© 2002 Lawrence Tuczynski
|Title:||Yusaku Matsuda Sound Memorial|
CREST OF THE WOLF & MAD MECHANISM
|Japanese Title:||OKAMI NO MONSHO & MIDAREKA RAKURI|
|CD Label:||VAP, Inc.|
|Music Composer:||Riichiro Manabe (CREST OF THE WOLF)|
Yuji Ono (MAD MECHANISM)
|Number of tracks:||51|
|Number of discs:||1|
|Year of release/manufacture:||1996|
September 16, 2002
Review courtesy of Sam Scali
This CD is a generous collection that features the complete soundtracks to two 70's Toho films, each starring Yusaku Matsuda. The first film, "Crest of the Wolf", is a werewolf tale, with a score by Riichiro Manabe (whose other genre work includes "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster", "Godzilla vs. Megalon" and Toho's vampire trilogy). The second film, "Mad Mechanism", scored by Yuji Ono, appears to be another horror-related story, apparently involving a murderous doll.
Stylistically, the music of "Crest of the Wolf" is a mixed bag. The title sequence begins with a brief, mysterious violin-and-drum intro, immediately followed by a mournful, high-pitched flute melody that suggests the lonely cry of a wolf. This segues into a typical 70's title number featuring a plaintive male vocal, sung in Japanese over a mid-tempo jazz-pop background with further variations on the flute theme.
Like many of Manabe's scores, the tracks that follow offer a variety of stylistic approaches - from short, impressionistic cues featuring dissonant, suspenseful melodies (accented by sharp percussion or loopy bells), to occasional longer pieces that showcase flute, piano or synthesizer melodies against funky guitar-and-percussion backgrounds. Track 7 is a Middle Eastern-influenced theme dominated by flute and bongos, while Track 14 marks the return of the male vocalist, this time accompanied only by a strummed, acoustic folk guitar.
Manabe's notoriously whimsical "Godzilla" scores have had their share of detractors, and admittedly sound jarring (thanks in part to their comical, slide-trombone Godzilla theme) when compared to Akira Ifukube's stirring, dramatic work. Still, I often find Manabe's music to be colorful and interesting in its own way, and though I have not seen this movie, the music from "Crest of the Wolf" sounds appropriate enough for a 70's horror film.
Unlike Manabe, I am not familiar with Yuji Ono's other work, but I find his style in "Mad Mechanism" to be similar in some ways to Manabe's approach. The soundtrack starts off with a trio of funky themes propelled by horns, keyboards and a disco beat, hardly what one would expect to hear in a horror film. Next there is a slow, jazzy piano interlude, followed by another slow number with a percolating rhythm. The funk returns with Track 31, a short cue with flute, keyboards and a driving beat, followed by another lively sax-and-synth number.
After that, things start getting mysterious, as darker, more abstract cues begin to creep in between the jazzier numbers. Like much of Manabe's genre work, these tracks are mostly short and dissonant, serving as suspenseful punctuation rather than coherent musical expression.
Though increasingly interrupted by such sinister moments, the music's jazzy feeling never really goes away. Occasional lovely melodies still manage to shine through the claustrophobia, and the soundtrack finally ends with one more brief, funky flourish. Though some of the music here seems more suited for a 70's cop drama than a horror film, there is enough variety to make it an interesting listening experience and a good companion to the Manabe score.
Overall, the music on this CD certainly doesn't have the power or scope of Ifukube's work, but it may appeal to fans of 70's horror soundtracks as well as Toho completists.
Track translations courtesy of Jolyon Yates
English Title: Yusaku Matsuda Sound Memorial: CREST OF THE WOLF & MAD MECHANISM
(OKAMI NO MONSHO)
Composer: Riichiro Manabe