Geinoh Yamashirogumi – ‘Akira Symphonic Suite’ 2LP [Milan]

Akira has always been somewhat of the gift that keeps on giving. Released in 1988 I didn’t first see it until the mid-nineties as a feature, part of a regular anime season on network TV (shout outs to SBS), and when it returned a year later I had enough sense to tape it. One of the first anime’s I ever saw which put a whole new spin in to the world of animation. Ghost In The Shell, Ninja Scroll and Cowboy Bebop would eventually follow, but it started with Akira, which, given how intense it is, makes it surprising I kept an interest in anime at all.

This is before you could google plot elements, and frankly large swathes made no sense. But Akira at that time wasn’t adored for a faultless plot; it was all about futuristic Tokyo complete with drugs and motorcycle gangs, set to one of the most anachronistic music-scapes you’d ever heard. The soundtrack was really something else, and eventually I put the whole movie across two sides of a cassette just so I could roll around with it.

It wasn’t until six or seven years later when I met who:ratio that I learned about the comic book series and the serious deviations caused by trying to fit too much in to the movie. So once again the comic books opened up a whole new world. Then came to the toys and collectibles, then the DVD and Blu-Ray Special Editions, ticketed orchestral playalongs, the Spec Boogie concept video, one-off screenings and more. Each year it seemed to gain a new audience, becoming more and more relevant as we ticked down to it’s year of setting, 2019.

Here’s what I wrote about a screening in 2011, which is a pretty good primer:

And now we’re only two years from the year of Neo-Tokyo setting and the most exciting piece of Akira related merchandise finally drops, an official remastered version of the soundtrack. It’s time to bite my dislike from predictable reissues being pushed out and encourage everyone you to take this opportunity to grab a copy of the record, officially out in September.

Composed by Japanese collective Geinoh Yamashirogumi – itself worthy of lengthy exploration at another time – Akira: Original Soundtrack aka Akira Symphonic Suite was another groundbreaking element of the movie. Here’s a fact you’ll hear a million times: the soundtrack was composed and recorded before the movie was complete. Stop and think about that for a second, the movie was put together around the soundtrack. I don’t know of any other instances in feature cinematic releases (not experimental novelty ones) where it was done in this way.

Sounds like a little thing but it really shows. The relationship between the music and film is incredibly unique, and something to be experienced.

If you’re familiar with Akira chances are you’ve already pre-ordered, and if not I recommend you get on it. Full details below via Bleep, and got to say that Milan have done a proper job with it too. Normally I swerve overpriced represses like the plague, but this is something special. Best of all, Milan have come out to say this isn’t a short-run limited thing to end up on Discogs and eBay for $2000, they’ll make enough for everyone. You’ve got to respect that, big ups to them. It’s a proper repress, first time mastering and presented beautifully. It’s enough to make me forget about this crappy bootleg I shelled out for a few years ago.Milan present the first ever official fully remastered vinyl reissue of The Akira Symphonic Suite, unavailable since its original release in 1988, needless to say, this one has been on the top of many collectors most-wanted lists for quite some time.

Composed by Dr. Shoji Yamashiro of the Geinoh Yamashirogumi collective, The Akira Symphonic Suite is incredibly unique in that it was created and recorded before the film was even in production, adding an entirely new dimension to the term imagined soundtrack.

This approach meant that Akira’s animations were sculpted to fit around the score, rather than the score being made to be structured around the film as is so often the way.

It arrives in a high-end luxuriously-packaged sleeve featuring the skyline of Neo-Tokyo from the film, and featuring extensive commentary by Dr. Yamashiro on everything from Akira to Geinoh Yamashirogumi to his work in advanced brain studies.//