Album has a ‘Ghost’ of a chance

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, March 3, 2012

Don’t judge a soundtrack by its genre.

I’ll be the first to admit that when Herald photographer Eric Johnson handed me an anime soundtrack to listen to, I was skeptical.

To my surprise, the soundtrack to “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” — an anime series from 2002 — was a remarkably broad and pleasant listen.

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The soundtrack largely comes from Yoko Kanno, a Japanese composer who is a veteran when it comes to soundtracks for video games and anime.

The base of the sound is electronic and new age, but Kanno throws in everything but the kitchen sink in terms of genres. Parts of “Yakitori” sounds like an updated jam from the 1970s. “Lithium Flower” harkens back to 1980s music and 1990s vocals. Then it’s on to more modern 21st Century sounds with “Home Stay.” “Get 9 (TV Size)” blends in elements of 1970s funk.

The end of “Siberian Doll House” sounds a little like effects used in Beatles records.

 Dig it

It’s clear Kanno is a gifted composer who can blend a number of styles into one core. As an album, it lacks uniform direction and style at times, but that’s a lot of the charm. The album caught me in a indecisive musical mood where I couldn’t pick an album and stick with it. This soundtrack hit a perfect chord for that mood.

The songs have power, but are not overbearing, which makes it great background music for a project at work, relaxing at home or for a commute.

 Didn’t dig it

As with any soundtrack, the album feels a bit empty on its own.

Soundtracks aren’t necessarily designed to stand by themselves — they’re meant to enhance the images and story of the film, TV show. etc. While the best can rightly stand on their own — and “Ghost in the Shell” does — all are rounded out when mixed with the images.

A good example of this: Some of the slow parts of the album would probably fit perfectly within the context of the story.

 Key track

“Surf” is a track that sprawls genres, touching on orchestration, techno, rock and traditional genres while keeping its core in electronic-based pop rock.

Verdict: Mood album

This album won’t make it to the front of my album collection, but it’s certainly earned a spot. It’s a good album to revisit when the mood is right.