No other way to sing it.
Many shows can boast of having good opening and ending songs (in fact, the P/V’s tend to advertise those songs independent of whether they are good or not xD). Few shows can boast of having amazing soundtracks. I’ve listened to the soundtracks for many, many anime over the years, and few have made me pause, wind back the song and take another listen. The OST for Rahxephon is such a soundtrack.
When I first heard the soundtrack, I was blown away. If you have much experience with soundtracks of any kind, you may know a little something about silence in music. The absence of perceptible musical notes or sounds can sometimes be a very effective thing. Many ambient soundtracks like to use it as a way to control the output of sound, much like a muter on a trumpet, and therefore control the emotions of the audience. It can also be used to help sync up with the scenes that the music is associated with.
In the Rahxephon soundtrack however, it feels as if something else is at play. The emptiness between perceptible sounds never really feels empty. The points in between always feel as if they are filled with the a blackness covered in a thin mist of haze, like a smoke machine in a dark room. It’s as if you are staring into a cave with smoke around you, and there is something deep within that holds your attention and makes you fear. I don’t know how it managed to do that, and maybe others don’t really feel this way. However, I feel that at the very least, the silence is used effectively and never dulls the effect of the music around it. It is a detail which is taken care of like all of the others and shows the brilliance of composer Ichiko Hashimoto in the construction of this soundtrack. I highly recommend that everyone listen to this soundtrack and I hope you appreciate the incredible musicality of it.
Note: I wanted to include the whole damn soundtrack on this list, but I won’t. However, this list has been split into 3 parts, one for each of the three soundtracks of the show. The whole soundtrack is a masterpiece, but I will include my favorites.
This part covers OST 1.
#912. “Hemisphere” by Maaya Sakamoto (Lyrics: Yuho Iwasato, Composer: Yoko Kanno)
Maaya Sakamoto strikes again, this time with reinforcements. And what reinforcements indeed. This song served as the opening, and it has a good scale to it, spanning only 2 key changes which is pretty standard for an anime opening, but the key change has a good nice soaring feeling to it and that helps increase the effectiveness. Overall, good song, good opening.
#911. “Members Only” by Ichiko Hashimoto
This won’t be the first time I say this, but the use of organs, guitar and drums in combination was completely new to me. You have a tippy-tap drum beat to set the tempo, the organs give the old atmosphere, but they keep up to the tempo which creates a kind of instrumental dissonance which I’ve never heard before. The organs are being used against their nature and it’s a cool sound. Then, all of a sudden, a modern “city” scratchy guitar starts playing. I use “city” because these “chords” and sound of guitar are often used for modern settings like when characters are going through city streets with traffic and skyscrapers. At least, it tends to paint that image for me. Additionally, a flute and cello do a cool job of setting a foreground and background rhythm to follow the sound with. It’s a really interesting song in terms of instrumental choice and sets the tone for the rest of the soundtrack.
#910. “Avant, Rendevous” by Ichiko Hashimoto
We go now from well composed rhythm to unpredictable blithering. A combination of electric guitar, piano, drums, and saxophone are thrown into a blender, which is then thrown into a tornado and the result is spat out in this song. It’s a masterpiece of musical mayhem, and I love it.
#909. “Katun no Sadame” by Ichiko Hashimoto
This is first song on the soundtrack where we hear Ichiko Hashimoto on the track. She has a pretty distinct voice. There is an airiness to her vocals but her actual strains are robust enough to not sound straight up breathy and there is a strong melody to follow. I feel this is something that can be said for many Japanese singers, and Asian singers in general, which I find particularly impressive.
The music under the vocals is very typical… well, I’m not sure how to put it. It feels like something you might hear under any R&B singer in the ’80s or ’90s. Sadly, I can’t really describe it much better, very standard is all I’d say. Not bad though, since I really liked the chorus and how it progressed from the main line. Plus, the main line was a minor into major chord back-and-forth, which I can usually get behind. Overall, nice song, and it’s standard nature is actually a decent change of pace from the rest of the soundtrack, which has more of an experimental feel to it.
#908. “12 Years” by Ichiko Hashimoto
This is a song reminds me of a pan through a forest in a Disney movie. It would not be strange to here this kind of song in The Fox & The Hound or Bambi. The song is unassuming, but parts of it are incredibly striking. In particular, the main violin is backed by a quicker violin playing shorter notes in quick succession. It increases the tension just a little, not something you would expect with a song of this melody, and it has an interesting effect on how you perceive the song. Very good.
#907. “The Chariot” by Ichiko Hashimoto
Many people have compared Rahxephon to Neon Genesis Evangelion. For those of you familiar with NGE, you will probably remember the song “Decisive Battle”. “The Chariot” is essentially the “Decisive Battle” of Rahxephon. Everything about it has the same feeling. Fast-paced, sharp notes and a strong piano-trumpet duo which creates the mood and atmosphere. They are very similar in the instrumentation and how they create the mood. However, you can definitely tell the difference between the two. “Decisive Battle” feels regimented and controlled, as if the threat of the Angels is marching forward, coming closer at a constant pace, slow but threatening. “The Chariot” has many sustained piano notes (the pedal is held), which adds to the ominous feeling, as if the threat is not well understood. Overall, the piano and melody overall seem more free to change in “The Chariot”, as if to imply that the situation does not even have the illusion of control or logic.
#906. “Bad News” by Ichiko Hashimoto
Not much to say about this one. I did not like the beginning, before the piano showed up. As soon as it started to go weird, I was all in.
#905. “Solitudes” by Ichiko Hashimoto
Very few songs capture the feelings of complete loneliness. “Solitudes” does a good job of translating to music what the early stages of loneliness are like. The mind wanders, trying to grab a foothold on something to maintain sanity. Then, you slow down, your mind flutters, and collapse. In the end, your thoughts peter out and the torch lighting your way fizzles out. And then you are gone forever, without having moved at all.
#904. “Yume no Tamago” by Ichiko Hashimoto and Mayumi Hashimoto
This is one of my favorite songs ever. Don’t really think there is much else to be said about it, to be honest. You can agree or disagree. But it’s on my list, no question or contest.
And that’s it for part 1! Look forward to parts 2 and 3, but until then, thanks for reading and have a great day!