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Great Composers You Ought To Know: Reijiro Koroku Pt. 1

Pictured: Japanese composer, Reijiro Koroku.

It’s funny, amidst all the bitching I’ve been doing lately about my lack of inspiration for writing new posts, it dawned on me recently that I’ve neglected to cover one of the most obvious topics available to me:

My music library.

Most of the music I collect and listen to comes from movie and videogame soundtracks.

I think my interest in soundtrack music spawned from my having spent my childhood watching lots of movies with heavily thematic scores from an early age.

In particular, I think the iconic, and almost overbearing style of background music found in all the Godzilla movies I used to watch was largely responsible for me having grown up a “hummer.”

Wrong kind of Hummer, dumbass.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always taken good care to open my ears when watching movies; taking stock not just of the movie itself, but of the music that accompanies each scene within it.

That being said, in comparing my music library to that of some of my friends, it dawned on me that; like seemingly everyone in the digital age, the music in my collection differed extensively from most of the people I knew.

Because of this, I figured it might be fun if every now and again I took a moment to root through my collection and do a post on a particular composer you might like to know about.

I don’t intend for these posts to be biographies, as I honestly don’t know even know what most of the composers in my collection even look like, let alone what they’ve done in their personal lives, but I do hope to at least highlight the works of theirs that I am familiar with.

On that note, for absolutely no reason other than the fact that I mentioned Godzilla earlier in this post, today we’ll be kicking off this new series of posts with a look at prolific Japanese composer: Rejiro Koroku.

It’s funny, the earliest instance I can recall hearing the works of Reijiro Koroku, was one that I honestly wasn’t aware of until just now.

Do you remember a Nickelodeon show called Noozles?:

All I remember about the show was the theme song, and the fact that it involved painfully cute stuffed animal koalas that would come to life if you rubbed your nose against theirs.

Well, for what it’s worth, a quick IMDb reveals that the composer of Noozles was Reijiro Koroku.

I don’t remember a single note of the show’s soundtrack outside of the catchy-ass English theme song; but according to history, Noozles was the first composition of his I ever heard, even if I didn’t know he did it until just now.

Cosmic…

Fun facts aside, the first, and easily most impactful instance in which I ever truly experienced Reijiro Koroku’s music, was in Godzilla 1984.

The Heisei Godzilla movies had some of the most badass poster art ever. Seriously, look 'em up.

Many look upon Godzilla 1984 as a plodding and largely unimpressive entry in the series, however my appreciation for it has grown over the years.

That’s not to say I always looked upon it in a positive light.

In my youth I can recall feeling Godzilla 1985 (that’s the version we got in the U.S.) was a little bit boring, however that was also back when I was young enough to have felt it was also kind of scary.

What can I say, I grew up with Godzilla as my hero, so my tiny 6 year old brain had some trouble wrapping itself around the concept of Godzilla being a nasty bad guy that maliciously stepped on security guards.

Looking at Godzilla 1984 as and adult though, it’s much easier for me to appreciate the unrivaled scale of the miniatures, the atypically topical/political nature of the story, and the oddly designed, but mechanically impressive Godzilla suit.

As you might have guessed, on top of all of this, Godzilla 1984 has an absolutely beautiful soundtrack.

In stark contrast to virtually every other Godzilla soundtrack in history, Godzilla 1984 has a hauntingly brooding and melancholy sound to it that is downright chilling at times.

Just give a listen to the opening theme/Godzilla’s theme:

As the first film in the Heisei series of Godzilla films, as well as the first Godzilla film produced following a near 10 year hiatus, Godzilla 1984 was a big-budget (by Japanese standards) film meant to formally usher the character into the modern era of sci-fi.

Like many other tokusatsu compositions, Koroku’s use of brasses is bold and almost outlandish by Western standards, however at the same time his music has an elegance to it that goes a long way towards legitimizing the inherent melodrama of it’s sound.

While rarely pulse-pounding, the music in Godzilla 1984 covers a great deal of the emotional spectrum, with many of the more peaceful tracks embodying an almost Gershwin-like romantic quality:

The military themes embodying a boldly triumphant quality of strength:

And Godzilla’s cues coming across as malevolent and downright demonic at times:

Curiously enough, though one of the highlights of the soundtrack is one track in particular that is actually quite successful in it’s capacity to tug at your heartstrings:

One of my favorite aspects of the soundtrack, and one that I can’t quite explain, is it’s “clarity.”

I don’t know if it was a result of a special recording process, but for whatever reason, Godzilla 1984’s orchestra comes across as bigger, louder, and “clearer” than what I’m used to hearing in films.

I have no idea how this incredible effect was achieved, but one thing’s for sure, I wholeheartedly approve.

