elcome to the Digital Meltd0wn Music Blog. The aim of this blog is to introduce the readers to music that is out of print, commercially unavailable, released under a creative commons license, or with approval by the featured artist. The majority of the music posted here would be considered underground. Don't let that fool you into thinking that the music featured here might be any less enjoyable than that of the mainstream artists you hear on the radio, as this couldn't be further from the truth.
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Allow me to introduce my favorite composer of film scores from the 1950's era, Akira Ifukube. Not only did he compose the score to the most influential monster movie of all time, Godzilla, but he was also the source of numerous amazing monster movie scores throughout the '50s and '60s. Ifukube had a penchant for composing some of the most menacing music in the history of cinema, creating an atmosphere of dread and certain doom like no other.
Legend has it that Ifukube made the decision to become a composer at the age of 14 after hearing a radio performance of Igor Stravinsky's ballet, The Rite of Spring. He initially made a living working as a forestry officer and lumber processor, while working as a composer during his spare time. As World War II was drawing to a close, the Japanese Imperial Army commissioned Ifukube to perform a study on the elasticity and vibratory strength of wood. While performing this work, he suffered radiation exposure injuries after being exposed to x-rays without protection, and decided to abandon his forestry work and become a full-time composer and teacher. From 1946-53 he was a professor at the Nihon University College of Art, during which he composed his first film score for the film The End of the Silver Mountains. In 1954 he would cement his name in history by composing the score to one of the most famous science-fiction movies of all time, Godzilla. Ifukube also created Godzilla's trademark roar – produced by rubbing a resin-covered leather glove along the loosened strings of a double bass – and its footsteps, created by striking an amplifier box. He would go on to compose the scores for a number of other kaiju (monster) movies produced by Toho, including several Godzilla sequels, as well as several contemporary classical and traditional folk pieces.
Two years after he composed the score for Godzilla, Toho hired Ifukube to compose the score for yet another kaiju film, Rodan (Sora no Daikaijū Radon in Japanese), which would be released in the United States a year later under the name Rodan! The Flying Monster. While a couple of cues from the Godzilla score, "Godzilla Comes Ashore" and "Fury of Godzilla", were two of the most menacing pieces of music composed at that time, many of the other pieces were marches, and failed to capture the atmosphere of dread. With the score to Rodan, Ifukube saturated the entire score with an atmosphere very similar to the the two Godzilla tracks I just mentioned. The heavy brass slowly and methodically builds, creating a feeling of impending doom and dread throughout. Low-end piano chords which are violently struck give the listener a feeling of desolation and hopelessness. There are a few tracks diverge from this formula, but the score as a whole remains a much more menacing piece than the Godzilla score. As I mentioned before, Ifukube regularly credited Russian composer Igor Stravinsky as an inspirational figure. I believe that Stravinski's "Firebird Suite" in particular may have served as inspiration for his numerous monster movie scores, as there are distinguishable similarities that can be heard when listening to Stravinsky's Firebird Suite and Ifukube's Godzilla score. If this is the case, Ifukube was most likely simply paying tribute to a man he admired, rather than trying to duplicate Stravinsky's work. He was able to distance himself from Stravinski's influence by developing his own distinct style, which is noticeably heavier and more raw than that of Stravisnky.
The score provided in the download below was originally released by Futureland/Toshiba EMI Japan in 1996, and unfortunately it is currently out of print. It was the first volume of twelve in a series entitled "Toho Monster Movie Selections", released between 1996-1997. The series consists of all of Akira Ifukube's non-Godzilla sci-fi scores. As with all other releases in the series, it contains several sound effects tracks (tracks 30-38), as well as audio from a pair of Rodan trailers (track #39) in addition to the original score. There are also several variations of the main theme, along with different takes of other cues. The theme variations may become a bit repetitious for some listeners; however, I personally enjoy the diversity offered on this release, although I also believe that the isolated original score delivers a much better overall listening experience. As with several other posts, I have neglected to include a track list due to the large number of tracks on this release, and lack of available time on my end. I have several albums that were included in this series, along with several Ifukube scores to Godzilla scores, and even a few scores from other Japanese monster movies that weren't composed by Ifukube. I may end up posting a few more of these, so please leave a comment if there are any particular albums that you would like to see, and let me know what you think of this release if you have the time.
Film Release: 1956 Album Release: 1996 Label: Futureland/Toshiba EMI Japan (TYCY-5498) Genres: Soundtrack/Score, Science-Fiction, Classical Bitrate: 192kbps