Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Yoko Kanno Reviews: Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society OST

It's time for another installment of the Yoko Kanno Reviews, where I review the music of one of my favorite composers. This time around, it's for the Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society OST.

The Solid State Society OST is the fifth soundtrack from the GITS:SAC franchise, coming after OSTs 1-3 and Be Human. You might think that with four other albums preceding it that the SSS OST might just be the dregs. Fortunately, this is not the case. This is actually one of the best GITS:SAC soundtracks and probably the most consistent.

If there is one complaint I might have with the GITS:SAC soundtracks, it is that the instrumentals usually pale in comparison to the vocal tracks. That's not to say that there haven't been great instrumental songs on these albums (“Spotter” is better than most of Be Human) but none of them compare to tracks like “Christmas In The Silent Forest,” “Inner Universe,” or “Cyberbird.” On the SSS OST, the vocal tracks are still better than the instrumentals. However, the instrumentals narrow the gap this time around.

“Zero Signal” starts off with a patented Kanno vocal interlude then takes on a heavy, Nince Inch Nails-esque electronic feel. The addition of the guitars here gives it a unique feel to it that instantly makes it a Yoko Kanno song. “Solid State Society” is a wonderful, fast-paced song that feels a lot like a jam session. It starts off with just some piano, bass, and a little electronic percussion. Gradually, more and more instrumentation comes in and you hear everything from guitars to strings. It's an interesting song in that you almost feel like it could last for another two or three minutes.

“Blues In The Net” is really intriguing because it's a bit more hardcore electronica than you'd expect. About a minute or two in, the song develops this really sparse electronic sound to it. It's something you might expect from Mouse On Mars or Autechre rather than Kanno and it's surprising. The sparse electronica goes on for a while too before ending with some light strings and piano.

While the instrumental tracks are better here than usual, the vocal tracks still reign. Ilaria Graziano sings on the two best vocal tracks. “Replica” nicely combines electronic elements and strings to make a very good pop track. The rhythm here is fast-paced and the song will warrant repeat listens.

“From The Roof Top ~ Somewhere In The Silence (Sniper's Theme)” is arguably the album's best track. Graziano again provides vocals here. The song, commonly known as just “Sniper” among Kanno fans, has been one they've waited for on an album and it's far from a disappointment. Even the minute-plus jazzy interlude that precedes the main song cannot take away from its quality. This is a piece of pop perfection with a great beat and great production. It's not as quirky as, say, “Christmas In The Silent Forest” but it's just a really good song.

Origa, like Ilaria Graziano, gets two songs to sing on. The results here are a little more mixed. “Player,” which features Heartsdales, feels more like a combination of “Inner Universe” and “Rise” than something original. “Date Of Rebirth” fares a bit better. While it too is in the style of previous songs from the GITS:SAC soundtracks, it feels fresher.

Gabriela Robin, the vocalist long rumored to be Kanno herself, also gets two vocal tracks which are quite different from each other. “Take A Little Hand,” is a quiet, acoustic guitar-driven song dominated by Robin's vocals. However, “She Is” is the better song of the two. It's a moody, creepy electronic song where Robin delivers her vocals in a breathy whisper. Even though it's only about two-and-a-half minutes long, it's one of my favorite tracks. Even if I can barely understand what Robin's saying (if at all), “She Is” is a song that achieves what it sets out to do in an all-too-quick fashion.

I have to say that I really enjoyed the SSS OST. While there really aren't that many true standout tracks, there really aren't any true duds either. Even the songs I felt were a little lackluster are still enjoyable to listen to. I don't find myself skipping that many tracks on this OST. Even though this is the fifth GITS:SAC album, I still hope that a sixth one is on the way.

1 comment:

  1. i haven't bought any of OSTs as the origa SAC tunes do it for me (found them on the net). i might just cop this one but only after i've seen the movie. nice blog BTW!