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Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' On Heaven's Door Original Soundtrack - Future Blues
2 CD Special Edition
24 tracks
Victor Entertainment
In the jazzy world of Cowboy Bebop, the movie takes an abrupt change of style.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' On Heaven's Door Original Soundtrack - Future Blues
By Ridwan Khan

Since it was released in 1998, Cowboy Bebop has amazed fans with a score that seemed to digest and expand on the style and flash of the show's visuals. The series introduced many to the works of Yoko Kanno, a prolific composer of game and anime music. In Cowboy Bebop, she skillfully combined blues, jazz, western, and other styles in an eclectic potpourri. When the Cowboy Bebop movie, Tengoku no Tobira or Knockin' On Heaven's Door, was in the works, a shiver of fear ran through the collective community until it was announced that Kanno was onboard.

The movie takes its title from Bob Dylan's classic song. Despite this strong hint, many were surprised by the shift in music from the overall jazz feel of the series to the classic rock the movie sports. Even the jazz on the album takes a more upbeat pace, compared to the series. However, Kanno and her semi-fictional band The Seatbelts are able to show the true breadth of their talent. However, to say that everything in the series has become rock would be somewhat misguided; through the first viewing of the movie the rock takes front stage, but the OST helps to bring some of the other music from the movie to the forefront.

The first track highlights Kanno's use of the experimental. "24hours OPEN" is nothing more than the convenience store music played behind gunshots and screams. The inoffensive elevator style music is juxtaposed with the horror of the violence. Track two, "Pushing the Sky," takes the hard/classic rock form into first gear, with excellent use of the electric guitar. The vocals are reasonably good, but it does have moments of brilliance during the song. "Time to know? - Be waltz," follows. It's more in the jazz style, though lighter than that of the TV series. The opening is vaguely reminiscent of "Girl from Iponema." Track 5, "MUWASE," takes a Moroccan feel (several scenes in Heaven's Door take place in Morocco). The song feels upbeat and adds to Kanno's cannon of foreign language music for Cowboy Bebop.

"Yo Pumpkin Head!," track 6, is a fun little jazz track. The song is a delight to hear, not too fast, not too slow. Track 7, "Diggin'" takes a country western bend. The guitar and vocals are extremely strong, the lyrics are catchy. The guitar, the timbre of the vocals, and the lyrics help to bring out the "cowboy" aspect of Cowboy Bebop. "3.14," track 8 features the vocalist from "We Qui Non Coin" on the Cowboy Bebop Blue album, but is much quieter, much slower. It feels almost like a complementary piece to the scene "We Qui Non Coin" was featured in the series.

Track 9, "What Planet is This??" This track is probably the best non-vocal track on the album, it does contain vocals, but they don't really count. Featured at the end of the movie, it captures the style, the action, and the nature of some of the movie's last action and the series as a whole. The melody is simple and memorable and the instruments are electrically alive. The next track, "7minutes" begins as a heavier rock theme and slowly moves into a quieter (but still fast paced) vocal mode. "Fingers," track 11, is a piano theme, with a vocal accompaniment fading in as the track moves on with heavy bass. The result is stylish in a techno/"rat pack" sense. Track 12, "Powder," is a more ambient theme, loose and haunting. Track 13 is a great follow up to "Powder," more structured than the former song, but the instruments are still light compared to the deep voice of the singer.

"No Reply," track 14 starts out with an orchestral score, which reminded me of the soundtrack to The Shawshank Redemption. Steve Conte, vocalist for the album version of "Rain" and "Words We Couldn't Say" steals the stage on the song, his voice booming unlike the former two songs. "Dijurido," track 15, features a piano and female vocals. It's very pretty, both tense and fluid. "Gotta Knock A Little Harder," track 16, is probably the best stand along track on the album. The song is very much in the style of Dylan. Track 17, "No Money" is a simple tune, with a man singing a quiet theme (what sounds like a mix of English and Arabic). It calls to mind Islamic prayer, especially the Az'an or call to prayer. Finally, "Rain," track 18 is the version of the song that was played during episode 5. Mai Yamane sang the show's version, the album version was sung by Steve Conte. I personally prefer Conte's rendition, though Yamane's is not without charm.

Finally, the special version of the album comes with a bonus CD, Cowgirl Ed OST. The mini CD features six tracks from the TV series, all very much in the mood of Ed. Track 1, "Goodnight Julia" is the song that Gren plays during the episode Jupiter Jazz. Track 02, "PAPA Plastic," is one very similar to "We Qui Non Coin." The price of the special edition is easily worth this one song alone. "Telephone Shopping" is simply an 18 second sound fest, almost a sound effect. "Kabutoga ni kodai no sakana" sounds videogame-esque...something in the vein of Final Fantasy or Chrono Cross. The final two tracks, "Slipper Sleaze," and "Hanashi" are much quieter. If at all possible, it's worth spending the extra 300 Yen for the special version.

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