Sound Decision
Music Pirates of the Caribbean (and Beyond)

by Jonathan Mays,
Looking for something to do this weekend? Listen to more anime music, of course. Want something else to do this weekend? Grab a few friends and go see the latest Otaku Antichrist (Disney) film. I saw it last weekend, and it was quite a bit of fun. There was screaming and crying and running and pounding, but once I put the audience out of my mind, the film was entertaining. To my surprise, it was also bereft of Extraordinary Absurdity like car racing down the streets of Venice. You see, Venice doesn't exactly have streets...

But even if you choose to spend a few hours at the movies, you'll still need something to fill the other 45 hours of the weekend. Yes, you guessed it: anime music. So let's give this review thing another shot.

Tune In
Hellsing Original Soundtrack 1: Raid

Like the series itself, Hellsing's music oozes coolness. Yasushi Ishii's funky rock/jazz mix allows for an eclectic collection of tracks occasionally accompanied by passive vocals. Fans of 70s rock may label the music derivative, but I think it's closer to inspiration than imitation. There's nothing generic here, and it's certainly not your typical "anime sound." The anime series is a foreboding, bloody ride, a mood the music conveys deftly. Of particular interest is "Pure Dead," which features whistling of all things. "The Mask of the Priest and the Bell of the Chapel," an elegant piano piece, is another standout. There's definitely enough variety to justify the hour-long CD runtime, so I highly recommend giving this one a spin. But don't bother trying to decipher the opening song, "World Without Logos." Either somebody was drunk during production or they thought it would be cool to have lyrics that make absolutely no sense. Oh well. It's still good music.

Best used as: juicy appetizer.

Nadesico the Movie: Prince of Darkness

Yes! This is what was missing in last week's Patlabor soundtrack. Composer Hattori Takayuki delivers a sweeping orchestral sound reminiscent of James Horner or John Williams with stunning results. From the first chord of the first track, you know you're in for something very special (though it's quite a change from the levity of the TV series.) Most of the soundtrack is orchestral, but Takayuki also tosses in a few other genres. "Hanamiko" features a fantastic clarinet/violin jazz duet, "Song Show" is a synthesizer joyride, and pieces like "Mars Music Hall" present a more traditional Japanese sound. Most of the 39 tracks are orchestral, and that's where the disc really shines. Melodies are unique, memorable, and well developed. Unfortunately, the entire CD is only about forty minutes long, but that's about the only drawback of the soundtrack. You'll definitely want more.

Best used as: Saturday night at the symphony.

Tune Out
Chobits Original Soundtrack

Chobits suffers from a nauseating case of über-cuteness. It's all so sweet and bouncy that listening to the soundtrack for extended periods of time is sure to leave you with a few cavities—or at least a headache. It doesn't help that almost all of the twelve tracks sound very much the same; it's a relentless assault of sugary sweetness, none of it inspiring. Any hint of variety would make the Chobits soundtrack a "Hit and Miss" candidate, but there just isn't anything to break the monotony of the sugary sound. Even if you crave cuteness, the uninspired instrumentals and generic vocal pieces probably won't be enough to keep your interest. The music of Chobits complements the television series well, but on its own, the soundtrack just isn't worth your time.

Best used as: eye patch.

Next week I'll tackle the last batch of July releases, and then it's on to August soundtracks. See you then!

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