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Noir Original Soundtrack Vol.1
1 CD
18 tracks
Kajiura Yuki
Arai Akino
Practically guaranteed to give you the chills.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Noir Original Soundtrack Vol.1
By Holly Kolodziejczak

As silly as this sounds, it was really hard for me to review this OST. I love the series and it's music a lot, so it was difficult for me to keep from just saying "TEH BEST EVAR" and completely copping out. However, I actually did manage to sit down and dissect this work song by song. Because of that, I was able to put my own personal opinions aside somewhat and find some flaws that I hadn't really noticed before.

Digital music is an accepted form of musical composition in this day and age, but sometimes the classical music lover in me shies away from it. The reasons for this are varied, but mostly because it just doesn't have the same kind of sound and the ebb and flow that standard forms of musical production offer. However, electronic music is becoming more and more sophisticated as time goes on, with better sampling techniques and software becoming available for it's creators.

Kajiura Yuki has taken electronic music to a new level with this album. The mixture between musical forms that she incorporates into her compositions is interesting and pleasing to the ear, for the most part. However, sometimes electronically created music can get a little tedious, and even this lovely work runs into that problem a couple of times.

Track 01-Copperia no Hitsugi (Ali Project) [3:56] - This is a full version of the opening theme of the series. When I was watching the series, I always thought that the opening theme began rather abruptly, and that there was possibly a couple seconds cut off in the video editing. However, the track is like that on the cd as well. This is one of the only tracks with vocals on the cd.

Track 02-les soldats [2:25] - This translates as "The Soldiers." The very beginning is a tune you will remember from the opening part of every episode when it talks about "the two virgins who reign over Death." The rest of the song features somewhat conflicting tones of a wailing violin, a thumping drum and bass track, and some rather somber male voices singing what seems to be Latin almost unintelligibly. I personally don't care for this song much, but it does kind of set the mood for the rest of the soundtrack, and it isn't very long.

Track 03-snow [2:11] - Snow is a hauntingly beautiful solo piano melody. The heavy use of sustain in the piano gives it an eerie, ethereal feel. There are some samples used to add to the sustain feel that somewhat round out the sound. They blend almost perfectly, so well that you can't really tell that the extra sound unless you're listening for it.

Track 04-canta per me [3:10] - Canta per me (Latin - sing for me) is by far my favorite song on this album. It's just so incredibly beautiful with it's interwoven orchestral and vocal melodies that it's hard not to be touched with this song. The mixture of a string orchestra with a subtle acoustic guitar line is something that I'd never quite imagined before, but it works out spectacularly. The vocals are female and entirely in Latin, which may turn some people off, but are executed with utter beauty and skill.

Track 05-corsican corridor [3:45] - Track 5 hearkens back to the ethereal feel of track 3, but makes itself different with the use of ethnic instruments and harmonies. The main melody in this song is carried by a synth-panflute, which accompanied by the subtle percussion and acoustic guitar lends a somewhat Native American flavor. Like many of the songs on this album, this track is probably comprised digitally with the stunning use of samples. The use of some slightly off-key samples is somewhat jarring, but not too bad.

Track 06-ode to power [2:53] - Opening with a muted percussion track and then building on that with somber drum/bass and orchestral instruments, Ode to Power sounds almost Russian in nature at times. Some of the digital samples are somewhat overused, such as the persistent buzz, but it's mostly unnoticeable over normal speakers.

Track 07-solitude by the window [3:07] - Another haunting piano melody, this time accompanied by a heavily French-influenced accordion. Both instruments are played with extreme intricacy and skill. Slow and minimalist, this song gives a welcome break from the thumping digital beat of some of the previous tracks and is well placed on the album, in my opinion. If you close your eyes, you can almost imagine yourself sitting melancholy at a cafe in the streets of Paris.

Track 08-romance [3:42] - This song is similar to the last in that it is not digitally created and it starts out slow and minimalist. It also has the same style of accordion, this time accompanied by Spanish-style acoustic guitar. After the intro, the tempo and mood of this song picks up and the guitar and accordion solos are quite captivating. The mixture of instruments sound odd, but it's really quite pretty.

Track 09-silent pain [2:00] - Here, we return to the digital music format. In this case, here is also a piano melody. Everything but the piano is pretty much digital muck, which is probably intended to be symbolic of an inner struggle and pain (considering the title). If one thinks of it this way, it works well. However, it does kind of grate on the nerves towards the end, so it's a good thing that it's short.

Track 10-lullaby [3:14] - A welcome change from the previous track, this features soft and sweet acoustic guitar and vocals. The vocals are female and sung in heavily accented English. The violin interludes compliment the song well. The vocal harmony that breaks out about halfway through the song is quite lovely and skillfully done. Later on, there is some very subtle digital percussion. By all counts, this is truly a very pretty lullaby.

Track 11-melodie [1:57] - Any fan of Noir will instantly recognize the main melody as that played by the watch in the series. The song evolves into techno suspense music around that same melody, and is commonly used in action scenes in the series.

Track 12-chloe [2:22] - Digitally created, this song is given the highly interesting effect of being heard underwater by the cunning use of samples. It is slow and moody, with a nice digital melody and an even nicer piano accompaniment.

Track 13-whispering hills [3:21] - As nicely as it starts out, this is probably my least favorite track on the whole album. As much as I like the use of ethnic percussion and heavily flanged guitar, the off-key vocal samples are just too distracting and weird for my tastes. They just don't fit, and it makes it hard to enjoy the song.

Track 14-zero hour [2:35] - Zero Hour goes acoustic again with a calm piano melody. The heavy use of the sustain pedal heard in this song has been heard quite a bit in other piano songs on this album, but it still manages to have that ethereal nature without getting totally incessant. The piano remains unaccompanied.

Track 15-liar you lie [3:12] - Back to digitally created drum and bass. The opening few notes of melody of this song always makes me think of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. However, as it progresses, it doesn't continue in that vein. The use of some kind of chanting gives this song an increased feeling of tension.

Track 16-sorrow [2:39] - This song is completely done with a pure solo string, probably a cello. It feels very melancholy and sad, fitting well with the title. Again, slow and minimalist.

Track 17-salva nos [4:26] - Without a doubt, this is my second favorite song on this album. The title is Latin, translating as "Save Us." The vocals are female and also purely in Latin, similar to Canta per Me (perhaps I just have a penchant for Latin?). However, Salva Nos is different in that it is accompanied by heavy and fast digital/techno percussion and instrumentation. The vocal lines and the violin solo are, again, just achingly beautiful to me. The way that the sharp and fast accompaniment blends with the flowing vocals is pure genius. This song is also very intense and is used in many action scenes in the series.

Track 18-Kireina Kanjou (Arai Akino) [4:16] - Last but not least, this is the full-length version of the series' ending theme. It's softness works wonders to relax the tension built by the previous track. The first and last tracks on this cd are the only ones with Japanese lyrics, as far as I could tell. Kireinai Kanjou is a beautiful ending to each episode, and it ties up the cd quite well. It ends this intense musical experience with a relaxing feeling, somehow sad and hopeful at the same time.

Even though this soundtrack does run into some of the problems that are inherent in electronic music, it still is beautiful and inspiring for the most part. If you're a fan of this series or of new and innovative styles of music, I suggest you pick up this cd and give it a listen. You may just fall in love.

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