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Comments about the soundtrack for Spirited Away (Joe Hisaishi)

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Spirited Away - Easily a 4 star score
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• Posted by: Roman   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Sunday, January 24, 2010, at 11:00 a.m.
• IP Address:
• Now Playing: Spirited Away - Hisaishi

Of the Hisaishi scores I own, “Spirited Away” is the best one. It fits the movie like a glove, accenting each scene flawlessly. As good as the movie is, the music makes it even better – firmly planting it at the top of Miyazaki’s filmography.

As a listen, the CD experience for “Spirited Away” can be a little odd. It opens with the quiet “One Summer’s Day” and slowly builds into the nervous moments of “Nighttime Coming”. That acts as the transition piece into the bulk of the strange music that encompasses the remainder of the score.

From that point on the tone shifts, from the playful “Sootballs” to the exciting “Procession of the Spirits” and into the disquieting “Yubaba”. I know some listeners find these shifts to be too abrupt, but in the scope of the film they work well.

What Hisaishi does in this score is create so many tones and feelings and does so with clarity and skill. Compared to the smoother album experience of “Princess Mononoke” I can see how the variety of the score may be too disorienting.

But I actually find myself tuning out about halfway through “Mononoke” unless I’m in the perfect mood for it. “Spirited Away” is constantly changing and evolving with excellent music. I can think of few scores that contain music like “Sen’s Courage” and “The Sixth Station”. The finale pieces of “Reprise” and “The Return” are top notch, easily some of the best of Hisaishi’s career, and while the song “Always with Me” is an acquired taste, I enjoy it too.

So I can see why some may not enjoy the score as much as I do, but I do think that the craftsmanship is above average. Separated from the film, I can see a four star rating. But placed with the film – easily five stars.

Roman's Movie Reviews and Musings

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