December 14, 2017
Black Cab: 明 (Akira) (2017)
The immediate surprise is how much the album sounds like Blade Runner, rather than Akira. Its extended use of drawn-out synthesiser notes immediately remind you of Vangelis rather than Akira composer Geinoh Yamashirogumi. Even at the base melody level there is a sense that the band is often only one misplaced note away from a Blade Runner cover version. That is not necessarily a bad thing - Blade Runner boasts one of the best movie scores of all time - but it's a surprise when one expects to hear an aural tribute to another 1980s cyberpunk film.
Normally I would break down an album review into a track-by-track summary, but to be honest with 25 tracks all running less than two minutes each, that seems an oddly onerous task. Suffice to say there's a nice blend of melodies that swap in and out from track to track: it's nicely atmospheric to play in the background and comes with a very 1980s aesthetic.
The game-changing element of the album is the taiko drumming by Toshi Sakamoto. For fans of the film Akira, they provide an auditory tie-back and a sense of authenticity. For the general listener, they simply provide some exceptional rumbling percussion that give the entire album a much-needed element of bass and power. Without them the album would feel relatively anaemic.
What a blast it would be to hear this full score over the actual film. This is both a respectful and an alternative tribute to a great animated movie. Fans of retro-styled electronica should absolutely track it down and check it out.