Today I present you with one of the countless film soundtracks that Ōtomo Yoshihide (大友良英)* has done over the years, most of which were hardly distributed at all outside Japan. This one is for カナリア ('Canary'), a 2005 film by Akihiko Shiota (塩田明彦) that I haven't seen (I've only seen 'Harmful Insect' (害虫), an earlier film by this same director).
Here's the IMDB synopsis for 'Canary':
Based on the true events of the deadly gas attacks perpetrated by members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult on the Tokyo subway system, CANARY tells the moving story of two children, each abandoned by their families, who come together in the wake of the scarring event.
Twelve-year-old Koichi has grown up within the confines of a religious cult whose violently instilled dogma has all but destroyed his sense of identity. After a murderous attack, the cult disbands and Koichi finds himself abandoned by his mother and forcibly separated from his sister. To reunite his broken family, Koichi breaks out of the child welfare system and sets off to Tokyo. While on the run, he meets Yuki, a girl desperate to flee from her abusive father.
Koichi and Yuki travel together in search of his sister, facing the inevitable troubles of children making their way in the world without the guidance or protection of adults. The separate scars of their pasts cause friction between the two, but their struggles develop a familial bond that allows them to confront both their pasts and the future ahead.
Beautiful and poignant, Akihiko Shiota's film illustrates the resiliency of forgotten youth in forging their own destiny from a tragic past.
Here's the tagline on the top of the CD cover:
And my loose translation:
After having been taken, they return.
Ten years later, the children are still standing on the front lines of the world.
The music isn't all by Otomo. This page at japanimprov.com can tell you much more about composer and performer credits. For this rip (which I've found online; for once, I don't own this album myself) I've credited track 11 to jazz singer and pianist 塩田明彦 (Mariko Hamada; she also sings on 2, 5 and 8, but this seems to be the only one she's composed herself), and track 14 to Zazen Boys-frontman 向井秀徳 (Shutoku Mukai; previously of Number Girls fame). The rest I've tagged as Otomo since he either composed or arranged it (I've transliterated his name but not the other 2; if you want full Japanese tags, feel free to change to 大友良英).
No empty turntables or guitar feedback here, of course. This is for the most part very accessible and polite soundtracky stuff, lots of real 'songs' with vocals, piano, synth, sax, etc., and some unexpected hip-hop towards the end. There's also one track that will put a smile on the face of anyone familiar with Ground-Zero's 'Consume Red'.
(Canary (Enrai Mix))
(Kōichi and Yuki 1)
(Canary (Bass Marimba Version)
5. 銀色の道 ＜バラード・ヴァージョン＞
Gin'iro no Michi (Ballad Version)
Sōgen no Onnatachi
Gin'iro no Michi (Jazz Version)
(Kōichi and Yuki 2)
(Kōichi and Yuki 3)
12. 銀色の道 ＜オリジナル・サウンドトラック・ヴァージョン＞
Gin'iro no Michi (Original Soundtrack Version)
Canary (Instrumental Version)
14. 自問自答 ＜カナリアMIX＞
Jimonjitō (Canary Mix)
(Title translations can be found on the same japanimprov page)
The album was released in 2005 on the 美音堂 label (punningly transliterated as Beyondo; it's actually Biondō, which one might render as something like 'hall/temple (堂, dō) of beautiful (美, bi) sounds/voices (音, on)'). No-one outside Japan noticed.
*His first name is Yoshihide by the way, not Otomo - many people seem to think it's the other way around, perhaps because he has adhered to the traditional Japanese order of names (last name first) on almost all his releases, even when other musicians haven't. When transcribing Japanese names on this site I usually put the last name last, western-style (for instance Akihiko Shiota), but for Otomo I make an exception.