This is such a rare album, for a truly forgotten movie. Masahide Sakuma and dip in the pool’s soundtrack for 黒いドレスの女 (otherwise known as Kuroi Doresu No Onna/A Woman With A Blass Dress) hints at darker themes underlying the whole movie. The movie itself, one starring Tomoyo Harada, was a sexy noir movie based on a novel by Kenzo Kitagata. Based in an imaginary city somewhere outside of Tokyo, Tomoyo plays the titular role as a femme fatale trying to seek vengeance for some bad done unto her.
Serving as a launching point to transform this J-Pop idol from teen star to grow-ass woman, 黒いドレスの女 was full of “womanly” things (of course full of all sorts of the male gaze) to help her make that leap. Unfortunately, the movie itself was middling and awful. Tomoyo would manage to outlast this crippling blow to her popularity and used whatever creative goodwill she had gained from her own work with Tsugutoshi Goto to out last this bomb. What wasn’t awful, thankfully, out of this all this movie, was the gorgeous soundtrack written by Masahide, Miyako Koda, and Tatsuji Kimura.
Moonlit and quite meditative, Masahide took the reins of the soundtrack to craft something that sounds like a middle ground between his own solo work (think Lisa) and that of dip in the pool’s debut Silence. A precursor to the more successful work they’d do together in On Retinae, the 黒いドレスの女 OST dealt with darker themes in ways that still feels a tad different to any of their own respective catalogues.
On いドレスの女 you still get Masahide’s wonderful minimalist take on European neofolk ideas. On いドレスの女 you still get dip in the pool’s fantastic penchant for open sonic spaces and French-inspired electronic atmospherics. Together, though, what you do get in いドレスの女 is more emphasis placed on the acoustic texture that could be added to the dippers music, something that always works to their benefit.
Maybe as a result of Seigen Ono not taking the reins as producer, or Masahide forcing his hand on the dippers to get out of their comfort zone, something of this album speaks more to the importance Masahide added to dip in the pool’s sound than vice versa. Vastly more romantic, of the 10 pieces written for the soundtrack, Masahide’s six solo compositions sound like a continuation of what could have happened if he kept creating for himself after his work for the Music Interiors series and the missteps taken by both in 10 Palettes where they seemed to aim for something more of “with the times”.
The true star of the soundtrack shows it in the opening track “黒いドレスの女～Ritual～ (E)”, sung both in English and later on in Japanese. A plaintive, elegiac ode to wintry feelings, here in this “Black Noire” the wonderful delivery of Miyako and the atmosphere created by Tatsuji, Masahide, and Seigen Ono, rivals anything created by the Cocteau Twins (their most obvious Western influence). Of course, just to go back to Masahide’s wonderful compositions, on tracks like “漣 (Ripples)” or “Trois Matins” one can see the delicate electro-acoustic work done by him to create the rest of the tracks inspired by such ideas. Immensely interesting and timeless, 黒いドレスの女 quietly features some of both their best works.