Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2018 August 20 • Monday

For the 531st Soundtrack of the Week we're going back to black and white Japanese horror movies with cloudy, brooding scores both mournful and menacing. This time it's Shunsuke Kikuchi's music for Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch.

Fans of Akira Ifukube should enjoy this score. Bits of it might pleasantly remind you of Bernard Herrmann also.

There are a couple of cues sung by a children's choir, including a version of "Sur le pont d'Avignon", translated into Japanese and also in an instrumental arrangement.

The rest of it is sustained mood and tension occasionally peaking with suspense and drama.

Strings coil around time and space to create drawn out and sinuous figures, alternating with tense bowing to create choppy, anxious sounds.

Percussion is sparsely placed for maximum effect and what sounds like a musical saw, heard often in Japanese scores for movies of this sort made at this time, is an often heard voice.

The overall tone is sorrow and doom. Fuzz guitar is very subtly used and the writing for wind instruments is measured and balanced.

It's not the smallest ensemble you'll ever hear but it's far from being an 80-piece orchestra and Kikuchi's economical and effective use of the modest group of instruments at his disposal is an inspiration.