An Evening of Special Effects Film Music (Perfect Collection 5)
International Title
Music By: Akira Ifukube
Record Label: Toho Music
Running Time: 56:17 Discs: 1
Release: January 2008 CD Number: GX-6 (Set)
Anthony Romero
First, thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this in for review!

The first bonus CD from this set is another LP transfer, this time of the famous Symphonic Fantasia. The LP being repoduced is the original release of the concert performance from 1983, called An Evening of Special Effects Film Music (K20G-7169~70), that was conducted by Yasuhiko Shiozawa with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.

In terms of the content, Symphonic Fantasia is an amazing body of work. The three suites are a vast collection of music from Akira Ifukube's science fiction work for Toho woven together seamlessly from one theme to the next. Although largely focused on the kaiju material, there is one track from the much more obscure The Adventure of Taklamakan (1966) found here as well. A more detailed breakdown of each theme in the suites can be found on previous releases of the Symphonic Fantasia on CD, such as A Tribute to Godzilla: Akira Ifukube Symphonic Fantasia Complete (KICS-775) which actually deals with a later recording of the same suites. The great thing about this collection is that its instantly familiar to genre fans, yet stands on its own as well. It brings new elements and new ideas and in many ways was incoperated into Ifukube's work in the 1990's, such as the mixing together of King Ghidorah's Theme with the Battle Music from King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) which ultimately became the three-headed monster's new theme in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991).

After the Symphonic Fantasia, the disc includes a ten minute track called "Rondo in Burlesque for Orchestra", or "Rond" as its titled on the front cover. This track is largely based on the main title theme from Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965), yet is effectively stretched out to a ten minute performance due to several different styles applied, including an almost drill march take near the end. Its really a great ode to the theme, and a wonderful track in its own right.

In regards to the overall presentation of this CD, its so-so. The detractor here is the audio quality, which suffers from being a faithful reproduction of the original LP. Clearly someone at Toho Music is a huge LP aficionado, and its worth recongizing that there is a growing niche fascination with vinyl records. However, the key word there is vinyl. Trying to reproduce vinyls on CD is futile, and seems to miss the point of why the format is still popular. Not only that, but this material in particular has been released so many times on CD, with great quality, that anything less would be absurd. However, that's what this CD is. To be fair, I will attest to hearing horror stories about the quality on this CD from friends before ever listening to it. So it was much to my surprise that the quality wasn't bad. In fact, I had to hear this and a normal CD copy of the 1983 performance back to back to spot the differences. Suffice to say, this CD lacks the clarity of other releases to the format, as some instruments just don't feel as prominent or with the same type of range. However, if one has never heard the Symphonic Fantasia before, though, this probably won't be noticeable, its that minor.

Overall, the audio quality isn't up to snuff with what's already out there on CD, but it's good enough to please most consumers. The music itself, though, is a must for any fan of Ifukube. So while this might not be the best way to experience the music, it's still an adequate release and a good bonus for the Perfect Collection line.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. Symphonic Fantasia No. 1
  2. Symphonic Fantasia No. 2
  3. Symphonic Fantasia No. 3
  4. Rondo in Burlesque for Orchestra