CD: Epoch of Murder Madness - Original Soundtrack

 

Epoch of Murder Madness - Original Soundtrack


Japanese CD Title

殺人狂時代 オリジナル・サウンドトラック
[Satsujinkyo Jidai Orijinaru Saundotorakku]

Music By:
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Masaru Sato
Cinema-Kan
April 2018
36:12
CINK-50

Based On:

Epoch of Murder Madness

CD

Review

By: Anthony Romero

This 2018 disc release by Cinema-Kan contains the soundtrack to High and Low 2... wait, I'm sorry, this is the score to Epoch of Murder Madness. Created in the mid-1960's by composer Masaru Sato, this soundtrack feels at times like a groovy follow up to Akira Kurosawa's High and Low (1963). This includes borrowing elements from the 1963 score, and sometimes themes entirely. Sadly, at a little over 35 minutes, the score is brief and features a lot of repetition to the point it's really held back.

Now first let's talk about the elements of the score that evoke Sato's 1963 work. One of those is his use of what appears to be a theremin, producing an unnerving noise. In fact, "Japan Spiritual Institute" contains the same creepy, wailing-like noise heard in "The Suffering of a Drug Addict" in High and Low (1963). While this is the most explicit use of it, other tracks contain similar noises, such as "Rorschach Test" and "Contract Establishment". Next up is the use of the lyric-less version of an old Italian folk song by Alfredo Mazzucchi called "O Sole Mio". This includes an original take on it, and also one lifted right from High and Low (1963), which was used brilliantly in that movie toward the climax.

As for the more original content, there is a slant toward harmonica work. This gives the movie a distinctly dated, 1960's vibe to it. In fact, the "Main Title" is heavy with this, and the best cue on the disc. It starts off with a heavy dose of harmonica before featuring some nice electric guitar work around the 50 second mark. This theme is used to influence much of the score, as tracks like "Shinji Kikyo, is it Not?", "Definition and Ramen", "Where to Stay Tonight?", "A Magnificent Transformation?", "Who is the Killer?", "Assassin Boss", "To the Foot of Mt. Fuji", "Shinji and Shinji" and "What Does This Mean...?" all use the motif. If that sounds like a lot, it's because it is and one of the reasons why this feels like a groovy High and Low 2 is because so much of the soundtrack is devoted to the same theme or stuff that feels like an homage to the Kurosawa movie.

Of the remaining few other original tracks, a few do stand out. "Keiko's Way" is one example, as the cue sounds similar to the Pink Panther theme although its tragically short. Next up is "Spanish Battle", which has an Iberian flavor to it matching what one would think with the track title. The CD does contain one major stinker too, as "Mizorogi's Torture" feels like actual torture, with its plodding foot march played over and over again.

All in all, this is not Sato's finest hour. It's not a bad soundtrack, but one that is hard to recommend. Due to repetition, it's the type of score that would work well as part of a compilation, but doesn't make for a compelling stand alone experience when the soundtrack is isolated.

As a side note, this CD uses an odd cue number system. The standard "MXX" style is used, but also each has a "DBX" notation as well. These were left off in the track titles provided below for uniformity. In addition, beyond track 31, the bonus tracks are not given names. Instead they are listed by their cue number. The stock track from The Hidden Fortress (1958) is noted as "DB1 - Tape 1", although cited as a "Whistle" in parentheses. Tracks 32 through 36 are mentioned as "DB1 - M1", "DB1 - M2", "DB1-M2-2", "DB1-M7" and "DB6 - Tape 4" respectively. Rather than leave in the cryptic track titles, these have been substituted with what they actually are from the earlier track listing.

Rating: Star Rating

Tracks

  1. Toho Logo (M1)
  2. Main Title (M2)
  3. The Big Japan Population Control Council (M3)
  4. Shinji Kikyo, is it Not? (M4)
  5. Definition and Ramen (M4A)
  6. Rorschach Test (M5)
  7. Grumble - O Sole Mio (M6)
  8. Where to Stay Tonight? (M7-T2)
  9. Charming Gait (M8)
  10. Contract Establishment (M9)
  11. Mizorogi's Torture (M14A)
  12. A Magnificent Transformation? (M10)
  13. Who is the Killer? (M12)
  14. Happy - O Sole Mio (High and Low M14)
  15. Japan Spiritual Institute (M14 Edit)
  16. Keiko's Way (M15)
  17. Assassin Boss (M17)
  18. Theatrical Memo (M18)
  19. To the Foot of Mt. Fuji (M19)
  20. Escape (M21)
  21. Bunker with Red Flags (M22)
  22. Confrontation in the Bus (M24)
  23. Cleopatra's Tear (M25A)
  24. Spanish Battle (M31)
  25. Kiss Inside the Car (M27)
  26. Keiko's Identity (M28)
  27. Forced Double Suicide (M29)
  28. Shinji and Shinji (M30)
  29. What Does This Mean...? (M31)

    Bonus Tracks
  30. Whistle (Hidden Fortress)
  31. Four Voice Types
  32. Toho Logo (M1 No Voice)
  33. Main Title (M2 No Voice)
  34. Main Title (M2-T2 No Voice)
  35. Where to Stay Tonight? (M7-T1)
  36. Japan Spiritual Institute (M14 No Voice)