Sunday, February 7, 2010

Living & Breathing Kanno

And where would this blog be without some of the rare few individuals who have not only provided me, and many others with enjoyment, but have also been a profound fuel for inspiration in my world. Would be easy enough to just highlight a list of these folks, but in the spirit of the sheer weigh of inspiration we are dealing with, it only makes sense to give full stage to someone who's works have not only helped illuminate great stories, but significantly helped raised the bar for production value for an entire medium. In V.Zero, they would be considered titans. This is something far more significant.

Muses can exist.

But to perhaps gain a clearer idea of what I mean, I probably need to reveal a little more about certain inspirations in my life. Like most people,one of the greatest sources of dream fuel I had was music, and no type of music was more potent to me than the sound of a full orchestra. Be it listening to an old vinyl recording of Bach or Tchaikovsky, or another of my endlessly growing collection of movie scores. I was infected by the film score virus quite early, mostly due to one John Williams, who's Star Wars, Jaws, and Close Encounters albums were immense in complimenting my dreams, be it day or night. And soon came Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Hermann, James Horner and many others...

But upon growing into my high school years..The recoil began to surface,and I soon found myself rebelling against the very thing that inspired me. Not quite sure what I would find on the other end, it was a world that was ripped wide open due to discovering pop-core legends like Pixies,and then into esoterically bizarre material like Throbbing Gristle, SPK,and soforth...Over really began to feel as if my tastes had mutated into a limitless space of pure possibility.....or just plain artistic absurdity.

And then the anime bug came back with a vengeance...but with a new pack of venom called Macross Plus. Being the big budget new chapter in what was perhaps my first true favorite series, i was taken aback by the idea that some companies saw money in bringing some soundtracks overseas...(remember..this was a time when fandom was mostly comprised of older men..the Pokemon/shoujo revolution was at least four years away)The sky blue cover with Sharon Apple symbol on the cover,mentioning the music composed by a completely unknown female writer. Well..being one never to shy away from a tease(I hadn't watched Plus just yet...I just found a new job and was doing something I like doing,...listening to a film's music before seeing the work,just to put myself in the headspace first.), I bought the first album.....and was simply stunned at the pure vision this composer had. The music budget was clearly higher than for most anime I had heard at that time....And the amazing mix between orchestral sweep,and intimate usage of guitar,pianos, & synth...signaled a calling.

One that would speak to me in a way that I always wanted to hear...but never could believe was probable in this modern musical climate.

That was August of 95. The effect was immediate. My bloodstream caught the grand and beautiful illness called Yoko Kanno.

Since then, her output has been nothing short of mind-boggling as she continues to shock, amaze, and continuously refresh my mind with her incredible resolve and deep sense of life. Whether it be her too-cool-for-Lucas collaboration with Hajime Mizoguchi in Tenku No Escaflowne, eclectic etherea in Brain Powerd, industry smashing rock-jazz extravaganza Cowboy Bebop, or others..she never ceases to transport hundreds of thousands in search of what most musicians could only dream of achieving in one lifetime. Only in her albums can one have a massive orchestral piece, replete with choir, shift to a sullen country ballad, then go wild jazz, suddenly to pure experimental and even metal in the same twenty minutes of cd time. It is not only my admiring of her immense crop of work..she is also an incredible collaborator.. Often working alongside amazing talent like Maaya Sakamoto, Mai Yamane, Steve Conte, Tim Jensen, Origa, Ilaria Graziano, Gariela Robin, Akino Arai, James Wendt, and many others..She is a musical luminary not unlike David Bowie, Brian Eno, David Byrne, and perhaps capable of heights beyond. There's just noone out there who's musical bases are this ambitiously covered.

(and let's not forget the hyperbole-defining work she contributed toward making Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex one of the defining anime works of the modern age.)

And there isn't a genre she doesn't love either..which is also a testament to the power of her work.

Right around the period upon which america was just beginning to catch on with the stateside release of Escaflowne and Bebop, she made a rare appearance to Anaheim's Anime Expo in 99,...where not only did a friend and I lost one night's sleep in order to be in line for her performance/panel...We were able to get tickets in order to meet the woman herself...A life memory I wouldn't trade for all the money..anywhere...She wasn't only the most focused person I had ever met,..she was also one of the funniest,most inviting folk I've ever had the dumb luck to meet.(Radical Edward is more than comic relief, and loosely based on her often loopy personality.)Just being able to ask her whom she'd love to work with in america was enough for me to feel blessed.

Perhaps one can even imagine my reaction when her music adorned the flashy fan "thank-yous" of Macross Frontier. Needless to say I felt as if I had skipped death, and was in smack in the middle of musical Valhalla, with perhaps some of the most ambitious work she has done to date, delivering J-Pop beyond anything readily available in the mainstream. Frontier's musical charms were proof that Kanno has only emboldened with time, and will remain a force to be reckoned with when regarding musical image.

So I guess you can say that Kanno-sensei has pretty much been a very important part of the last fourteen years, and i could only look forward to the day when her voice reaches that much larger of an audience.

Or perhaps it has already happened, and she's frankly beyond anything remotely within the West's reach?

-Oh..and as for the one director she'd love to work for in the US?

David Lynch...But she says he has a great enough one though. (Badalamenti)

Well put. Well put indeed.

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