013, 07:45:21 PM
Yeah, dont read them just yet XD

And np slow ;)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: FSM-Reapr on February 10, 2013, 08:13:27 PM
Waddle keeps bugging me that I should play Layton more than just the Unwound Future.

The music is awesome, so perhaps I will.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on February 22, 2013, 01:55:03 AM
Soundtrack Review: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time by Yoko Shimomura

In an unusual turn of events, today I’ll be reviewing a soundtrack that never received an official release, other than a few selections on a compilation soundtrack. The soundtrack is that of Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, the wonderful, bizarre, and utterly hilarious sequel to GBA hit Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. The music was composed by series veteran Yoko Shimomura, who is most well-known for her acclaimed music for the Kingdom Hearts series as well as Super Mario RPG. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the soundtrack and evaluate how well it complements the game.

The music is distinctly Shimomura. Her talent for bouncy, upbeat, and zany music makes her the perfect fit for this oddball series, and that talent is showcased very well here. Mallets, pizzicato strings, and timpani are the most frequently heard instruments, allowing for an appropriately off-kilter, idiosyncratic tone, as showcased very well in “Chaos!” which serves as go-to music to underscore anything particularly funny or bizarre that befalls the bros. “Prince Bowser’s Theme” is comical and cute, establishing the playful character of Prince Bowser. However, despite Shimomura’s obvious touch, her themes fit right into the Mario world and she even takes the liberty of arranging some of the classic Mario themes in her own style. The obligatory main theme and underground theme remix are found in “Hollijolli Path” and “Gritzy Caves” respectively, the former being entertaining in its upbeat mallets and the latter extremely catchy in its lazy electronic rhythm. The jazzy ensemble in “Peach’s Castle” will undoubtedly invoke nostalgia in anyone who played Super Mario 64. Likewise, “E. Gadd’s Theme,” led by a sneaky bassoon, mallets, and flute, will have Luigi’s Mansion fans grinning from ear to ear. Shimomura’s music blends right in with the classic Mario tunes and her original compositions are indistinguishable from these.

It’s worth noting that this soundtrack is considerably darker than its predecessor, or really anything Shimomura has done before or since. Considering that this game is at its heart about the Mushroom Kingdom being invaded by aliens, that is perhaps fitting and the game definitely benefits from the use of upbeat yet minor key pieces. Immediately in the prologue we are introduced to “The Shroobs’ Themes,” which takes liberal use of the tritone chord and using an otherworldly sound for the aliens not unlike Danny Elfman’s music for Mars Attacks!. This idea is later used in a more fleshed-out piece, “Shroobs’ Castle,” which utilizes a haunting choir to make the whole situation more ominous. “King Bowser’s Theme” is another excellent example of this, the hulking menace perfectly represented by Shimomura’s unique instrumentation and tone.

The music for the different worlds in the game tends to be minimalist and scary, a great Shimomura’s clever minor key variant of Jingle Bells in “Hollijolli Village” feels incredibly sad and ominous, especially with the addition of the accordion. The groaning strings in “Bowser’s Castle” really set the uneasy mood before the hyperactive mallets and plucking strings take over, referencing Prince Bowser’s quirkiness. “Vim Factory” is definitely worth noting; despite its brevity, it is quite effective at hyping up tension. This piece is amazing at really sounding like what it is--a top-secret alien institution. “Toad Town” is very Elfman-esque in its chimes and incessant pizzicato strings. The overwhelming sorrow and heartbreaking depression conveyed in this piece is impressive, to say the least, and it isn’t the type of music you expect to find in video games.

These darker pieces, however, do tend to clash with the more upbeat, pleasant sections of the score. It’s jarring, for instance, to move directly from “Toadwood Forest” and “Vim Factory” to the exotic and joyful “Yoshi Village,” which is wholeheartedly cute in its flute and mallets. “Yoshi’s Island” is an unrestrained exercise in the typical music we hear from Mario, with the clapping and accordion adding a little of Shimomura’s flair. “Yoob’s Belly” is appropriately weird yet extremely appealing and catchy in its style. Nothing much happens in this piece, but its catchy way of moving along the story is very effective. “Gritzy Desert” is, in contrast, wholly appealing and the best desert theme that Mario has to offer, the percussion and strange instruments emulating the sound and feel of a desert. “The Koopaseum” is bouncy and quite fun, and effectively excites the player for the craziness that follows. “Thwomp Volcano” is quite intriguing, and the bouncing melody and instrumentation provide a wacky, enjoyable tune. “Thwomp Caverns” takes this theme and adapts it very loosely, choosing to focus instead on percussion and synth effects.

It could be argued that Shimomura’s most effective contributions to the album are her battle themes, which are truly great. “Crisis for the Red and Green!” sounds almost like a carnival, again emulating Danny Elfman’s work--this time reminding of his music for The Simpsons with the mallets’ wacky sixteenth-note runs. “The Overture for the End” really gets things going though, with a tense and thoroughly great style for the “final” battle. The true final battle music, though, is where we finally see the beautiful, epic style of Shimomura that was so commended in Kingdom Hearts. The rare battle music that is sorrowful, “Yet Another Requiem” is utterly heartbreaking and tragic and somehow fits as final battle music to a dark, dark game. The ending credits, “Dance With Babies,” is really quite sinister. A relatively small ensemble, featuring an ominous accordion, bassoon, and tambourine, performs a waltz that is thoroughly dark and creepy, especially for a Mario game. The creepy style is effective and relentless, only abating for a moment to accentuate the harp in light glissandos before resuming work. While some may find the end credits too dark a note for the adventure to end on, I think it suits the game very well, especially combined with the credits artwork, which recaps the bros.’ adventures throughout the story.

Any fan of Yoko Shimomura would do well to obtain this soundtrack, considering that a good portion of the music rivals that of her more well-known work in the Kingdom Hearts series. A wonderful soundtrack, perfect for the game and still great on its own.

Rating: ****

Gamerip track listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. Hello, Time-Travelers!
2. File Select
3. The Shroobs’ Theme
4. Peach’s Castle
5. News Flash!
6. E. Gadd’s Theme
7. Time Hole (To Past)
8. Hollijolli Path
9. Attack The Enemy!
10. Crisis for the Red and Green!
11. Battle Clear Fanfare
12. Hollijolli Village
13. Prince Bowser’s Theme
14. Chaos!
15. Bowser’s Castle
16. Time Hole (To Present)
17. Toadwood Forest
18. Vim Factory
19. Yoshi Village
20. Yoshi’s Island
21. Yoob’s Belly
22. Gritzy Desert
23. The Koopaseum
24. Gritzy Caves
25. King Bowser’s Theme
26. Thwomp Volcano
27. Thwomp Caverns
28. Toad Town
29. Star Hill
30. Star Shrine
31. Shroobs’ Castle
32. The Overture for the End
33. Final Boss Appears
34. Yet Another Requiem
35. Bowser Battle
36. Ending
37. Dance With Babies
38. The End
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Yugi on February 22, 2013, 11:41:33 AM
37. Dance With Babies
?

And should I get this game?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on February 22, 2013, 12:41:49 PM
If you had read the review, you'd know that's the staff credits theme.

