2008 Lawrence Tuczynski

World Tour by The Music of AKIRA IFUKUBE (LATITUDE ZERO)
CD Label: BKM
CD Number: G.R.F.022
Music by: Akira Ifukube
Music Performed by: Bukimisha Weird Secret Society
Takeo Yahiro & Friends
Number of tracks: 40 (38 listed, 2 hidden)
Running time: 73:39
Number of discs: 1
Year of release/manufacture: December 29, 2007


February 22, 2008

Review courtesy of Sam Scali

The Bukimisha Weird Secret Society is back with another eccentrically satisfying tribute to Akira Ifukube's sci-fi film music. Curiously, though the name LATITUDE ZERO is prominently featured in the title of this CD, there is relatively little music included from that film. Of course, given the quality and variety of the other selections, this is a minor discrepancy.

The disc does indeed open with a faithful version of the "Main Title" from LATITUDE ZERO, rendered in typical a cappella fashion by the group. The next track is a plaintive, haunting interpretation of the guitar and harmonica music heard onboard the steamship Eiku-Maru just before it is destroyed in the original GODZILLA.

Track 3 features an unusually rhythmic arrangement of GODZILLA's "Storm on Odo Island" cue, followed by a somber "Godzilla to Tokyo Bay". Track 5 focuses on the lovely end section of RODAN's main title, followed by a suitably dark "The Underground Tragedy" and a truly frenetic "Supersonic Pursuit" from the same film.

Track 8 takes us on an especially eerie tour of the "Mysterian Dome" from (what else?) THE MYSTERIANS, as well as a rousing performance of "The Global Defense Conference". VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE is equally well represented by a lively "Mystery of the 20th Century" (Track 10) and a richly arranged "Cannon Shot Towards the Lake".

BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE's "Lunar Landing" is impressively realized, as is the enthusiastically (and somewhat humorously) sung "Wrath of the Freeze Gun" and the film's sad but hopeful "Ending". The group also offers a dramatic version of KING KONG VS. GODZILLA's "The Seahawk's SOS" (Track 15) and the exotic "Faro Island" theme.

ATRAGON provides inspiration for a generous four cues (Tracks 17-20), consisting of imaginative readings of all three parts of "Test Maneuvers of the Undersea Warship", as well as "The Undersea Warship Attacks I". GODZILLA VS. THE THING and GHIDRAH THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER are represented by two richly arranged cues each, as are FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD and KING KONG ESCAPES.

Tracks 31-33 feature spirited performances of themes from TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA, including the touching "Ending" cue. The group also dips into the Heisei series with a brief and unusually low-key reading of 1993's GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA theme (Track 30), as well as three tracks from GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH and the hauntingly beautiful "Requiem" from GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH. The CD ends (almost) with another version of the LATITUDE ZERO theme (Track 38), based on Makoto Inoue's arrangement from the 1986 "Ostinato" album.

Ah, but what of the obligatory hidden tracks? Track 39 features additional music from LATITUDE ZERO, though unfortunately most of it is buried in the mix behind spoken Japanese dialogue. The final track features an extended medley of Ifukube themes (and even a few films) that are not covered in the main body of the CD, including cues from DAGORA, THE SPACE MONSTER, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS and YOG, MONSTER FROM SPACE. Needless to say, all are given the full-tilt Bukimisha treatment. To top it off, the group throws a curve ball by closing the medley with a reprise of "Eiku-Maru Sinking" - this time performed on guitar and harmonica instead of vocals!

Bukimisha perpetuates their aura of mystery on this CD with a very unusual cover design. The front cover shows what appears to be a parody of a travel or real estate advertisement, and the back cover pays off the "World Tour By Music of Akira Ifukube" title by showing where each movie takes place on a map of the world. While the focus of most of the action is various areas of the Pacific (particularly Japan), the route of FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD is accurately traced back to Germany, and BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE is appropriately positioned on a photo of the Moon.

Looking back on Bukimisha's impressive Ifukube output, it is difficult to see what material is left for the group to interpret. Clearly they have covered most of the major touchstones in the maestro's illustrious film music career, and the new CD has a feeling of finality to it - particularly with its uncharacteristic instrumental finish. Still, it's probably not a good idea to underestimate Takeo Yahiro and his talented crew. After all, there's still the ZATOICHI series, or (dare I say it?) Ritmica Ostinata!

As with previous CDs 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.

Track translations courtesy of Jolyon Yates & Sam Scali

  2. 'The Glory' Boat Song (GODZILLA M3)
  3. Stormy Odo Island (GODZILLA M7)
  4. Kachidoki Bridge & Godzilla (GODZILLA MC)
  5. Aso (RODAN M1)
  6. Tunnel Tragedy (RODAN M3)
  7. Sky Chase (RODAN M10)
  8. Mysterian Dome (THE MYSTERIANS M8)
  9. Earth Defence Force meeting (THE MYSTERIANS M12)
  10. Rocket Launch ~ 20th Century Mystery (VARAN M2)
  11. Baradagi Lake ~ Artillery Attack (VARAN M7)
  12. Moon Landing (BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE M15)
  13. Gigantic Natal Saucer (BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE M33)
  14. Peaceful Skies (BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE M35)
  15. Shining Iceberg, Seahawk SOS (KING KONG vs GODZILLA M5)
  16. Faro Island (KING KONG vs GODZILLA M6)
  17. Undersea Battleship Test Run I (ATRAGON M15)
  18. Undersea Battleship Test Run II (ATRAGON M16)
  19. Undersea battleship Test Run III (ATRAGON M17)
  20. Undersea Battleship Sortie (ATRAGON M23)
  21. Giant Egg Drifts Ashore (MOTHRA vs GODZILLA M4)
  22. Infant Island ~ Mothra's Departure (MOTHRA vs GODZILLA M18)
  23. Princess Salno of the Principality of Selgina (GHIDORAH THE 3-HEADED MONSTER M2)
  24. Kurobe Valley (GHIDORAH THE 3-HEADED MONSTER M5)
  25. Great Meteorite Discovery (GHIDORAH THE 3-HEADED MONSTER M6)
  26. Indian Ocean ~ Heart Transportation Route (FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD M2)
  27. U-Boat Sinks ~ Hiroshima (FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD M3)
  29. Kong & Susan (KING KONG ESCAPES M10)
  30. Mechagodzilla repair (GODZILLA vs MECHAGODZILLA unused)
  31. Mafune Family Woman (TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA M5)
  32. Mechagodzilla II (TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA M7)
  33. Sunset Coloured Sea & Godzilla (TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA M23)
  34. Lagos Island Memory (GODZILLA vs KING GHIDORA M2)
  35. Lagos Island Defence Unit (GODZILLA vs KING GHIDORA M12)
  36. Bering Sea (GODZILLA vs KING GHIDORA M20)
  37. Death By Dawn (GODZILLA vs DESTROYER M44)
  38. LATITUDE ZERO main title (ostinato version)
  39. Hidden tracks:

  40. Main Title (and other LATITUDE ZERO themes) with dialogue
  41. Extended medley featuring various themes from DAGORA, THE SPACE MONSTER, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, KING KONG ESCAPES, YOG, MONSTER FROM SPACE and GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH, plus an instrumental version of "Eiku-Maru Sinking" from GODZILLA ('54) played on harmonica and guitar (!)