|Album Title:||PSYCHO-PASS SOUNDTRACK VOL.1|
|Release Date:||January 25, 2013|
|01. PSYCHO-PASS||Yugo Kanno||6:41|
|02. The Gunpoint That Controls the Justice||Yugo Kanno||5:26|
|03. Crime Coefficient||Yugo Kanno||2:02|
|04. Human Mind||Yugo Kanno||1:14|
|05. Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division||Yugo Kanno||1:52|
|06. Sibyl System||Yugo Kanno||4:25|
|07. Hound’s Nose||Yugo Kanno||1:40|
|08. Hunch of the Criminal||Yugo Kanno||1:51|
|09. A Watchful Eye||Yugo Kanno||2:03|
|10. Obsession||Yugo Kanno||2:30|
|11. Order||Yugo Kanno||1:50|
|12. Borderline||Yugo Kanno||1:50|
|13. Dominator||Yugo Kanno||3:13|
|14. Law and Order||Yugo Kanno||2:41|
|15. The Way of Life||Yugo Kanno||3:55|
Review: Underneath the mishmash of electronica and synth that joins the piano, woodwinds, and strings in Yugo Kanno’s score for PSYCHO-PASS, one finds an aura of tragedy that drapes over the anime like a heavy curtain. This stifling image that Kanno evokes through his music aligns well with Gen Urobuchi’s screenplay for the anime which depicts a grim future where the need for societal harmony strips people of the very essence of what it means to be free. Order is enforced through the Sybil System, a sinister AI (or so we are led to believe) which governs nearly every aspect of a person’s existence by scanning and analyzing their state of mind through psychological scanners present at every light pole and street corner.
Within this world, the men and women of the Public Safety Bureau serve as the human face of the Sybil System as well as its chief defenders, capturing those whose psychological imprints suggest they will become criminals. Their actions are amoral, more often than not, but many are driven by the high-minded ideals of an ordered society forged by the System. It’s this ideal that’s set for a fall, and no track captures the impending tragedy in the face of action better than the opening track “PSYCHO-PASS.”
“PSYCHO-PASS” wastes no time in getting under way. The rhythmic blast that marks the track’s beginning races along with an urgent purpose. But just when you think a clash is imminent, the piano’s plaintive layering on top of the rhythm betrays the tragedies that are sure to come, creating an engrossing duality. This lamentation is heightened further by the inclusion of the violin which sighs mournfully, ebbing, flowing, lilting, all to bring out the desperation as the very pillar of societal order shows its weaknesses. So while the forceful electronica dominates the track’s foreground to suggest action, the scant hope, sprinkled in the prominent motif heard in the string and electric guitar duet, brings out the profoundness of the tragedy which envelopes much of the series for all to hear.
The second track, “The Gunpoint That Controls The Justice” is as somber as the dissonance leads the way. If the violin motif’s grim upwelling early on isn’t enough to reinforce how ominous the world is, the distant lilt from a singer and the synthy muted blares set the foundation for the uneasy atmosphere. But it’s the strings in the second part of the track where the music becomes poignant as tragedy and hope intermingle. Though not wholly complex, the broad strokes that it paints is engaging, matching the grim setting pound for pound.
The Gunpoint That Controls The Justice
Kanno’s electronica sets the foundation for this dystopian future as it weaves an unsettling fabric that’s slowly fraying in spite of the Sybil System’s raison d’etre. Tracks like “Crime Coefficient” only further the aural setting and the pace of the anime by amplifying the unease into full-blown paranoia. “Crime Coefficient” buzzes with an unwavering resolve, barring a few interruptions including menacing crescendo blasts and ostinatos which heighten the suspense, evoking images of one darting through endless urban alleyways filled with lurking dangers. Although the track is tense, it’s the eerie, disjointed piano segment that cracks the veneer of sanity with lingering tones that agitate listeners. Perhaps the only track more vivid in this spiral towards madness is “Obsession,” which starts out with a few blips and bloops before unleashing a grating, pulsating blare that persists like a jackhammer between one’s temples. While the way it drives on lives up to its track title, “Obsession” is an effective mood-setter that’s unlikely to garner repeat listens.
Amidst the electronica, Yugo Kanno proffers some funk and harsher acoustic guitar tones to give PSYCHO-PASS the mood of a modern film noir. “Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division” delivers with a strumming bass to lay out a chaotic air that’s oddly pleasant if less methodical than what one would expect from a government agency. While short, the track’s spontaneity is enjoyable as it tugs listeners along its funky grooves. There’s also “Dominator,” which uses a huffing sound to simulate the tension one might get out of a chase before a stimulating, heavier outlaw-ish country sound takes over, providing the track with much of its energy. The heavy beats continue to run its course, adding an array of electronica to intensify the tension along with a brief segment of silence where the suspense grows.
Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division
But as much as the unease dominates the soundtrack, it’s the melodies that bring out the tragedy in such stark terms that stand out the most. In “Human Mind,” the piano comes forth reticently. Though its motif is calming and serene, the way the piano rustles exudes a sense of pain and anguish resulting from the loss of what it means to be human. The soft tone feels muted at times, making it a good reflection of an existence bereft of the ups and downs that encompass life’s joys and sorrows. “The Way of Life” fits the same mold as the slow melody issues forth and unveils a deep mourning within. The sorrow comes out plaintively from both the piano and cello, lamenting for the innocence lost. Hope here is fleeting and the melancholy is sublime amidst the broken backdrop of the anime.
The Way of Life
All told, the way Yugo Kanno’s PSYCHO-PASS soundtrack slithers through its digital labyrinths is absorbing as it tells a tale of ideals breaking down in the light of the truth, making the tragedy that unfolds on screen that much more pronounced. For much of the ideals that the characters hold are converted into action to defend the Sybil System from those who would seek to destroy it, and Kanno’s intense electronica evokes the desperation behind the action wonderfully. But it’s the tragedy that shines most, building the emotive foundation for Gen Urobuchi’s dystopia, where, given what happens, the characters have no other suitable recourse than to cry soft, bitter tears as their world altogether crumbles.
Rating: Very Good