Based on the ever-popular manga series of the same title, this film, directed by acclaimed anime pioneer Hayao Miyazaki, has been a cult favorite with anime fans ever since it was first released in 1984. It was released in the US as a horribly edited and truncated video edition called Warriors Of The Wind. Thankfully, that video is no longer available in video stores, though the original will one day be released uncut, whenever that will be....
Nausicaa was that the first time that experimental composer Joe Hisaishi and Miyazaki collaborated together. I only saw the (subtitled and uncut) film once at an Animation Festival in 2000, so I don't quite remember details about the story, nor do I remember the music all that well. So I may not be able to make as much comparisons between this album and the film. However, the best I can do is describe the music. First off, Hisaishi has been known to write scores with themes that stick out in people's minds long after the film is over. After listening to the soundtrack album countless times, I've found Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Winds is no exception. The main theme of Nausicaa (hinted on more than one track) is so dynamic, sweeping, and breathtaking, that it is easy for one to just sit back and allow himself to be seeped in to the majestic power of the music. (This is not uncommon with Hisaishi's scores.)
Not that the entire soundtrack is this majestic, however. The remaining themes are quite different in mood, and serve the purpose as *accompanying* the action scenes rather than being listening experiences. "The Stampede Of Ohmu", for example, contains an exciting, rocking piece of fast action music that provides for a great beat, but intended to occur over the action scene. "Battle" hints the motif of "The Stampede Of Ohmu" in the midst of the intense music, which contains driving percussion pounding through the speakers. "A Battle Between Mehve and Corvette" is a fast scherzo piece edging with conflict. "Resurrection of the God Warrior" contains dissonant, groaning strings that is uncomfortable to listen to, but suitable for the scene it takes place over.
In between the action music, however, are other moments of tranquility and power. There are times when the music sounds very ethnic and medieval, particularly the beginning of "The Valley Of Wind", which uses instruments which I imagine sound like they wouldn't be from long ago. "In The Sea Of Corruption" is very mysterious and haunting, with synthesized "aah" male voices performing over a repetitive but stirring organ eight-note motif. "The Princess Who Loves Insects" starts out with a very grand orchestral fanfare before playing a dynamically engaging rendition of the Nausicaa main theme. Also, the music occasionally swerves towards the funky side, especially when it starts to sound something like "Chrono Corridor" from Chrono Trigger.
Speaking of funky, that's probably the best way to describe the orchestration of the score of Nausicaa. It is so hard to tell whether the music is being played by a dated synthesizer or a symphony orchestra. My guess is that it is a bit of both, because on a couple of tracks, I heard authentic sounding instruments that sounded reminiscent to that of a symphony orchestra, while at other times the instruments sounded, well, electronic, including a grating electric guitar. The only tracks which really qualify as questionable are "Interchange With Ohmu" and "Nausicaa Requiem", both of which contain a very high-pitched, childish Japanese girl singing "La la la la". In the film, it works fine, but outside, you probably might not want to listen to these tracks any more than one time only.
This is not to say that the Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind isn't magnificent. It is - especially when one watches the anime. Even if there are some tracks that may rub some listener's ears the wrong way, there are a lot of epic, sweeping pieces which outweigh the bizarre (and obnoxious). If you are interested in starting a collection of soundtracks from Miyazaki's films, then this CD is a good place to start. Even though it doesn't feature all the music from the movie (a drawback which is sadly common with many movie soundtrack albums), what is on the album is great.