Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sterfish's Personal Mixes: The Best Of RahXephon

I've had a lot of fun being part of Mixmania, the anonymous mix & trade game concocted by Jim of the blog Patriside. One of the reasons why I enjoy doing it each time is because I enjoy making mixes. I've made dozens and dozens of mixes for my own personal enjoyment. Now, in a new occasional series (joining other series such as The Yoko Kanno Reviews and Random Digital Pics), I'm going to give you a peek at some of my personal mixes.

The first post in the Sterfish's Personal Mixes series looks at the most recent mix I made for myself. It's a compilation of my favorite songs from the soundtracks to the anime RahXephon. This isn't the first best-of mix I've made of songs from an anime. I did the same thing for Wolf's Rain and Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex as well as two-disc best-ofs for Cowboy Bebop and Escaflowne. I originally made a two-disc set of my RahXephon favorites but I decided to condense them to one disc and make it the very first LightScribe disc I burned.

The music of RahXephon was composed almost entirely by Ichiko Hashimoto, a jazz musician who also voiced a character on the show. I've always been drawn to music that sometimes skews towards the strange and some of the music from RahXephon does just that. It took a while for a lot of it to grow on me (especially the later soundtracks). However, there is plenty of good music to be found on those discs. A couple of the soundtracks have been released domestically by Geneon.

Now, here is the track listing of this personal mix, complete with comments on each song.

1."Members Only": This upbeat, jazzy tune starts off my mix. This song made it very clear that the jazz tunes in RahXephon are a lot closer to real jazz than those in Cowboy Bebop.

2."Tailspins": Another upbeat song is next, although this one is a little darker. Tailspins is the perfect title for this song because the beat really makes you think of something spinning and going downward at a high speed. I love the random injections of suspenseful synths.

3."Tune The Rainbow": This Yoko Kanno-produced track features Maaya Sakamoto on vocals and was used in the RahXephon movie. It's a nice, simple, midtempo pop track.

4."La La Maladie du Sommeil": What an oddly beautiful little song. It takes a fast beat with a little heavy bass and adds a light female voice repeatedly singing "La la la." If that wasn't enough, you have the unusual vocals of (what I think is) Ichiko Hashimoto. None of the elements of this song should be able to work together but somehow, they do.

5."Winning Sound Of Her": I love this song. It's one of my favorite songs from this show and I have used it on a Mixmania mix. A great beat starts the song and then it becomes even better when the synths come in. Combine that with some other ethereal sounds, a percussive breakdown, and a bell or two and you get an all-too-short burst of instrumental greatness.

6."Their Daily Lives": This jazzy song takes the themes heard on "Members Only" and slows them down to a smooth crawl.

7."Katon no Sadame": Mayumi Hashimoto (I think) does the vocals for this relaxing pop song. I think what makes this song appealing is the fact that her voice is a little deeper than the normal J-pop singer.

8."Runnin'": This song, another jazz tune, really sounds like something you'd hear in a jazz club. Again, more proof that the jazz contained in RahXephon sounds more "real" than a lot of what is in Cowboy Bebop.

9."Bad News": Here's another all-time favorite song from the show and another one that I put on a Mixmania mix. Another great beat (this time a little slower and a little darker) is paired with piano to make a fantastic song. The bassline of this song could easily be sampled (if it hasn't already).

10."Brave": This fast-paced song has a nice feel to it and is augmented by Ichiko Hashimoto's unconventional vocals.

11."The Garden Of Everything": This Yoko Kanno-produced duet of Steve Conte and Maaya Sakamoto got here on a technicality. It appeared on the single for "Tune The Rainbow." It's not really from RahXephon but dammit, I like this epic, 6-minute-plus pop song.

12."Previous Notice": You can feel the intensity in this short, high-powered combination of piano and drums. It has the feel of an album-ender (it did end one of the soundtracks) but I decided to use it on this mix as sort of an interlude.

13."Mad Wing": I don't have much experience with "experimental" jazz but I think that this song might be an example of it. To me, it sounds kind of like noise. However, deep down, the cacophony sounds pretty good.

14."Magic Handling": Another simple instrumental piece filled with percussion and synths. While this song doesn't approach the greatness of "Bad News" or "Winning Sound Of Her," it's good in its own right.

15."Ramblin'": Just like how "Their Daily Lives" is basically a slower version of "Members Only," this song is a slower version of "Runnin'."

16."Hemisphere": This Yoko Kanno/Maaya Sakamoto track is the opening for the show. It has many of the hallmarks of a Yoko Kanno production. In fact, the first time I heard the song, I knew instantly. This fast-paced song is very enjoyable nonetheless.

17."Misty Midnight": This is a nice, smooth jazz track whose title perfectly matches its sound.

18."Ume no Tamago (The Egg Of Dream)": The final track of my mix is the show's closing theme, sung by Ichiko Hashimoto. It combines an airy, ethereal feel with an overall sound that seems like it came from the 1980's. There is an English and a Japanese version of this song. The one I put on my mix is the Japanese one. Why? Well, Ichiko sounds better singing in Japanese than in English.

The total running time of this mix is 69:40.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this first installment of the Sterfish's Personal Mixes series. Next time, I'll reveal a non-anime mix.

No comments:

Post a Comment