So, I’m writing this on a cold spring night in 2016. The kids are asleep and the wife is out with friends, so for the first time in a few weeks I’ve managed to don the Grados and rock out a little bit.
I’ve always had BGM in my life. From the early days of my parent’s shitty Hi-Fi system and dusty vinyl collection to my 1-bit DSD headphone amp there’s always some kind of noise going on. I’m also a bit conservative in collecting music. I still buy CDs or SACDs and rip them to FLAC, so I’m probably not even at the 10,000 track level yet.
Anyway, I digress.
I wrote a post some time ago talking about my man-crush on Porter Robinson, but in the last few weeks as I read and re-read Arctic Gale, I’ve started thinking of certain tracks to link up with the various chapters/scenes in the story. Yes, I know I should actually be spending that time actually working on the script, but, hey, what can you do. When I write I usually have the “movie” version of the story running in my head. I scrub it back and forth to capture the details that I want, but there is almost always a visual. So adding a soundtrack seems like a totally natural thing to do as part of that process. This post, then, is basically the soundtrack that I have playing in my head when I was doing my last read-through.
I’m not sure if I’ll post this straight away, or if I’ll hold onto it for a bit, but in either case I’ll warn that there are spoilers ahead. If you don’t want to read them, then I guess you’ll have to wait until you’re already spoiled or something. There should be a “Click here” link or something below. If you want to see the tracklist but don’t want the spoilers, then please check out the Youtube Playlist. Again; sorry if you get Geo-blocked.
One thing I know for sure is that this post will take forever to write – every time I think of a new song I have to find that track and listen to it…
Okay. First up, apologies for any links that get geo-blocked. I’m writing this in Japan which is one of the worst places for this kind of behavior, but you never know.
Starting from the top (that is a lie I am writing this in the order that I think of them):
Theme Song – Chronicles of a Fallen Love – The Bloody Beetroots
This was one of the first songs that I linked to AG; a long time ago (in Jan 2013, to be precise). I think that it has become famous for some other movie though, so it won’t be able to feature in Arctic Gale – the 9D Cinema Experience, but it is still one that I think about quite a bit.
The stop-start electronic chorus mixed with the female vocals struck a chord with me when I heard it, and I also think that it was part of the motivation for me to pull my finger out and actually finish AG. I occasionally like a couple of the other Bloody Beetroot tracks when I’m in the mood…
Entering the City – Reunion – M83
Although I like Midnight City more, Reunion has a great feel to it for the introduction of Zemlya. It has an easy beat but still sounds “modern” enough to describe the giant metropolis. It’s got a good mix of acoustic and electronic sounds in there, and there is some kind of percussion instrument in there (a woodblock I think) that kind of gives the track a “city” beat to it.
The video clip is also in the same vein of AG; young people with some form of superpower/enhancement fighting each other in the dark areas of the city.
Drew’s Bar – Ænema – Tool
So I spent the first 3 hours working on this looking into the electronic/Japanese kind of songs that I’m into now, but when I saw Engel I knew that I also needed a Tool song in here. Now, please don’t mistake me for a normal Tool fan; I don’t have any T-shirts and I’ve only been to two of their concerts. But their music was probably a little more fundamental to my development than Engel was.
I’m choosing this for Drew’s bar as it has that “Area-17” metal/grunge vibe in there, as long as Drew’s on personal feelings for his junkie clientele. And, in a way, Kate does come into his life and flushes all of that shit away…
Kate’s First City Fight – Higurashi no naku GORO ni – Ruou Ryouki
Anyone that has followed my work on Katawa Shoujo, or even before that when translating Higurashi for WinD, will know that I’m a Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni fan. It’s a great series and it got me into a lot of other anime that led me to where I am today (freezing my arse off, tired and sober in Tokyo on a Friday night).
The theme song still gets me all worked up and wanting to “create,” but this version is slightly different. It’s a fan re-make of the original song, with a much softer, lo-fi introduction over rain and broken glass (references to the original story). It then moves into a high-energy remix of the original.
Trying to encapsulate Kate’s first fight is hard. It was the first time that we see Kate in action, and we also see that she is fallible. Her approach to the rebels does not go as well as it should, but once she starts to fight then the pace picks up and she starts to kick arse again. And this song somehow makes me feel like that.
Intel Interrogation – ???
Going Undercover/Drew’s Bar Assault – Into the Labyrinth – Kraddy
I have to admit, I love this song and the video clip that I have posted above. It’s gritty, powerful, and it builds to a crescendo throughout the track.
