© 2004 Lawrence Tuczynski

CD Label Futureland
CD Number TYCY-5473
Music by: Akira Ifukube
Number of tracks 33
Running time 75:22
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 Unfortunately, that CD (TYCY-5371), was quickly withdrawn from the market, supposedly for legal reasons, making it one of Ifukube's most collectible and sought-after releases.

Translations courtesy of Jolyon Yates

    These titles include place names, non-Japanese names, sanskrit and astronomical & astrological names. Where I couldn't be sure of a name I just gave a literal translation.

  1. Main Title
  2. Seed Family's Cow-Killing Rite
  3. Spring: South Korea
  4. Stone Statue
  5. Autumn: South Korea
  6. Mudan & Sacrifice
  7. To Okinawa
  8. Ancient Remains of Japan
  9. Koryuji Cow Festival (Koryuji is a famous temple)
  10. Grand Shrine at Ise
  11. Floating Stone Temple History (A temple name? Fuishi/Fuseki?)
  12. Conservation of the Lucky Chinese Forest
  13. North Dragon Faith ('Dragon' as in the astrological sign; may be read as 'North Star')
  14. Spirit Sending
  15. Big Dipper and The Sign of the 7th Star (ie the star Vega)
  16. Crossing the Sea
  17. 7th Star Sword
  18. Wondrous Sight of Bodhisattva
  19. Sounds of the Chaos of Local Customs
  20. Bird Pole: South Korea
  21. Bird Pole: Ancient Japan
  22. Rolling Titles

  24. Prologue ~ Theme ABC
  25. Theme D
  26. Theme E
  27. Theme F
  28. Theme G
  29. Theme I
  30. Theme J
  31. Theme K
  32. Tegun Solo
  33. Tegun & Chango
  34. Ending