Next to Joe Hisaishi, Yoko Kanno might be the most recognizable anime composer… at least for those of us on this side of the Pacific. And with good reason — she’s worked on Cowboy Bebop (“Tank!” is one of the greatest TV theme songs of all time, anime or otherwise), Macross Plus, Escaflowne: The Movie, Jin-Roh, RahXephon, and Wolf’s Rain — to name but a few.
Kanno’s work is almost instantly recognizable, and yet it’s also incredibly diverse. She moves with equal ease from gorgeous string arrangements to jazzy piano numbers, from scorching rock songs to thumping, high-energy techno. All of which is on display in this soundtrack for the highly acclaimed Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex.
The highlight of the soundtrack is easily the series’ opening theme, “Inner Universe,” which blends a boys’ choir and the soaring vocals of Hungarian vocalist Origa with thundering electronics and pulsing rhythms. Although the combination shouldn’t work on paper, Kanno’s strength often lies in blending such disparate elements into something much, much greater than the sum of its parts. In the case of “Inner Universe,” the result is an energetic and otherworldly track that perfectly captures the mood and atmosphere of the series as a whole.
Other highlights, however, include: “Beauty Is Within Us” and its gorgeous vocals courtesy of Gabriela Robin; the high-energy, chase sequence-worthy “Yakitoru,” which is packed with Tsuneo Imahori’s searing guitar; the pulsing “Stamina Rose,” which is a nice foreshadowing to “Inner Universe”; and the Björk-like “Where Does This Ocean Go?,” which could almost pass for an outtake from Vespertine.