Songs from the Soundtrack: Lost In Translation

How do we start? This movie is great, one of the best films of the 2000s, and the best film that Sofia Coppola ever made. It’s got great acting, with Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray having amazing chemistry together. It perfectly captures that feeling of being lost and unsure about your future. I’ve made a very long extensive review of the movie, that I suppose if you’d like to read, you can read it here. But long story short, everything about that film is done perfectly. There’s not a weak element in the film.

So, given that I’m such a huge fan of the movie I figured that I would chart some songs off the soundtrack. Now to talk a bit about the soundtrack as a whole, it’s pretty great. It’s what introduced me to the shoegaze gene, and the brilliance of Kevin Shields, as Kevin Shields was actually the composer for the movie! His involvement in the movie, lead me to get into “My Bloody Valentine” and the rest is history I suppose. I must say, this record/soundtrack is perfect to listen to at night while driving. It’s so ethereal and airy, spacey, dream-like (kind of like the shoegaze genre), there’s a very specific energy to it. Now, enough about my journey with the genre, lets talk about the customs themselves!

The first song we got here, is the first song off the soundtrack: City Girl. We open with a fade in on the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, the big city and all of that fun stuff. We then get a drum fill and the guitar(s) and super airy vocals enter. The crux of the song sounds like something that could have come off of My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless”, the guitar tones are rich and layered, although not as “wide” as stuff off of “Loveless”. The drums play off the vocals and guitar parts. There’s something I wanted to point out that I think is very interesting. They didn’t use a metronome while recording this song. At the beginning of the song, the tempo is something around 100-101, and slowly increases over time, by the end of the song the tempo is about 107-108, bordering on 109. It’s very subtle of course, but I’m super glad that they recorded the song that way as it creates a level of “humanity” that is kind of emblematic of the movie as a whole. I also think that there is too much reliance on technology to “perfect” music. I’ve talked about this before, and as a drummer, the clear lack of a click track or “quantization” is something I appreciate.

The next track we got here is a super fuzzy, electronic song, that just builds and builds using layers of electronic and keyboard sounds. This song isn’t very hard to play, but non of the songs here really are. It’s just about creating that atmosphere of being completely engulfed in the music, a “wall of sound” if you will. Even the vocal track in this song is more like an instrument then a singer singing lyrics. It’s less about literally “saying something”, and more about feeling something.

A little break of the ethereal dream-like “floating through an ocean of sound” vibe. This track is the most upbeat and poppy of the songs on the soundtrack, and it serves as a break from the kind of melancholic feel of the rest of the soundtrack. The closest thing to a “happy song” that’s on the album, it’s a pretty solid and perfectly functional pop-tune by Phoenix, a couple years before their big success with songs like “Lasso” and “1901”. It’s got a simple structure, with non of the instruments being too difficult, but they are all fun to play on this track!

We end with the last song off the soundtrack, and possibly the first shoegaze song ever? Definitely from one of the first shoegaze bands out there. (Again, possibly the first?) It’s a great and very simple song, but those guitar tones. They sound really loud, like you can almost hear the rattling of the amps or something. All the guitar(s) take up the mid to top end, so the bass guitar is still able to punch thorough with a simple and effective bass line that matches the rhythm of the bass drum.

The song builds and builds with the iconic guitar line which leads into the “Just Like Honey” refrain. And at that moment the song kind of hits a reset, where we are taken back to the start of the tune, but with that refrain going. Elements are brought back into the mix; we even get some female background vocals carrying the refrain as well. It all builds and builds again until the final chord. It’s almost hypnotic in nature, but that’s kind of the shoegaze genre in general. For those of you who have seen the movie, this is the song that plays in the final moments of the film, before it fades to the credits.

And those are the four songs I have for you today! I hope you enjoy them. They’re from one of my favourite movies of all time, and if you’d like to read my review of the movie you can do so here. There are obviously more tracks on the soundtrack then what I charted (in fact, “Sometimes” by My Bloody Valentine is on the soundtrack, beautifully charted by Septekka and Demon Unicorns) so I might decide to do some more, but we’ll have to wait and see. As always, there’s more in the pipeline being created. I’ll see you next time!

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