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Various Artists - "Lost in Translation" Soundtrack Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 June 2004

Various Artists

Lost In Translation Original Soundtrack
format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Emperor Norton
release year: 2003
performance: 8
sound 8
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

Image Even though this is a soundtrack album made up of various artists, most eyes will likely be focused on singer/guitarist Kevin Shields, since it represents his first major post-My Bloody Valentine project. My Bloody Valentine was known primarily for its guitar feedback-heavy rock, and while this album includes a few choice slices from that particular musical pie, it also features a few other flavors as well. In other words, you might say Lost In Translation is a multi-musically-lingual affair.

“City Girl” is Kevin Shields’ first contribution here, and it is warmer, more melodic and has less feedback than much of his previous work with My Bloody Valentine. When he sings, “I love you/I do/I do,” he comes off romantic -- to an extreme. Elsewhere, Shields has created a few other instrumental-only tracks. “Goodbye” finds him in an ambient synth mode, with a piece that sounds just like movie background music. “Are You Awake?,” on the other hand, has a dub-bass bottom and a spacey synth melody. “Ikebana” features plucked electric guitar over an orchestral synth bank. And for a glance back in time, this album also reprises “Sometimes” (from the Loveless album) by My Bloody Valentine. It’s all about big guitars, ones that all but subdue Shields’ frail vocals, like the foot of a giant crushing down on its prey.

This album is far from just a showcase for Kevin Shields, but much of the rest of it sure sounds like peas from his peculiar pod. Brian Reitzell & Roger J. Manning Jr. created “On The Subway,” which has a bit of an ‘80s synth beat to it. It’s a Gothic instrumental, in a Depeche Mode sort of way, and at just over a minute long, it’s also quite short. This pair also gives us “Shibuya.” This one’s an eerie instrumental, and comes off something like some of that spooky stuff Angelo Badalamenti made for “Twin Peaks.” The disc closes with “Just Like Honey” by the Jesus & Mary Chain, which in a perfect world would have been a big hit back in the ‘80s. It’s all clunking bass, echoey production and breathy, downcast vocals. Like My Bloody Valentine, Jesus & Mary Chain sure dig guitar feedback in a big way. “Girls” by Death In Vegas is slow, with backing female vocals and static guitar, and is not at all like the disco dance music that first brought this outfit fame.

Some of these sounds will not remind you of My Bloody Valentine at all, which is probably a good thing – at least for the sake of variety. “Kaze Wo Atsumete” from Happy End is strange, to say the least. With its gentle acoustic guitar, it comes off exactly like a Japanese James Taylor. Its folksy backing also features soulful Hammond organ. (Let the record show that there isn’t even one second of feedback or ambience on it, either.) “Alone In Kyoto” by Air is sort of New Age, with slow-moving piano and vocals over strummed acoustic guitar. This track closes with sea sound effects. “Too Young” by Phoenix is very Roxy Music/Brian Ferry-ish at its beginning, before going into a Prefab Sprout, Brit pop sort of thing due to its synth/acoustic musical mixture. “Tommib” by Squarepusher has a conservative organ sound; kind of like the music you hear quietly played when arriving at church. “Fantino” by Sebastien Teller has an eerie high synth melody and a strummed acoustic low end, reminiscent of David Bowie’s classic work with Brian Eno.

This is one of the hippest soundtracks to come along in a while, and for those in the know, no translator is necessary at all.

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