And yes everyone should get this game.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: FSM-Reapr on February 25, 2013, 12:46:35 PM
Although this was a wonderful review, there is one thing that bugged me.
Gamerip track listing (excellent tracks in red):
1. Hello, Time-Travelers!

it should've been red
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on February 25, 2013, 12:59:22 PM
Fixed.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on March 27, 2013, 03:02:19 AM
Soundtrack Review: Hitchcock by Danny Elfman

Danny Elfman fans were treated to three enjoyable scores in 2012, with the composer’s work for Dark Shadows, Men in Black 3, and Frankenweenie serving as adequate work to satisfy fans looking for some of that signature Elfman charm. However, in November 2012, the limited release film Hitchcock (detailing the famed director’s life during the making of Psycho) also featured an Elfman score, a pleasant surprise. And it only makes sense that Elfman would work on this film, as Bernard Herrmann--who worked on many of Hitchcock’s films, including Psycho--is one of Elfman’s biggest inspirations and the source of most of Elfman’s well-known work on Tim Burton’s Batman.

The film is an entertaining if lighthearted look into the director’s relationship with his wife and collaborator Alma Reville, humorous in the same dry way as Hitchcock himself and loaded with great performances by the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, and Scarlett Johansson. That the film does not take a documentary-like approach, instead opting for what feels like a lighthearted drama, is all the better for Elfman, who thrives on conveying character and emotion in music. He takes a mostly subdued approach to Hitchcock, rarely using brass and instead focusing on strings, woodwind, and piano.

There are two primary themes in Hitchcock, the most prominent being for the director’s relationship with Reville. It is a restrained, somewhat romantic motif that attempts little to establish melody, instead concentrating on repeated three-note ideas. It is heard in spasms throughout, but it sounds most fitting when the whiny strings take over in “Theme From ‘Hitchcock’” and “End Credit#2.” The romance in this film doesn’t concern a young couple in love; Hitchcock and Alma are aging and their relationship is at times quite strained, which is represented quite well by the tender and hesitant theme. As the film focuses at its heart on Hitch and Alma, it is fitting that this should be the main theme. The secondary theme is a sweeping waltz to represent the director himself, elegant in cues like “Walk With Hitch” and “Paramount / Out the Gate” while also a bit perverse, especially when the solo violin meanders in “End Credit#1.”

These two themes are the only ones that show any sort of development throughout the brief (just over 38 minutes long) score, with the rest of the soundtrack using an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable style reminiscent of Elfman’s earliest works. The spirit in cues like “The Premiere” and “Selling Psycho” is infectious, and the composer’s love for the subject material is evident in his brief orchestral arrangement of “Funeral March For a Marionette” (Hitchcock’s personal theme song). Overall, it’s merely a snack for Elfman fans, sadly bite-sized but undeniably delicious. Indeed, this score has moments that rival anything in his other 2012 scores. Be that as it may, the work’s brevity and lack of proper thematic development really holds it back from excellence.

Rating: ****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Logos
2. Theme From “Hitchcock”
3. The Premiere
4. Paramount / Out the Gate
5. Mommy Dearest
6. In Bed
7. Impulses
8. The Censor
9. The Swim
10. Peeping
11. Sacrifices
12. Walk With Hitch
13. Celery
14. Telephone
15. Suspicion
16. Explosion
17. Selling Psycho
18. Fantasy Smashed
19. The Sand
20. It’s a Wrap
21. Busted
22. Saving the House
23. Finally
24. Home at Last
25. End Credit#1
26. End Credit#2
27. Funeral March for a Marionette
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Yugi on April 22, 2013, 04:58:33 AM
Slow, would it be possible to put your reviews in a list of total soundtracks reviewed, so I don't have to look through that list to find one link.

Also, I might make my own soundtrack review thread, maybe.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on April 22, 2013, 12:23:38 PM
No. Just look through the list on the main page.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: NicolasBarker on August 13, 2013, 07:05:11 AM
Re-review, Vol. 2

Soundtrack Review: Professor Layton and the Curious Village by Tomohito Nishiura

While not quite mainstream, the Professor Layton series has a large cult following due to its intriguing plots, addictive and challenging puzzles, and consistently high quality presentation. Produced by gaming studio Level-5 and published by Nintendo, the series has won over players and critics alike. Today I take a look at the soundtrack of the first game, Professor Layton and the Curious Village. This was my first introduction to the franchise and I was very impressed with the music upon hearing it.

One cannot analyze Professor Layton music without mentioning the accordion. Its distinctive sound is omnipresent throughout the entire series, and the game’s European setting is effective thanks in no small part to this instrument as it effortlessly glides through the score. Chimes and mallets are also incredibly frequent. That being said, with so much of those instruments it does occasionally become tiresome, especially in some of the more formulaic tracks.

The opening “Professor Layton’s Theme,” which is by far the most fun piece, opens with a distinctive and quirky piano bouncing as a solo violin cuts through, occasionally passing the meandering melody to the accordion, with an incredibly catchy beat led by the piano underscoring the whole affair. Unfortunately, led lights (http://www.niceledlights.com) piece tends to clash a bit compared with the rest of this album. Not much else in the score is really in this style of music. That’s absolutely fine, as the rest of the music suits the game perfectly. The story is first and foremost a mystery, and the title theme, “St. Mystere,” creates a mood to match. Its main melody is darkly mysterious, and the entire piece feels mechanical, with a guiro, tambourine, and triangle behaving like clockwork as the accordion accents the offbeats. Two string instruments carry the main melody and bass line, which suits the feel of the piece. This main theme is rearranged in “About Town,” which mimics the clockwork with a mallet instrument and accordion comprising of the entire ensemble. The bass melody is unusually high, and at some points the accordion even dips below the mallets. Be that as it may, this theme, while repetitive, perfectly suits the town of St. Mystere and despite the fact that it is played constantly within the game, it never feels overused or annoying.

The “Puzzles” theme develops in a similar way, with high chimes and mallets creating an atmosphere that can only be described as utterly mechanical yet wholly elegant. “Baron Reinhold” begins with the same instruments, but adds the accordion after the piece’s introduction. This piece is quite fitting for a mystery; it sounds like an old cheesy mystery film with its over-the-top suspicious atmosphere. It goes hand-in-hand with “The Plot Thickens,” which begins a bit annoyingly yet progresses into the closest thing to the jazz heard in the main theme. The rhythm in this piece is addictive in its exotic nature, and the accordion’s melody is catchy and complements the mallets very well. Unfortunately, the mallet/accordion combination doesn’t fare well at all in “Crumm’s Cafe,” which is just plain grating with its spinning “melody”--I use quotes because the melody is more a series of repetitive trilling mallet notes. “Down the Tubes,” which concentrates heavily on mallets and accordion while adding a bass and bassoon, is also quite tiresome after the interesting tritone chord at the beginning degrades into typical mystery-esque music that becomes too repetitive. “Deserted Amusement Park” also fails to bring much worthwhile, though while bland its inherent waltz tempo is more interesting than either of the previous two.

