Title
 The House of Hanging on Hospital Hill - Original Soundtrack
International Title
 House of Hanging
Music By: Shinichi Tanabe
Record Label: Culture Publishers
 
Running Time: 48:31 Discs: 1
Release: December 1998 CD Number: CPC8-3014
Comments
Anthony Romero
First off, huge thanks goes out, once again, to Robert Storch for sending this disc for review!

This disc, released by Culture Publishers under their Volcano label, showcases the soundtrack to the 1979 film House of Hanging. Scored by series veteran Shinichi Tanabe, the body of work conducted for this movie is a bit different from the previous two in the series done by the composer, Hell's Gate Island (1977) and Queen Bee (1978). The end result, while mixed in some spots, is pretty solid and makes for an enjoyable standalone experience.

The first thing to note about this score is that, the score isn't nearly as grounded in this timeframe as some of Tanabe's other work. Some tracks, like the electric guitar aided "Lullaby", do still hark to this period without any question, as does "Search", which could really only come from the 1970's. So the feel is still there, but it's not nearly as overt as Queen Bee (1978) and other entries. Those that do feel dated to the period, including the "Mystery 2" track, sadly don't stand up as well as some of Tanabe's other material in this series. His attempt at a jazz-like track in "Angry Pirates: Theme of the Angry Pirates" is also a miss, and something better left avoided. It's also a bit unfortunate that this disc lacks Tanabe's almost trademark acoustic guitar heavy tracks, outside of "A Sad Encounter", making this feel like an almost starch departure from his other work at times.

On the bright side, Tanabe has traded in his acoustic guitar for a more favorable outlook on the piano. The majestic and excellent "The House of Hanging on Hospital Hill Theme" is very much a center piece for the piano, and its used pretty much throughout in other cues such as "Past" and "Secretly...". It should be noted, though, that these tracks are all very similar, utilizing the same main theme to different tempos and beats. The theme is so good, though, that it never feels repetitious, although the first track off the disc presents the best offering of the tune. Tanabe's work here is also heavily aided by chorus work, such as in the previously mentioned main theme and "Hill Scenery 4", which has a pretty catchy vocal backup component.

Overall, this offering is mixed. Arguably the weakest entry in the Kosuke Kindaichi series. What's odd, though, is that it also has one of the greatest themes of the entire series as well in the form of the main title. It's great enough to make its use here in several variants not only welcome, but something one almost wishes was done more across the disc.

As a side note, this disc marks the second time this score has been released on CD, with the first being issued in 1993 (SLCS-5015). The difference between this disc and its earlier counterpart is in the form of six additional tracks, making this the most improved entry in Culture Publishers' "Ko-suke Kindaichi" run. The new material is track 17 through 22. Covered in this new material are a few themes which can't be missed, such as the previously mentioned "Hill Scenery 4". The outtake for "The House of Hanging on Hospital Hill Theme" is also interesting, as its notable different from the final version as this features more chorus and violin work. The disc also includes a nice version of "It's Only a Paper Moon", the 1930's song which recovers much of its retro feel here, sung by Junko Sakurada.
Rating: Star Rating
Tracks
  1. The House of Hanging on Hospital Hill Theme
  2. Mystery 1
  3. Hill Scenery 1
  4. Search
  5. Past
  6. A Sad Encounter
  7. Secret of the Attic Room
  8. Secretly...
  9. Angry Pirates: Theme of the Angry Pirates
  10. Hill Scenery 2
  11. Windchime
  12. It's Only a Paper Moon
  13. Mystery 2
  14. Cursed Fate
  15. Lullaby
  16. Where to
  17. Hill Scenery 3
  18. Hill Scenery 4
  19. Angry Pirates (Another Version)
  20. It's Only a Paper Moon (Vocal Version)
    By: Junko Sakurada
  21. Two Young People
  22. The House of Hanging on Hospital Hill Theme (Another Version)