Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jay's Playlist: Wolf's Rain (Orchestral)

Welcome to my playlist, where I discuss the music which is currently entertaining me. Below you will find a video, press play to begin the song and then read my feelings on the album.

Today's music is the orchestral selections from the soundtrack to Wolf's Rain by Yoko Kanno:

Wolf's Rain depicts wolves, who can take human form, searching for paradise at the end of the world. The animated series' accompanying soundtrack by Yoko Kanno is diverse; the influences range from Brazilian guitar, to techno rock, to peaceful orchestrations. This post discusses only the latter style but hints of the previous influences will be apparent. The above piece works as the theme of the series, and although the middle does contain a few annoying ambient sound effects in my opinion), the emotion rings throughout its entirety. Maybe the nostalgia of the story's emotional high points overtakes me, but I cannot listen to the build up and resolution of this piece at 3:30 without partially tearing up. (plus, isn't that wolf puppy cute?)

Yoko Kanno is one of the greatest composers living today. I am constantly amazed by the breadth of her compositions skills. Her works span multiple genres and each one seems fresh. One of my favorite soundtracks (and future Playlist topic) is Cowboy Bebop, and the interesting story behind it is the producers of the series asked Ms. Kanno to write music in every genre she could before they even animated the series. Once she finished composing they animated to her music and created one of the most intriguing anime series to date. Wolf's Rain focuses her genres to the few listed above and once again she astounds me with her skill in the international flavors of music. Her Brazilian guitar pieces (partially sampled above) feel like they came out of Rio.

While the pieces selected for this playlist may seem sad (or sad-but-driving) they are actually balanced out by other themes in the 44 piece soundtrack which I am saving for a future date. The below piece is one of my favorites and depicts the friendships the wolves develop over the course of the series:

Bonus track: Before Yoko Kanno scored for anime and film she composed for video games. Luckily, the games she was assigned allowed your to use recorded music rather than synthesizer music (back when the games were small enough to fit on a CD and still have plenty of room for recorded music on the disc). Even then she loved using the guitar and one my favorite pieces of hers was this Sailor pub music from Uncharted Waters 2:

I only found this piece by accident. On a whim, I listened to Japanese soundtracks to games I never played and when I heard this piece I couldn't get it out of my mind. When I decided to use it for my short film years later I looked up the original composer from the 90's and was startled to find it was composed by a young Yoko Kanno!

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