3 out of 5
Produced by: Hiroyuki Sawano
I mostly enjoyed Kill la Kill, and although the refrain from the opening song on its soundtrack, ‘Before My Body is Dry’ was used several times too many to punctuate the lead character’s repeated exhibitions of badassery, one of the highlights of the show was absolutely the score, which was fittingly quirky and layered, suiting the energized oddball animation style from studio Trigger. Having been pleased with my various forays into anime scores, I was excited to see that composer Hiroyuki Sawano had a lot of work to dig in to, including “vocal” work under the name SawanoHiroyuki[nZk].. although I quickly discovered I wasn’t very partial to that. The uniqueness I found in his music seemed comparatively lacking in the vocal stuff, and the actual vocals (and style of the music) more aligned it with a kind of accessible, pop-industrial scene I wasn’t too keen on.
And for better or worse, one’s opinion on that style will likely affect, as it did for me, appreciability of the Kill la Kill soundtrack. While Sawano is composing all of the music here, every third or fourth track is, essentially, a SawanoHiroyuki[nZk] one, and with some pretty eye-rollingly embarassing lyrics to boot, even if they’re attempts at aligning with KlK’s plot. None of these songs, from a sonic standpoint, are bad, they’re just pretty predictable, and / or soundalikes of other bands.
The score work, meanwhile, is a lot of scattered bits of brilliance. At moments, Sawano’s work reminds of J. G. Thirlwell’s circusy romps; at others, it’s brushed with Amon Tobin’s junk-percussion video game scores. Atop that, Hiroyuki adds his own particular sense of aggression and mood, giving the score a lot more moving moments than I would have expected. Unfortunately, ‘moments’ is a keyword, and also why I described it as scattered. Single tracks are generally fractured into 2 or 3 non-linked sections; Sawano would seem to be spot-scoring as opposed to crafting whole songs which are then edited for the work. That often prevents any theme or track from getting much traction. It’s thus not surprising that one of the tracks with the most room – 寝LLna聴9 – is one of the album’s most stirring, but even in snippets, Kill la Kill offers up its share of memorable moments.