Yoko Kanno Week #7

Welcome all to our final E. Leventine feature entry on composer and performer Yoko Kanno. If you are just joining us now, here are the first six parts so you can catch up:
#1 (Intro)
#2 (Jazz and Blues)
#3 (Classical)
#4 (Rock and Metal)
#5 (Electronic and Ambient)
#6 (Pop Music and Ballads)

In this last post, we’re going to try and wrangle up the stragglers. The pieces that didn’t really fit into the previous categories, but deserve to be heard. You’re going to hear lots of foreign influence in this category, and a touch of hip-hop. I guess you could call this section Kanno’s Oddities.

I mentioned before how much I love the GITS :SAC OST be Human. It is just full of these ridiculous surprises. I’m like, “What’s this now? A bossa nova track? Sure, let me have it.” And it turns out to be such a ridiculous track that I’m like “Oh, Kanno. What is this? I love you”. It’s like they told the vocalists “ham it up! ham it up like you’re in a detergent commercial from the 50s!” and on top of that, it honestly sounds like it was written on one of these:
casioDespite how poorly I just hyped the song, Bang Bang Banquet is legit super cool. She made it work.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Comples (be Human)- Bang Bang Banquet

Really not sure how to academically describe this song. I’m hearing latin guitar technique, gaelic influences, and a touch of something middle-eastern. 2nd life is from the Earth Girl Arjuna sountrack I discovered while researching Kanno for these posts. Keep an ear out for the barely-audible whispers of the background vocalists. It sounds like a countdown.
Earth Girl Arjuna: Into Another World- 2nd Life

I love it when you hear the first twenty seconds of a song and still have no idea of where its going, what it will sound like in another twenty seconds. Cream starts off with some borderline discordant digital echo. The percussion quickly joins in, awkwardly hollow and metallic  and I’m wondering how I’m going to make sense of this messy track.  Before I can finish my thought, the strings make their grand entrance,  then it’s suddenly a rap, then the drums are genius I get it now. I love this track, you guys. Rap and male vocals by Hideyuki Takahashi from Project.R.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complez (be Human)- Cream

I thought it would be fitting that our last track be from Cowboy Bebop, as the series is what began my awareness of Yoko Kanno as an artist. Yo Pumpkin Head is from the Cowboy Bebop Movie soundtrack. You know when a song stops being a song and becomes instead the musical manifestation of something tangible? This song, to me, is the musical manifestation of Mardi Gras.
Cowboy Bebop Movie OST (Knockin On Heaven’s Door/Future Blues)- Yo Pumpkin Head

That’s it for our Yoko Kanno feature. If you ever hear a fantastic Kanno track and think of us, drop by and post it in the comments.  I’m feeling a little poignant, now that I’m finished. I’ll leave you with some of her lyrics.

Everything is clearer now
Life is just a dream, you know,
That’s never ending
I’m ascending”

Yoko Kanno- Blue


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