We Release Whatever the Fuck We Want is rapidly becoming known for the quality of their product. Nearly all of their recent releases have quickly sold out, and for good reason: the audio always sounds amazing, and the albums which they put out are highly desirable for fans of obscure cult cinema.
This is a roundabout way of introducing the vinyl debut of the Kenji Kawai score to the 1995 anime, Ghost in the Shell, because this is the finest release WRWTFWW has done in a long line of records anyone should want on their shelf. The limited edition LP and 7-inch record come housed in a matte jacket with the logo stamped in silver foil, as well as a translucent obi strip. Before the plastic wrap is even slit open and the record taken out of the sleeve, there’s a lot to take in.
Inside are the LP and 7-inch, both on black vinyl, as well as this massive collection of liner notes. 24 pages may not seem like a lot, but it’s essentially a small magazine, and it’s loaded. A chief complaint we’ve made a lot recently regarding vinyl reissues is the frequent lack of quality liner notes. Many reissues could potentially have benefitted from a short essay from the composer or director, so Ghost in the Shell’s notes - featuring discussions between director Mamoru Oshii and composer Kawai, as well as Oshii and sound director Kazuhiro Wakabayashi - are revelatory.
The discussions demonstrate the interplay between the three men, and how there was a dynamic vision for how the movie should sound overall - not just the score, but also the ambient noise. Additionally, Kawai wrote a track-by-track commentary for the score, discussing not only his concept behind each individual piece, but how each was recorded. He even explains as to why the track “Ghosthack” was excluded from the film itself. Standalone essays by Kawai and Oshii round out the liner notes, and present as full a picture of the sonic nature of this seminal anime.
The music is gorgeous and quietly rhythmic. Kawai utilises a variety of percussion instruments from around the world, and the Japanese approach to the international array of drums, djembes, and otherwise furthers the futuristic, pan-global atmosphere of Oshii’s film. The inclusion of “See You Everday” is appreciated, especially as it comes on a separate 7-inch. Leaving the song out of the package entirely would have been an egregious exclusion, but had it been placed with the rest of Kawai’s score, the album’s flow and tone would not have been as entrancing. As a distinct entity, within the context of the whole, it’s available to hear, but not in a way which detracts from the score proper.
WRWTFWW has crafted another definitive release, and the entirety of its presentation, from packaging to sonics, is absolutely top-notch. Demonstrating the historical importance of the music and film, and placing it in the fullest of contexts, this is how every re-release should be done.
GHOST IN THE SHELL (1995) / COMPOSER: KENJI KAWAI / LABEL: WE RELEASE WHATEVER THE FUCK WE WANT / RELEAE DATE: OUT NOW