Beautiful gatefold vinyl release of Amano's legendary electronic score to one of the kinkiest, horniest, most transgressive and downright vile anime of all time. I remember when this film hit videocassette in the early 90s; my friends and I were instantly obsessed by it, and we would hold regular viewing parties in the punk house I rented because we just could not believe that something like this existed. The American anime audience was just beginning to take shape, and many of us became fans of the form after the high-profile release of iconic films like cyberpunk classic Akira and the massively influential Robotech series. But nothing could have prepared us for the debauchery, eroticized violence, and ultra-surrealistic horror that came gushing out of our old cathode floor-model TV and ripping any remnant traces of innocence from our young selves.
If you've never seen it, it's difficult to describe: the muddled narrative, made even more convoluted in the English language dub, is a jumble of teen-sex hijinks and high-school melodrama that somehow collides with an ancient apocalyptic prophecy in which a human being emerges as the ‚ÄúChoujin‚ÄĚ, capable of transforming into a skyscraper-tall demonic monster with gargantuan, wildly flailing genitalia; somehow this leads into weird inter-dimensional espionage, bizarre romantic interludes, completely bonkers splatter and body-horror at the Cronenbergian level, sickening displays of extreme sexual violence, human bodies being pulled apart like taffy‚Ä¶it's an orgy of nonsensical ero-guro chaos and tentacle-porn that just keeps building in frenzied strangeness, graphic violence, and mind-blowing obscenity. It actually makes even less sense when you watch it.
This shit was crazy. After that, our nascent otaku-hood was spurred on by the discovery of ever more violent and depraved animated films coming out of Japan, but looking back over the past thirty-odd years, it's hard to come up with anything that matched the sheer offensive power of Urotsukidoji on first watch. Also, as an interesting pop-culture note, White Zombie famously opened their landmark 1992 album La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1 with a sample of one of the electronic sequences from a key scene in the film. Just so you know.
How Masamichi Amano fell into this job, God knows. A perfectly respectable composer for Japanese film and television, for whatever reason he was tapped to set the musical accompaniment to this trashy animated filth. But man, he gets on it with gusto. Amano's offbeat score for the original film is as recognizable and iconic as the film itself, full of blasting synthesizers and orchestral electronics that draw from progressive synth music of the 70s and 80s , the hammering overwrought majesty of Gustav Holst's The Planets suite, and the action-driven electronic sound of contemporary video games. There was and is nothing like it. From what I can tell, this is the complete score, with eighteen tracks spanning the entire film; amazingly, this has apparently never been made available on any physical format before now. Tonally, the music is all over the place, keeping in line with the madcap pace of the film. The sounds range from the soft, billowing New Age romanticism of "A New World", "Niki's Final Moments" and "Nagumo And Akemi" that blends digital chimes, synthetic strings, and lovely mock-woodwind tones to make something so saccharine and mawkish that it sounds like it could have been on a romantic film score cassette from 1983. The orchestral synth sounds feels huge, with lots of auditorium-reverb and booming tympani. Such a weird contrast with the visions of demonic rape and ultra-graphic gore that lurk around every corner. The action-themed pieces like "Battle Among The Skyscrapers" come out of nowhere, with rapid-fire electronic drums, orchestral stabs, driving pop hooks, and swirling celestial synth arpeggios and the appearance of some weird musical scales; this is the stuff that often evokes the feel of the more berserk video game soundtracks of that era, or maybe am especially nutso TV cop drama. The utterly goofy , funky 80s "sex comedy" keyboard music of "Campus Theme" feels totally ridiculous by itself, but the fact that this piece leads into one of the film's most notorious and outrageous sequences of demonic molestation make it that much weirder. As with most anime of the time, there‚Äôs a lot of Japanese "city pop" / easy listening music in here, as well, which again just adds to the insane surrealism of the whole thing.
There are all kinds of madness in here. It's psychotic: jazzy fretless bass guitar sounds, prog rock-level Moog freakouts, blazing electric guitar shredding, wacky intricate faux-symphonics, Jerry Goldsmith-esque orchestral arrangements, titanic war-drums, all of these come together in varying degrees. Then you have stuff like "Birth Of The Overfiend" that shifts into avant-garde composition, using atonal improvised piano, suspenseful drones, militaristic percussion (with unmistakable shades of Holst's "Mars, The Bringer of War"), eerie choral voices, and even bird sounds to create a strange, grim, otherworldly ambience. Likewise, "Charmer And The Half Beast: Amano Jyaku" further uses dissonance and strange scales alongside quasi-industrial noises and creepy synth, forming a throbbing, threatening electro-dirge mixed with pop melodies to totally throw you off kilter before it explodes into another blast of 16-bit action music. Then there‚Äôs the growling ghastly dronescapes of "Suikakuju's Rebirth", while the expansive, cinematic dark ambience of the main theme "Legend Of The Overfiend" is skillfully-crafted texture. One of my favorite tracks is "Oceanic Overlord", which crosses between cyberpunk synth and something resembling an Akira Ifukube kaiju score. Wild, wild shit.