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Author Topic: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column  (Read 34510 times)

SlowPokemon

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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #30 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. :)
« Last Edit: September 06, 2013, 08:34:55 PM by SlowPokemon »
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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #31 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
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SlowPokemon

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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #32 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.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2013, 08:35:10 PM by SlowPokemon »
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triforced1

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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #33 on: September 14, 2011, 01:16:43 AM »

Will you do Beetlejuice?  :D
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SlowPokemon

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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #34 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.
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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #35 on: September 14, 2011, 01:31:55 AM »

I just really like the "Opening Titles" theme. One of my favorite songs by Elfman.
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SlowPokemon

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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #36 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.
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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #37 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.
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SlowPokemon

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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #38 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)
« Last Edit: September 06, 2013, 08:35:52 PM by SlowPokemon »
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SlowPokemon

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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #39 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
« Last Edit: September 06, 2013, 08:36:25 PM by SlowPokemon »
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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #40 on: October 24, 2011, 11:39:26 AM »

This review is beautiful.
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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #41 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!
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SlowPokemon

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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #42 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.
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SlowPokemon

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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #43 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! :)
« Last Edit: September 06, 2013, 08:37:33 PM by SlowPokemon »
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Re: Slow Reviews Soundtracks: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #44 on: November 07, 2011, 06:37:07 PM »

One word:

Epic.
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