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Music Monday – Sound the track!

October 28, 2013, by , posted in Music

It’s hard to talk about music without focusing on the anime to some degree. For talking about opening and closing themes, often these tracks weren’t created for the series (sometimes they are), but were selected because they somehow meshed with what the anime wanted to evoke. In many cases they work well, sometimes they maybe don’t.

However, today we have full rein to talk about the anime, because we are talking about the OSTs, or in particular a couple of them (just so that you aren’t too overloaded at once), that are always tailor-made for the anime series. This post comes at the behest of Mr Allan Wu, our current treasurer here at [email protected] I haven’t written a post like this in a while, but that is not to say I don’t like doing so!

No matter how I look at it, Shinrei Tantei Yakumo (the last time I wrote about an OST) will probably always be my favourite OST (bias bias), but to look at why and why I picked the following tracks below, we have to look at what makes a good OST. Of course, this would be different for everyone, but for me a good OST will conjure nostalgic feelings towards a series. At the same time though, the music will also constitute good listening by having variety and depth to it – I’m not likely to enjoy a series’ OST that is all just suspenseful noises pushed together into tracks. Not that I’m saying anyone does that (right?).

I don’t know who has watched UN-GO, but I personally really enjoyed that series and the tracks in it were quite compelling. The above song is ‘Light‘ by Narasaki, and plays each time Shinjurou solves a case. It also has the most plays of this OST in my iTunes. It reminds me of Spanish guitar music, which is an instrument I don’t see used that often and hence the first element of interest. Overall the song gives me a sense of both intrigue, triumph and elation of discovery (yet at the same time also a crushing sense given how Shinjurou’s cases work out – watch the series!), and has the kind of depth to make the song an interesting listen to even by itself.

Considering the number of uploads of tracks from the OST on YouTube, people seem to agree with me on this track since I wasn’t able to find the second track I wanted to put up. A shame, but means there’s space to cover more! For those interested though, great band cover of the OP.

On a completely different level, we head over to Fate/Zero which has often been hailed to have great music, and I don’t disagree. This kind of music is amazingly energising and inspiring, as well as having a degree of complexity that has me want to pick up piano again and try to play it. By Yuki Kajiura, ‘Let the stars fall down‘ is hailed as part of the best battle OSTs. Do you agree?

I can totally see Saber out amongst the throng of her enemies, just wiping them out cleanly and elegantly right about now!

Music Monday – Across the seas

October 21, 2013, by , posted in Music

If you’re sensing a common thread to these posts, you’re not wrong, since I can’t sew well so it unravels all over the place. But all bad jokes aside, we get back into the similar vein of foreign artists today, yet we’re not looking at yet more Asian artists today at all. Who? British Bands? Not quite. I guess you could call them the foreigners who are just so good at being Asian!

Okay, that’s not nice, so let’s just cut to the music before I embarrass myself further.

Asu e no Kizuna used as the opening theme for Valkyria Chronicles was probably the first time I’d heard of HIMEKA, and I had no idea at the time she was a French Canadian from Canada (where else was I going to say?), and didn’t have a single drop of Japanese blood in her at all (if it worked that way), nor had she grown up in Japan. In fact, she had only moved there recently to pursue a singing career. To me, she sounded like basically any other Japanese artist, though her versatile voice was certainly noticable. Many have written off her successes as her being a ‘halfu’, such as BENI I mentioned two weeks ago, but that’s not the case at all.

HIMEKA definitely has a good voice, but I think she also has a bias for certain kinds of songs though in my opinion she is singing the kind of songs that best suit her voice also. Or her image? In any case, perhaps it was the recording, or the night, but one live cover of God Knows on-stage… let’s say I’m not a fan of it at all — but what do I know? I’m not a professional singer.

Hatenaki Michi used as the ED for Tegami Bachi is perhaps the better known one of her songs. And for a good reason, I looped it for ages after – it has a depth of emotion that really captures you. It’s a delight to listen to.

I can say that I like HIMEKA’s original works, but HIMEKA has also released covers of others’ music over the years. She does a splendid job of them, sometimes she is even praised at doing a better job than the original artist of evoking feeling. Yet it seems such moves on her part have also stemmed some backlash for her in Japan. Likely just for her ethnicity.

Hang in there, HIMEKA!

Oh yeah, and I also wrote about another foreigner who struck big in Japan called YOHIO on my blog if you were interested. Quite a pretty gir–I mean, guy.

Music Monday – Yura yura to the music

October 7, 2013, by , posted in Music

How many of you have heard of the term ‘yura yura’ even if you don’t understand what it means? I know I’ve heard it at least once, which was why that note of familiarity upon seeing a title of yet another SoundHound search sparked an adventure in seeing how many songs with this title are out there~

Do you even need me to say it? Today we will be exploring songs that are named (or in some cases, mostly contain) the term ‘yura yura’, often interpreted as ‘swaying’, however it can also mean ‘rolling, swinging, wobbling, shake, waver, rock, tremble, vibration, flicker’, thus it’s no wonder that this phrase is so widely used. If you’re a Naruto fan, this would likely be familiar to you and is probably the most well known Yura yura (Wavering), performed by Hearts Grow and used in, you guessed it, Naruto.

Which theme was it used for? It was the ninth opening, and Heart Grow’s second single. I love the energy through it with the notes of nostalgia. The song as a whole is very positive though and I can see why they would choose such a song for a series such as Naruto (I wonder what message the lyrics would send fans though~). The animation they used for this opening was also interesting to me too, but your mileage may vary — you don’t see silhouettes used that often, or otherwise there are unusual takes on them. Content was a bit disappointing to me though ultimately — how well do YOU think it really matches the song?

