Yoko Kanno is one of the preeminent composers in the world of anime. She has composed music for several popular anime works. She created the cool pop/jazz soundscapes for both the TV and movie versions of Cowboy Bebop. She lent soaring strings and infectious pop to Macross Plus and a beautiful, baroque orchestral feel to the TV and movie versions of Escaflowne. Her most recent work is providing the music for Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, one of Adult Swim's newest hit shows. Fortunately, Bandai Entertainment is bringing the soundtracks of the show stateside with Stand Alone Complex O.S.T.+ being the first release.
Stand Alone Complex O.S.T.+ features a variety of genres. The album's first two songs, the vocal "Run Rabbit Junk" and the instrumental "Yakitori" are full-on rock. Songs like "Where Does This Ocean Go?" and "Velveteen" are more along the lines of J-pop. "Home Stay" is a funky instrumental piece while "Fish~Silent Cruise" starts off ethereal and goes in a decidedly different direction. In addition to the variety of genres, there are also a variety of languages used on this soundtrack. Most of the songs are in English but portions of "Velveteen" are sung in Italian while "Inner Universe" and "Rise (TV Size)" interchange between English and Russian.
A variety of contributors write the lyrics for the vocal tracks. Origa's lyrics for "Inner Universe," the first theme song for the series, fit perfectly with the themes of the show. Chris Mosdell lyrics for "Beauty Is Within Us" evoke the bitterness, self-hatred, and sadness of someone who feels they are an abomination. The lyrics to "Monochrome," written by troy, voices the thoughts of someone who encounters artificial intelligence.
Stand Alone Complex O.S.T.+ is a very good release from a composer who has already created a ton of wonderful music already. It showcases Kanno's strengths: her boundless creativity and her willingness to experiment and try new things. It's not as strong as her work for Cowboy Bebop or Escaflowne, but it's far beyond the kind of stuff that passes for music in many animated shows, anime or otherwise. In fact, if you didn't know better, you'd swear it wasn't a soundtrack at all.
Be Human, the second album of music from Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex composed by Yoko Kanno is also available now. Look for Bandai Entertainment to release Stand Alone Complex OST 2, also composed by Yoko Kanno, this August.