Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2019 February 25 • Monday

The 558th Soundtrack of the Week, is Akira Ifukube's score for Shinran.

This is a classic Ifukube score, typical in the orchestral colors selected as well as its strength and simplicity.

Most of the tracks are fairly similar, generally exploring a very Ifukubean theme: a melancholy melodic line descends but punctuates its descent with recurring reaches for higher notes. The piano in many of the cues plays a steady tattoo of just a few notes with the regularity of dripping water.

“M-4” surprises with the deployment of harp, while the koto enlivens several cues.

In “M-12” the strings and piano combine forces to increase the drama and intensity, with some crashes on the keyboard sounding like thunder and another appearance by the harp suggesting strong gusts of wind.

A wordless chorus is the primary voice of “M-15”, another powerfully dramatic, stormy piece of music, at least in the beginning. It calms down about two minutes in and just the strings take over for a more subdued section. You hear the chorus again in “M-21” and “M-26”, among other cues.

“M-24” starts with a sharp koto burst but turns out to be a smooth and flowing piece with constantly bowing strings creating a lush foundation. There’s another instrument here, too, maybe an electric piano or some other kind of ethereal-sounding keyboard.

Almost jazzy-sounding wind instruments dominate “M-28” but it might be over before you realize it. It’s only 13 seconds long. But a jazzy, in a haunted, reverby, very alone sort of jazzy way, saxophone is the main voice, accompanied only by piano, of “M-29”, which doesn’t quite make it to the one-minute mark.

“M-31” has a martial, anthemic sound but fades out on a jaunty, clip-clopping section. Maybe there’s a war theme in this movie because “M-36” is a straight-up march, though Ifukube gives the melodic line an interesting shape.