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Shingetsutan Tsukihime Original Soundtrack Vol.1: Moonlit Archives

Last month, I promised you a review of this soundtrack, and here it is!

Shingetsutan Tsukihime is a Geneon production, fresh off of Japanese tv. It revolves around a boy with an ability to see 'death lines' and his discovery of his family's hidden past. He meets a vampire princess with an equally mysterious past, and they join forces against an evil vampire. Throughout the series, their relationship goes on a rollercoaster trip, ever-changing as they both discover ever more about their true identities. Moonlit Archives (the first of two soundtracks for Shingetsutan Tsukihime) reflects these phases, the music adding greatly to the mood of the anime. Here, I will be examining the soundtrack itself, however, and seeing if it can stand on its own merits alone.

At nearly 50 minutes and with 25 tracks, Moonlit Archives is a musical collection of moods, ranging from the solemn "The Sacred Moon" to the deep pounding beat of "Doubtless".

The soundtrack opens with the tv cut of "The Sacred Moon" (1:35), the opening music of Shingetsutan Tsukihime. A moving female chorale set against the background of a steady drumbeat, piano, and chimes, "The Sacred Moon" introduces the theme of the album, change. The voices flow, gradually growing stronger, then softer, giving the impression of constant change and wonderment at these changes.

Immediately, the mood shifts to one of violence and sudden death. "Inscrutable" (1:54) is an electric song of chimes and synth that you would expect to find in an action film. It's that song where the bad guy and the good guy are having a game of hide and seek.

"Castle" (1:48) moves more into the suspenseful mood, but with less implied violence to come. With the wail of strings (mainly violin) and the sharp sounds of a harpsichord, O'mori creates a gothic melancholy mood, tinged with the confusion of a vampire princess recently awakened within her abandoned castle.

"Urgency" (1:46) is another chase song, but it uses the more traditional instruments of drums, cymbals, trumpets, violins, and bass. The sound is one of operatic chaos, with sharp peals and a deep, menacing rhythm.

"Insanity" (1:41) is an electronica song that you would expect to find in any club scene in a movie. It really doesn't stand out on its own as all of the song up to now have done.

"Doubtless" (1:41) actually sounds like something off of The Matrix soundtrack. You're just waiting for the Sentinels to catch up with the heroes as they fly through the underground tunnels in a game of cat and mouse. With a threatening undertone and the light harmony of violin and piano, this makes an excellent composition.

"Betray" (1:33) lives up to its name, as the music reflects the end of a chase and the betrayal of a friend through the wailings of a guitar against a bleak synth background.

"Wounds" (2:21) is the sorrow theme of Shingetsutan Tsukihime, and it portrays that emotion very effectively through the use of soft piano and violin in a mixture that makes me think of rain and raindrops running down a window. This is not a song to play when you are sad.

"Destiny" (1:47) could be described as the partner of "Wounds" when it comes to the theme of sorrow, however, "Destiny" is more focused, more intense. This song speaks more of opportunities lost and the sad realization of fate.

"Captivate" (2:28) utterly breaks the sad mood of the previous two songs. It's a jazzy song featuring the clarinet that speaks of late night dancing and dining. Its excitement revives "Moonlit Archives" from being simply another sad collection of gothic songs. After all, isn't going out on a date part of the nightlife as well?

"Cherish" (2:15) is a wistful love song in the hazy easy-listening style. It takes the date scene of "Captivate" and brings it into the sunny afternoon. If I were to name a love theme song, this would be it. At the same time, this love is too sweet and sugary for the gritty world of Shingetsutan Tsukihime, so a happy dream it remains.

"Crescent" (1:47) is the next episode preview music for the anime. It evokes a mood of irrevocable change and the acceptance of fate, as this is actually a violin/piano duet and instrumental version of "The Sacred Moon".

"Haunting" (2:11) is what I would call a supernatural mood piece. It's an intense auditory experience of being in the presence of the unknown and sublime. It's definitely a song well-suited for Hallowe'en.

"Dusk" (2:00) is a playful saxophone song, a stark contrast to "Haunting". It reminds me of Kenny G.

"Precious" (1:38) is not a Gollum song (sorry Tolkien fans), but it does have the sad tone of loss. Soft saxophone and harp combine to create a melody that speaks of precious memories of long ago, now lost.

"Homage" (2:10) is part of the sorrow theme group that "Wounds" and "Destiny" make, yet it really isn't that sad. It's more wistful of things in the past, sad yet happy. The violin and piano are very warm and fluid, creating an atmosphere of nostalgia.

"Beleaguer" (2:12) leaves the loss theme behind, turning back to the action. To put it bluntly, "Beleaguer" is a fight theme. With an urgent, unceasing beat, this song speaks of battle to be done, whether you want to fight or not. It's fate.

"Vain" (1:52) is the theme song of Akiha, the elder sister of the main character and head of the family. Quite apt, the song features the violin, Akiha's instrument. I found this song to be rather tragic, longing for a different, easier life. Yet Akiha is vain; she's not ashamed at all to be who is she. On its own, "Vain" blends in with the other violin/piano tracks. The melody is rather simple.

"Delusion" (1:49) is the confusion theme. I found this to be an interesting piece to listen to. The piano works to create order and sense, but cannot. The synthesizer creates a world of smoke and mirrors. The piano parts just wander through the song aimlessly.

"Maze" (1:54) is another drum and synth piece with a dark tone. Somber, it made me think of those fly-by FMV's of the Evil Empire that you find in video games. It just screams 'This is the enemy's base!' Honestly, from the title I was expecting something like "Delusion". However, judging this on its own, it sounds perfect as infiltrating the enemy's territory music.

"Justice" (2:10) is a chase song focused on deep violin strokes and drum rolls. Unlike the former chase songs, there was something of a noble tone to this song, that this is a justified hounding of the enemy. It reaches a crescendo at the end, as seemingly the hero will win, and justice will be done.

"Tormentor" (1:55) is the Big Bad theme, the rhythm of slow beats and bell peals, the melody of a lone electric guitar, the ultimate symbol of rebellion against order. The electric guitar in Moonlit Archives really stands out against the frequent usage of pianos and violins, with the occasional synth and drum. This song is just full of bad-ass attitude.

"Demoniac" (2:05) contains the slow swelling sounds of an organ. It is rather surprising that it's not until here that we have the instrument frequently associated with vampires. "Demoniac" is standard organ-pounding fare.

"Prayer" (2:02) is the final piece of the sorrow group. It's a violin/bass variation of "Wounds". I think the lack of piano makes this more focused on inner turmoil than tears. The song pauses for a trill near the end, making "Prayer" more self-aware than "Wounds".

Last, but never least is "Rinne no Hate Ni" (1:33), the closing song for Shingetsutan Tsukihime. Like "The Sacred Moon", "Rinne no Hate Ni" has vocals, sung by Fumiko Orikasa. I won't get into the lyrics, as they give away the ending, but they are well suited to the closing mood and images of the anime. The song is very melodic, each syllable extended to its complete value almost lazily. Again the instruments are chiefly violin and piano, continuing the trend thorough this soundtrack. The ending is abrupt, yet it seamlessly fits.

So would I recommend this CD? Definitely. The music fits the anime perfectly, and it makes for good music to have playing in the background. I don't think I'd listen to this in the car, but it makes for a good soundtrack turned down at home when you are alone or if you have a bunch of friends over. It also works as an enhancement for playing RPGs. So if you're looking for a slightly dark musical selection, try Moonlit Archives.

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