February 24, 2000
The Virgin Suicides Soundtrack
But, this aside, [B]'The Virgin Suicides'[/B] is [B]Godin[/B] and [B]Dunckel[/B] at their best - entirely removed from logic and gleefully, wickedly free to roam their own, unique world.
8 / 10
"Pretentious," once cooed Brian Eno - shiny-bonced pedagogue of all that is wibbly, experimental and 'difficult'- "is the most important thing we can be."
And the ambient sage had a fair point. While pretension in pop music has long been associated with noodlesome self-indulgence and ego-driven exhibitionism, Eno preferred to see it as a productive, intensely creative device; a means by which we can transgress the ordinary and truly grasp the slippery, magical potential of pop. Air's Nicholas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel would doubtless agree.
Listening to the velveteen carousel of smoky jazz effects, portentous Moog rushes and sheer arsenic-laced weirdness that constitutes their soundtrack to Sofia Coppola's forthcoming The Virgin Suicides, it's clear the Gallic twosome have abandoned any spurious notion of what passes for current, state-of-the-art cool. Indeed, while 1998's 'Moon Safari' - lovely as it undoubtedly was - grappled a tad too often with the dreaded kitsch monkey, the largely instrumental '...Suicides' sounds as if it was recorded in a hermetically sealed ballroom by a group of misanthropic, jazz-obsessed weird-beards.
Yup, it's that strange. So 'Dirty Trip' and 'Ghost Song' both vibrate with the kind of shlocky atmospheric chill that courses through the finest cheapo '70s horror flicks: all creaky harpsichord flourishes and malevolent Clockwork Orange synth shrieks. 'Clouds Up', on the other hand, embraces the fidgeting analogue paranoia of Krautrock godheads Faust - a pulsating potter in space-rock's formidable tool-shed.
But '...Suicides' is no icy, Vangelis-shaped prog-scape. Its heart may be cold, but there's an endearing sense of clumsiness present - most notably in the almost childish percussive frenzy of the penultimate 'Dead Bodies' - that inevitably lends its 13 tracks a much-needed soul. Only 'Suicide Underground' slides into the soundtrackers' trap of overcompensation - its use of bombastic, vocoder-ised voices recalling the wanton ineptitude of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But, this aside, 'The Virgin Suicides' is Godin and Dunckel at their best - entirely removed from logic and gleefully, wickedly free to roam their own, unique world.
Pretentious? Mais oui - and all the better for it too.
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