Joe Hisaishi

Songs of Hope: The Essential Joe Hisaishi, Vol. 2

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Songs of Hope: The Essential Joe Hisaishi, Vol. 2 Review

by Neil Z. Yeung

A year after the release of his hit compilation Dream Songs, renowned Japanese film composer Joe Hisaishi returned with a sequel collection, Songs of Hope: The Essential Joe Hisaishi, Vol. 2. While volume one was packed with his popular themes for the beloved Studio Ghibli films (Porco Rosso and Princess Mononoke are the lone representatives here), part two sticks mostly to his work outside of the animation world. Selections from Kids Return (1996), HANA-BI (1998), Kikujiro (1999), and Departures (2008) are included, as well as solo tracks that range from his 1981 debut MKWAJU through his decades-spanning Works series. Imbued with warmth, purity, and joy, Hisaishi transports listeners to far-off places with these comforting piano melodies, which are at once strangely familiar yet revelatory. Although the heavy-hitters from those more well-known Ghibli soundtracks are absent here, these deeper cuts offer a full primer to the relatively lesser-explored corners of his catalog.

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