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Emerson, Keith, with Nobuhiko Morino & Daisuke Yano: Godzilla–Final Wars (OST)

Fifty years! In 2004, our favorite atomic-breathed walking metaphor celebrated five decades of rule over Kaijutopia. Diminished box office returns won't unmake Godzilla's status as one of pop culture's single most recognizable icons—one as familiar as Star Wars, Playboy, and that dude over in Neverland. For Big G's birthday, Toho approved a script that involved the largest collection of empowered beasties—kaiju—since 1968's Destroy All Monsters. The film retains Akira Ifukube's timeless titular theme, but an otherwise all-electronic underscore was commissioned, the bulk of which was performed by Keith Emerson, along with two other Japanese synthesists. Emerson's presence marks his first venture back into the soundtrack realm since the animated series Iron Man and Harmageddon (his first was for Dario Argento's Inferno, in 1978).

How amusing that Emo's already been criticized for using much, perhaps all, of the music he wrote for an unpublished ELP album for Final Wars. It's true: "Crossing The Rubicon," first heard in 1997 when ELP opened for Jethro Tull, is here. So is another similarly structured theme called "Cruising The Cirro-Stratus." And more, some of which is conventionally "ELP," and the rest of which isn't. If anything, at least the compositions aren't shelfbound, and he's seen some sort of compensation now for them (the man's not exactly rich, after all, and he's nowhere near as profilic as Wakeman). ELP's ongoing self-prescribed stasis isn't likely to break—at least not anytime soon. (I'd happily eat a plate of crowquitos if a Thirtieth Anniversary Tour was suddenly organized, as long as the setlist doesn't replicate the last three.) As unwavering hearsay has it, the members of ELP are in no rush to collaborate, and if or when they do, yet another retread of paths well-trodden is what we're probably going to get, anyway. That aside, let's get back to the music for Godzilla—Final Wars:

No dearth of ideas, here: Emerson, Daisuke Yano and Nobuhiko Morino have cooked up an exciting smorgasbord of sounds and styles to accompany the pounding, stomping, and city-trashing, from trance-rock to straight-up symphonic prog; even the tamer interludes are up to snuff. Yano's best dishes turn out to be "Return Of The King," "Ready For Rumble," and "Fight Back." The first two constitute stately pre-battle fanfare; "King" sports some nice sequences, "Rumble" has a sampled electric guitar lead. "Fight Back" is even better, reminiscent of Tangerine Dream's mid-'80s soundtrack work in accord with Near Dark and The Park Is Mine. Morino's prime cuts come by way of "The Proof," "Reveal," and "Operation: Final War." "Proof" is a bit of a lo-fi chillout piece topped with piano, a latecomer of one rockin' drum pattern, and a mono-lead. The second two are exercises in electro-rock with trance elements blended in. While these are the composers' best trios, respectively, there are other fine tracks by them. Emerson contributes more than Yano and Morino combined; he first shows up with two variations on the "Manda Vs. Gotengo" theme, the second being the better one, while both pivot on the juncture shared by ambient, industrial and incidental. It's with "Rodan Attacks N.Y.C." that Emo first catches you off-guard, with its suspiciously space-funk intro, modulated faux-guitar and well-punctuated brass samples.

The final seven are all Emerson. "Crossing The Rubicon," which serves as the end title, is the most single most exciting work to emerge from Emo's fingers since his retooling of "The Church" for Changing States (though the original, while entirely electronic, is just as good). The organ melody of "Crossing The Rubicon" has the effect of mental molasses: it sticks in your head for days. "Awakening G" is another surprise: it's a silken sequencer & strings theme reminiscent of Synergy circa Audion or Metropolitan Suite—it's just too blasted short! "Respect G" is a medley that consists of one-third of "Crossing," a "space-blues" segment, and a quote (okay, a few bars) from Ifukuba's theme. "First Meeting" is a solo piano snippet, while the "Monster Zero March" is just that, if you're familiar with it. The penultimate track is "Cruising The Cirro-Stratus," another composition done for the ELP-album-that-cannot-be, and it's stellar, though decidedly more Wakemanesque. The "Main Theme" is Emo's rendition of Ifukube's; it's the one track I can do without, and the full, original orchestral theme really should have closed the album, for posterity's sake.

In retrospect, Godzilla—Final Wars has turned out to be one mighty romp. Soundtrack collectors have more money to spend, though this is available only as an import. While the dollar's value against the yen continues to fall, a few minutes' sleuthing will yield sealed copies under thirty clams, perhaps as low as twenty-five. For an atypical Godzilla soundtrack, it's quite the tapestry of wholesome synth-phonic goodness!

Tracklist:

1. Theme Of Godzilla †
2. The King Of Monsters ř
3. The Beginning Of The End ×
4. Manda Vs. Gotengo ¤
5. Manda Vs. Gotengo Part 2 ¤
6. Training Facility Fight ¤
7. EDF Museum ¤
8. Infant Island ¤
9. Rodan Attacks N.Y.C. ¤
10. The Arrival ř
11. The Proof ×
12. Reveal ×
13. High Battle ¤
14. Operation: Final War ×
15. Area G. ×
16. Return Of The King ř
17. Ready For Rumble ř
18. Kazama's Sacrifice ¤
19. Back In Action ×
20. Awaken ř
21. Fight Back ř
22. The Rising ř
23. Ending Title (Crossing The Rubicon) ¤
24. Awakening G. ¤
25. Respect G. ¤†
26. First Meeting ¤
27. Monster Zero March †¤
28. Cruising The Cirro-Stratus ¤
29. Godzilla Main Theme †¤

Total time – 69:31

Credits:

»Keith EMERSON — ¤
»Nobuhiko MORINO — ×
»Daisuke YANO — ř
»Akira IFUKUBE — †

Added: March 19th 2005
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
Score:
Related Link: Keith Emerson Dot Com
Hits: 2410
Language: english

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