A few of the more relaxed themes, however, use chimes and accordion to their advantages-- “The Veil of Night” is incredibly repetitive, with chimes performing the same four notes throughout the entire lengthy piece, but the mood established by this piece is incredibly effective. The relaxing nighttime image is lovely in its innocent sleepiness. “The Mysterious Girl,” in contrast, feels more like a lullaby; the chimes carry the melody before the accordion squeezes in, sounding wistful, nostalgic, and lonely. “Setting Out” and “End Theme,” which segue into one another, offer some of the best of the album, their simple melodies managing to capture the series’s charm and heart.

The rest of the score treads a variety of territories. “The Great Don Paolo” is an obvious highlight, providing the most innovative use of the accordion on the album. The wacky villain’s theme is nothing more than a few manic accordions ranting wildly, but its effectiveness is astonishing, and the track offers a welcome comical deviation. In contrast, the lumbering accordions in “The Looming Tower” provide a great and engaging setup that never really goes anywhere. “The Village Awakens” is in a similar boat, with an ominous bouncing piano and forlorn accordion highlighting a somewhat meandering piece that doesn’t quite develop fully.

The real prizes of the soundtrack album are the bonus tracks. The soundtrack for Curious Village contains four arranged tracks performed by the Layton Grand Caravan Orchestra. The obvious highlight is of course “Professor Layton’s Theme,” a piece that was destined to be performed live. Much of the piece’s mechanical nature has been removed, replacing it with a sense of genuine jazz, and the orchestration is sublime. “End Theme” is also wonderful, the main melody allowed to truly shine on instruments other than the in-game version’s mallets and accordion. The percussion is quite effective at complementing the oboe and various strings that enhance the quality of this piece. “The Veil of Night” is exquisite in its quality and orchestration, but at 5+ minutes it does tend to drag on. “The Looming Tower,” in a track that is actually a good bit shorter than the in-game version, develops its theme a bit more effectively with the aid of strings and other instruments.

Other bonus tracks include welcome “high quality” versions of three tracks, all of which sound crystal clear. While there are no differences in the actual pieces, these use a more polished, realistic-sounding soundfont.

In general, the soundtrack for Professor Layton’s first adventure is thoroughly charming and quaint and offers a few gems that stand very well on their own, despite containing an undeniably large number of pieces that strike the listener as bland and formulaic. It is a solid effort from Nishiura, but demands more in the future.

Overall score: 7.0/10

Track list (excellent tracks in red) [official English sound test names]:
1. Professor Layton’s Theme
2. St. Mystere
3. The Adventure Begins
4. About Town
5. Puzzles
6. Baron Reinhold
7. The Plot Thickens
8. Crumm’s Cafe
9. The Mysterious Girl
10. Down the Tubes
11. Pursuit in the Night
12. The Veil of Night
13. Deserted Amusement Park
14. The Great Don Paolo
15. The Village Awakens
16. The Looming Tower
17. Memories of St. Mystere
18. Setting Out
19. End Theme
20. Professor Layton’s Theme
21. The Veil of Night
22. The Looming Tower
23. End Theme
24. About Town
25. Baron Reinhold
26. The Village Awakens



Very very nice review.. Just love it.. I hope you keep sharing some more reviews
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Yugi on August 13, 2013, 08:09:04 AM
10/10 would bang again
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 18, 2013, 03:10:59 AM
Soundtrack Review: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team by Yoko Shimomura

This is the first soundtrack I’m reviewing in ages, so you know it has to be something special. Indeed, playing through Mario & Luigi: Dream Team this past week reminded me why I loved video game music in the first place. Yoko Shimomura may be most famous for her work on the Kingdom Hearts series, but any critic ought to give Dream Team a listen before declaring Kingdom Hearts her best work.

The primary theme here is the title theme, “Your Dream Adventure!” This track opens with a lullaby-like synthesizer before suddenly accelerating into a gliding, catchy idea led by flutes and strings before synthesizer takes over. It’s quite clever how this track is set up, as it actually foreshadows the main idea of the work. Each area theme in the game is represented by a “real world” version, lavishly orchestrated with traditional instruments, and a “dreamy” incarnation, much more electronic in nature and with a better sense of classic video game music.

These area themes themselves tend to be easy highlights. “Welcome to Pi’illo Blimport” has a lovely exotic melody not unlike some of Shimomura’s work on Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. “Breezy Mushrise Park” uses a pleasant theme complemented by lush orchestration including mallets to give the piece a great jungle vibe. In “Dozing Sands Secret” the desert motif is clear, adding a rhythmic percussion element to the melody. There’s a kind of wonderful peacefulness that comes in “Shopping in Wakeport,” flute reappearing to play a whimsical nostalgic melody. “The Law of Pajamaja” has to be my personal favorite, with lumbering brass and flighty strings underscoring piano to make for a slightly off-kilter yet epic music theme. The melody is transferred to light harp and solo violin in “Lofty Mount Pajamaja” to great effect. “Sacred Somnom Woods” really shocked me in its raw power, providing a mysterious and ominous element in an otherwise upbeat soundtrack. The choral work in this piece is simply haunting. “Neo Bowser Castle,” meanwhile, defers to heavy brass and a strong rhythm to convey the pure evil manifested by Bowser in this game. Elsewhere, “Neo Bowser Castle’s Illusion” is simply awe-inspiring and unnerving, especially in its dreamy counterpart, “Bowser’s Dream.”

The incidental music here has a very symphonic style, with tracks like “Enjoy the Joy!,” “Panic Pit,” and “Comedic Curtains” all reminiscent of Danny Elfman’s title theme for The Simpsons with the big brass sound and frequent pizzicato strings (as well as liberal use of the tritone chord). Shimomura rearranges Bowser’s theme from Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, which was a wise choice indeed--it has to be the best theme for Bowser in the Mario series. “Antasma’s Theme,” meanwhile, uses a stomping rhythm and eerie solo violin for a vampirish theme song--fitting as the character is indeed the king of the bats. Shimomura lovingly rearranges the Super Mario Bros. main theme as well as Peach’s castle theme for the fourth time, giving attention to Koji Kondo’s works in a way that doesn’t feel forced or unnatural. Unfortunately, much of the incidental music (presented at the beginning of the sound test) simply cannot hold a candle to the rest of the music.

The battle music will be the highlight of the soundtrack for many, and for good reason--these battle themes are among the best in any game. “Try, Try, Again” and “Victory in the Dream World” both play with the outrageously catchy title theme, and help to disperse the tedium of all the Goomba-stomping you’ll be doing. Indeed, this theme was stuck in my head long after playing the game. “Never Let Up!” is the boss battle music, again the best of the series, and its zany melody and pure energy is addictive. “Size Up Your Enemy” is arguably the best of the lot, replacing the previous giant battle theme, and its trombones and muted trumpets, complemented by deep strings, provide an excellent representation of the massive scale these battles take place on. “The Final Antasma Battle” is already proving to be a huge fan-favorite, and it’s not hard to see why; the solo violin from “Antasma’s Theme” returns, performing that melody with downright haunting underscore and an upbeat synthesized bass. “Adventure’s End,” while beginning more epic in scale with the pipe organ and haunting choir, nonetheless isn’t as accomplished as the former, and certainly doesn’t come close to “In the Final” from Bowser’s Inside Story.

