2005 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title: SYMPHONIC FANTASIA
Japanese Title: GOUKAI Na SYMPHONIC FANTASIA
CD Label: BKM
CD Number: G.R.F.015
Music by: Akira Ifukube
Music Performed by: Takeo Yahiro & Friends
Number of tracks: 6
Running time: 73:57
Number of discs: 1
Year of release/manufacture: March 21, 2005

REVIEW

June 10, 2005 (Courtesy of Sam Scali)

Bukimisha is back! This is the latest CD installment in an ongoing series of unique "a cappella" recordings of the music of Akira Ifukube, presented in the inimitable vocal style of the Japanese collective known as The Bukimisha Weird Secret Society. While the previous disc in the series (G.R.F. 014) included a rousing version of the first movement of Ifukube's SYMPHONIC FANTASIA, the new disc expands upon this idea, offering all four movements of the maestro's monumental orchestral work.

Once again, the Bukimisha group delivers an impressive performance, painstakingly transforming each familiar theme into a studied vocal assault. As in Ifukube's original orchestral arrangement, nearly all of Toho's great monster motifs are featured, from exciting marches (the GODZILLA theme, THE MYSTERIANS theme and main titles from BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE and DESTROY ALL MONSTERS) to romantic interludes ("Night Music" from BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE, "The Sacred Fountain" from GODZILLA VS. THE THING and "Kong and Susan" from KING KONG ESCAPES) to familiar exotic chants (the main titles from KING KONG VS. GODZILLA and VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE) - all get the royal Bukimisha treatment. The group not only "sings" the notes - they use every vocal trick at their disposal (whispers, hisses and other assorted textural utterances) to replicate the depth and richness of the original music. While the group's interpretation of Ifukube's music is always respectful and serious, there also are frequent elements of humor and irreverence in their vocal delivery. But this mirthful approach merely adds to the fun, making for a truly enjoyable listening experience.

As with previous Bukimisha CDs, this disc includes a couple of unlisted bonus tracks - the first of which (Track 5) features nothing but a minute and a half of silence. Track 6 is far more generous, consisting of an 11-minute suite of three a cappella vignettes - the "Monsterland" theme from DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, the theme from "ADVENTURE IN KIGAN CASTLE" and a selection from "GODZILLA VS. THE THING". Interestingly, the "music" is also accompanied by a single voice speaking in Japanese, in what sounds like dramatic narration.

All in all, this is another thoroughly enjoyable Bukimisha effort. Ifukube completists will also be amused by the CD packaging itself, which is designed to resemble the 1989 Fontec CD, AKIRA IFUKUBE: WORKS FOR ORCHESTRA (FOCD-3245). Instead of conductor Yasushi Akutagawa, the front cover features a photo of the group's mascot and spiritual leader, Dr. Bukimi!

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

English Title: SYMPHONIC FANTASIA
Japanese Title: GOUKAI Na SYMPHONIC FANTASIA

  1. SYMPHONIC FANTASIA NO. 1 (1983)
  2. SYMPHONIC FANTASIA NO. 2 (1983)
  3. SYMPHONIC FANTASIA NO. 3 (1983)
  4. SYMPHONIC FANTASIA NO. 4 (Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah) (1991)
  5. HIDDEN TRACKS

  6. [silence]
  7. Themes from "Destroy All Monsters", "Adventure in Kigan Castle" and "Godzilla vs. the Thing", with dramatic narration.