|Album Title:||Zankyou no Terror Original Soundtrack 1|
|Anime Title:||Zankyou no Terror|
|Release Date:||July 09, 2014|
|Purchase at:||CDJapan, Play-Asia|
|01. lolol||Yoko Kanno||1:39|
|02. von||Yoko Kanno (feat. Arnór Dan)||6:14|
|03. ess||Yoko Kanno||3:36|
|04. saga||Yoko Kanno||4:54|
|05. fugl||Yoko Kanno||2:28|
|06. hanna||Yoko Kanno (feat. Hanna Berglind)||4:30|
|07. veat||Yoko Kanno||3:46|
|08. lava||Yoko Kanno (feat. POP ETC)||4:51|
|09. walt||Yoko Kanno||3:14|
|10. birden||Yoko Kanno (feat. Arnór Dan)||4:45|
|11. Fa||Yoko Kanno||5:38|
|12. nc17||Yoko Kanno||4:43|
|13. ís||Yoko Kanno (feat. POP ETC)||2:41|
|14. 22||Yoko Kanno (feat. Ryo Nagano)||2:44|
|15. seele||Yoko Kanno||2:03|
|16. lev low||Yoko Kanno||2:34|
|17. ili lolol||Yoko Kanno||5:41|
|18. bless||Yoko Kanno (feat. Arnór Dan)||3:11|
Review: One thing I really love about Yoko Kanno’s compositions is just how varied they all are. From sweeping war pieces (Turn A Gundam) to digital soundscapes (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex); from rushing jazz beats (Cowboy Bebop) to idol chart holders (Macross Frontier), she loves to experiment. That’s always a scary idea for her fans though. Will the new soundtrack be too different? Isn’t this something I’ve heard many a time before? Yikes, this is way too odd for my liking! And for me, I thought she was recently getting too caught up in the Macross Frontier sound. The music was fantastic, but it all became a little too homogenized and that carried over to Genesis of Aquarion: Evol. Her music in the much-anticipated Kids on the Slope by Shinichiro Watanabe (of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo fame) wasn’t fantastic either. I was worried. Had Kanno reached a peak?
After watching Zankyou no Terror, a Watanabe anime involving two kids’ rebellion against society, and listening to this soundtrack, my answer is a relieved no. No, nada, in your dreams. This is Kanno at her best. It’s an experiment in design, one that still retains much of what we love about her music.
To gain inspiration for the soundtrack, Kanno went to Iceland and even recorded at Sigur Rós’s studio. What resulted is something of a hybrid of all things Kanno. For example, “fugl” and “walt” feature a fluttering piano backed by flowing strings which bring a strong poignancy and drama to the pieces – something Kanno excels in conveying.
“saga” brings in the jazz with pulsating drums and a furious driving bass. The piano starts playing fugue-like arpeggios as an electric guitar begins a solo, building on that quick beat before the strings come in to finish the song. The build-up is fantastic and the playing very tight.
Kanno uses a lot of electric guitar in this soundtrack, mainly to create a harsher sound. “lolol” makes use of strong distortion to open the soundtrack while the penultimate song, “ili lolol,” uses the same distortion but offsets its angry tone with gentle harps to create something more dreamlike. In one of my favourite pieces, “nc17”, a piano plays a rhythmic series of notes that sets the backdrop for the piece. Guitars and other instruments come in one after another to build but dissipate not long after, leaving the piano all alone. But after a short period of unsure silence, the drums and electric guitars come in and everything changes. The heavy, militaristic sounds provide more optimism and resolution to the track and the way that flows makes the initial build up all the sweeter.
Then, you have the vocal pieces. The singers featured add a lot to the overall atmosphere. Hanna Berglind’s vocals in “hanna” are tender and convey a certain innocence, especially when paired with a ridiculous drummer whose insane solo brings the background instrumentals to a euphoric high and finish. In “ís”, US indie group POP ETC provides quiet vocals amidst lazy guitar strums for a more introspective feel. And Ryo Nagano from Japanese group Apogee lends his voice to “22”, but its hazy structure is a miss for me. Nagano does do great harmonies in this though.
But it’s Icelandic singer Arnór Dan that strongly impresses here. His voice, fragile and delicate, soars with the guitar in “birden”, rides on to more dizzying heights once the drums and strings crash in, and bookends it all by reprising that fragile delivery. However, it’s in the song “von” where the combination of his vocals and Kanno’s music simply astounds. There, a loop is made of his voice and piano before he comes in, singing in Icelandic with Kanno’s lush strings in accompaniment. A chord change in the middle and the driving loop create an underlying tension both quiet and desperate which grimly holds on until the end. It’s unique in the way it creates its own space and see-saws between ideas of heartbreak and acceptance. It really is an exquisite piece and my favourite of the album.
As a side note, Zankyou no Terror was a flawed series. But it was also beautiful to watch and a great ride from beginning to end. While the story did become very messy, it was made up of fantastic moments that moved me emotionally, showcasing Watanabe’s perfect use of Kanno’s music. “nc17” and “ís” really resonated in the motorcycle scene, and the use of “von” definitely made my 2014 list of anime moments. They are tracks I’ll go back to repeatedly.
What does this mean? Well, barring a few mediocre atmospheric pieces (“veat” and “Fa” were too much background noise for me), this is vintage Kanno. Borrowing Icelandic traits, Kanno has created a collection of tracks that juxtaposes loneliness and uncertainty with peace and introspection, all amidst sparser ideas of space. It’s different in style to the rest of her works yet familiar in intent, and a great return to form for her.