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Title Blue Submarine
No. 6
Company Bandai Visual/
Running Time 41min 11sec
Catalog # TYCY-5624
Price ¥3059
Street Date 10.28.98

Japanese titles are in the Blue.
English titles are in the White.
1 Ao no Kansei
Blue Awakening
2 006 Senkou
006 Submarine Voyage
3 Kurayami Ke wo Tsukero
Mind the Darkness
4 Hamon
5 Aishou no Subamarinaa
The Sad Submariner
6 Guranpasu
7 Shinkaigyo
Deep Sea Fish
8 006 Shingaki
006 Attacks
9 Mi na Soko ni Nemure
We'll All Sleep There

by Scott Rider

Starting with the release of Kanno Yoko's set of original soundtracks for the Cowboy Bebop series, music in anime seems to have enjoyed a resurgence in the retro-sound feel of the 1960s and 70s. Adding a new element to the retro-mix is the pop-fusion soundtrack for the Bandai OAV series "Blue Submarine No. 6", a show which describes the adventures of the gargantuan submarine "Blue Number Six" in a near-future world of rising oceans and submerging civilizations.

The music itself is excellent. It combines the retro-feel of some of the finest of 1970s jazz and pop fusion with modern musical themes and artful instrument solos, all presented in style by the Japanese ensemble group The Thrill. The "Tower of Power" horn section that was a staple in many of the hit songs of the day throughout the 1970s is reincarnated here, with a number of diverse styles displayed in the variety of songs.

The OST CD #1 features nine tracks, each with a distinct style. The first track, "Ao no Kansei" [Blue Awakening], has a very strong Chicago Transit Authority feel. The horns are crisp and well-harmonized, even if the Kalamazoo organ's rhythm chords are a bit shrill. The second track, "006 Senkou" [006 Submarine Voyage] continues with the tour of what made CTA great in 1970. It is a bit punkish for a pop fusion tune, but the horn players are honest in their frenzy.

The third track, "Kurayami ni Ke wo Tsukero" [Mind the Darkness] has a bit of the late 1960s hiding in it. The brass passages of Blood, Sweat and Tears had this sort of sound. The beat is quick and lively; and the Hammond B3 organ is smooth. With track four, however, things shift gears for the first time. "Hamon" [Ripple] features the clever use of a walking baritone sax "bassline" and fluid key changes into convincing Steely Dan-inspired refrains, prompting one to recall the heyday of such collaborative efforts between musicians that seems to be fading as the last year of century approaches.

Track five, "Aishou no Sabumarinaa" [The Sad Submariner] is something straight out of a Chuck Mangione album. It has a subdued flugelhorn solo throughout the track and good, solid saxophone backup. It has the most "studio produced feel" of the tracks on the disc. Track six, "Guranpasu" [Granpas] has the most modern musical style of the album. This track is laid back, and yet has a quick-yet-subtle tempo. The saxophone part for this piece is easily the toughest the group had to prepare for: horns provide punctuation for the three-part sax solos. The efficient use of sweeping synthesizer chords lend an aspect of fantasy to the array, which fits in quite nicely with the movements of the 006's mini-sub from which the song takes its name.

The action scenes for sub number six bring back the "Tower of Power" sound, as heard in the 6th and 7th tracks, "Shinkaigyo" [Deep Sea Fish] and "006 Shingaki" [006 Attacks]. Strong horns and that distinct Hammond organ-driven-through-Leslie speaker cabinets in full rotation blend in nicely with the CTA-style backbeat and soft trombones. The final track is the sole vocal track of the album. Done in a rich torch-song style, the sultry voice of singer/songwriter "Yukarie" make this ending theme at once memorable and suggestive.

A great album, even if one has never seen the show. A great pick for any pop-fusion aficionado or one who likes that horn ensemble sound.



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