Prison Gate Island - Original Soundtrack
International Title
 Hell's Gate Island
Music By: Shinichi Tanabe
Record Label: Culture Publishers
Running Time: 46:54 Discs: 1
Release: December 1998 CD Number: CPC8-3012
Anthony Romero
First off, huge thanks goes out to Robert Storch for sending this disc for review!

This CD, released under Culture Publishers' Volcano label, features the album soundtrack to the 1977 movie Hell's Gate Island. This album is done by composer Shinichi Tanabe, who did most of the compositions for the Kosuke Kindaichi films starting with this entry. Tanabe has a very contemporary feel to his work, and delivers a score here that has a nice 1970's flavor to it. This is especially noticeable in a few tracks that have a slight "jazz" like tempo to them, such as the vocal supported "Prison Gate Island Theme" and "The Cursed Island". The former of those two is particularly impressive as well, as the singer adds a slightly haunting tone to the track while the overall pace is still upbeat, leading to a fairly enjoyable experience. Compared to some of his contemporaries, though, Tanabe has a slightly more minimalist approach to his scores, avoiding the "big band" type of composing that others such as Masaru Sato were fond of. In fact, Tanabe aims for a more soothing approach, which is made apparent from the get go with the excellent violin heavy track "Love Theme". "Pilgrimage", which at times features the same melody found in the first track, is another winner off this disc and maintains the same tranquil feeling.

As expected, though, there are a few tracks here that represent the more horror related elements of the series, which in this case are "Temple Bell" and "Fog". Sadly, neither of those two themes are particularly memorable, and feel slightly odd nestled in with the more upbeat tracks found on the disc. "Fate" is another cue that could possibly fit the horror motif, as it does have a slight tragic quality to the composition, although it fits much better with the rest of the content on this disc and is a nice demonstration of the range of emotions Tanabe is capable of creating through his melodies. On a closing note, "Cliff" is another theme worth mentioning as it also has a more menacing tone to it. What makes this cue interesting, though, is that it sounds incredibly similar to the scoring technique of Lupin the Third regular Yuji Ono, which is a nice nod since he composed the music for the first entry in the series: The Inugamis (1976).

Overall, there are some excellent themes present, and the disc translates fairly well into a stand alone experience. As mentioned, a few of these cues do miss their mark; however, nothing is unpleasant, which makes the CD nice to listen to from start to finish. Also, as mentioned, this is an album release, as Tanabe took the music from the film to adapt it into longer and more tracks, often with increased orchestration. While the album is the superior collection of music, the film score was also later released by itself from Fuji Kinema (FJCM-020).

As a side note, it's worth addressing that this is actually a re-release of an earlier soundtrack (SLCS-5013) by Culture Publishers that was issued in 1993. However, this CD, sometimes referred to as part of the "Perfect Disc" line, features four additional tracks that are outtakes. Unfortunately, none of these themes are particularly distinct compared to the music that was actually used in the production, but more dedicated collectors should still enjoy the added material.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. Love Theme
  2. Kosuke Kindaichi's Theme
  3. Temple Bell
  4. Harbor
  5. Fog
  6. A Summer Morning
  7. Pilgrimage
  8. Prison Gate Island Theme
  9. Dawn at Prison Gate Island
  10. The Cursed Island
  11. Fate
  12. Cliff
  13. Bell Tower
  14. Kosuke Kindaichi's Theme (Alternate Version)
  15. A Summer Morning (Alternate Version)
  16. Cliff (Alternate Version)
  17. Bell Tower (Alternate Version)