Tujiko Noriko - Kuro (OST)

  • A quietly profound soundtrack.
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  • Most listeners will hear the original soundtrack for Kuro before they see the film—that is, if they see the film at all. Kuro, directed by Joji Koyama and Tujiko Noriko, is a 2017 arthouse picture about a Japanese woman living in Paris with her paraplegic lover. The project is getting a second push through PAN's new sub-label, Entopia, which sets out "to amplify and redefine our ideas of what a soundtrack can be." This is a timely mission given the state of independent cinema, where scores are becoming more experimental and listenable on their own. Commenting on this topic recently in Pitchfork, Warren Ellis, the composer and member of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, put it this way: "One thing that has changed is people are not just looking at the score as creating emotion. People are making effort to create character with music." Kuro's soundtrack exemplifies this perfectly. Composed by Noriko, who also stars in the film, the music doesn't swing for highs and lows, but buries into a single, introverted state. (Koyama and the composers Sam Britton and Will Worsley also contributed to the OST.) Listen to it anywhere, and it shades your world with loneliness. As a producer, Noriko shows the power of subtlety. The Japan-born, France-based artist has spent the last two decades on the fringes of experimental pop, making music that cocoons her lullaby-like singing in layers of acoustic and electronic instruments. Kuro (OST), her first work since 2014's My Ghost Comes Back, presents the most distilled version of this approach. Across its 40 minutes, ambient soundscapes drift between shadow and light, sheathed in the warm hum of synthesizers, with sparse piano parts that land as softly as someone tip-toeing down an empty hall. The mood is full of solitude, but never ceases to be beautiful. "Grave Flowers," by Britton and Worsley, is full of unspoken anguish, despite being just a few tones whistling in the breeze. "Ride" has a more haunting quality, a delicate tapestry of voices, solemn keys and quivering chimes. On "Romi Sings," Noriko's crooning, in Japanese, is so intimate and raw that you might as well be cradled in her arms. The directors say their film has an experimental structure. The voiceover and visual narrative follow different storylines, but the score is what bridges the space "in-between." I can't say how well this works in the film, but a similar effect comes through the soundtrack. When I got this record, it was early spring in Berlin and, for the first time in months, birds started singing in the trees. On first play, I thought they were part of the recording. No matter where I listened to Kuro (OST), organic sounds from the outside world—leaves in the wind, the distant sound of cars through my window—blended in seamlessly. The music fit in-between my internal and external spaces as a breathing layer of solitude, a deeply convincing soundtrack for my life.
  • Tracklist
      01. Rooftop 02. Karaoke Theme 03. Cyclamen 04. Akichi 05. Grave Flowers 06. Romi And Kuro 07. Night Park 08. Mr. Ono Dances 09. Broken Records 10. Ride 11. The Storm 12. Romi Sings 13. Morning Theme 14. Gondola Song 15. Mouth Full Of Soil 16. Milou 17. At The Sea 18. Opening 19. The Flood