© 2012 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title: WONDERFUL GODZILLA LEGEND
CD Label: BKM
CD Number: G.R.F.GL1
Music Performed by: Makoto Inoue & Bukimisya
(Arrangement by Makoto Inoue)
Music Composed by: Akira Ifukube
Number of tracks: 22
Running time: 78:50
Number of discs: 1
Year of release/manufacture: December 31, 2011

REVIEW

April 28, 2012

This is a very full CD timing in at almost 79 minutes. It contains many songs we have heard before and I am told it is being released as part of a charity project to help earthquake relief. Unlike past CD's released by Bukimisha, this one is instrumental and not sung a cappella. The exception being the hidden, over 18 minute track # 21 and track # 22. Those are done a cappella. Track #20 seems to be just 2:17 of nothing. No sound of any kind on that track. While most of the music on this CD will be familiar with Godzilla fans it is also different in that it seems most of the music was done on a synthesizer and the booklet lists it as "Orchestra PC". As with all CD's put out by these people it's a wonderful listening experience and worth grabbing if you can find a copy.

UPDATED January 28, 2013 courtesy of Sam Scali

The Bukimisha Weird Secret Society takes a break from their familiar a cappella format to present an unexpected sequel to the GODZILLA LEGEND series, with music arranged by virtuoso musician Makoto Inoue. The LEGEND saga began in the early 80s with a series of three iconic LPs (later resurrected in various CD configurations) which featured Inoue's brilliant synthesizer arrangements of Akira Ifukube's classic sci-fi themes. This release continues the tradition with a brand new set of synth-based adaptations, including a handful of the maestro's lesser-known compositions that have never appeared on disc in any form. Bukimisha adds their inimitable vocal flair to several of the tracks, bringing a new depth and richness to Inoue's venerable concept.

Appropriately, the disc opens with a trio of Godzilla-centric tracks. The first is a thundering rendition of the title theme from GODZILLA (1954), complete with blaring, simulated brass, ghostly choral undertones and atmospheric wind effects. Next up is a majestically powerful reading of the "other" (and arguably more famous) Godzilla theme, as first unveiled in 1963's KING KONG VS. GODZILLA. The latter film's "Main Title" completes the trilogy, with Bukimisha's incomparable vocal chants playing off of Inoue's exotic tribal arrangement.

ATRAGON's "Prayer of the Mu Empire" is introduced with a piercing electric guitar, its soaring male vocal backed by an infectious tuned percussion riff and an equally catchy foot-stomping rhythm. The lost empire's giant serpent deity is invoked by Bukimisha's strident chants of "Manda!", as the track builds to a frenzied climax. This is followed by no less than three spirited pieces from the 1963 animated feature, THE LITTLE PRINCE AND THE EIGHT-HEADED DRAGON. The "Main Title" is one of Ifukube's most energetic and uplifting marches, and Inoue's version captures the epic composition in all its splendor. "Lullaby of a Motherless Child" is equally faithful to the sad beauty of the original cue, with a plaintive female vocal sung over a delicate, trance-like melody that ends with an unexpectedly ominous flourish. "Amenouzume's Dance" sports an exotic, almost circus-like motif, with numerous unexpected twists and delightful percussive touches.

The next two tracks are taken from 1964's MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA. The first is a brief and curiously understated version of the Peanuts' Shobijin prayer, "Sacred Fountain", with barely audible, lo-fi vocals accompanied by distant strains of electric piano. "Mahala Mothra", another deity-summoning Peanuts showcase, is far more assertive, with yearning Bukimisha harmonies playing off of a syncopated, disco-flavored rhythm and tuneful percussive effects. The piece segues into a breathtaking version of the movie's climactic battle music, interspersed with the familiar monster sounds of Godzilla and Mothra.

The title march from THE MYSTERIANS (1957) is another of Ifukube's most famous creations, and it's difficult to imagine a more awe-inspiring performance than the one on this disc. Inoue pulls out all the stops with his relentless, powerful arrangement, and Bukimisha's triumphant harmonies reach operatic heights. But every conquest has its aftermath, and "Devastated Tokyo" diffuses the hard-won victory with its bleak, mournful theme, a somber reminder of battles lost.

