A magical soundscape
Ryuichi Sakamoto’s score for the film The Staggering Girl is full of suspense and drama like clouds full of rain ready to let go. Sakamoto demonstrates his ability to captivate with an ambient, instrumental, impressionistic score for the recently-released short film The Staggering Girl directed by Luca Guadagnino.
The title track sets the mood for a dark, suspenseful tale with a dissonant chord on a slightly off-key piano. The tracks “Woman in Yellow,” “Woman in Yellow II” and “Woman in Yellow III” are haunting and ominous like the songs of ghosts or witches. Each successive track builds on the motifs set up in the previous. These songs entice the imagination to start weaving its own story without even needing to see the film.
“Casa” is a soothing piece with sweeping major chords on a synth. The foreboding “Night Garden” brings more life to the motif on a string ensemble, which begins to imprint the motif into the listener’s mind. “Toni” conveys a bit of whimsical fun on staccato plucked strings in an atonal fashion. The swelling tension and human shouts of “Tangling” evoke street noise. “Roma” sounds like an old wooden castle door swinging slowly open on its rusty hinges and New Age, dissonant chords floating overhead. The piece is mellow and calm, but Ryuichi’s choice of dissonant harmonies and overtones creates an effect that never allows the listener to settle.
“Dance” is an up-tempo song with the signature suspenseful and haunting sounds and a low, forlorn cello over a synthesizer-programmed dance beat. “Dance-Ambient Version” is essentially the same song with the distracting beat removed. On its own, this piece is luscious to listen to. The song features luscious strings over and intensely monotonous piano chords. A deep lament by low cello takes center stage but fights the volume of the repetitive chords which never break the rhythm. The cello and the lively, yet monotonous piano sort of fight each other, and at times dance around each other until they finally peacefully coexist.
For this masterpiece, Ryuichi put together a brilliant soundscape. Like a painting, there is magic in every carefully considered stroke. One cannot listen to this score without wondering what the film will be like to watch.