Four years before Uncharted Waters II Special Edition, there was the original: “Uncharted Waters.” This arranged album from 1990 features 11 pieces performed by Yoko Kanno and her extremely talented friends. Five of these songs got reprinted on the aforementioned “Special Edition” album, which is still an easy item to procure. But the other six songs are found nowhere else. And we’re here to discuss whether or not these six tracks make this album a worthwhile addition to a collection of rarities and obscurities.
One thing is for sure: you’re missing out on some interesting performances if you don’t get this album. A female choir performs “Siren Song,” an opera singer performs “Princess Chris,” and “A Symphony of Pirates” has all kinds of surprises within. And what were they thinking, putting “Olive Wind” on the Special Edition but leaving out the brilliant “Portugal” which makes masterful use of the accordion?
In other words, I think that KOEI dropped the ball in putting the “best” tracks from UW1 on the UW2 Special Edition album. They got “Southern Twilight ~ Dance on a Cape of Good Hope,” which was an important thing to have on the album. But I would’ve replaced each of those four other tracks with the songs we’re sampling, and which I have mentioned above. These songs are just…more interesting! The performance and mixing are a little raw and unrefined, but I can handle that. What matters is that you don’t hear music like this every day, and it’s a shame that these gems from Yoko Kanno are now so hard to obtain. Nonetheless, I recommend Kanno fans try to get ahold of this album.