|Name (Romaji)||Ootani Kou|
Ootani Kou is probably one of the more well recognized composers introduced here in the western world, due to his involvement in “Shadow of Colossus” (PS2 game), and recently Echoes of War, a full orchestral arranged album for Blizzard’s games – Diablo, Starcraft and Warcraft.
It’s hard to describe Ootani Kou’s music in a line, as his work ranges from touching harp melodies to epic ambient music, although there is a common element – the extensive use of hammered dulcimer, piano and harp. I wouldn’t say it applies to everything Ootani has created, but some of his best music pieces are tastefully painted with life and soul.
- External Links
Born to parents who were both modern dancers, Ootani was brought up influenced by their dance and music. After graduating from university, he started his music career as a keyboardist for the group “Dang Gang Brothers Band” (ダンガン・ブラザース・バンド).
He was later involved in composing, arranging and producing music for Southern All Stars (サザンオールスターズ), DREAMS COME TRUE, Inoue Yousui (井上陽水), Kawaguchi Kyougo (河口恭吾), etc. In the next 10 years or so, he had several piano solo concerts held locally and internationally, and eventually became an independent music composer and producer.
He had composed both instrumental and vocal themes in all sorts of areas – movies, TV dramas, anime and games. Some of his famous work included the “Gamera” (ガメラ) series, “Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah” (ゴジラ·モスラ・キングギドラ), “Shourou Nagashi” (精霊流し), “Haibane Renmei” (灰羽連盟), “Shadow of Colossus” (ワンダと巨像), etc.
In 2005, he released his first piano solo album Tsuki no Ningyo (月の人魚), as Ootani himself had put it, “it is a soundtrack for a nonexistent movie”. A year later, he formed Makura no Soushi (枕草子), a duo composed of Ootani himself, doing the composition and piano, and Aika (愛華), the vocalist.
This section details some of Ootani Kou’s albums. Note that this is not a complete discography, 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. Not all albums have their complete tracks listed since some of them are potentially large. An external text file containing the tracklist is provided. Also, the albums are sorted by personal favourites.
Note: Additional “sample” link is included if the stream doesn’t work.
- Hane no Ne (ハネノネ) (December, 2002)
- Refrain of Memory (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/hanenone-refrainofmemory.mp3?attredirects=0
- Free Bird (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/hanenone-freebird.mp3?attredirects=0
- Breath of a germ (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/hanenone-breathofagerm.mp3?attredirects=0
- Song of Dream, Words of Bubble (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/hanenone-songofdream%2Cwordsofbubble.mp3?attredirects=0
- Rustle (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/hanenone-rustle.mp3?attredirects=0
- Blight (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/hanenone-blight.mp3?attredirects=0
- Wondering <Donna Burke> (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/hanenone-wondering.mp3?attredirects=0
- Ailes Grises (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/hanenone-ailesgrises.mp3?attredirects=0
Classical with a little Celtic and Jazz influence, fully acoustic with no electronic instruments, Hane no Ne is a soundtrack filled with surprises and creativity. Dominated by harp, violin, harmonica and piano, most of the tracks are infused with multiple themes, generating transitions of moods in a single melody.
Everything’s a favourite here, so I’ll just go through a few tracks in order of the tracklist. Beautiful and fitting starter for the soundtrack, Refrain of Memory introduces the listener to the serenity of the music with simple piano lead, then stealthily shifts to quena (flute) to increase the tension and pressure. Free Bird, the opening theme, is possibly one of the brighter themes of the album, but Ootani has made sure to keep the music dynamic and the evolving emotions can be tasted well.
The next few tracks share the same sort of medieval, classical feel, with its celtic flavour peaks at Donna Burke’s Wondering. The last track worth mentioning is the full piano Ailes Grises. Keeping it simple, Ootani has demonstrated his mastery in controlling the melody’s mood with his piano solo, a perfect epilogue for the soundtrack.
Hane no Ne is one of the most unique and enchanting soundtrack I’ve experienced, best listened at late night before sleep. However, due to its classical nature, it is probably not something that appeals to everyone.
- Puchi no Ne (プチノネ) (February, 2003)
- Jiyuu no Tori (自由の鳥) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/puchinone-jiyuunotori.mp3?attredirects=0
- Old Home no Hibi (オールドホームの日々)
- Machi e (街へ)
- Kaze wa Yasashiku Hoho o Naderu (風は優しく頬をなでる) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/puchinone-kazewayasasikuhohowonaderu.mp3?attredirects=0
- Tsuki to Aoi Kage (月と蒼い影)
- Mori no Kodou Machi no Shougeki (森の鼓動 壁の衝撃)
- adore (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/puchinone-adore.mp3?attredirects=0
- Tatta Hitori no Komoriuta (たった一人の子守歌) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/puchinone-tattahitorinokomoriuta.mp3?attredirects=0
- Doukoku (慟哭)
- Wasurerarenai Koto (忘れられないこと)
- Akumu, Betsuri, Soushitsu (悪夢・別離・喪失)
- Kakegae no Nai Atatakasa (カケガエノナイアタタカサ) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/puchinone-kakegaenonaiatatakasa.mp3?attredirects=0
Jiyuu no Tori, a heavenly rearrangement in pure harp of Free Bird. With the solemn tone of the original theme taken out to preserve the innocent feeling introduced by the harp, Jiyuu no Tori is a little more repetitive than the other tracks, but its gentle yet powerful melody only leaves one longing for more, more so with its short length.
