For Sofia Coppola's beautiful movie Lost in Translation, producer Brian Reitzell has assembled a soundtrack that is so complete that it almost becomes another character in the film. This is music that's hard to classify, but easy to love. Given the film's opening shot, it's tempting to call it "music to contemplate an ass to." But let's compromise and give it the title of "music to daydream to." Every selection on the album is so hazy and sensuous, that you might as well check your state of consciousness at the record store.
Surprisingly, given the big role that Tokyo plays in the film, none of the music on the album is conspicuously Japanese. One would have suspected Coppola and Reitzell to tap into the submerged pop of Takako Minekawa and Fantastic Plastic Machine -- both of them great Japanese musicians. Instead, what the soundtrack presents is the best work of some almost-overexposed bands like Air and My Bloody Valentine, along with some numbers by groups like Phoenix and Death in Vegas that deserve more attention.
A full third of the album is given to Kevin Shields, the mastermind behind My Bloody Valentine, and it's sweet and surprising to hear what he comes up with. His gawky, sleepwalking guitar solos are not pop music by any stretch of the imagination, but neither are they film music. What they amount to is androgynous, seductive noise. Shields' music is the aural equivalent of taking a slow, warm bath.
One word of warning, though: Anyone who buys the Lost in Translation soundtrack hoping to score the "sucking on my titties" song that shares a hilarious scene with Bill Murray will be disappointed. For that you'll have to head to Peaches' first album, Teaches of Peaches. It's too bad that Coppola, Reitzell and Emperor Norton Records didn't have the nerve to include it on the soundtrack.
However, any disappointment you might feel will be overcome by the hidden track. A few minutes after the Jesus & amp; Mary Chain have stopped singing their outstanding "Just Like Honey," you'll get to hear Bill Murray's karaoke cover of Bryan Ferry's "More Than This." For that track alone, the album is worth buying. It's like moving from one strange dream into another. And if you keep your CD player on repeat, it'll be a long time before you'll want to wake up.
Publication date: 10/16/03