The credits music, “Pi’illo Vacation!,” ties together all of the area themes with the title theme for a great result that is admittedly lacking in proper bridging between the themes, making it something of a cacophony for listeners not already familiar with each piece.

And that wraps up a brief look at the marvelous video game score that is Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. I can’t stress enough how much I loved this soundtrack. Shimomura reminded me what I loved about video game music in the first place. There isn’t a single person who shouldn’t get on top of listening to this right away.

Rating: *****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Your Dream Adventure!
2. Travel Journal
3. Enjoy the Joy!
4. Panic Pit
5. Comedic Curtains
6. Shocking!
7. Nightmare Lullaby
8. Ancient Pi’illo Kingdom
9. Bowser’s Theme
10. Antasma’s Theme
11. Stand and Fight, Luigi!
12. Dreambeats
13. Go with the Bros.
14. Challenging Actions!
15. The Nightmare Road
16. Peach’s Castle Theme
17. Zeeppelin Sightseeing Tour
18. Welcome to Pi’illo Blimport
19. Break at Pi’illo Castle
20. Beneath Pi’illo Castle
21. Breezy Mushrise Park
22. Dozing Sands Secret
23. Shopping in Wakeport
24. The Law of Pajamaja
25. Lofty Mount Pajamaja
26. Sunny Driftwood Shore
27. Mysteries of the Cave
28. Sacred Somnom Woods
29. Neo Bowser Castle
30. Neo Bowser Castle’s Illusion
31. Rose Broquet
32. Dreamy Castle Rendevous
33. Dreamy Mushrise Winds
34. Dream’s Forbidden Depths
35. Dreamy Sandstorm
36. Dreamy Wakeport Repose
37. Rules on Dreamy Mountain
38. Glorious Pajamaja Dreams
39. Dreamy Driftwood Meeting
40. Dreamy Somnom Labyrinth
41. Neo Bowser Sunrise
42. Bowser’s Dream
43. Try, Try Again
44. Victory in the Dream World
45. Never Let Up!
46. Size Up Your Enemy
47. The Final Antasma Battle
48. Adventure’s End
49. Joyous Occasion
50. Pi’illo Vacation!
51. Memories of Pi’illo Island
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Sebastian on August 18, 2013, 04:48:46 AM
The Music to that Game is nice! :)
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: MaestroUGC on August 18, 2013, 04:50:47 AM
As long as I can be the only 11/volkswagon in your heart.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Yugi on August 18, 2013, 05:37:23 AM
all reminiscent of Danny Elfman’s title theme for The Simpsons
That was Danny Elfman?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Onionleaf on August 18, 2013, 06:07:21 AM
This is a game soundtrack? :o It certainly creates a world of its own, and is super catchy too. Thanks for the review!
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Yugi on August 18, 2013, 11:12:34 AM
but any critic ought to give Dream Team a listen before declaring Kingdom Hearts her best work.
Don't you hate the Kingdom Hearts Soundtrack?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on August 18, 2013, 01:27:24 PM
Don't you hate the Kingdom Hearts Soundtrack?

.....no?
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: FSM-Reapr on August 18, 2013, 01:45:23 PM
volkswagen
ftfy
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 06, 2013, 08:28:16 PM
Soundtrack Review: From Up on Poppy Hill by Satoshi Takebe

The latest addition to the Studio Ghibli family is unlike most of the studio’s other works in that there are no elements of fantasy such as surreal creatures, walking castles, or talking goldfish. What Studio Ghibli provides instead is a simple love story in 1963 Japan, when the country is abuzz over the upcoming 1964 summer Olympics in Tokyo. There’s a sweet aura lingering over the film that leaves one nostalgic for a time they never experienced.

The score was written by Satoshi Takebe, who also arranged several of the film’s theme songs (sung by Aoi Teshima, of Tales from Earthsea fame). The score is appropriately lighthearted and impressively manages to be sweet without becoming syrupy or saccharine. Read on for more details.

The score covers a lot of ground in its relatively brief lifespan (about 45 minutes), providing cheery music, tango, smooth jazz, reflective piano solos—and this is just the first four tracks. For such a wide array of genres, the music flows surprisingly well, and when each composition is so lovely and pure, one can’t help but be pulled into the film’s world. “Sunrise – The Breakfast Song” stands out as a great example of what an album opener should be. Takebe’s arrangement relies heavily on ragtime-style piano, while Teshima’s voice is as lovely as it was in Earthsea. Her lilting voice works wonderfully this film’s songs. In addition to the aforementioned song, she also lends her voice to the sweet “First Love” and the accordion-led folk waltz “Summer of Farewells – From Up on Poppy Hill,” both great songs that don’t feel shoehorned into the score album. Each song feels natural mixed with the score, much like Akiko Yano’s vocals in My Neighbors the Yamadas, with the added benefit of Takebe’s arrangements.

The accordion adds a lot of character to “Off to School in the Morning,” a small jazz piece that is infinitely lovable in its catchy nature. The jazz continues in “A Big Commotion,” which introduces the Latin Quarter theme. Here the idea is heard played by the clarinet briefly, and later it is fully brought out in tracks like “The Latin Quarter” and “The Big Cleanup.” It is a slippery over-the-top melody that could serve as either comic relief or a guilty pleasure, depending on your love of jazz. Either way, it works quite well in the film. “The Latin Quarter” underscores one of the most charming scenes in a film I can recall, featuring Umi and her sister scaling the tower-like building, meeting all of its quirky inhabitants, and learning about their oddball clubs. Many of the other tracks take a lazy swing attitude, without the high-strung jazz of the clubhouse theme, and it gives a nice summertime atmosphere to the film.

Some of the tracks are laugh-out-loud in their flair for comedy, such as the tango in “Stand United” and the banjo-led “Fickle as the Weather.” However, the score is also notable for its tearjerking piano solo performances, heard in such highlights as “Reminiscence,” “Signal Flags,” “The Canal at Dusk,” and “Longing for Mother’s Return.” This last one especially conveys the situation of Umi being essentially an orphan, despite the large family she lives with. It’s enough to bring a tear to my eye, especially coupled with the beautiful scene it underscores. Umi’s parents being absent doesn’t feel cliché, and her emotion feels real thanks in no small part to her various piano themes.
 
There are a few things that the score lacks, however. The fact is, despite the music flowing nicely, there’s no real sense of continuity here. When the clubhouse theme plays at the end in “Welcome to the Latin Quarter,” it feels like a reprise of the exact same music, with no sense of theme development. And the piano themes are all nice and vaguely similar-sounding, but there is never an instance of an idea being used in more than one track, meaning that the work as a whole lacks a definitive main theme. I suppose one could argue that the ending song does a nice job of tying together the story threads, but it’s hardly possible to call it a main theme when the first time we hear it is the last track on the album. Gripes about that aside, though, it does make each track a unique experience (with a few exceptions), and there isn’t much to complain about when taking each track individually.

