Review: Geinoh Yamashirogumi's exceptional score for cult Japanese anime classic Akira has long been on the "wants-list" of both fans and soundtrack collectors. It's been out of print since it first appeared in 1988, with original CD and vinyl copies changing hands for vast sums online in recent times. This reissue presents the composer's "Symphonic Suite" - unique because it was created as a standalone piece before the movie went into production, with scenes altered to fit the music - in all its' acclaimed glory. Musically, Yamashirogumi's compositions are hard to pigeonhole, sitting somewhere between semi-synthesized percussive minimalism, new age inspired ambient, layered vocal improvisations and electronic experimental jazz. From start to finish, it's utterly beguiling and almost mesmerizing in its construction.
Review: Since it first appeared in 1998, Ryuichi Sakamoto's sparse and minimal "BTTB" album has been released a number of times, each with a slightly different track listing. This 20th anniversary edition aims to set the record straight, gathering together all 18 tracks that have appeared on the various versions out there on one superb "director's cut" style release. The majority of the set is built around Sakamoto's Erik Satie style solo piano compositions, but there are notable diversions in which his experimental past and present comes through loud and clear. These include the delay-laden mouth harp motifs of "Do Bacteria Sleep?", the spaced-out ambient of "Prelude", reverb-heavy metallic percussion of "Sonata", the music concrete of "Uetax" and a killer piano cover of his old Yellow Magic Orchestra cut "Tong Poo".