Monday, 26 December 2011

Yoko Kanno - Blue

Yoko Kanno is my favorite composer of all time. Something about her music makes me feel really emotional, and if you know me, I'm not a very emotional person at all. I don't even feel emotionally attached to any other of my favorite albums. I can't put my finger on it; I don't know why. Is it the instrumentation? The lyrics? Who knows, but I digress. The Cowboy Bebop OST is the quintessential anime soundtrack. Nothing else tops it, in my opinion. There's just so much variety spread out on numerous discs. I want to take a moment and talk about my very favorite disc in the OST appropriately titled Blue.

I tend to prefer sad or depressing songs over happy and upbeat ones. As obvious as the sky is, well, blue, this album is filled to the brim with sad undertones. It's not just sad songs though. There are quite a few more upbeat tracks as well for those who can't handle those sad ones. I can't exactly give this album a specific genre, simply because there are so many different genre spread out throughout the album. There is a lot of jazz present on this album (as well as the majority of the OST) and blues, but you will also find some operatic music and even some break beats. I don't even know what to label Go Go Cactus Man. Cactus-core?

This album is beautiful. Some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. Like I mentioned earlier, it's filled with emotion. I guess I should start with the sad songs. Blue, the title track, is just perfect. The instrumentation sings with such emotion and the vocals of Mai Yamane is just one of the most powerful voices I have ever heard and fits this song to a T. The gentle start builds up to one of the biggest climaxes on the album. The children's chant and the beginning is a really nice touch. Although this sad song plays after the death of the main character in the show, I also feel a sort of optimism radiating from it, which is an interesting dichotomy. The final lines at the end of the song are probably my favorite lyrics of all time, and I'm not even religious. This song is the only song that have ever made me cry.

Because I don't want to write an entire paragraph detailing how much I love each track, I'll summarize. Words That We Couldn't Say is very nice with some great vocals by Steve Conte. Adieu has some of the most beautiful piano playing on this album and is played exquisitely well, complementing Emily Bindiger's vocals beautifully. Call Me Call Me probably has some of the most emotional vocals on the entire album. The instrumentation on that track is also some of the best, with the bass really standing out as phenomenal. Kanno's interpretation of Ave Maria is one of my favorite, solely because of the instrumentation accompanying it. Both Road to the West and Farewell Blues are some of the best jazz tracks in the entire OST, the latter having some of the smoothest instrumentation ever. And then, of course, there's See You Space Cowboy. Such memorable words and such a memorable song.

Now onto the more upbeat songs. Most of them are near the beginning. My favorite is probably Mushroom Hunting. It's really catchy and playful. Autumn in Ganymede has some of the funkiest bass on the album. The song sounds like a day on a beach in the Caribbeans. Flying Teapot has some very playful vocals and great piano playing, as per usual. All the songs that I haven't mentioned just don't really do that much for me. Although I do like them as individual songs, I wouldn't miss them if they were removed from the album. That's my only qualm, but it doesn't really detract anything from my listening experience.

This is one of two albums that I have ever given a perfect rating of 10 out of 10 to. You can listen to this as a whole or just to individual tracks. You can listen to this when you're feeling down or when you're in a really good mood. There isn't a time of day or year that is inappropriate to pop it on. So much variety, in genre and emotion, and it's all consistently good. I'd recommend this to anyone in a heartbeat. If you enjoy this, you'll probably enjoy the rest of the OST and some of Yoko Kanno's other work as well, like the Brain Powerd OST.

I will always hold this album close to my heart. Figuratively, obviously.

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