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coverpic flag Mare Smythii - Full Moon 91 - 03/06/04

Lost In Translation
Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack
Emperor Norton

Film plot summary: Two Americans meet and spend a wonderful week in Tokyo. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is an film actor, far past his prime. He's in Tokyo to appear in commercials, and he meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johannson), the young wife of a visiting photographer. Bored and weary, Bob and Charlotte make ideal if improbable travelling companions. Scarlet is looking for "her place in life," and Bob is tolerating a mediocre stateside marriage. Both separately and together, they live the experience of the American in Tokyo. They suffer both confusion and hilarity due to the cultural and language differences between themselves and the Japanese. They're somewhat lost, trying to find something - or maybe each other. As the tagline for the film goes: Everyone wants to be found. (source:

Listening to soundtracks is like seeing a film with your eyes closed. Of course there are great songs to be found, but they (soundtracks) rarely work as a whole. Yes, there are a thread through them, but mostly the songs - if made/performed by a variety of artists/bands - are pieces working on different levels. Former Redd Kross drummer Brian Reitzell (also in charge of the musical pick for Sofia Coppola's 1999 debut feature The Virgin Suicides) has put together the songs (as well as creating two of the more typical film soundtrack instrumentals included, along with partner Roger J. Manning Jr.) for Miss Coppola's second feature, Lost In Translation. The other main contributor is Kevin Shields - 'king of shoegazing' and former head of My Bloody Valentine. Shields has come up with four new tracks, as well as adding an old MBV song - "Sometimes", from their second album Loveless (1990). I was never much into MBV but "Sometimes" is working really ok. The other Shields contributions I find more grey and anonymous.

Of the other songs included I like the spacey, exotic, and spiraling "Fantino" by Frenchman Sebastian Tellier (who released his debut L'Incroyable Vérité on Air's label Record Makers a couple of years back). It's followed by another soothing piece, the very short and gentle "Tommib" by Squarepusher (off Go Plastic, 2001). One of the better tracks is "Girls" by Death In Vegas (off last year's Scorpio Rising album). It's a majestic and ideed a cinematic track. A gliding, highly suggestive pleasure! Then there's "Too Young" by French funky new-disco wavers Phoenix (off United, 2001). It's somewhat slick, but highly enjoyable, and very danceable. Makes me happy, in a silly way. "Kaze Wo Atsumete" by Happy End is the weakest moment on this disc. Or! No! Could that possibly be the karaoke version of Bryan Ferry's "More Than This" (the hidden track), sung by Bob Harris (Bill Murray). It's, uh, not pretty, but I guess there's some humor in it when watching the film.

Air, who made the original soundtrack score for The Virgin Suicides (released as an album of its own, in addition to the earlier mentioned soundtrack), appear with their "Alone In Kyoto" - a short and charming 'Japanese piece' (taken from their brand new album Talkie Walkie). The album's closing track (except the hidden 'karaoke show') is the oldest song (with the exception of the original version of "More Than This") appearing: "Just Like Honey" by the Scotch troll-haired men-in-black The Jesus & Mary Chain (taken from their 1985 debut album Psychocandy). It's funny to hear the sugar-coated, honey-fuzz-drenched sound of the J&MC again.

All in all it's a fine and well composed collection of songs. But, like I said, as most soundtrack collections they need the film itself. Go see it. I will, because I haven't had the time yet.

Distribution in Norway: Tuba!

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