akira, geinoh yamashirogumi

I loved Akira the movie as a kid and the comic when I was finally able to read it, I loved even more. But really. The soundtrack to the movie has been the biggest part of my life. In high school a friend let me borrow a worn out vhs tape of the movie to watch and I must’ve told him that I liked the music. Because I remember a dubbed tape of the soundtrack showing up in my life. And I remember laying there in my room as a fifteen year old listening to the tape straight through. And just being so engrossed. Completely absorbed. It sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. Ever. It wasn’t rock, it wasn’t dancey, it wasn’t western classical. To me it sounded like it came from out of space and time or something. From the future of another world. It was a completely mind expanding experience to listen to it.

I had no words to look it up with, no context. There was no info with that tape. There was no internet to look any of this up. This music just existed in this suspended bubble in my brain. Unconnected to anything else I had experienced.

Objectively speaking. It was the first time that I heard gamelan and gagaku music . But it took five or six more years for me to learn what that even was. This music by the collective, Geinoh Yamashirogumi, laid some massive groundwork for what I considered to be music.

At the time I was mostly listening to punk rock of the 80’s, Nirvana, early 90s indy rock, hip hop and industrial music. I was starting to get  kind of “weird” with my music taste and exploration, but it was still all very within the realm of kind of the established rock canon. But this soundtrack blew that up for me. Opened the doors for free jazz, drum and bass, noise,  contemporary classical, avant-garde 20th century music, etc.

Last night while I was getting my son ready for bed, Kaneda, popped into my head and I started singing it. So I had to listen to the whole thing today. The first time I have in years. So I’m listening to the soundtrack as I write this. And while all the songs are amazing and I remember being enamored of all of them, I particularly remember having a massive emotional response to Illusion. The sound of it was so heartbreaking and massive. And it was just a shakuhachi, chanting, and a few pieces of percussion. But it felt so raw. I remember feeling like it was so wild and chaotic. It disturbed me and made me feel sad and intense. Part of that was being a teenager for sure. But it’s also kind of an intense song.

Since we now live in the future, here’s the whole soundtrack so you can listen to it.

[archiveorg AKIRAOriginalSoundtrack width=640 height=140 frameborder=0 webkitallowfullscreen=true mozallowfullscreen=true]

The correct track order is:

Battle Against the Clowns
Winds over Neo-Tokyo
Dolls’ Polyphony
Exodus from the Underground Fortress

For further reading, here is an article from Perfect Sound Forever about the soundtrack. 

Get their out of print albums here.

Also, a bonus. Here is, I think, Geinoh Yamashirogumi performing Battle Against the Clown live.





radio loways – january 2014

01. tabú – gustavo cerati
02. smash up the place – sharaya j
03. tríptico – coso
04. dust red – nots
05. let’s kill ourselves – the ponys
06. rid of me – pj harvey
07. wegula – grrrl party
08. massane cisse – quintette – guinéene
09. she is beyond good and evil – the pop group
10. are friends electric? – gary numan/tubeway army
11. dance ghost – helado negro
12. banji – sharaya j
13. instructions to numb – dark time sunshine
14. mutation – geinoh yamashirogumi (from the akira sound track)
15 makeshift swahili – this heat

listen here when you have a chance and if yr interested.

unhelpful notes:

i first heard solo gustavo cerati when i was in mexico. and i fell in love. his guitar sound and style is so pleasant. i’m always happy to hear him. however, i’m not a fan of that video. kinda corny, right?

on the other hand, how awesome is the video for smash up the place? yes!

nots serve frumpies realness on this one. and i’m a sucker for that sort of stylee. lo-fi garagey reverb shouty shout action.

one time, when we were all using myspace, my old band had a show lined up at subterranean in chicago and we had to cancel. we tried to find someone to fill in for us. i messaged the ponys and offered our spot, i got a response from someone. “no.” that was it. i think they might’ve been a bit more famous/cloutish than i knew at the time. i like this song a lot. make sure you turn it up. this is the only version i could find and it is painfully quiet. but it’s worth the extra effort.

rid of me is one of my all time favorite records and songs of all time. ever. i will never get tired of this. when to bring you my love came out, i was super bummed that it wasn’t more of rid of me and i held off on getting any more pj harvey for a few years. i was young and foolish in a black and white world. i got over that. she’s awesome. i wish she publicly identified as a feminist. that would be the cherry on top. but i’m not about to police anybody’s beliefs.

i’ll be honest, i don’t know what a wegula is. but this song is awesome. they are based in minneapolis and member lizzo has a track called hot dish. for real! multiple entendres i’m sure.

dance ghost blew my mind when i heard first heard it in january. blew. my. mind. i actually had to listen to it multiple times in a row. over and over again. that happens so infrequently these days. this feels futuristic to me. like the music of the future even though it’s now. this is what should be on the radio at this point in human development. i also like the video.

those chimey guitar chords in she is beyond good and evil are perfection. that is all.

i was very late to gary numan. very late. not until late 20’s did i hear him. crazy, right? pretty much every song off of this album is solid. and this is one of two or three super standouts from the record. side note – apparently david bowie felt like gary numan was biting him massively to get his sound in the late 70’s. specifically biting his ideas for low and heroes. but, this to me sounds nothing like low or heroes. nothing. and bowie was content to produce and help out people who actually were fairly biter-esque at the time. theory – bowie felt threatened by someone making electronic/guitar records that sounded unique? just a theory, cuz i know nothing.

i normally try to avoid including to tracks by the same artist in a month, but sharaya j is too good.

a friend of mine gave me a tape of the akira soundtrack when i was a freshman in high school. 22 fucking years ago. i can’t remember if i had seen akira before i got the tape or not. either way, i listened to this tape constantly. i would lay on my back on the floor in my bedroom and look at the ceiling letting my mind wander and feeling things. i mean that honestly. when yr a kid at that age everything is so emotional, everything. so just listening to some of these songs would kill me with the weight of their presence. this was one of them.

i only heard this heat for the first time a few years ago and i wish that i had heard them sooner cuz i was missing out for way too long. they are intense! on this one there’s definitely some dalek scariness happening. love.

the picture up on top is sharaya j. and the picture below is helado negro.