So much variety in this thread, maybe I’m playing it too safe with this choice but it’s something that I’ve only experienced in recent memory so I’d love to give my thoughts on it.
If you follow anime and manga stuff to any degree you have probably heard the name Made in Abyss tossed around a lot, and one of the driving factors that swoons a lot of people into this series and locks them into the atmosphere is the soundtrack.
For those who don’t know, the soudtrack for this series was composed by Kevin Penkin. He is more or less an indie composer with a degree and currently not much more. One fascinating thing about him having been chosen to compose this series is that he is based in the UK. His style prominently displays characteristics of hauntingly atmospheric instrumentals and an airy feel. This probably resulted due to his inspiration for becoming a composer in the first plce, which was Metroid Prime.
The soundtrack was recorded at the Synchron Stage in Vienna, which you can also thank for some of your favorite film soundtracks. Some of the artists that have recorded sessions here include Hans Zimmer of Lion King fame and Thomas Newton Howard who can be credited for the astounding scores of Treasure Planet and Atlantis.
So, what makes this soundtrack so special and why should you care? There are a lot of truly mind-blowing soundtracks attached to this genre of storytelling, so why give it your time. Well, quite simply the music for this series carries the same artistic characteristics that kept audiences glued to the screen dring the story itself. It retains a beautiful synergy from one point to the next while displaying an absolutely brilliant contrast that truly makes the music feel live and dynamic.
This is a soundtrack written by somebody who was genuinely fascinated by what it is they were composing for and who wanted to see their feelings resonate within the production. Which he achieved by doing only what I could describe as “abstract Mickey-Mousing”, Mickey-Mousing being an animation term for a scene where a soundtrack drives the animation. But you could tell what was happening just by the vivid imagery his instruments provided. Which, combined with the use of call and response in tracks like Beni-Kuchu-Nawa, absolutely left me floored.
My personal track reccomendations for examples of the techniques I describe here would be the following:
Made in Abyss - Example of his use of vivid imagery through instrumentation, you can hear the string sections form brilliant strands of garland that fall slowly into the abyss, while afterwards the wishes and prayers of those they’re leaving behind follow them.
Beni-Kuchi-Nawa - As mentioned this is my go-to for his call and response, the way that the strings call for help andthe piano responds boldly as to say “you’re cornered” is like nothing else.
Underground River (Opening Version) ft. Raj Ramayya - This I would only reccomend after having seen the the anime, while it is one of my absolute favorite tracks in the series it holds an extremely prominent role in the initial worldbuilding and I would reccomend instead just watching the first episode, as you encounter it not too far in
Lastly for those really curious of the Metroid Prime influence I would say to give Nanachi in The Dark a shot.
I haven’t found any official YouTube stuff for any of these but know Spotify carries the entire OST. So do perhaps give a listen to some of this, and if you haven’t seen the series I wholeheartedly suggest you do (if you aren’t faint of heart, it gets quite graphic).