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by Laura Kyle

I’m about two days late with this week’s SDM (almost picked up a home procrastination test and morning after/caffeine pill at the store), but I hope I can make up for it by spotlighting one heck of a soundtrack.

I mean, seriously, this isn’t a forgettable list of tracks that just kind of rolls over and lets its movie’s Characters and Story walk all over it. Which is saying an especially large amount of lot, because I’m talking about the soundtrack to a film made by genius Wes Anderson. The Life Aquatic.

Mark Mothersbaugh brings an expectedly light and goofy score to the table. Soft, pleasant melodies almost suitable for a children’s special on PBS – brought to you by unpretentious strings, a little harpsichord, lots of keyboard, airy percussion, etc. While his music is more reminiscent of Stephen Trask’s score to In Good Company, a few of his tracks could battle much of John Swihart’s Napoleon Dynamite score for most electronically jolly.

Mothersbaugh seems to be having lots of fun in “Ping Island/Lightning Strike Rescue Op” and “Loquasto International Film Festival” is quintessential Mothersbaugh, idyllic and almost resembling some sort of Bach-like canon. The composer also dusts off former band Devo’s instrumental “Gut Feeling” for the soundtrack.

Norwegian composer Sven Libaek adds a bit more suspense and intrigue to The Life Aquatic with “Shark Attack Theme” (or the documentary music), similar to something you'd hear in a James Bond movie, but for the most part, it’s difficult to decipher his contributions from Mothersbaugh’s, at least by listening alone. Sven: Music IN The Life Aquatic, Mark: Music TO The Life Aquatic. Libaek’s “Open Sea” successfully makes you wish you were on a tropical island somewhere, when it’s not fooling you into believing you actually are on a tropical island somewhere, that is.

David Bowie’s “Rock & Roll Suicide,” “Queen Bitch” and “Life on Mars” are here, making The Life Aquatic soundtrack instantly enjoyable. Keeping him company are other old rock and rollers, like Iggy and the Stooges (“Search and Destroy”) the Zombies (with the oddly sweet, touching and abruptly short “The Way I Feel Inside”) and Scott Walker (“30 Century Man”). It’s a nostalgic look back for sure but curiously modern and quirky when all mashed together and put into the context of The Life Aquatic.

But the real gem is Brazilian Seu Jorge – the lone acoustic guitar player/singer featured in the film, singing Portuguese covers of Bowie’s “Starman,” “Life on Mars” and “Rebel Rebel.” He takes turns with Bowie, really, on this soundtrack.

His rendition of “Life on Mars” is especially beautiful and it’s easy to compare it to the original, because both versions are on the soundtrack. And both versions are starkly different. Jorge out folk-sings Bowie a little, I think.

And let’s not forget Paco de Lucia’s “La Nina de Puerta Oscura”, starring gorgeous, frantic Spanish guitars; it perfectly compliments Mothersbaugh’s score.

The Life Aquatic soundtrack is a joyously eclectic one and more importantly, it gives moviegoers the opportunity to give up a bit of their hearts to a film that, otherwise, would be easy to keep at an arm’s length.

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originally posted: 07/22/05 16:37:09
last updated: 09/23/05 15:14:52
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