Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex OST 3 Is Another Solid Kanno Soundtrack

Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex OST 3 is the latest soundtrack release from Yoko Kanno, one of my favorite composers. It's another solid release for Kanno and proves she still, amazingly, has a lot of creative energy left.

Each soundtrack for Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex has been different. The first soundtrack was primarily hard pumping rock and techno-influenced pop. The Be Human soundtrack was primarily really strange music, since it contained the score from the Tachikoma shorts. The second soundtrack contained a combination of very good slow to mid-tempo vocal tracks with instrumental tracks reminiscent of her other works. This new soundtrack is mostly instrumental and again references her other works. To give you an idea of the variety contained on this soundtrack (and frankly any Yoko Kanno soundtrack), I'm going to do something quite rare...I'm going to do a song-by-song review of the album's 17 tracks.

1. "The End Of All You'll Know" (vocals by Scott Matthew): This is an interesting way to open the album. It's a sad, piano-driven song with Scott's distinctive vocals.

2. "Torukia" (vocals by Gabriela Robin, a pseudonym for Yoko Kanno): This one hits you right away. It sounds like a blast from the 80's with its synths and drums. Kanno puts her own unique spin on this 1980's throwback with her unusual vocals, acoustic guitars, strings, and tribal influences. This song puts me in the mind of her underrated soundtrack to the not-so-good anime Brain Powerd. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, this is the type of music she actually recorded in the 1980's.

3. "Know Your Enemy" (instrumental): This one is a nice soundtrack piece that is uniquely Kanno. Strings combine with a smooth beat and piano to create one very nice song.

4. "Laser Seeker" (instrumental): This song is an upbeat rock song, although it's not as hard as some of the stuff from the first soundtrack.

5. "Break Through" (instrumental): This is an upbeat song that starts off as techno but quickly becomes pop as real instruments replace the electronic sounds.

6. "Flying Low" (instrumental): This song has a heavy, midtempo rock feel to it for the most part but mellows out a little bit in the middle. I wonder if she worked with some of the same musicians she has worked with in the past. When I first heard it, I was reminded of the work of Tsuneo Imahori, the man who composed the music for Trigun and a frequent Kanno collaborator.

7. "Europe" (instrumental): With the saxophone solo that opens this song, thoughts of Cowboy Bebop came to mind. However, once the saxophone is augmented with strings and other instruments, the song gets an epic (yet light) jazz feel.

8. "Hantou no Higashi" (instrumental): An orchestra is in full force on this song, which is reminiscent of Kanno's work for the anime Macross Plus. The song is slow and solemn in tone for the most part but there are points that it takes a wonderful, fleeting feel to it as well.

9. "Mikansei Love Story" (instrumental): This is a nice, smooth song driven by acoustic guitar. It's reminiscent of some of the work from Wolf's Rain.

10. "Christmas In The Silent Forest" (vocals by Ilaria Graziano): Honestly, this song sounds like a tribute to the music of Bjork. It is very reminiscent of Bjork's songs from the off-kilter instrument arrangement to the crescendos and even in Graziano's vocals (which are very good, by the way). Nonetheless, this song is wonderful. Can you imagine the music that Bjork and Yoko Kanno would produce if they ever collaborated? I'd love to hear that.

11. "Access All Areas" (instrumental): A quick little techno-influenced rock song.

12. "Sacred Terrorist" (instrumental): This is a slow, melancholy piece that reminds me a lot of her work from Escaflowne. The orchestra sounds great.

13. "Dear John" (vocals by Scott Matthew): This is a midtempo rock/pop song. What sets it apart is the way the vocals by Scott Matthew are used. His vocals are distorted for the most part. The parts where you expect lyrics are filled (barely) with a breathy, electronic voice.

14. "35.7c" (instrumental): This short song is basically synths and a somber sounding trumpet. I haven't seen GITS:SAC in a while, but I wonder if this was used during a funeral scene.

15. "Smile" (instrumental): This song has everything but the kitchen sink. Electric sounds combine with piano, strings, and random ethereal vocals to create something that swings from nice to creepy very quickly. It just has to be heard.

16. "Flashback Memory Stick" (vocals by Origa): This is a nice, minimal, and short reprise of "Inner Universe," the first opening song for the show (it's on OST 1).

17. "Dew" (vocals by Ilaria Graziano): This piece of pop is a nice way to end the album. Pop is probably what Kanno does best and this nice, smooth song shows it.

There we have it, another very good Yoko Kanno soundtrack. If you liked any of the other GITS:SAC soundtracks, you will probably like this one. I hope Bandai releases this one stateside. The first soundtrack and the Be Human soundtrack are available now from Bandai while the second soundtrack is set for release in August. Your best bet to find these soundtracks would be either online, Suncoast, an anime/comic book store, or possibly a Mom/Pop record store. I have never seen any Bandai or Geneon anime soundtracks in Best Buy or Circuit City. Yoko Kanno's soundtracks are worth the effort to pick them up.


  1. great review :)
    I've been in love with yoko kanno for years, and she hasn't stopped amazing me with every new release. I thought the exact same thing with the "Christmas" song, about the Bjork style (since I'm a Bjork fan too) and the songs by Ilaria are always addictive ^___^

  2. "35.7" is played during the scene where Bato and Motoko are rather intimately hiding out in her safe house after Section 9 has been attacked and disbanded.

  3. This is a great review! I dunno if you'll see this because it's been a few months... but I've been looking for someone else to confirm... do you notice how similar "Know Your Enemy" is to Craig Armstrong's "Weather Storm"? Infact, parts of it sound directly sampled off, including the drums, piano glissandos, and some of the string swells. I wonder what's the story behind this! =^_^=

    1. This is definitely the same song. Much same as today's remix of a famous song.

  4. Haesslich10:51 AM

    And, just so you know, Track 16 (Flashback - Memory Stick) was used in Episode 22 - 'Corporate Graft: SCANDAL', when Motoko met the Laughing Man face to face and he did a link with her to download all the Laughing Man data (and apparently, many of his memories from the incidents), just as one of the rogue Narcotics people who wiped out the Sunflower Society in the last episode was about to kill her.

    Just before she got her brain unlocked, and then used her new body to kick said Narc through the window. :D

  5. great review man thanks!

  6. clayaka9:10 PM

    Nice review man. I've been looking for this album myself everywhere. Huge anime fan and yoko's sound is amazing.

  7. Anonymous9:38 PM

    can anyone come up with tabs or notation for mikansei love story?

  8. Anonymous9:39 PM

    Does anyone know the name of the song that was used in episode 22 of SAC when they were transitioning from tougusa in the hospital to motoko getting her body swapped? I have been trying super hard to find it