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.
The correct track order is:
Battle Against the Clowns
Winds over Neo-Tokyo
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.