I find Paula Terry’s adore strangely addictive, and to think that I initially thought it was the weakest track when I first listened to the album >< Tatta Hitori no Komoriuta is another track I like, the weak and tranquil quality is accurately expressed by the quiet harp and accordion mix.
Puchi no Ne is a good soundtrack, although the music is less inspiring when compared to Hane no Ne. If you did not enjoy Hane no Ne, it might be a good idea to give this a pass.
- Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino- Original Soundtrack (April, 2008)
- Sorezore no Kanjou (それぞれの感情) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/gsg2ost-sorezorenokanjou.mp3?attredirects=0
- Egao (笑顔) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/gsg2ost-egao.mp3?attredirects=0
- Triela (トリエラ) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/gsg2ost-triela.mp3?attredirects=0
- Claes (Scarborough Fair) (クラエス) (スカボロー・フェア) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/gsg2ost-claes(scarboroughfair).mp3?attredirects=0
- Jose no Miru Yume (ジョゼの見る夢) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/gsg2ost-josenomiruyume.mp3?attredirects=0
- Kanashimi (悲しみ) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/gsg2ost-kanashimi.mp3?attredirects=0
- Main Theme (メインテーマ) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/gsg2ost-maintheme.mp3?attredirects=0
- doll / Lia (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/gsg2ost-doll(liaversion).mp3?attredirects=0
Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino- Original Soundtrack and Hane no Ne share similar traits, except it’s a little less classical, and the music is not as captivating. Main Theme, as the name suggests, is the representative track and also the most exceptional one in the album. The progress of suspense, build up and climax of this amazing track can be nakedly felt, evidently displaying Ootani’s command in instruments and pace. Probably because of its superiority, most other tracks feel a little lacking and Ootani has also made multiple rearrangements of it, Sorezore no Kanjou and Triela are some examples.
If you know the English folk song Scarborough Fair, Claes (Scarborough Fair) is a sweet, sweet re-arranged instrumental not to be missed. The last track doll, is composed by Maeda Jun (麻枝准) and sung by Lia. An arrangement filled with purity and innocence, the lyrics describes a heartbreaking story of a doll trying to become human. Although not related to Ootani, I feel that doll deserves a mention.
This soundtrack might not be as impressive as those introduced earlier, but I still find it largely enjoyable and its less classical influence could attract a broader audience.
- Shakugan no Shana Original Soundtrack (and Assorted Shana Volumes) (January, 2006)
- Tristesse (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/shakugannoshana-tristesse.mp3?attredirects=0
- Peine (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/shakugannoshana-peine.mp3?attredirects=0
- Au soleil (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/shakugannoshana-ausoleil.mp3?attredirects=0
- Sentiment profond (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/shakugannoshana-sentimentprofond.mp3?attredirects=0
- La vie recommence (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/shakugannoshana-lavierecommence.mp3?attredirects=0
- Danse des fee (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/shakugannoshana-dansedesfee.mp3?attredirects=0
- Debut d’un jour (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/shakugannoshana-debutd'unjour.mp3?attredirects=0
- Comprehension (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/shakugannoshana-comprehension.mp3?attredirects=0
- Reveil (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101ootani1/media/shakugannoshana-reveil.mp3?attredirects=0
A different side of Ootani, the music in Shakugan on Shana is a little more modern and techno (well maybe the samples are not a good indication since they tend to feature the gloomy, classical type of Ootani’s music that I enjoy more). Orchestral instruments and pipe organ are employed here and Ootani’s distinct style of composition can be felt. Some of the tracks that I am particularly fond of include Tristesse, La vie recommence and Comprehension. Tristesse is a sorrowful piano melody while the other two are slow, angelic and bright themes.
- Wikipedia (English)
Ootani Kou’s English Wikipedia page. Contains discography information, not very complete.
- Wikipedia (Japanese)
Ootani Kou’s Japanese Wikipedia page. Contains a brief career history and a more complete discography.
- Blog (Japanese)
Blog of Ootani Kou’s band Makura no Soushi (枕草子). News, brief biography, pictures, etc related to the team. Updated frequently.
- ffshrine (English)
Massive soundtrack collection for Ootani Kou (direct download). It isn’t complete, but it’s probably the largest single-source site for downloading Ootani’s music. All in MP3 format.