That is, except for parts of the album’s presentation of the material. For some unknown reason, several of these score tracks include sound effects from the film, which adds exactly nothing to the experience and in fact makes these tracks less accessible. It’s only a little annoying when you hear the boats at the beginning of the ending song, or the rain at the end of “Walking Home in the Rain,” but the grating metal-on-metal noise at the beginning of “Confession” almost makes the piece unlistenable. I wish that they would have cleaned up the tracks a bit more for the album release. If I wanted to hear birds chirping or the rain falling, I would just watch the movie instead.

Overall, it’s a lovely piece of work from Studio Ghibli and Goro Miyazaki, and Takebe’s score enhances the experience in every way possible. This quaint little score is perfect for lovers of the movie and someone looking for a score thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, if a bit lacking in substance.

Rating: ****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Sunrise – The Breakfast Song performed by Aoi Teshima
2. Off to School in the Morning
3. A Big Commotion
4. Reminiscence
5. Fickle as the Weather
6. The Latin Quarter
7. The Editing Room in Sunset
8. The Flags in the Painting
9. When the White Flower Blossomed (Choir) performed by Cast of From Up on Poppy Hill
10. First Love performed by Aoi Teshima
11. The Party
12. Red River Valley (Choir) performed by Cast of From Up on Poppy Hill
13. Signal Flags
14. The Canal at Dusk
15. The Big Cleanup
16. Looking Back
17. Walking Home in the Rain
18. A Dream
19. Stand United
20. The Escape
21. The Leaden Sea
22. A Confession
23. Longing for Mother’s Return
24. The Reunion
25. Welcome to the Latin Quarter
26. The Indigo Waves (Choir) performed by Cast of From Up on Poppy Hill
27. Racing Towards a New Day
28. Summer of Farewells – From Up on Poppy Hill performed by Aoi Teshima

Also guys, I have a new rating system. I'll be rating out of 5 stars (*****) rather than using the 1-10 scale, as it's much simpler for me. I will be switching all the old reviews to star ratings.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Bubbles on September 06, 2013, 09:21:10 PM
I knew youd like it :D

But where did you listen to the soundtrack? I couldn't even find it on youtube
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on September 06, 2013, 09:47:40 PM
I bought it on iTunes lol
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 24, 2014, 06:19:36 PM
Soundtrack Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney by Masakazu Sugimori and Akemi Kimura

When Capcom first released Gyakuten Saiban (lit. “Turnabout Trial”) for the Game Boy Advance in 2001, they didn’t see fit to bring the game overseas. The reason why is pretty simple: the game is basically an interactive manga about lawyers. Doesn’t sound too appealing to an American audience, does it? However, after the game and its two sequels were met with wild success in Japan, Capcom decided to port the series to Nintendo DS, this time with a limited release in American and European countries. The first game, rebranded internationally as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, was met with more than its fair share of critical success, and the first run sold out rather quickly once word started to spread. This was all that was needed to secure the sequels, as well as further entries in the series, a spot on shelves outside of Japan.

The game’s music was composed by Masakazu Sugimori, with tracks 28-34, which were introduced in the new episode produced for the sequel, being composed by Akemi Kimura. Kimura also composed the music for this game’s sequel, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All.

The music of Phoenix Wright is a character in and of itself. The aesthetics are reminiscent of old-school PC games, with somewhat pixelly sprites and limited animation, and the music also goes along with that. The soundtrack beeps electronically beneath all of the courtroom drama, providing a fond nostalgic tone that will never be outdated. Form aside, let’s look at the music itself and give it some analysis.

The soundtrack begins ominously with “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney・Prologue,” which starts with a very creepy pipe organ progression and moves to catchy percussive rhythms to represent the frantic anxiety of that particular cutscene. It is an interesting opener to an interesting album, and it’s honestly pretty effective at hyping up the player’s tension, but it just doesn’t work very well by itself.

The album then dives headfirst into its courtroom suite, however, which contains some of the most enjoyable and downright catchy themes in the series. “Courtroom Lobby ~ Beginning Prelude” feels only slightly inspired from a musical standpoint, using some strong rhythm and scattered sixteenth-note runs over just two chords to provide a sense of nervousness, tension and foreboding. However, the two chords continue into “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney・Trial,” this time with a sense of purpose that gets things going. It’s the climax, though, with loud brass, that really develops the idea and makes the track a highlight.

The next feature is “Cross-Examination ~ Moderato 2001,” which is enjoyable despite its inherently repetitive nature. “Cross-Examination ~ Allegro 2001” vamps things up considerably with a faster tempo and a bit more going on musically, but it’s “Tell the Truth 2001” that ends up being the best variation on the idea. Pipe organ and harpsichord makes for about the most dramatic instrument combination I can think of, and the music really says “this is do or die” as a result.

But of course it’s Phoenix’s theme music that will be the major highlight here, that theme that plays when he gets to shout every lawyer’s favorite word: “Objection!” Indeed, “Phoenix Wright ~ Objection! 2001” remains to be one of the most iconic pieces of music from the series, enough to lead all future Ace Attorney games to incorporate its style into their respective objection themes for Phoenix. The piece comes across as very “in-your-face” and intense, with the bass rhythm especially quite heavy and effective. Not long afterward, the listener is treated to “Pursuit ~ Cornered,” a frenetic whirlwind of music that will completely exhilarate the listener with its pure energy and intensity. It doesn’t get much more exciting than pinning down a culprit in the first Ace Attorney game while this theme blares spiritedly in the background. That is, until the player is hit with “Pursuit ~ Cornered / Variation,” which is nearly identical to the former, except with some exciting orchestral hits added every so often. The “Pursuit ~ Cornered” and “Objection” themes basically sum up why Ace Attorney is such a worthwhile experience, and why a game about lawyers can be incredibly entertaining if it’s presented in the right way.

It’s also worth mentioning “Logic and Trick,” a very mellow piece which plays when Phoenix is using logic to deduce what might have happened at a crime scene; as well as “Suspense” which is actually a pretty frightening piece that just exudes foreboding. Three notes are all it takes to hype up the tension, I guess. As a small bridge between the trial and investigation parts of the soundtrack, you get the four-second saving fanfare, “Jingle ~ It Can’t End Here,” which is only worth mentioning because it would be a fantastic ringtone.

Next up, the investigation scoring. “Investigation ~ Opening 2001” is one of those pieces of background music that often gets overlooked because of its mundane atmosphere, but in truth it’s perfect for Ace Attorney. It has a sort of cool, mellow vibe due to its choppy, electronic feel, and it sets the stage for all the excitement to come in the investigation. “Investigation ~ Core 2001” serves to drive forth the story as Phoenix gets into the heart of things. It lacks a certain something that would otherwise make it a highlight to listen to outside of game, but it works fine for what it is. “Detention Center ~ Elegy of the Guards” is a very successful representation of the Detention Center—the music is pitiful and almost pathetic, and there’s no question that the person Phoenix is defending has hit rock bottom. It would be pretty if it wasn’t so heartbreaking.