"Boys" is one of the disc's surprises - a stately little anthem that Ifukube composed for a Tokyo elementary school, appropriately sung here by children with simple harpsichord accompaniment. The next track takes us all the way back to 1947, with a brooding, unreleased cue from Ifukube's first film score, SNOW TRAIL, played on what sounds like a clarinet over a low rumble of orchestral strings. This is followed by a magnificent rendition of the main title from another unreleased score, SHIN SHIKÔUTEI , a 1962 Daiei film epic about the first emperor of China. The theme is given a royal treatment by Mr. Inoue, with thundering synthetic chords and a monumental vocal chorus.

The CD doubles back for one final nod to the original GODZILLA, with the melancholic harmonica-and-guitar music from the movie's "Eiko Maru Sinking" cue - but unlike the film version, the tune is allowed to reach a satisfying finish, uninterrupted by underwater monster mayhem. The disc approaches its final lap with three more unreleased film cues - two from 1956's THE BURMESE HARP and one from the following year's SAKUMA DAM, PART III. These tracks appear to be at least partially performed on acoustic instruments rather than synthesizers (the woodwinds and strings sound especially convincing), though Inoue is such a master that it is difficult to tell for sure. Nevertheless, they are all beautifully rendered, and are ideal examples of Ifukube's wide compositional range.

The final track, "Kishi Mai", is another Ifukube rarity - a brass band march that was originally commissioned in 1943 for the Japanese Imperial Navy, stirringly presented here by Inoue's regal regiment of synths (a vintage marching band recording of the piece can be heard on KICC-407~8, disc 1, track 23).

The main program of the CD is followed by three uncredited bonus tracks, the first one consisting of precisely 2:17 minutes of silence. Track 21 sees Bukimisha return to a cappella mode with 18 minutes of vocally mimicked cues from the original GODZILLA, followed by a bracing rendition of the title march from 1965's MONSTER ZERO.

The CD is attractively packaged, with a cover painting by renowned kaiju artist Yuji Kaida (who illustrated the original LEGEND covers as well as several previous Bukimisha CDs), and an interior black and white photo of Inoue towering over a miniature Tokyo with his Roland synthesizer. Another interesting touch is the CD's reversible obi strip (the first on a Bukimisha release) - both sides feature a nearly identical design, but the underside adds the number "4" to the GODZILLA LEGEND title, driving home the idea that this CD is intended as a follow-up to the original series.

Bukimisha is never at a loss for fresh ideas, and the group's ongoing interpretations of maestro Ifukube's work are done with extraordinary skill and an unmistakable sense of fun. Any Ifukube fan who has not experienced their output is advised to give it a try - you will be pleasantly surprised.

As with previous CD's in the series, this disc can be ordered directly from the artists. Visit their English web page at: http://www.bukimi.com/maal/hanpu_english.html, or email Takeo Yahiro (yah@bukimi.com) for more information.

WONDERFUL GODZILLA LEGEND
Track titles updated January 28, 2013 courtesy of Sam Scali

  1. Godzilla's Theme (GODZILLA, 1954)
  2. The Terror of Godzilla (KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, 1963)
  3. Main Title (KING KONG VS. GODZILLA)
  4. The Prayer of the Mu Empire (ATRAGON, 1963)
  5. Main Title (THE LITTLE PRINCE & THE EIGHT-HEADED DRAGON, 1963)
  6. Lullaby of a Motherless Child (THE LITTLE PRINCE & THE EIGHT-HEADED DRAGON)
  7. Amenouzume's Dance (THE LITTLE PRINCE & THE EIGHT-HEADED DRAGON)
  8. Sacred Fountain (MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA, 1964)
  9. Mahala Mothra / Baby Mothra vs. Godzilla (MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA)
  10. Theme from THE MYSTERIANS (1957)
  11. Devastated Tokyo (GODZILLA, 1954)
  12. Boys (Elementary school song)
  13. SNOW TRAIL (unidentified cue, 1947)
  14. Main Title (SHIN SHIKÔUTEI, 1962)
  15. Night on The Glory, aka, "Eiko-Maru Sinking" (GODZILLA, 1954)
  16. Golden City (THE BURMESE HARP, 1956)
  17. Snow and Dam (SAKUMA DAM, PART III, 1957)
  18. THE BURMESE HARP (unidentified cue, 1956)
  19. Kishi Mai (March for the Japanese Imperial Navy, 1943)
  20. (Hidden Track)
  21. (Hidden Track)
  22. (Hidden Track)