Virus: Symphonic Suite
International Title
Music By: Teo Macero
Record Label: Nippon Columbia
Running Time: 30:57 Discs: 1
Release: March 2012 CD Number: FJCM-018
Anthony Romero

This 2012 title marks the second LP to CD release for the mega budget, for its time, film Virus (1980). Now while the score for the movie was a joint effort between Teo Macero and Kentaro Haneda, this release focuses on an orchestrated reworking of the Macero material by the composer himself. The end result is so-so, with enough links between the two to make the inspiration often obvious… but one that just makes you yearn for them to release the actual score instead.

Now this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m familiar with Symphonic Suites and know they, by their nature, are supposed to deviate from the material a little. Sometimes the result is very similar, just with new orchestration, and sometimes the approach is quite unique to the material, as was seen on the Princess Mononoke Symphonic Suite (TKCA-71395). This one for Virus, to either its credit or discredit, sounds very much like work from the film. It’s the same composer, same orchestra, and so no surprise there. Still, it deviates in quite a few ways from the movie themes, and sadly none of this for the better.

The CD starts off with an original piece, “Prelude: Opening”, before diving into “Main Theme: You Are Love” which is the most movie faithful piece on the disc. This theme is heard several times during the movie, but most notably when the submarine is disembarking from Antarctica. In fact, the only real deviation is a short piano solo that was added in the middle.

Next track, called “Virus”, is more foreboding in nature. While segments of the track are unrecognizable, there is a moment that links up when Yoshizumi and the others are discussing the projected nuclear catastrophe. This is followed by the less remarkable “Multiplication”, which my mind could not attach a scene to.  The same could be said of the “Longest Way”, which, even though by the title it seems like it’s related to Yoshizumi’s long trek back by foot, I could not attach a scene to the music.

In fact, as a whole, the titles don’t relate too much to their use in the film, on those rare occasions the music itself does link up to a scene. For example, “Interlude: Rising to the Surface” seems like it would be related to the sub, but is actually heard when Yoshizumi and Carter are running through Washington DC toward the White House.

In terms of the best track from this release, it’s probably “Love Theme: Adieu, Mon Amour”, although that’s a bit of a copout answer as this theme was already released on the 2011 Virus CD (FJCM-011). To make it clear, this is the same theme, but not the same orchestration. This one lasts about 12 seconds longer, for example. In terms of a runner up best track, “Extinction” would probably win.  This foreboding track, which plays when the film is showing the death tolls for the major cities, is pretty faithful except when the movie really ramps up for the Tokyo tally this track instead kind of whimpers onward for a bit more before finally ending.

As for the worst track, “Antartica” gets that title. It sounds nothing like the music in the film, having an odd amount of experimentation in what is an otherwise plain classical CD. At its worst, this track feels like the orchestra was just playing without a conductor, feeling oddly all over the place.

In terms of the packaging, this is another LP replica release. This means another cardboard slip cover with the CD coming in a plastic jacket. The booklet is a folded piece of paper that has another, smaller loose folded piece of paper inside it. The entire package comes in a non-description, easily opened plastic sleeve. While the LP replicas might appeal to some, I find them annoying, especially ones like this that are a real pain to put back together.

Overall, this release is okay, but just has one too many things going against it for me to recommend getting it. The themes just aren’t as satisfying as their movie counterparts, while this disc, at just over 30 minutes, is real short. Factoring shipping, I spent about $1 a minute in the end. Hopefully, some day, a company gives the film a proper, actual score release.

Rating: Star Rating
  1. Prelude: Opening
  2. Main Theme: You Are Love
  3. Virus
  4. Multiplication
  5. Longest Way
  6. Terror
  7. Interlude: Rising to the Surface
  8. Love Theme: Adieu, Mon Amour
  9. Extinction
  10. Antarctica
  11. You Are Love
  12. Postlude: Resurrection