The investigation sequences also feature “recollection” themes that are typically rather sorrowful and highlight the emotional drama present in the game’s cases. However, they also fall victim to the trap of being too bland to stand well on their own, as exemplified in “Recollection ~ Heartbroken Maya,” “Recollection ~ The Bright and Dark Sides of the Studio,” and “Recollection ~ Elementary School Trial” (the latter being particularly offensive due to its ridiculous lack of musical substance). Two of them, however, are noteworthy if still not quite up to par with the rest of the soundtrack: “Recollection ~ The DL-6 Incident” provides a great tragic theme for Edgeworth, relying heavily on depressing and dark tones to convey the sense of loss Edgeworth experienced as a young child. “Recollection ~ SL-9 Incident,” in comparison, does the same thing for Lana Skye; it sounds almost emotionally drained, and the hopeless tones therein effectively convey the utter tragedy that took place two years prior to Phoenix’s meeting the Skye sisters.

There are character themes abound in the Ace Attorney series, and the first game has several winners. Sugimori’s “Maya Fey ~ Turnabout Sisters’ Theme 2001” is one of the more popular tracks from Phoenix Wright due to its inherent sweet and catchy nature. “Turnabout Sisters’ Ballad,” however, is the more emotionally rewarding variation, representing the Fey sisters and the impact that both Mia and Maya have on Phoenix’s life. For 2005’s “Rise from the Ashes,” Kimura provides a variation that doesn’t really borrow from the main melody, instead sticking to a similar style for a new set of turnabout sisters. “Ema Skye ~ Turnabout Sisters’ Theme 2005” sounds fittingly bubbly and slightly off-kilter in a very good representation of the scientifically savvy Ema.

Sugimori’s themes kick off with “Dick Gumshoe ~ Detective Gumshoe,” which is an excellent accompaniment to the somewhat bumbling detective. Although the piece (like the character) originally comes across as harsh, it develops into an almost sweet melody, hinting at Gumshoe’s childish and innocent nature. “Marvin Grossberg ~ Age, Regret, Reward” is another highlight in this category, providing sleazy jazz to accompany various eccentric or unusual characters, notably Grossberg himself and the excitable yet incompetent Officer Meekins. For what it is, this track shouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable as it is. “Happy People” is short and sweet-borderline-saccharine, always associated with the self-proclaimed investigative photographer Lotta Hart and playing in each of the first three games for some other select characters. It’s noteworthy if for no other reason that it somehow never overstays its welcome despite its repetitive, chirpy nature. “Steel Samurai” is the theme song for Episode 3, “Turnabout Samurai,” and is one of the best songs from any Ace Attorney game. It’s modeled in the style of popular superhero shows, and even though it’s a parody it manages to be well-written and incredibly catchy, which is why it remains one of the most well-known pieces of music from Ace Attorney.

Kimura writes a few character themes for “Rise from the Ashes,” including the aforementioned theme for Ema Skye. “Blue Badger ~ I Want to Protect You” is absolutely hilarious, written (just as the character was) as a parody of popular mascots from young childrens’ shows. The simple song sounds something like a seven-year-old would come up with playing on a toy piano. “Jake Marshall ~ Wandering Detective from the Wild West” is equally hilarious, serving as a callback to old Western films to accompany the detective who thinks he’s a cowboy. The mysterious and catchy melody, performed dramatically on panpipes, is something that again is a lot more enjoyable than it should be. Finally, “Damon Gant ~ Swimming, Anyone?” is enjoyable purely because of how unorthodox it is. The two dramatic chords at the beginning are really the best part of the entire piece, introducing the strange chief of police with a fanfare-like phrase and soon moving into a thoroughly odd bit of game scoring. Fragmented pizzicato strings back up a pipe organ that, instead of being menacing, almost sounds pompous and important.

The ending tracks are really a bit too standard to capture major interest, but they aren’t offensively bad either. “Victory! ~ The First Victory” is the exception; it really manages to capture the sense of triumph and happiness that Phoenix experiences after winning a case. “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney・End” uses the two chords from the trial theme to create a rather fitting ending theme, albeit one that has almost no change in tone throughout. It’s a nice clean little piece of work, but doesn’t really invoke any strong emotions or have any sort of impact. “Rise from the Ashes・End” is somewhat catchy in its jazz style, but isn’t really catchy enough to merit its almost five-minute run time.

Sugimori’s score for the original Gyakuten Saiban is iconic and almost legendary at this point, and it’s not hard to see why. He set the groundwork for the entire series, and all of the other games’ music borrow heavily from his style. The music is complemented rather nicely by Kimura’s “Rise from the Ashes” suite, which is noticeably different from the rest of the album yet somehow blends well with its style. Fans of the first game will no doubt love this soundtrack and eagerly return to their favorites time and time again, but anyone unfamiliar with the series might find it difficult to see what’s so special about this retro-style music beyond the courtroom tracks. Despite that, it’s still an excellent piece of work, and any video game music lover would to well to check it out regardless of whether they’re familiar with Phoenix Wright and company.

Rating: ****

Track list (excellent tracks in red):
1. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney・Prologue
2. Courtroom Lobby ~ Beginning Prelude
3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney・Trial
4. Cross-Examination ~ Moderato 2001
5. Logic and Trick
6. Phoenix Wright ~ Objection! 2001
7. Cross-Examination ~ Allegro 2001
8. Pursuit ~ Cornered
9. Tell the Truth 2001
10. Suspense
11. Pursuit ~ Cornered / Variation
12. Jingle ~ It Can’t End Here
13. Investigation ~ Opening 2001
14. Maya Fey ~ Turnabout Sisters’ Theme 2001
15. Detention Center ~ Elegy of the Guards
16. Dick Gumshoe ~ Detective Gumshoe
17. Recollection ~ Heartbroken Maya
18. Marvin Grossberg ~ Age, Regret, Reward
19. Happy People
20. Recollection ~ The Bright and Dark Sides of the Studio
21. Steel Samurai
22. Recollection ~ The DL-6 Incident
23. Investigation ~ Core 2001
24. Recollection ~ Elementary School Trial
25. Victory! ~ The First Victory
26. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney・End
27. Turnbout Sisters’ Ballad
28. Rise from the Ashes・Prologue
29. Recollection ~ The SL-9 Incident
30. Ema Skye ~ Turnabout Sisters’ Theme 2005
31. Blue Badger ~ I Want to Protect You
32. Jake Marshall ~ Wandering Detective from the Wild West
33. Damon Gant ~ Swimming, Anyone?
34. Rise from the Ashes・End
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Waddle Bro on January 24, 2014, 06:52:10 PM
10/10 Would bang
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on January 31, 2017, 11:27:23 PM
Three years later bitches

Soundtrack Review: Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon Super Music Collection
Composed & Arranged by: Minako Adachi, Go Ichinose, Hideaki Kuroda, Jun’ichi Masuda, Tomoaki Oga, & Hitomi Sato

The new Pokémon games are all kinds of revolutionary. After the series’ migration to 3DS in its sixth generation left many fans feeling like only the aesthetic of the game had changed without much attention to the key game mechanics and creature catalogue, Game Freak has reinvented many of the common elements that had previously been staples of the franchise. But for this reviewer, it wasn’t the absence of HMs, the unabashedly quirky new monster designs, or the shift to a more sophisticated graphics style that left the biggest impression. What was most exciting for me, as a musician, was the totally overhauled sound design work.

