Usotsuki to Inugamitsuki Music Collection :: Review by Don
As with Ayashi no Miya, Hiroto Saitoh's soundtrack for Usotsuki to Inugamitsuki features a strong focus on traditional Japanese instruments to evoke the setting. But whereas Ayashi no Miya was set in ancient Japan, Usotsuki to Inugamitsuki has a modern setting and therefore has a stronger contemporary focus.
"Calm Time," the opening theme on the album is a fantastic introduction to the core idea that Hiroto Saitoh was trying to incorporate. It features a fantastic modern beat that serves as accompaniment for an extremely strong melody. Although the instruments are Japanese in origin, the execution of the melody is quite contemporary. Beautiful woodwind and strings passages make for a very uplifting listen. Another central track, "Hope Riding on the Wind" captures that clash of eras. Shamisen and shakuhachi are performed quite powerfully to portray an extremely captivating melody. The accompanying beat, although done with taiko drums, is definitely more modern in style, as is the jazzy shamisen playing featured later on in the track. There is also an extended version of this theme that features an extremely exquisite section in the middle that focuses on soft piano passages, but at the same time, progresses into an extremely epic orchestral theme.
One of my favorite themes, "Gentle Wind", is quite eclectic in its approach. Although it starts out with some rustic sounding acoustic guitar, it quickly moves into a moving passage that features Japanese instruments with a modern piano and electronic accompaniment. On a similar note, "Sky" opens up with a very beautiful woodwind passage before moving onto a more rustic sounding theme. Harmonica leads the way and really helps lend a very personal sound to the overall execution of the theme. The woodwind sections, whether as accompaniment or melody, are also quite welcome and help give a feeling of the sky. "Setting Sun," on the other hand, is quite modern in approach. There's a nice R&B beat that is featured throughout the composition and it really helps bring in that sense of contemporary setting. As for the melody line, there are some lounge jazz woodwind sections as well as some more electronic synth led melodies. Overall, it's one of the more modern sounding themes on the soundtrack and it really helps portray a fantastic mood.
Another more traditionally Japanese theme, at least in terms of sound, is "Melody of Prayer." It's a very warming theme full of some exquisite Japanese instrumentation. It's a simple composition, but one that manages to portray a powerful atmosphere and overall mood. Another poignant theme is "Real Heart." This one is a beautiful piano, woodwind, and strings led theme. I particularly enjoy the strings harmony as I find that it accompanies the woodwind melody superbly. The piano, however, is striking in terms of evoking emotion and I particularly enjoy its soft solo, even if it is brief. "Everyday" is an extremely uplifting theme that combines a very free-sounding melody, due to the woodwinds, with some drum pad accompaniment. It's a pretty good song and I particularly enjoy the brassy elements that are incorporated. Overall, it's a vibrant song with a lot of exuberance.
"Tension," as the name might suggest, is a very dark theme. It manages to fuse some more modern elements with a heavy Japanese influence. "Moment of Coming upon the Demon" maintains the same mood, yet is much more atmospheric in approach. Ominous electronic accompaniment, taiko drums, piano passages, creepy vocal samples, similar to what one might hear in the Shadow Hearts series, all helps create a very tense mood. It may not focus on melody, but it more than makes up for it in terms of mood. "Stairway to Hades" continues this approach with some ominous vocal samples, a very disturbing and chilling accompaniment, and an overall foreboding sense of dread. It's quite powerful and I really think the Japanese shakuhachi sections really add to the atmosphere of the piece.
After all this chaos, "Respite" is a relaxing woodwind piece. I find it interesting that the accompaniment is very Western in sound, but the rustic acoustic guitar fits with the woodwind lead quite nicely. As the theme progresses, some more modern elements are introduced, such as some synth accompaniment and a slight beat. Overall, it manages to portray a sense of rest and relaxation. Lastly, "Each Though on the Chest" is similar in approach to "Calm Time." I like how the theme is both traditional Japanese in sound, but as it progresses, it takes on a very pop-influenced approach. In the end, I think it's this combination that makes the theme so successful. The melodies and the accompaniment are quite strong and really help close out the album.
In the end, the Usotsuki to Inugamitsuki Music Collection features a variety of styles ranging from traditional Japanese sound to more modern sounding themes with a Japanese flavor. It's a very satisfying listen, more so than Ayashi no Miya, especially for fans of fusion soundtracks. It's definitely worth checking out. I think Saitoh was definitely more successful in his approach given the modern take of the soundtrack.
Overall Score: 8/10