Monday, October 5, 2009
Let's get one thing straight: I'm no fucking anime nerd. The intricacies of cosplay, Gundam, furries, and Pokemon are far beyond me, and that's where I like them. To quote the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, the world of anime "frightens and confuses me". But that doesn't mean that there aren't certain Japanimation movies that rule. Fist of the North Star is good shit, as well as the works of Hayao Miyazaki and stuff like Vampire Hunter D and Ninja Scroll. But the grandfather of the whole genre is Akira.
Much like At The Gates pioneered the "Gothenburg sound", opening the doors for a multitude of inferior bands to muck up the scene, so did Akira open the floodgates for a million billion other anime offshoots, from annoying children's fare to tentacle porn to teenage-girl-school-dramas to horrific gore flicks. But Akira was the first BIG anime flick. And also the best.
Ever since the first time I saw the film in the early 90's, the soundtrack has been one of the main elements for me. Much like Vangelis' soundtrack for Blade Runner six years earlier, Geinoh Yamashirogumi's haunting, electronica-meets-choral-ensemble recording for Akira somehow becomes an integral part of the story itself, a colossal, ever-present trip-out underscoring the weirdness playing out accross the screen.
But who -- or rather, what -- is Geinoh Yamashirogumi? Well, I'm glad you asked. Let's consult our old friend Wikipedia for an answer:
"Geinoh Yamashirogumi is a Japanese musical collective founded on January 19, 1974 by Tsutomu Ōhashi, consisting of hundreds of people from all walks of life: journalists, doctors, engineers, students, businessmen, etc. They are known for both their faithful re-creations of folk music from around the world, as well as their fusion of various traditional musical styles with modern instrumentation and synthesizers."
A picture of the Geinoh Yamashirogumi collective is shown below, with the three-inverted-trapezoids logo they use as their unofficial seal.
And yes, this particualr soundtrack is every bit as odd, hypnotic, trancelike, spaced-out, fucked-up, experimental, and brilliant as you are expecting it to be. Part ambient synth, part gamelan ensemble, part cavern of chanting monks, part minor-key space odyssey.
Below: Neo-Tokyo bites it.
Posted by Shelby Cobras at 12:14 PM