While it’s true that the previous games in the franchise, Pokémon X & Y, allowed for a technically higher quality sound and variety of timbres thanks to the shift to a higher-capability system, the actual compositions themselves were often lacking. Shota Kageyama, who joined the composition team starting with Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver doing mainly arrangements and has composed for the series ever since, was the lead composer for X & Y, and while his music certainly has some degree of charm, his composition style is frankly quite boring. He uses almost offensively bland textures, has a focus on “crowd-pleasing” chord progressions that come across as cheesy and displays in his work a general lack of interest in dissonance that makes his tracks a complete snoozefest for listeners with musical backgrounds. Not every piece Kageyama has written is boring, of course, and a more romantic and simplistic style is often necessary for that classic Pokémon sound. But there are ways of being catchy and appealing without resorting to the unremarkable style that Kageyama so often utilizes, and it can be a bit frustrating when he relies on the same timbres and styles for piece after piece while his contemporaries produce more interesting work.

Kageyama, however, left Game Freak following his work on Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire to form his own company, and so Sun & Moon contains none of his work other than a few tracks that are reused from the previous two games. Stepping up as lead composer this time is Minako Adachi, who is the first female composer to hold such a position in a Pokémon game--she and co-composer Hitomi Sato have both worked on previous games in the series, but neither have served as head of the team. In addition to those two women, we also have Pokémon head honcho Jun’ichi Masuda composing several of the battle tracks (as per standard) and veteran composer Go Ichinose returning after a strange absence in the franchise’s sixth generation. Ichinose has been a staple of the sound team since the Pokémon Gold & Silver days, so naturally it’s great to have his signature sound back. These four composers’ work makes up the bulk of this score, with newcomer Tomoaki Oga composing mainly for the cutscenes of the game and Hideaki Kuroda once again performing instruments in a few tracks and doing a bit of arranging.

Sun & Moon, despite being an effort of so many musicians, flows so well on an album that you might think it was the work of a single person. Indeed, there are multiple leitmotifs scattered throughout the score, and they tend to make certain tracks an amalgamation of styles; for instance, Adachi’s “Lillie’s Theme” is arranged several times by not only the composer herself (“Staff Credits”), but also by Sato (“Lively Lillie!”) and Oga (“Steely Lillie!”, “Mother and Daughter”). Likewise, Jun’ichi Masuda’s little rise-and-fall motive for the Tapu creatures which guard the islands shows up in all sorts of tracks. In this way, it maintains a consistent style, more so than maybe any of the other games’ scores.

Ichinose composes notably fewer tracks here than he did in previous games, but they’re unmistakably his style and inject the album with the sense of classic Pokémon that X & Y so sorely lacked. It’s the fun instrumentation and cheerful bounce of pieces like “A Captain’s Trial Begins!” that so effectively epitomize Pokémon’s musical heart--Ichinose later arranges the track into “Battle! (Island Kahuna),” which gives the otherwise tense track a highly playful edge, and ultimately makes it a truly fitting successor to the long-running Gym Leader tracks. Ichinose seems to take a particular joy in fondly channeling the days of Gold & Silver. He certainly recalls that game’s rival themes in his rhythmically intense tracks for Gladion, the sort-of rival Sun & Moon pits the player against several times. And the bizarre, distinctly Eastern percussive tendencies in “Konikoni City (Day)” and “Konikoni City (Night)” would certainly be right at home in Johto alongside “Violet City” and “Azalea Town.” Unlike the aforementioned Kageyama, Ichinose understands that a simple melody can be extraordinarily effective as long as it’s executed properly. If it sounds like I’m damning the man with faint praise, that’s certainly not my intention. After all, there’s nothing formulaic or predictable at all about his hilariously bizarre “Battle! (Ultra Beast)” track, which is so outrageously unconventional that I have to rethink my entire idea of the man’s character. And of course, it’s this most veteran composer who ultimately brings us home in “The Battle at the Summit!,” which again seems like both a new work and one that invokes a classic Pokémon style, its flighty strings contrasting quite nicely with its low brass.

Masuda’s tracks have been generally following a downward trend since the original games, which is quite disappointing, but somewhat understandable, since Masuda is a game designer first and a musician second. Still, this is the first game in the series where I actively got tired of his style. Both the “Battle! (Trainer)” and “Battle! (Wild Pokémon)” tracks feel like they’re just going through the motions, and, other than a really neat little screeching section in the former, don’t add any noteworthy new ideas to the canon. “Battle! (Solgaleo / Lunala)” is the only track that’s produced entirely by Masuda on this album, and it’s mostly disappointing. The little figure that begins the track is a surprising use of retro timbre, but it quickly wears out its welcome as the line is repeated again and again, with little to no development at all. It wouldn’t be so disappointing if this wasn’t the same guy who delivered incredibly catchy, nuanced compositions like the intense, rhythmically varying “Battle! (Dialga / Palkia)” or the incredibly unique “Battle! (Ghetsis)” which is, to my knowledge, the only video game music that consists only of timpanis playing tritones while a synth choir moans the villain’s name. The only one of his tracks that comes close to emulating those other, more exciting endeavors is “Battle! (Tapu)” thanks to its odd chanting and catchy motive mentioned above.

Meanwhile, Sato, whom I have to admit is a long-running favorite of mine among the various Pokémon composers, also delivers tracks in her style that has been so prevalent in the games since Pokémon Diamond & Pearl. Her signature style is bubbly, energetic, cheery, and slightly scattered; and a large portion of her music in Sun & Moon certainly fits that bill. It’s the nonstop attitude and surplus of grace notes demonstrated in “Vast Poni Canyon” and “Burnet’s Lab” that endear me to her style. She also has penchant for melodies which are improbably memorable, like the trumpet line in “Heahea City (Day),” and which bring a smile to my face. And I’m always struck by how much Sato surprises me in her compositional intricacies--just listen to “Ten Carat Hill,” whose initially mellow and pleasant chord progression devolves into a no-holds-barred B section with a really manic drums performance that loses the beat entirely for a while. Or take for instance the quirky “Malasada Shop” cue, where she uses a borderline Mariachi style combined with hilarious male vocals to produce quite a catchy and fun track. But really, Sato is such a great fit for this franchise because of her excellent sense of playfulness. The highlight of her tracks this time around are her sweet and smiling “Hau’s Theme” and Ichinose’s subsequent arrangement in “Battle! (Hau)” that just shouts “I want to be your friend!”

But it’s Adachi who takes MVP this time around, producing a massive quantity of high quality music that’s almost unprecedented. What I hadn’t realized prior to this score was how distinct and unique her musical style is, and how deep her interest in composition is. I complained about Kageyama’s textures being occasionally bland or boring, and it’s precisely the opposite for Adachi. Her first major cue on the album, “Alola Region Theme,” features a large choir chanting in something resembling Hawaiian after an instantly memorable melody opens the piece. This idea goes on to serve as the basis for other tracks, notably “My Home” and “Staff Credits,” and it’s a truly heartfelt and adventurous melody without being trite or predictable. A theme for the first island, heard at its most basic in “Iki Town (Day)” and “Iki Town (Night),” is astoundingly infectious, especially when strummed on ukulele in “Hau’oli City (Day),” and though it bleeds into a large portion of the first quarter of the album (and game), it never really overstays its welcome. These two motives make for a really nice little introduction to the world of Alola.

