Music Appreciation: Yoko Kanno
July 16, 2010
The purpose of this post is to appreciate Yoko Kanno, because she has made some great music. As with other entries in this series, no attempt is made to be comprehensive, or to assert that the songs presented are the “best” that Ms. Kanno has created. In other words, YMMV. The purpose is simply to pause and reflect upon the gift of music that she has given to the world.
Unlike our last entry in this series, Yoko Kanno might be said to have no style. She is truly a master of many styles, from Classical, to Jazz, to Pop and Rock. Perhaps even more amazing than her incredible versatility, is the consistency with which she has produced excellent music.
Vision of Escaflowne [“Dance of Curse”] (1996)
The visuals in the embedded amv are actually from the 2000 remake of Escaflowne. The music for this series is so incredible throughout that I probably could have ended up with five songs just from this one show. In fact, the OP, with vocals by Maaya Sakamoto, is great. “Dance of Curse” is a particular favorite of mine, however. Hearing it always fills me with energy, and excitement. Perhaps it triggers an adrenalin release in my body. If I were in a position to commission a dance troupe to choreograph and perform something for me, there is no question that this is the piece I would select.
Cowboy Bebop [ED: “the Real Folk Blues”] (1998)
Cowboy Bebop is another series from whose soundtrack selecting five excellent songs would be just embarrassingly simple. In this case we have a live performance of the ED performed by Kanno’s band, the Seatbelts, featuring Mai Yamane on vocals. Hell, I think you could pull five excellent songs featuring Mai Yamane from the Cowboy Bebop OST! BTW, Yoko Kanno is seen briefly wearing a feathered “chief” head-dress, at the very beginning, and again at about the 20 second mark.
Cowboy Bebop [“Too Good Too Bad”] (1998)
This is another song from the Cowboy Bebop OST, with the Seatbelts in straight ahead mode. I wish I could have found a video that included Spike dog-fighting over the Martian colony, but this is really about Yoko Kanno, and her awesome music, so just close your eyes and enjoy the Jazz.
Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight [OP] (1998)
A live performance from 2009, [that video has been removed, so I swapped in the version from the anime] Sung by Maaya Sakamoto. It shows Yoko Kanno’s skill as a world-fusion composer. The lyrics are also quite beautiful: What does everyone seek by fighting? Does spilled blood cause flowers to bloom? Maaya worked with Yoko on several projects, I provided a link to the Escaflowne OP earlier, so here is a link to the RahXephon OP, which was another Kanno/Sakamoto number.
GitS:SAC Solid State Society [“Zero Signal”] (2006)
To round it out, we have a number that starts off like a Bulgarian women’s choir, but ends up dark, like Industrial Rock. Yet another side of the impressive Ms. Kanno.
I hope you enjoyed the music! Since this post is dedicated to appreciating Yoko Kanno’s music, I think I’ll close by pointing you to the mystery of Who is Gabriela Robin?