Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door OST- Future Blues – Review

Album Title: Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door OST Future Blues
Anime Title: Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
Artist: Yoko Kanno, The Seatbelts, Mai Yamane, Steve Conte,
Hideyuki Takahashi, Hassan Bohmide, Aoi Tada, Mayu Jensen,
Tim Jensen, Mataro Misawa, Gabriela Robin
Catalog Number: VICL-60756
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: August 29, 2001
Purchase at: CDJapan


Track List

Show »

01. 24 Hours Open The Seatbelts 3:20
02. Pushing the Sky The Seatbelts 4:07
03. Time to Know~Be Waltz The Seatbelts 3:50
04. Clutch The Seatbelts 5:16
05. Musawe The Seatbelts 3:29
06. Yo Pumpkin Head The Seatbelts 4:05
07. Diggin’ The Seatbelts 5:08
08. 3.14 The Seatbelts 1:37
09. What Planet Is This The Seatbelts 4:31
10. 7 Minutes The Seatbelts 6:49
11. Fingers The Seatbelts 4:24
12. Powder The Seatbelts 1:31
13. Butterfly The Seatbelts 4:59
14. No Reply The Seatbelts 6:01
15. Dijurido The Seatbelts 1:59
16. Gotta Knock a Little Harder The Seatbelts 5:25
17. No Money The Seatbelts 1:21
18. Rain (Demo) The Seatbelts 3:24

Review: The Cowboy Bebop movie was something of a mixed bag.  As a companion side-story to the original series, its biggest demerit was that you knew from the beginning that nothing significant could happen to the main characters in any appreciable way, lest the movie prove unfaithful to the timeline of the show. It’s a great work in terms of production value and execution, but the movie’s inconsequentiality meant that it could never really stand on its own as its own product. Appreciation for the movie could only be fully realized if you saw the show.

The soundtracks for the two works follow much the same path. Though it’s a great Yoko Kanno score in many ways, there is the inescapable feeling that the movie’s soundtrack lives in the shadow of its predecessor.  Given the exquisiteness the Bebop OST exhibits, though, it’s like saying that someone is just a little bit slower than Usain Bolt.

24 Hours Open

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I’d like to start with the biggest disappointment on the disc: “24 Hours Open.” I can see what they were going for here, with the irony of machine gun noises, weeping, and screaming set to serene, lighthearted background music, but their decision to open the disc with this is absolutely baffling. Its selling point is its novelty, but it is far too repetitive and quickly overstays its welcome. The screaming loses steam halfway through, as if the singers themselves (actresses?) begin to realize how silly it all is. When looked at on the whole, it’s totally inconsistent in terms of style and quality compared to the rest of the track list. I can imagine how off-putting this song must have been to people first popping in the disc, and it gives a terrible first impression.

Luckily, “24 hours Open” proves to be the black sheep of the album. The disc goes on to feature great jazz numbers, and, unlike the series’ soundtrack, carries a strong (if not always good) pop/rock slant.

Pushing the Sky

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“Pushing the Sky” is one of those rock-oriented tracks, though not one of the better ones. The energetic riffs and frantic drumming feign a drive toward a climactic ending but end up going in circles; Mai Yamane’s vocals sound like they were recorded from behind a door, and the constant presence of too-heavily distorted duo guitars and pop n’ slap bass somehow make the song sound simultaneously too busy and monotonous. I can see where the appeal lies, it just doesn’t lie anywhere near me.

The next two tracks are breaths of fresh air for the discerning jazzman. “Time to Know~Be Waltz” is a fun, light-hearted number with a tinge of Latin flair, carried by the flutes and non-lyrical singing to give an airy, open feel. The alto sax solo about a third of the way through, though, is what really steals the show, and it just doesn’t last long enough. It’s a shame that the song pulled out its big guns so early in the run, because the rest of the tune is made up mostly of some strange, if very interesting, hip-hop. In the end, “Time to Know~Be Waltz” gives me just a taste of the jazz I’ve come to expect from Bebop, and it’s the next tune, “Clutch,” that offers the real, meaty, dirty old jazz that keeps me glued to my headphones.

