Sound Decision Fly Me to the Moon
by Jonathan Mays,
Oni part two will have to wait another week, as we have a few more soundtracks to slosh through first.
Neon Geneeis Evangelion Original Soundtrack #2 —Geneon
I think Evangelion's music cultivates schizophrenia. Half the time it's aggressive and dissonant, and the other half it seems more appropriate for sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya. Sometimes Shiro Sagisu comes up with something unique and challenging, and other times he shows his age with campy tunes that probably should've stayed in 1965. The bizarre contrast is probably fitting for Eva, but it sure makes for a weird collection.
"Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!" is the real gem on the second OST, with a simple, humorous melody and solid instrumentation. Other notables are "A Vision," a perfect candidate for the Easy Listening label, and "Thanatos," which has all the makings of a tension-releasing revelation piece. And, of course, there's another five tracks of "Fly Me to the Moon." Is it too much of a great song or too much of a tired classic? Either way, it's too much.
The rest won't interest you unless you're an Eva fanatic, in which case you've already bought this disc. If you're made it this long and you're still undecided, Eva OST #2 isn't worth the fifteen bucks.
Best used as: mood shaker.
.hack//GAME MUSIC Best Collection —Geneon
Sometimes the story behind the music is better than the music itself. Would you believe Aura's theme was originally recorded in vocalist Akiyo Mitani's bathroom? For the most part, .hack//GAME MUSIC Best Collection is your standard run-of-the-mill RPG music. But the included interview literally doubles this soundtrack's worth with some of the most entertaining stories you'll ever read in a CD insert.
MIDI-like recordings are about all you'll hear, so most of the fun comes from dissecting the soundtrack—as opposed to just listening and enjoying. Fortunately, there's plenty to pick apart here, like how the BooHooWoo team confronted the challenge of combat scenes in the field. Most RPGs like Final Fantasy just make the abrupt change to battle music. But in .hack, there's no break in play before a battle, so they tried something new: using the same field music but with an amplified bass and drum section.
If this isn't your cup of tea, and you'd rather pop in some background music that doesn't demand interaction, steer clear of .hack. But if you want to know more about the process and decisions behind game music, this one's a rare treat.
Best used as: .hack//YAWN.
Tenchi The Movie: Tenchi In Love —Geneon (2002-04-13)
A decade ago, Christopher Franke set a new standard for sci-fi television music with Babylon 5. Naturally, I had high expectations for Tenchi The Movie. It didn't deliver.
Two things bother me here. Maybe it's just the digital remastering, but I'm extremely disappointed by the hollow, fake sound of the entire disc. Even though it was recorded with a chamber orchestra, the music sounds like it came from a sub-par keyboard synthesizer, so there's no depth to the sound at all. Some of the compositions are mildly imaginative, but poor instrumentation and monotony drags the CD way down.
The other major shortcoming is the ridiculous amount of repetition. Granted, it's harder to establish motifs in a 90-minute movie, but that isn't a free pass to make 23 tracks out of the same three or four themes. This is a classic example of a score that's fine for a film but insufficient as a stand-alone soundtrack. "Alchemy of Love," the one vocal track on the CD, sounds like your average 90s soft rock, replete with lame lyrics and a guy who's singing a couple of octaves too high.
With a better recording and less of a videogame feel, Tenchi The Movie's music could've been in a league with Ah! My Goddess and Mahoromatic. Instead, it's instantly forgettable.
Best used as: cookie cutter.