It’s not until later that Adachi reveals her more musically unique tendencies, first heard perhaps in her music for the villainous Team Skull. Japanese rapper KYOtaro provides vocals (mostly the Japanese word for “skull”) for these tracks, and they’re all incredibly catchy and fun to hear. “Battle! (Team Skull)” is a great example of Adachi’s unique style, with its initial rap/hip-hop beat giving way to a more traditional Pokémon battle structure and idea. “Battle! (Team Skull Boss)” is probably the highlight of this bunch, though, with a beat so sick that you hardly even notice the repetition of the main idea. Again, Adachi shows great mastery in taking a simple musical idea and making it interesting and fun. Even better than the Team Skull music are the various themes for the Aether Foundation, represented mainly by a little lilting string figure heard first in “Aether Paradise.” The amount of mileage the composer gets out of this idea is astounding, and it is most effectively used in “Battle! (Aether Foundation).” Here, Adachi seems to take a wicked delight in using the motive on more accented strings, which are now highly dissonant and raw. Her textures here again are simply incredible, opening on an awesome piano and drums introduction and including harpsichord with the ensemble. “Battle! (Lusamine)” and “Showdown! (Lusamine)” are personal favorites, giving an effective impression of tension and, especially in the latter, chaos and insanity with the use of such techniques as an out-of-control piano glissando which bangs up and down the instrument’s range.

Adachi has so much more to offer than I could cover in this kind of space, though. The gleefully off-kilter “Acerola’s Trial” is worth a listen, with headphones, for its terrifyingly effective sound design alone, and more traditional and memorable melodies such as those found in the composer’s “Malie City” and “Seafolk Village” tracks ensure that she really does have something for any listener. Considering the amount of work produced here is nearly double the work she had for the previous entry, she shows a highly impressive body of compositions. The same can be said for the album as a whole, which I’d argue is the strongest the series has had since Pokémon Black & White, maybe even before that. It comes highly recommended from this reviewer and I hope Game Freak’s decision to release the soundtracks digitally pays off for them.

Ten Noteworthy Tracks:
18. Battle! (Hau)
45. Hau’oli City (Day)
58. Battle! (Team Skull)
68. Battle! (Island Kahuna)
72. Ten Carat Hill
107. Battle! (Team Skull Boss)
117. Battle! (Aether Foundation)
122. Battle! (Lusamine)
130. Vast Poni Canyon
138. Showdown! (Lusamine)

What are some of your favorite pieces from this game? Comment below!
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: daj on February 02, 2017, 02:15:27 PM
You've seen my top ten list! ^^ And now I'm gonna bash yours bwahahaha

One part of your review that stood out to me was the part about Sato's style and writing - "playful" was not a word I would have thought of when i wrote my analysis, but you're absolutely right! :) We love her style for its energy and bounciness, even in calmer tracks like Eterna Forest and Route 209 (<3). Never would have put Malasada Shop on any list, but I do agree that it's very well constructed and just fun overall. So great pick there, I approve :)

I didn't fully agree with the Masuda bashing, but maybe that's because the basis of comparison is his generic battle themes spanning across all generations. Aside from the first two (and maybe the third) generation, I guess you could say that they're all...not that amazing. Especially when you compare them to games like Chrono Trigger (which scales in sound quality around the 3rd generation), all the Final Fantasy and Fire Emblem games, and the Earthbound/Mother series, the battle themes feel a little formulaic and overdone.

I think one of the bigger disappointments for me was "Battle! (Totem Pokemon)". I was actually pretty happy with the Solgaleo/Lunala one, but that's mainly a judgment of sound design over musical construction. The Totem Battle theme begins with a brilliant flourish, daring hypermeter, fantastic sounds...and then the Wild Battle motif comes in and so do all the retro sounds. Sighpie. But I guess in general, Masuda's tracks don't sparkle as much as the other talented members of his team.

Honestly though, if you compare his works to that of some other...uninspired VGM collections (won't name them haha), he's pretty good. So I guess the other members of his cast just outshine him a little too much, derp.

Completely in agreement with your writeups on Ichinose (<3) and Adachi though. So well done on a fantastic review mate ^^

p.s. i'm disappointed at the lack of Lillie themes in your top ten list, haiz
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on February 02, 2017, 03:57:51 PM
Oh yeah, totally agree about Masuda. I just wish we had overall higher quality from him. I do have to say, though, that his trainer themes for Diamond & Pearl, Black & White, and X & Y all added something new to the table for me and I found myself loving those tracks. Here...the point I was trying to make is that everything just feels like a rehash of things he's done before.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on February 12, 2017, 11:40:54 PM
Having beaten the main story, I can say that I felt rather lukewarm toward most of the game's music; perhaps a little more positive than X/Y, but still not the same way as most of the older games in the series. One of the few town themes that really stood out to me, though, was Seafolk Village. Likewise, I wasn't really a fan of most of the battle themes (it says something when I like the kazoo version of Guzma's battle theme more than the original—it's a fine composition by itself, but the instruments used, IMO, don't do it much justice, as they don't bring out the parts that have the most "OOMPH" for what should be an intense battle? Or something like that), with the exception of the Elite Four battle theme and the Ultra Beast battle theme (Kahuna, Totem, and Tapu battles are second favorites, I'd say). I completely agree about the Solgaleo/Lunala battle theme though: it starts out with SO MUCH POTENTIAL, but past the 30 second mark, it just kinda fizzles and goes nowhere.
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: Olimar12345 on February 12, 2017, 11:55:22 PM
p.s. i'm disappointed at the lack of Lillie themes in your top ten list, haiz

It's here:

1. Lily’s Theme
Title: Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
Post by: SlowPokemon on March 04, 2017, 05:57:40 PM
Having beaten the main story, I can say that I felt rather lukewarm toward most of the game's music; perhaps a little more positive than X/Y, but still not the same way as most of the older games in the series. One of the few town themes that really stood out to me, though, was Seafolk Village. Likewise, I wasn't really a fan of most of the battle themes (it says something when I like the kazoo version of Guzma's battle theme more than the original—it's a fine composition by itself, but the instruments used, IMO, don't do it much justice, as they don't bring out the parts that have the most "OOMPH" for what should be an intense battle? Or something like that), with the exception of the Elite Four battle theme and the Ultra Beast battle theme (Kahuna, Totem, and Tapu battles are second favorites, I'd say). I completely agree about the Solgaleo/Lunala battle theme though: it starts out with SO MUCH POTENTIAL, but past the 30 second mark, it just kinda fizzles and goes nowhere.

Fair, I do understand your opinions here. All of the music sounds a lot better with headphones in case you haven't been using any. Also I have to disagree, I really like the battle themes; the only problem is that you only hear the really good ones once or twice.

It's here:

I laughed.