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Lost Sounds and Soundtracks: Yasuzo Masumura's "Irezumi" (1966)

Hikaru Hayashi's score and ambient sounds from Masumura's masterpiece.

Music can be one of cinema's great pleasures.  When used with inspiration—not dictating our viewing experience with a death grip or slathered like bad wallpaper over the rest of a sound mix—it can transform either solitary shots or spliced sequences of moving images into entirely new expressions, galvanizing details within the raw cinematographic material or contrapuntally complicating the initial impressions of the image.

Given our love for movie music in all its forms, whether a soundtrack features original orchestral compositions, near-abstract soundscapes, or acts as a curatorial force for collecting, exposing and (re-) contextualizing existent music, Lost Sounds and Soundtracks will serve to highlight some of our favorites, obscure and not so obscure, commercially available and ripped directly from audio-tracks where necessary.  Unless analyzed within their original context, all will be divorced from their image-tracks in hopes that we might briefly give them their singular due.


What you are listening to:

(1) Music by Hikaru Hayashi; the sounds of flesh being tattooed; the moans of actress Ayako Wakao.


(2) Assorted men gambling; music by Hikaru Hayashi; a door sliding open.


(3) Wind through reeds; music by Hikaru Hayashi; a peasant's voice; a woman bathing herself.


(4) Lightning; the moans of actress Ayako Wakao; music by Hikaru Hayashi; the voice of actor Akio Hasegawa; flesh being stabbed; rain.



Irezumi is playing in New York on March 31 as part of the Japan Society's series, Mad, Bad...& Dangerous to Know: 3 Untamed Beauties.  It is also playing on The Auteurs in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

One of my favorite films. Could have sworn I was the only person to have seen it. Music in film is often recklessly unnecessary and distracting , at times, outright abusive. One of the best to illustrate a coherent use of soundtrack minimalism is Walter Hill’s Hard Times.
Fantastic, creepy music! Fantastic plan for a series…keep ’em coming.
We second the “fantastic plan” comment! Thanks for continuing to give us new and varied cinematic roadmaps!
I love this article ^^

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