2002 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title: Japanese Chorus Song Composer Series 3:
Yasushi Akutagawa, Akira Ifukube
CD Label: Victor
CD Number: VICC-60043
Music by: YASUSHI AKUTAGAWA & AKIRA IFUKUBE
Number of tracks: 18
Running time: 52:55
Number of discs: 1
Year of release/manufacture: 1997

REVIEW

March 17, 2002 - Courtesy of Sam Scali

The music on this CD couldn't be farther from what you would hear in a Godzilla film. It is a selection of very sparsely-arranged vocal pieces, sung in Japanese in an Eastern-influenced operatic style.

Tracks 1-8 were composed by Yasushi Akutagawa, and 9-18 by Akira Ifukube. Each of the Akutagawa tracks features solo vocals with spare piano accompaniment. The first 5 tracks make up the first composition, a mostly slow, somber piece with a mournful-sounding female vocal and a haunting, romantic flavor. The second composition (Tracks 6-8) is more lively, featuring an animated male tenor and galloping piano.

The Ifukube compositions slow things down to a more stately, and somewhat darker, mood. The first composition (Tracks 9-12) features a plaintive female vocal and piano treatment, and a more Eastern sound. The next piece (Tracks 13-15) is a haunting composition with a yearning baritone male vocal and spare, slow piano, both of which pick up the pace a bit towards the end. The final composition (Tracks 16-18) is the most exotic-sounding of the bunch, featuring a wailing (and sometimes mocking) female vocal, accompanied only by sparse tribal drums.

The music on this CD is definitely not for everybody. I found it to be haunting, beautifully performed, and refreshing in its minimalism - there's a lot of "air" in it. On the other hand, the mood is mostly somber and not very uplifting, more suitable for late-night listening or contemplative moments. If dark music or operatic vocals are not your cup of tea, or if you are looking for a fix of the more typical Ifukube drama, avoid this CD at all costs.

Japanese Chorus Song Composer Series 3: Yasushi Akutagawa, Akira Ifukube

Akutagawa composed tracks 1-8, and Ifukube 9-18.
Tracks performed by Yumi Aikawa(s), Michiko Ara, Tomoko Naritae(Ms) and others.

Track Titles Courtesy of Jolyon Yates !
The following are best guesses. The titles are either peculiar because they're poetic phrases (1-5) or they're in Ainu (9-18).

    CAR ? SERIES
  1. Momijiji
  2. Suicide Rose
  3. Watercolor Landscape
  4. Gathering ?
  5. Spring Comes to an End

    PAPUAN NATIVES' SONGS

  6. Introduzione
  7. Death Spirit Song
  8. Joyful Song

    GILYAK FAMILY'S OLD CHANT SONGS

  9. Ai Ai Gomtaila
  10. Peach-gathering Women's Song
  11. River to Them
  12. Song for People On Their Way To The Bear Festival

    THREE LULLABIES OF THE NATIVES OF SAKHALIN ISLAND

  13. Buru Buru
  14. Buppun Ru
  15. Umpuri Yaya

    AINU SHEPHERD'S DANCE BALLADS

  16. A Certain Old Timer's Song
  17. Song of the Bird That Died in the North Sea
  18. The Mother-in-law and Yamanba's Dance Song