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Kenji Kawai

3 Ratings: 4.3
Japanese Music Composer

Kenji Kawai[1] Kawai Kenji (川井 憲次?), born April 23, 1957 in Shinagawa, Tokyo, is a Japanese music composer, for motion pictures, anime movies, videogames and televised programs. He has contributed to the musical … see full wiki

1 review about Kenji Kawai

A Deeply Philosophical Music

  • May 1, 2010
True story. And I promise that it will eventually connect to my review of Kenji Kawai...

My dating skills have always left plenty to be desired. Mostly because I volunteer the wrong information too early in the dating cycle. For instance, I find cyborgs to be cool. Especially female cyborgs. Not something to volunteer on the first date. Or, at least, not the date that I was on. In the end, while she found me to be quite amusing, a grown man into cyborgs just wasn't her thing. But I don't think it was the cyborgs that tipped the scale for her. I think it was the "cyborg music" that I had in my car. Technically, this mis-step in my quest for love ends on a happy note since the moment the music came on she exploded into laughter. As she wiped the tears from her eyes, I kept a half-committed smile on my face. I waited to see what kind of laugh this was: laughing with me, at me or at my music. Turns it out is was the last two.

The "cyborg music" in question is the soundtrack for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Actually, I'm wrong to call it cyborg music. It really is just music that happens to be for a movie that just happens to be about cyborgs. This isn't a movie review, so I'll leave the details of Innocence alone and jump right into Mr. Kawai whose wonderfully beautiful music has obstructed my ability to get laid far too many times. (Told you I give up the wrong information way too early).


So yeah, Kawai's music isn't cyborg music. Truth is, I don't know how to classify his music except to call it deeply spiritual and deeply cinematic. The latter description is a given since most of his work has been the score for Japanese motion pictures, both live-action and animated. While I love the epic and often atmospheric quality of his cinema-music, it is the spiritual part that keeps this man's music in heavy rotation in my car (and keeps my car as a revolving door for dating). Kawai uses a Japanese choir who sing in alto, while the music underneath is carried along by deeeeeep booming drums. All of this is interrupted by perfectly timed extended periods of near silence -- and then...BOOM... the drums are back and the singers carry you through to the end. That is when I wipe either the sweat from my brow or the single tear from my eye. And I mean, this happens almost each time I listen to his "cyborg music".

The man really knows how to switch it up too. For the movie The Sky Crawlers he takes his same choir but makes their presence more minimal and smooth. Contrary to his music for Innocence which has a bit more power to its sound, the music for The Sky Crawlers is poignant and melancholic. In fact, Innocence seems to be hymnal, as if it were looking up at the gods. The Sky Crawlers, conversely, seems to be music about gods looking down at us humans. Becuase a harp is the primary instrument throughout most of the soundtrack, the feeling conveyed is beautiful but sad.

Of course, not all of Kawai's music sounds this way. In the end, the man has to tailor the music according to the aesthetes of the film, but it is these two soundtracks -- Innocence and The Sky Crawlers -- that I would recommend as Kawai's best works. I've already described his sound for both as being "deeply spiritual," but maybe a better way to describe it is as deeply philosophical. There is an unlikely hybrid of the platonic and the poetic in his sound. The word philsosophy means "love of wisdom" and indeed Kawai's combinaton of vocals, drum and bass creates an environment that is wise and ancient. 

I'm happy to say that the latest woman on my arm has not ran away from my cyborg-talk or my cyborg music. That isn't to say that she likes either, but she is able to appreciate the virtues of a man-child who gravitates to both. It's different and she likes that. Kawai is different and I love that.

A Deeply Philosophical Music A Deeply Philosophical Music A Deeply Philosophical Music A Deeply Philosophical Music

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June 28, 2010
Have you ever dated a FemBOT/LoveDroid?*Whirr-KlicK*! If you like ROBOT MusiK, try KRAFTWERK. They make the most beautiful sounds in the Universe! :] Meanwhile, I'll look for Kenji Kawai on YouTube.... [Sharrie mentioned Kitaro- very nice "New Age" style.] There's a LOT of excellent EleKtroniK MusiK out there: KRAFTWERK, Jarre, tec....
May 04, 2010
Thanks for your great contribution, Jordan! Hilarious as always! I don't think I've listened to Kenji Kawai but surely the name Kenji Kawai sounds musical enough! Cyborg music? LOL... Electronic music, I think. Or may be even New Age. I'm trying to access his official site to find something to listen to. Will I like Cyborg music?
May 04, 2010
I checked some of his music on Youku.com since I've no access to Youtube while in China. Kawai's music reminds me a little of Kitaro who was real famous in the 80s. Another Japanese. New Age music. Have you ever listen to Kitaro's Silk Road? Remember, this music was composed in the early 80s. 30 years ago! Cool, isn't it? Here's another composition from Kitaro, for your listening pleasure :-) Alternatively, Kitaro Matsuri on Youtube.
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