on 17 May 2014
Recently I saw “Under The Skin” in the theater (more on that later) and I made a mental note to myself to check out the soundtrack. The movie score is courtesy of British musician Mica Levi (a/k/a Micachu).
“Under the Skin: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (12 tracks; 47 min.) starts with the creepy “Creation”, which plays as the movie opens and we get introduced to the two aliens. “Lips To Void” is an epic 7 min. slow-burner of abstract strings. After a couple of short intermezzos (“Andrew Void” and “Meat to Maths”), we get another epic track, the 7 min. “Drift”, which makes us feel as if we are adrift in deep, deep space. “Lonely Void” is musically the companion piece of “Andrew Void”, with similar leidmotifs. “Bedroom” and “Love” is really two sides of the same medal, and one of the few ‘safe’/non-experimental pieces on here, as the character played by Scarlett Johansson tries the domestic life. “Alien Loop” plays over the end titles of the movie. In all this is one fantastic soundtrack, very abstract, which matches the movie perfectly. If you are familiar with Micachu’s music, this soundtrack may be a surprise but in the end is as experimental as is her ‘regular’ music.
A few words as to the film: I didn’t really know what exactly to expect, but I can assure you that it far surpassed all expectations I had going in. This turns out to be an original, off-center, science-fiction movie that is as creepy as it is mesmerizing. And Scarlett Johansson's performance as the alien will blow you away.
Bottom line: “Under The Skin”, both the soundtrack and the film, is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
on 21 April 2014
Soundtrack: atmospheric, otherworldly, eerie, troubled, hypnotic; the sound of decay; predominantly dark.
I wonder whether this would interest a listener who had not seen the film.
Lends itself well to the prowl and stalking, predatory theme of the earlier part of the film. The recurring metronomic signature and violins are like harbingers of doom.
The track 'Lipstick void' is like the fateful siren's cry. Or perhaps the cries of lost souls.
The track 'Love' is not without beauty or tenderness, but is no serenade either with its descending tone.
The track 'Bothy' (hut or shelter) includes wind noises evoking untamed space and the outdoors; without respite (shelter but not liberation)
My only criticism is that a few more distinctive tracks could have added other moods and contrasts; however this music works well for the film. The composer deserves credit for committing the soundtrack to the film as opposed to creating what is less likely to be a commercially safe stand alone; I suspect.
Equally impressed by the film and this soundtrack; in my opinion, individually and combined, they are rare achievements.
If you've seen the film, you'll know what to expect: unearthly, machine-like, droning. This is horror music of the highest order, with the pumping electronic drums thumping and thudding like a suspenseful slaughterhouse machine. Strings groan and lament microtonally, repeating a theme that gets . . . errr . . . . under your skin and says "something bad happened the last time you heard this . . . . and now you're hearing it again . . . .". Electronic treatments complete the unsettling vibe and glue it all together.
It is, as the other reviewers have sent, and you'll know if you seen the film, incredibly unsettling. This is not the sort of music I'll ever want to listen to while drifting off to sleep, (or smooching to) but I cannot deny the powerful emotional power and suspenseful drive of this music.
I am reminded of the awesome scary power of Ligeti's music for 2001, or (Kubrick again!) Penderecki's music for "The Shining", even the same unease you get from Herrman's screeching Psycho violins, as well as more modern soundtracks by Johnny Greenwood or Trent Reznor. Ms Levi has also clearly listened to some of the darker ambient stuff out there - Ben Frost springs to mind, or Tim Hecker.
Without the astonishing visuals of the movie, the soundtrack loses a little interest, but it still has some wonderful moments subtly embedded under it's skin.
on 22 May 2014
This soundtrack is abstract and haunting, as other reviewers have said it perfectly encapsulates the strange tone of the film. The film is one of the best I have seen in many years, on second viewing I didn't want it to end. But it did, so I ordered the soundtrack straight away to relive the whole experience over again. Have listened to it non-stop for the past three weeks. Wonderful.
on 3 April 2014
Whether you like this soundtrack or not depends on two things, I feel: (a) whether you enjoy listening to music that is always eerie and sometimes downright sinister, and (b) whether or not you have seen (and enjoyed) the film. For me it's a 'yes' on both counts. Mica Levi's soundtrack is one of the most important parts of the film IMO and adds considerably to its unnerving sense of brooding menace. Most of the soundtrack consists of deceptively simple loops and drones but a recurring three-note motif serves as a sort of 'theme' and represents the simultaneously seductive and chilling qualities that lead Scarlett Johansson's unfortunate victims to their doom. There is, to me, one stand-out track here: 'Love' is a deeply moving piece of music that powerfully augments the scene in which Johansson's alien - tragically briefly - experiences human kindness, affection and sexual desire. Overall, to be recommended to those who enjoy challenging music and/or admirers of Glazer's remarkable film.
on 9 April 2014
Anyone lucky enough to have seen the film Under the Skin cannot fail to have been hugely impressed by the soundtrack. Mica Levi has composed an amazing soundscape and, to my mind at least, she is in the same category as the late Bernard Herrmann when it comes to writing evocative film music. Even if you have not seen Jonathan Glazer's film, this CD is still well worth a listen. In fact some parts of it are so spine-tinglingly effective that it might be best not to listen to them by yourself in the dark!