© 2004 Lawrence Tuczynski
|Title||AKIRA IFUKUBE: DOZOKU NO RANJO / HAN GEINOU MANDALA|
|Music by:||Akira Ifukube|
|Number of tracks||33|
|Number of discs||1|
|Year of release/manufacture||December 20, 1995|
April 23, 2004 - Review courtesy of Sam Scali
This rare CD, released on the Futureland label in 1995, features the soundtracks from two Japanese films. The first score is from DOZOKU NO RANJO, a 1991 documentary about North Korea and its ties with Japan, narrated by Toho actor Akira Kubo. The music was composed by Godzilla maestro Akira Ifukube, but unlike his more familiar sci-fi efforts, this score more closely resembles the work he has done for period films such as Toho's THE BIRTH OF JAPAN, Daiei's MAJIN trilogy and the ZATOICHI series. Typically, the music is mostly downbeat and solemn, at times almost dirge-like. There are cues with sweeping, traditional-sounding themes that unfold at a slow, processional pace, as well as sad, wistful passages of aching beauty. There are also several selections that feature ethnic percussion and other traditional instruments. And while there is nothing that resembles the bracing military marches or menacing signature themes of Ifukube's kaiju scores, some tracks do have a similar feel to the more sentimental "End Titles" of those films.
The second score on this disc, composed by Shigeyuki Imai, appears to be from a documentary called HAN GEINOU MANDALA. I was unable to find any information about the film, but the music is excellent - far more upbeat than the Ifukube work, with an unmistakably Asian flavor. The main theme is a jaunty, celebratory folk dance, with variations reappearing throughout the score. There are also regal marches, playful interludes and even romantic passages, all effectively rendered by a seamless blend of orchestral and ethnic instrumentation.
I can highly recommend this CD to both Ifukube collectors and fans of historical soundtracks or biblical epics. Interestingly, while this disc is very hard to find, there is another version of the DOZOKU NO RANJO soundtrack that is far more rare. It was first released on Futureland just a year earlier, but instead of being coupled with the HAN score, it featured another Ifukube score from a 1993 documentary called KUSHIRO SHITSUGEN (Kushiro Marshland). Unfortunately, that CD (TYCY-5371), was quickly withdrawn from the market, supposedly for legal reasons, making it one of Ifukube's most collectible and sought-after releases.
AKIRA IFUKUBE: DOZOKU NO RANJO / HAN GEINOU MANDALA
From CHAOS OF LOCAL CUSTOMS
RANCOR: PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT MANDALA