It’s how I see Kate’s descent into the bar and her realisation that she is being ordered to kill fellow soldiers. Lots of square waves, lots of repetition but somehow it is constantly evolving. And the cut-off at the end is just like Cole cutting off her ‘link. It’s sudden, unnerving and freaking awesome.
Dani Telling Kate her History – ???
The Country House – ???
The Archive Heist – ???
After the Archive Heist – Engel – Rammstein
This track goes back to my highschool days, and the videoclip above was the whole reason I got into anime in the first place. Engel is “Angel” in German, and the main chorus of the song translates to something like “Please God, don’t let me be an angel when I die.” It’s a great power ballad, and like a few tracks here combines electronic and acoustic instruments to get a great sound that just fits with the vibe of Zemlya.
The theme also fits with this particular part of the story. Kate is realising that there is something rotten in her city, and she is getting sick of following orders. This is the start of her moving on her own path – shrugging off the “righteous” path of being an Agent for the City.
Mark’s Execution – ???
Dani’s Rescue – Superhuman – Juventa (Au5 remix)
This was something that I knew had to get into this list – I just had to find out where. But this totally sums up both Drew and Kate in Dani’s rescue. Drew’s lack of confidence in himself becomes apparent, but he still rises to the occasion. And Kate… well, this is the first time that Drew actually sees Kate doing what she was made for, and that has to be awe inspiring. And Kate, at this point more comfortable with fighting in the city, has still got her doubts about the web of deception that she has found herself in, but she has made a decision and is following through with it. I like that.
Kate and Cole’s Fight – Raise your Weapon – Madeon Remix – Deadmau5
This is one of the first songs that I linked directly to a scene. I heard it as part of Animegraphy 2014 AMV. If you haven’t seen that then I strongly recommend it. I watched zero anime in 2014 and yet it is still awesome. The “Koi!” at about minutes was perfectly timed, and that made me look into the track.
I haven’t really listened to much of the Deadmau5 stuff, but this just had the right pacing for a fight to the death, and the lyrics were also pretty fitting to the tension I was trying to put into the scene. At this point, Kate and Cole have been sparring for a while, and Kate has almost always been at a disadvantage, but she finally manages to put Cole off his feet.
Kate’s Recovery in Hospital – Sad Machine – Porter Robinson
With this track it was less of a case of if this song should be on the list, but where it should be. As you’ll read below, this was the track that made me buy Worlds, the CD that just resonated me at a time when I was really getting into the flow of the last act of AG.
This track fits with Kate’s recovery for a few reasons. Firstly, the use of Hatsune Miku’s robotic voice is just a little bit off putting, just as the environment would be in the hospital. The lyrics also seem to resonate; this is Kate’s reawakening, both physically and mentally. For the first time she can see the insanity of Zemlya and Wingett, and also how everyone in the city is actually depending on her (just as she depends on them).
Getting to the Businessman’s house – ???
Assembly at the Country House – ???
Breaking through the Wall/First two agents – Lionhearted – Porter Robinson
Ok, if you are a bit of an Otaku/Weaboo/Japanophile you’ll probably like Porter Robinson’s music. I’m sure this isn’t this first Robinson song on this list, but it is the first one that I added. His music came to my attention when I heard “Sad Machine” on the radio; I instantly recognized Hatsune Miku, the virtual singer, on the track. I went out and bought the CD immediately.
I had heard Lionhearted before, but after a long, sleepless trade show in Singapore with only Worlds (the album) to keep me going, I started liking Lionhearted as part of the “Arctic Gale” canon. I had already planned the Breakthrough scene, but this tract fits it perfectly. The build-up matches the scene brilliantly, as does the theme of the song.
And the film clip – wow. Like most of the visuals for his videos it’s based around a mix of real and CG, and has a whole bunch of women fucking shit up. I think that is about the only way to describe it. It really hits the spot for that chapter.
Fighting on the Ice – Sprinter – Kalafina
Honestly, I don’t care what you say, I think Kara no Kyoukai (Garden of Sinners) is freaking amazing. The story is good, but the visuals are amazing and the soundscape is brilliant. Sure, Kalafina aren’t exactly a supergroup, and the songs are totally compressed, but I don’t give a shit. The songs do exactly what they are supposed to; work you up.
The “fight music” from each of the movies is brilliant, and if I had anything like that made for me then I think I would have to wet myself.
If you’ve not seen the series before, check out this fight scene. MA! GA! RE!!!
I would be lying if I said that there was no inspiration drawn from Ryougi Shiki for Kate (although not initially).
Sneaky Sound System – I Will Be Here…?
Tool – Reflection