2010 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title: GOUKAI Na CDEFE-G-D-G- "The Battle in Outer Space" March The 50th birth anniversary
(CDEFE-G-D-G-translates as 'Do Re Mi Fa Mi So Re So')
CD Label: BKM
CD Number: G.R.F.026
Music Performed by: Bukimisha Weird Secret Society
Takeo Yahiro & Friends
Music Composed by: Various
Number of tracks: 14 (2 hidden, tracks 1 & 14)
Running time: 73:50
Number of discs: 1
Year of release/manufacture: December 29, 2009

REVIEW

February 24, 2010

Review courtesy of Sam Scali

This is another delightful entry in Bukimisha's ongoing series of a cappella renditions of the music of Akira Ifukube. The album celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Toho sci-fi classic, BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE, or more specifically, the rousing military march from the climax of the film. However, instead of merely recreating music from the soundtrack, Bukimisha digs deeper and presents arrangements of some of Ifukube's early march compositions and film cues that inspired the theme, as well as later offshoots. The result is a wonderfully diverse study of the music's evolution, compellingly performed in the inimitable Bukimisha style.

Track 1 sets things up with a brief excerpt from "TOUSHI TENSHOU (THEME OF MASAAKI SATAKE)", a 1994 composition that features one of the main melodies of the BATTLE theme (more on this piece below). Amusingly, this track is sung by children rather than the Bukimisha vocalists themselves. Track 2 takes us back to 1943 and one of Ifukube's earliest military compositions, KISHI MAI (aka, "March For The Japanese Imperial Navy"), a moderately slow piece that is solemnly performed by the group. The third track, PRELUDE DU SOLDAT (a.k.a., "Overture to the Soldiers", 1944) is more uptempo and prominently features intricate minor-key variations of the BATTLE theme, impressively rendered with falsetto as well as baritone textures.

Track 4 is Bukimisha's interpretation of OVERTURE TO THE NATION OF PHILIPPINES (1944), a lengthier and more exotic work, though the strains of the BATTLE theme are still evident throughout. Like many Bukimisha readings, the results are both reverent and irreverent - uncannily faithful to the source material, yet imbued with a feeling of playfulness. Case in point: Some of the track's vocal nuances are subtly reminiscent of the clucking of chickens!

In addition to non-film compositions, the album also features Bukimisha's patented treatment of soundtrack themes. Track 5 is from a 1950 Daiei film called HARUKANARI HAHA NO KUNI (English title, "The Motherland Far, Far Away"), Track 6 is from a 1951 Toho film called KONOHATA NI CHIKAU (translated here as "Pledge Allegiance to this Flag") and Track 7 is a cue from THE GENJI STORY (Daiei, 1951). Track 8 is a brief piece taken from a 1955 Nikkatsu film titled JOCHUKKO (English title, "The Maid's Kid"), while Track 9 is from the unreleased TV version of VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE (1958). All of these compositions predate BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE, but contain prominent musical elements that Ifukube reconfigured for that film's climactic battle sequence. The group's considerable vocal dexterity emphasizes the subtle differences in these cues, as well as their similarities.

Ifukube revived the theme yet again for his 1972 symphonic work, RONDO IN BURLESQUE FOR JAPANESE DRUMS & ORCHESTRA ( Track 10), and it is honored here with a flawless performance. The piece was revised in 1983, and was frequently performed in conjunction with the maestro's SYMPHONIC FANTASIA, which incorporated yet another configuration of the BATTLE theme.

Track 11 gives us a full group rendition of the aforementioned "TOUSHI TENSHOU" (1994), a theme especially composed by Ifukube for renowned Japanese kick boxer Masaaki Satake. It features a potent dose of BATTLE music (accentuated with particularly emphatic, guttural vocals), as well as a motif used in Ifukube's main title for the 1963 animated Toei film, THE LITTLE PRINCE AND THE EIGHT-HEADED DRAGON. Track 12 is based on the 1999 brass band arrangement of the "Frigate March" cue from the original GODZILLA (1954), which also formed a major part of the BATTLE theme as well as the title march from MONSTER ZERO (1965).

The BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE incarnation of the theme is finally unveiled on Track 13, including all five cue variations as heard in the film, and Bukimisha gives it their customary vocal best. As on past releases there is a hidden bonus track that features a medley of brief excerpts (possibly alternate takes) from previous tracks on the album, with a reprise of the "Pledge Allegiance to This Flag" cue wrapping things up on a suitably patriotic note.

Once again, Bukimisha has produced a truly enjoyable adaptation of Akira Ifukube's work. The group's amazing vocal skills masterfully reproduce the subtleties, textures and atmospheric qualities of the maestro's original compositions, while maintaining a spirited sense of fun. Some listeners may be initially put off by the repetition of musical motifs on this CD, but there is enough richness and variety in the arrangements to keep most Ifukube fans coming back for more.

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.

GOUKAI Na CDEFE-G-D-G- "The Battle in Outer Space" March The 50th birth anniversary
(Translations courtesy of Sam Scali)

  1. [NOTE: Track 1 is not listed on the CD, but it is a brief excerpt from "Toushi Tenshou - Theme For Masaaki Satake" (1994)]
  2. Kishi Mai (1943)
  3. Prelude Du Soldat (1944)
  4. Overture To The Nation of Philippines (1944)
  5. "Ballet Lesson" from HARUKANARI HAHA NO KUNI (1950), International title, "The Motherland Far, Far Away"
  6. "Police Reserves Song" from KONOHATA NI CHIKAU (1951), translated as "Pledge Allegiance to This Flag"
  7. "Spur the Horse, Hikari Genji" from GENJI MONOGATARI (1951), International title, "The Genji Story"
  8. "Campaign Group" from JOCHUKKO (1955) International title, "The Maid's Kid"
  9. "The Self Defense Forces To Iwadani Village" from the unreleased TV version of VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE (1958)
  10. Rondo in Burlesque for Japanese Drums & Orchestra (1972/revised 1983)
  11. "Toushi Tenshou - Theme For Masaaki Satake" (1994)
  12. Godzilla March for Band (1999)
  13. BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE March (1959)
  14. Hidden bonus track

(ALTERNATE translation courtesy of Jolyon Yates)
  1. [NOTE: CD listing starts from track 2 with no listing as to what #1 is. Track one is 0:27 long]
  2. Classical Martial Music (Auspicious Dance)
  3. Soldier's Prelude
  4. Overture of the Phillipines Celebration of Giving
  5. Distant Motherland / Ballet Lesson
  6. Pledge Allegiance to This Flag / Police Reserves Song
  7. The Tale of Genji / Spur the Horse, Hikari Genji
  8. Serving Girl / Campaign Group
  9. DAI KAIJU VARAN / Overseas version music 3
  10. Rondo in Burlesque[?] for Taiko & Orchestra
  11. Soaring Fighting Spirit
  12. Godzilla March for Band
  13. BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE March
  14. unknown hidden track