An unholy grail of near-mythical status is finally now available in the form of this first-ever reissue. Masahiko Sato composed this elusive, sensual, psychedelic free jazz score for the stunning 1973 Japanese witchcraft animation Belladonna of Sadness (Kanashimi no Belladonna) directed byEiichi Yamamoto.
Since the mid-2000s, Belladonna of Sadness has risen from the ashes and now shines brighter than ever. Now, on the eve of its third or fourth global DVD release in 2015, fans no longer have to settle for third-generation VHS telecine dubs or stuff their wish-lists into the hands of lucky friends visiting Tokyo. Belladonna has been used as nightclub projections by clued-up VJs and been restored by discerning feminist folk singers and improv bands while influencing illustrators, fashion designers, and other creative types along the way. Original copies of the soundtrack, however, are much less likely to rear their heads, with prices literally doubling each time the original stock copies swap hands among the same Italian dealers at central European record fairs. Italian soundtracks are expensive anyway, but this one, originally released by the Italian Cinevox label in 1975, has extra credentials. Finders Keepers Records and Sato himself agreed that this record should finally be liberated among those who know the magic words. With the decision to keep this album "strictly Sato," a track from the original release has been removed -- the main orchestral love theme by Asei Kobayashi and Mayumi Tachibana -- which in all honesty is very much detached from Sato's psychedelic soundtrack. Kept intact, however, are the songs sung and penned by Sato's wife at the time, Chinatsu Nakayama, including the track titled "TBFS," which only appears on the master tapes and never actually made it onto the theatrical cut of the film (though the theme is briefly alluded to, with different instrumentation, in a cut-scene available on the German DVD release). This reissue project also marks the beginning of a longer intended relationship between Finders Keepers and Masahiko Sato, exploring his recorded work in film music, jazz, and avant-garde composition.