Kanon Original Soundtrack

Kanon Original Soundtrack Album Title:
Kanon Original Soundtrack
Record Label:
Key Sounds Label
Catalog No.:
KSLA-0006
Release Date:
October 25, 2002
Purchase:
Buy Used Copy

Overview

1999’s Kanon, the first visual novel from then start-up company Key, was a success in the bishoujo genre. The dramatic story combined with the impressive visuals formed a tale that was well received. The music as well was praised, but how well does it stand up to a standalone listen, and can it be appreciated for those who have never played the game?

Body

“Morning Shadows,” composed by Shinji Orito, opens the album nicely with an intimate strings theme. It paints a convincing romantic soundscape and, while the effect is somewhat cheesy, it’s likewise hard not to be drawn in from this first exposure. “The Day She Waited for the Wind” is somewhat unimpressive at first listen, with simple stylings and dated synthesis. However, as Orito introduces drums the piece’s true emotional nature comes to light. The simple, almost sparkling-sounding motif on the piano helps give the track a feel of moving forward, and the effect is quite enjoyable.

Orito continues to develop his soft style in such tracks as “Promise,” a music box solo whose innocent gaiety belies a formidable emotional reaction. “Frozen Plateau” is more straightforwardly emotional, as intimated by its name; the effect is somewhat cold — partly for scenic reasons, but also due to the deficiencies in synthesis throughout the release. “Newborn Wind” is another somber music box solo that sounds sparkling due to the melody’s reliance on the upper registers. It’s a rather pleasant theme, though somewhat simple.

The majority of the album is nevertheless comprised of peppy themes composed by Orito. The beat in “2 Steps Toward” helps give the otherwise somber track a bit of a happy punch. The silly-sounding “The Girls’ Opinions” is a rather pleasant track, though one lacking terrible depth. In a further example of poor implementation, the constant hammering of chords in the piano is sure to turn grating for some as well. “Girl in Snow” is more pleasing. The beat is addictive and the melody, played by the square synth, is deceptively simple, yet enjoyable. “Pure Snows” is more emotional, and features an overall complexity that is hard to dislike. The piano in the second half is pleasantly jazzy, meshing well with the track’s otherwise somber nature.

“Sunny Street” is a playful arrangement of “Promise.” Orito skillfully changes the nature of the melody into one of promising hope, rather than of implying loss. “Omen” is a rather ominous piece, comprised of haunting atmospheric synth and a heavy beat. A scant melody forms soon enough, and while not exceptional, is enough to grasp the listener’s attention for this creative track. Orito also composed the game’s ending vocal, “The Place Where the Wind Arrives,” an arrangement of “Newborn Wind.” The vocal version is quite peppy, and is an enjoyable spin on the occasionally tedious original. There’s a curious rap section near the end that, oddly, doesn’t feel out of place, though it may elicit a few laughs.

Jun Maeda also contributed a few tracks. “Remnant of a Dream” is stirringly beautiful. It remains captivating yet simple for its majority, but opens into a piece, that, while not complex, is rather well orchestrated, riveting the listener’s attention despite the piece’s overall simplicity. “Winter Fireworks” uses a mesmerizing, dancing motif on the piano to glide the melody in a rather exceptional manner. The introduction of the flute is icing on the cake, and the effect is stunning. “Afterglow” is an optimistic atmospheric track. It’s somewhat boring, considering how long it takes for actual development to occur, but the overall effect is pleasing, to say the least. Maeda also composed the opening vocal, “Last Regrets,” an arrangement of “Remnant of a Dream.” The arrangement is impressive, but the overall upbeat nature doesn’t seem to flesh terribly well with the original melody, and the song ultimately seems to drag on a bit through its extended playtime, though the piece overall is still worth a listen.

OdiakeS contributed three pieces for the game, and all are quite short. The cinematic “A Girl’s Cage” is easily the best of these three, weaving a dramatic melody with simple, though effective, orchestration. “Sea of Mist” is attractive, though somewhat rambling, and “The Fox and the Grapes” is fun, but not much else. A short bonus is hidden after “The Place Where the Wind Arrives (Short Version),” following a minute and a half of silence: an arranged version of “Girl in Snow” seemingly taken from the game’s arrange album, Kanon Original Arrange Album -anemoscope-. The arrangement is enjoyable, though nothing about it in particular stands out. It’s a fun piece, though a curious way to close the album, and a likewise mysterious pick for a bonus addition.

Summary

The Kanon Original Soundtrack is not the most endearing of albums in the Key sound catalog. It works best to evoke memories of the game’s story, but on a stand-alone listen, the generally upbeat nature of the various themes will likely turn many off. The emotional themes too sound cheesy out of context, with rare exception. Subsequent soundtracks from the company, notably Air and Clannad, develop on these foundations with much richer stylings and synthesis. This is an album for those who’ve enjoyed the game, and they can’t go wrong in picking this one up. Newcomers to Key’s musical offerings though won’t find much to love about this collection, but it’s a promising debut from the team nevertheless.

Kanon Original Soundtrack Marc Friedman

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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Marc Friedman. Last modified on August 1, 2012.


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