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I have to admit to not being overly familiar with the work of Joe Hisaishi, although I have read that he is a winner of several Japanese Academy Awards. Having listened to this soundtrack, I am as ignorant as I was before as to what qualities have earned him these Eastern honours.

This is really no more than slickly orchestrated ear candy. At first itís built around a catchy piano theme, which is a fine precept. Piano themes feature among the most memorable of film and television scoring Ė Chariots of Fire, Hill Street Blues and the like. But those themes are not only catchy, they are subtle and clever and richly evocative. Hisaishiís theme is merely catchy because itís a sweet, straightforward melody that resolves neatly. Which is fine in and of itself, but not much (keyboard) chop when it serves as an endlessly repeated motif that attempts to carry the entire score.

When it is developed into more broadly suggestive chords, itís mostly suggestive of other familiar tunes (more than a hint of Up Where We Belong) and a propensity for that grand old art of using other composersí good ideas less well then the originals.

The production is appropriately bright and sugary, and as inoffensive as it is unlikely to inspire.

Continuing with the play-it-safe philosophy, the polished piano tones are complemented after a while with Ricko Suzukiís weeping violin. Suzuki does finesse a gorgeous and haunting lament from his instrument that wends its way through appealingly melodic lines of laughter and sadness, before it too is immersed in the vat of syrup.

Itís difficult to despise the lush simplicity of this soundtrack, and impossible to get excited about it. Perhaps the best that can be said is that itís superficially pretty; and pretty superficial.
Brad Green

Published: November 16, 2000

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See our movie REVIEW

TITLE: Kikujiro (Music From The Motion Picture)

ID: 73138 35911-2

MUSIC BY: Joe Hisaishi

FEATURED MUSICIANS: Pan in Rin Strings, Rieko Suzuki (violin), Yumiko Morooka (cello)


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