In any case, moving on to the second order of business, another ‘yura yura’ that may be well known depending on how well you know the Inuyasha series. Yura yura (Swing swing) is performed by Every Little Thing, and was used not for the TV series itself, but was the opening to the second movie, though I forget how exactly. Have it for the sake of my nostalgia — to me this song is just fun and cheery… and speaks of another life of course. ;)

It’s interesting to see the types of songs which we get with just this simple title ‘yura yura’ and far these songs stretch back in history. Of course, this is to be expected, but each is unique in what they cover and how they cover it, it’s quite an adventure. If you’re into Every Little Thing and want more Inuyasha though, you could check out Ruben’s post.

So finally onto the last ‘yura yura’ I will cover — this is perhaps a little less well known to an anime-centric community like us, but BENI’s Yura yura (Swaying) is also a favourite with many. I do agree that it’s rather catchy, but since hearing this song either in a Japanese restaurant or other related place, I have become rather fond of the Jazztronik Remix. Who would have thunk? Unfortunately it’s not on YouTube though.

Previously debuting as Beni Arashiro but now known as BENI, it’s clear she has an extremely very versatile and clear voice, and while I’m not particularly into RnB which seems to be more up her alley, she does have some interesting tracks out there, and as a bonus also sings in English and for English-speaking audiences since she’s a halfu (American and Japanese). :) Might be worth checking out.

To keep this post getting too long, we’ll stop there, but there are quite a lot more tracks out there with this interesting term in it. Here’s some of the slightly more obscure ones (relatively, you know), but still worth a listen if you are inclined to, since I’ve already distilled them from the others, kekeke → Yura yura by EeL, Yura yura by Auncia, Yura yura ~AM 3:00~ by KEN THE 390 (mahoutsukainote Remix), Yura yura night by doku, Yura yura odore by ar.

Music ‘Well It’s Wednesday’

October 2, 2013, by , posted in Music

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After a long hiatus, I somehow find myself strangely and tragically dragged back into the service of writing pieces of modern musical culture for this club. Instead of talking about how my world is imploding due to it being my final week of service to [email protected] as its president, I would rather talk about ‘the music’ a little more.

Life and music are not that dissimilar; both follow a rhythm (or appear not to) which throws us highs and lows along with the unpredictable to produce a rich assortment of experiences. Every so often you find ‘that song’ which acts as the epitome of such an idea, either reflecting your hectic life that is now behind you or that you currently face. As for me, I found that very song a little while back and it is still very much relevant.

Being no other than Allegro Cantabile (literally ‘lively’ and ‘songlike’ respectfully), the very frantic (but incredibility appropriate) opening for Nodame Cantabile; how could one expect any less. The vocals and piano by Suemitsu Atsushi really help to establish the feel series, not simply due to the musical aspect that is obviously one of the main components, but how he defines the characters through his music as well.

The title of the song is more or less a reference to how Megumi Noda (the main character better known as Nodame) plays, and it truly feels like she plays it with the unique style she is renowned for. Despite the occasional drum set that maintains the beat and tone, the piano takes assumes control of the piece, jumping into the foreground and becomes somewhat unrelenting, but in a way that it wisps you into the mix and doesn’t let you go. It is a pianist going at full speed and enjoying everything second of it. Of course it is not Nodame playing, but it would be hard to tell with the way Suemitsu takes on the character, and it comes through in a most resounding way.

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It is clear the piano is important to both the series itself and the music that it embodies, but Suemitsu plays two parts in this song, and the vocals he uses act as the voice of a frantic musician caught up in their world; tripping up and over everything. The vocals and piano weave together, building upon each other to a great intensity. It is very much speaking with two voices, providing a depth that should be listened to carefully so that nothing is missed.

Altogether this song has acted as the perfect backdrop to which I’ve seen my university life unfold and I could ask for little more than for what it has done for me – make me hop in my step and bop with my head, to keep me going on every step of my journey… But this is just my view of things and I’m sure we all have something that represents our time here or there. Then again, this is me we are talking about here, so crazy misinterpretations are guaranteed and rants are a must.

So cue, cue I say, cue One Life by The Pillows as the inappropriate intro that I have been dying to use since forever… but I’m held by my legally binding presidential contract to provide more meaningful closure. So, I give everyone Nanairo by Jazztronik, a piece that always made me dream of the future and what it can bring. I thank everyone for the opportunity I was given to lead [email protected] and meet all the people I did.

Peace.

nadeko

Music Monday: >Based SHAFT

September 23, 2013, by , posted in Music

Each of their shows is filled with character development, engaging dialogue, thought provoking themes, deep plot, intelligent humor, symbolism (meanwhile at shaft).

This seasons Monogatari series second season is no exception. If you guys remember Bakemonogatari – Nadeko Snake ark and the ever so famous OP – Renai Circulation, then you will be pleased to hear the in this seasons monogatari Nadeko has her own ark and a new OP to match it!

Here is a link to Renai Circulation (RC), and here is the new OP called Mousou Express (ME):

Doki Doki

I would like to compare the two. In RC we can see that Nadeko is all cheerful and looking forward to seeing her beloved Koyomi-oniichan, she is trying hard with her studies and going forward in her life in a skipping pace. In ME its the exact opposite. To be honest Shaft just reused some parts form RC but played them backwards, but it does convey a message. She has regressed, she has fallen into a dark state of boredom a slight depression. She can’t be bothered studying or working hard; “excuses and reasons are just to bothersome, because its fate there is no helping it” – she sings. She just wants everything everything everything everything. Her childish and selfish side has shown itself and that is what this ark is all about (kinda, no spoilers).

Have fun watching, this series is available via official free stream on daisuki.net