That being said, I figure I should finish today’s post with a nod to my favorite tracks from Godzilla 1984.

Truth be told, the “Main Title” and “Self-Defense Force” tracks embedded above are actually some of my favorite tracks, however my all time favorite has to be the theme of Super X:

Like I’d imagine was the case with most kids, Super X’s scenes were easily my favorite part of the whole movie, and as such; I feel it’s only fitting that it was bestowed with one of the better compositions as it’s theme music.

Godzilla 1984 was the first Godzilla movie in 30 years to feature no other monsters besides the Big G, and as a result, I’m guessing the Super X was inserted into the film, not just because it was fucking awesome, but because Toho likely felt the movie needed something for Godzilla to fight that was plausible, yet wouldn’t crumble in a single blow.

Unfortunately, the Super X, as resilient as it was withstanding a whopping 2 doses of blue nuclear death breath, displayed a severe weakness in the form of being vulnerable to having skyscrapers dropped on it’s hull:

Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

Filed under: Great Composers You Ought To Know, Movies, Tokusatsu, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Scared the Piss Out of Me

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was, for the better part of half my life, the scariest fucking movie I never saw.

The Secret of NIMH had it’s moments, what with the Great Owl flipping his head around and what not, and Tetsuo’s melt-down scene in Akira was crazy-as-fuck, but for my money, E.T. had ’em all beat.

And no, I’m not talking about the fact that E.T. looked like a goddamn monkey turd/cock that had been left out in the sun too long and beaten with a crystal dildo.

Which one was I talking about? I leave that for you to decide...

No, to be honest, when I first saw the movie I didn’t even know what E.T. fuckin’ looked like, but even so, the movie scared the piss outta’ me.

Why, you ask?

Well, the story starts back in 1985, 2 years before I was even born.

Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster powerhouse, E.T.; proved so impossibly successful, both critically and financially, that it saw a theatrical re-release in the summer of 1985.

Being as the movie was supposed to be, well, just about THE BEST MOVIE EVER, my parents decided to take their first son, my older brother; to see it in the theater.

He was 2 years old.

My parents sat at the theater, with my brother in my mom’s lap.

The opening credits slowly faded in, with no fanfare or sound of any kind playing over it.

After a few minutes, a starry night sky appeared on the screen, followed by a long tracking shot surveying a grand spaceship in the forest.

Little brown figures, oddly cute in a pathetic sort of way; clumsily wandered about the forest, seemingly exploring their surroundings.

After awhile, of the little brown guy’s wandered off from the spaceship, where he happened upon a spot in the woods overlooking the night lights of a city.

With a terrible noise, a series of vehicles tore through the forest converging on our little brown friend, their headlights shooting through the foliage like white hot beams of pure terror.

Then some men got out of their cars.

And they starting chasing E.T.

From the moment E.T.’s chest starting glowing red, and he let loose his gut-wrenching, cringe inducing baby-in-distress scream, my brother just couldn’t handle it.

He started bawling in the theater and thrashing around in my mom’s arms so violently, that my parents were forced to get up and leave the theater with him.

BEST MOVIE EVER, and they didn’t even get to see 10 minutes of it with their first child.

Flash forward several years, and I’m 3 or 4, just a little bit older than my brother was when he first experienced E.T.

My parents rented E.T. and sat down to watch it with me.

I remember earlier that day, my brother and I were playing together, and he decided to tell me what to expect from the movie.

He told me this:

“E.T.’s chest starts glowing, and you can see his insides and stuff.  Then his chest opens up, and he pulls a laser gun out of there and starts killing everybody.”

E.T. according to my brother.

No joke, that’s what he told me.

I was a little kid, and he was my older brother, so of course I believed every word of it.

I don’t know why he told me that, maybe because he was embarrassed by how badly the movie freaked him out, and wanted me to do the same, but regardless, that’s exactly what happened.

As soon as E.T.’s chest started glowing that hellfire red, revealing his transparent ribcage, everything my brother told me started flooding my imagination with all sorts of terrifying imagery.

I saw E.T.’s chest flying open, spraying gore and viscera across the forest floor.

I saw E.T. pulling out a hairdryer shaped ray gun and pointing it at the scary men.

I saw the scary men being torn to bits and rendered to a fine sanguine mist by the vicious light beams streaming through them.

In short, just like my brother before me, I freaked out during the first 10 minutes of E.T. so badly that my parents had to eject the tape and return it the very same night.

At some point in my life, I recall seeing E.T. maybe once, though I hardly have any memories of it.

To be honest though, I don’t know if my parents ever got a chance to see it.

Click below if you dare:

Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

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