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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

Maaya Sakamoto

By Phil Freeman
Published March 16, 2007

Nikopachi – Single Collection
Geneon 5350

JAPAN

Maaya Sakamoto is “just” the voice of this album and the face in the booklet photos. Sure, she wrote lyrics for three songs, but if listeners demand that one person’s vision be credited for the musical goings-on, that vision is clearly Yoko Kanno’s. She composed and arranged the music for every track, and played keyboards on them. And brilliantly arranged, beautifully composed songs they are, too. Kanno has become something like a legend in anime fan circles, having soundtracked Macross Plus, Cowboy Bebop and (this reviewer’s favorite) Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, among others. Her music runs an astonishing gamut, from neo-metallic cyberfunk to small group jazz to string-laden Latin pastiche and everything in between. So it’s not Sakamoto’s chirpy, admittedly appealing vocals that are the real draw, but Kanno’s music, which surrounds and showcases them. The combined result, though, will delight J-pop fans and curious neophytes equally.