KENJI KAWAI: GHOST IN THE SHELL, 1995

Two weeks ago, the Hollywood remake of the classic and highly philosophical sci-fi anime Ghost In The Shell premiered in cinema halls all over the world and … well, let’s not add further insult to injury here, instead I want to incite you readers to discover (or rediscover) the anime’s original score by Kenji Kawai. Today, let somebody else click on Steve Aoki’s theme song-butchering EDM remix.

The aforementioned original theme song combines Bulgarian choral harmonies and traditional Japanese vocal techniques into a wedding song with lyrics in Yamato Kotaba (ancient Japanese). It’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard, guaranteed. The theme is reprised in three different variations throughout the album and all of them are absolute mood setters. Sparse while sacrificing none of its emotional intensity. It definitely should give you goosebumps and it’s even a little bit of an earworm. This may quite possibly be only my personal perception of it but there’s something catchy and poppy about it in a very unconventional way.

The rest of the soundtrack consists mostly of murky atmospheres filling an apparently airless space: sparse taiko, submerged keyboards, ominous clanging, synthetic strings, even a Spanish guitar is featured at some point (arguably the loudest moment throughout). There’s some kind of pattern in a lot of the things shared on Myosotis and some words come up more often than others, words such as “cinematic” and it needs to come up here again because that’s exactly what this is. Even if you haven’t seen the original movie (which I recommend), these arrangements manage to paint very vivid scenes, especially if you also pay attention to song titles like “Floating Museum” and “Nightstalker”. It should definitely be enough to unravel an entire movie within your mind.

At the end of the record there’s a little curveball, a little surprise, which I really don’t want to give away. It definitely caught me off guard on my first listen. You may want to discover it on your own; see if you like that ending or not. If not, it’s usually handled as bonus track so one could argue that it doesn’t belong to the actual album and you can simply ignore it. If you do, one could also argue that this slightly psychotic ending fits very well with the fragmented personhood of the film. Either way, it comes down to personal taste.

Listen to it blow:

Bonus: A gorgeous performance by Kawai and the Cinema Symphony.

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