Clutch

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While “Time to Know” took its time ramping up on the excitement, “Clutch” burns it up right out of the gate. Casting a soprano sax instead of the predictable alto or tenor was a commendable decision, as the extra kick the tone of the soprano gives was the push that grants it a spot in my daily playlists. This song isn’t just a good selection off of a soundtrack. It’s good jazz, good music, with a style highly reminiscent of the club jazz group Soil & “Pimp” Sessions. There are strong performances all around, and it remains one of the high points of the album.

Musawe

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In accordance with the Arabic setting of parts of the movie, you get the feeling that the album is much more ethnic than what is offered in the series. This is exemplified by “Musawe,” where its sudden strangeness sneaks up on you after “Clutch.” You’d expect to grow tired of the chanting, repetitive lyrics after a while, but the novelty surprisingly didn’t fade for me, helped no doubt by the wild saxophone musings going on in the background.

What Planet is This

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The bombastic “What Planet Is This” is also worth mentioning simply due to the fact that it’s as close as this soundtrack ever comes to the original series’ “Tank!” It’s a shame that “What Planet Is This” is so repetitive (a descriptor that can be applied to most of the songs here), as the addition of even a single extra bridge section would have gone a long way.

Dijurido

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In contrast to all the energy and excitement that “What Planet Is This” offers, “Dijurido” is a quiet, sentimental song notable if only for having no real form. I’m a sucker for unusual time signatures, though, so an extensive (if repetitive) 5/8 section in the middle warrants a mention here. Oh, and it’s sung by Gabriela Robin, who may or not be Yoko Kanno.

Arguably the highlight of the album is “Gotta Knock a Little Harder,” a soulful, blues-rock number with vocals by Mai Yamane. Yamane’s dark, throaty tone is better matched by the bright piano and gospel-inspired backing vocals here than in “Pushing the Sky’s” grunge. The gospel inspiration doesn’t stop at the background either; her performance here would give Aretha Franklin a run for her money, with a delivery that exhibits power and soulfulness which eclipses everything else on the album, making it the single greatest performance on the disc.

Gotta Knock a Little Harder

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Kanno outdid herself with Cowboy Bebop’s score.  In Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, though, it’s almost as if she purposefully thought inside the box a little bit. Granted, nearly anything would have been a bit of a disappointment after Bebop, but it’s pretty commendable that she decided to try something different instead of directly trying to one-up herself with more of the same. Whereas my review of the first Cowboy Bebop soundtrack got a “Very Good” for its questionable distribution of content, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door gets the same for being just a cut under what I expected.

Rating: Very Good

Aftershok

A huge jazz nerd and unabashed fan of alternative rock, I joined Anime Instrumentality in December 2010. I tend to get very passionate when it comes to music and try my best to understand how it works. An enormous fan of The Pillows, among my favorite anime composers include Ko Otani and Yoko Kanno. My tastes in anime vary wildly, but I try to be as thoughtful about my viewing as I am about my listening. I play the saxophone.

4 thoughts on “Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door OST- Future Blues – Review

  • April 3, 2011 at 5:56 am
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    In my opinion, I think this movie ost deviates from the series ost; it’s more rock-oriented. Gotta Knock a Little Harder is the link that bridges the movie to the series and I love that.
    On a side note, I thought 24 hour open was kind of awesome despite its repetition.

    Reply
  • April 7, 2011 at 8:26 pm
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    I agree that the movie’s OST deviates from the series, but I’m personally of the opinion “Gotta Knock” is more of a stylistic departure than a bridge.

    And “24 Hour Open” was cool in its own way but dragged on waay too long and for no reason should have opened the disc.

    Reply
  • April 10, 2011 at 8:19 am
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    It’s pretty hard to surpass the series OST even for Yoko Kanno herself. Still, enjoyed this. Dijurido is especially nice.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2011 at 3:24 am
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    Although it’s just my biased opinion I thought that the future blues ost was on par with its elder brothers.
    What Planet is This?! was pretty high and awesome and I didn’t feel it was all that repetitive.
    Fingers was a really Dreamy Chilly RnB like song with weird but great beats and a nice relaxing piano.
    Dijurido was nice though I did think it was a bit repetitive.
    But you’re right about 24 hours being the worst of the album it seemed quite dumb really with the gun shots and screaming and all.
    7 minutes was a crazy insane rock piece that had the feeling of “let’s get the hell outta here” the song has a insane bass.
    But yeah it really was that Yoko Kanno did some inside the box thinking but still great job on the ost

    Reply

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