|Name (Romaji)||Kawai Kenji|
Percussions and strings. That’s the impression I have when it comes to Kawai’s music. Kawai has composed music for almost anything, commercials, motion pictures, anime, video games, drama, etc. There are all sorts of flavours in his music but most people would agree that there are certain consistent properties in his music, and a term “Kawai-setsu” (川井節) is used to describe this.
Another trait of Kawai’s music is the occasional use of choir or opera singing in his instrumental. Language of the lyrics is not limited to Japanese, Polish and Italian are some other languages used. And as mentioned, the heavy use percussions and strings is another signature in Kawai’s music.
It is said that Kawai dislikes to work without much background information, and that he prefers to have some form of accompanying visuals or art work of the show for the music he is composing.
Kawai started studying music at Shobi Music Academy, but he dropped out after half a year. He then formed the band Muse with his friends, playing fusion rock music, in order to participate a competition. After winning the competition, the band gained valuable experience and met some other artists in the music industry, and eventually the members decided to play on their own and the band was disbanded.
Kawai then began composing music for commercials in his home studio. In 1986, Kawai gained a little attention for the beautiful melodic music pieces he composed in the dark fantasy movie “Seirei no Sasayaki” (精霊のささやき). A year later, he met Oshii Mamoru (押井守), and became a major contributer in Oshii’s work.
Kawai now works in all sorts of areas, and his work has received several awards internationally, with the recent one being the award by Festival de Cine de Sitges (a Spanish film festival) for the best original soundtrack for the animation “The Sky Crawlers”.
This section details some of Kawai Kenji’s albums. Note that this is not a complete discography for him, it’d be long to list them all and there wouldn’t be much of a point. Each album listed contains a few handpicked sample tracks that I personally adore. Also, the albums are sorted by personal favourites.
Note: Additional “sample” link is included if the stream doesn’t work.
- Fate/stay nght A.OST (June, 2006)
- Unmei no Yoru (運命の夜) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101kawai1/media/fsnost-unmeinoyoru.mp3?attredirects=0
- Kodoku na Junrei (孤独な巡礼) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101kawai1/media/fsnost-kodokunajunrei.mp3?attredirects=0
- Fuyuki Enkei (冬木遠景) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101kawai1/media/fsnost-fuyukienkei.mp3?attredirects=0
- Uketsugareshi Kokuin (受け継がれし刻印) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101kawai1/media/fsnost-uketsugareshikokuin.mp3?attredirects=0
- Emiya (エミヤ) -Kenji Kawai ver.- (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101kawai1/media/fsnost-emiya-kenjikawaiver.-.mp3?attredirects=0
- Kishi Ou no Hokori (騎士王の誇り) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101kawai1/media/fsnost-kishiounohokori.mp3?attredirects=0
- Fuyu no Yousei (冬の妖精) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101kawai1/media/fsnost-fuyunoyousei.mp3?attredirects=0
- Kizuna (絆) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101kawai1/media/fsnost-kizuna.mp3?attredirects=0
- La Sola (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101kawai1/media/fsnost-lasola.mp3?attredirects=0
My most loved Kawai’s album to date. First to mention is one of my all time favourite track Kodoku na Junrei. The sweet harp and piano opening phase first envelopes the listener in a peaceful yet lonely atmosphere, the melody is then repeated with strings to intensify the harmony. My sole gripe with this tune is the seemingly abrupt ending, which occurs shortly after it reaches the climax. Its melody can also be experienced in its violin arranged twin Kishi Ou no Hokori, which promises a mellower texture and a better wrap-up.
La Sola, a vocal track sung in Italian, is another notable track in the album. The sorrowful melody is elegantly expressed by the voice of the singer (whom I cannot identify despite my best efforts), and knowing the meaning of the lyrics only adds more to it. On a minor note, the same singer is performing background vocal for a few other instrumentals in the album.
Most of the samples are the more melancholy, wistful side of themes in this 40-track album, and Kizuna is probably tops for being the most depressing one. For a change of mood, Emiya is a track that demonstrates how Kawai’s recipe of percussion, strings and piano can just be as epic and energetic.
Some might find Kawai’s music pattern to be a little bland and repetitive, but in my humble opinion having a certain alluring style is what defines a true composer. For all first timers wanting to have a taste of his music, Fate/stay night A.OST would be my first recommendation.
- album2 (release date)
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