The Beach Soundtrack

Vacuous wish-fulfilment for people who think smoking dope in warm climates makes you the [B]Dalai Lama[/B], [B]Alex Garland[/B]'s novel [I]The Beach[/I] did little more than cash the cheques of a spir

Vacuous wish-fulfilment for people who think smoking dope in warm climates makes you the Dalai Lama, Alex Garland's novel The Beach did little more than cash the cheques of a spiritually bankrupt mentality. As glumpy heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio intones over Orbital's soundtrack contribution: "Mine is a generation that circles the globe in search of something we haven't tried before..." Hey, reading a book that doesn't have an automatic zeitgeist-grabbing dance tie-in might be a start - but as things stand, it's no surprise that Garland should have hooked up with the three men forever known as "the Trainspotting team" and their immensely bankable lamb-chop-faced star. (Quite literally, raw animal magnetism.)

Clearly, the team dream of an impact that matches Ewan McGregor tearing away to 'Lust For Life', and this CD has been lovingly compiled with an abundance of exclusive tracks. To their credit, the result encapsulates both sarong-wearing dippiness and a moral menace, although there's nothing to throw the new-media-conscious loft-dweller off balance. Only two tracks slither out of the mood constraints; a preposterous mix of Blur's 'On Your Own' which makes Fatboy Slim's version of 'Brimful Of Asha' seem like an Eastern Bloc national anthem, and ADF's cheery dancehall wink 'Return Of Django'. Dario G and Sugar Ray are just the thing for a fleece-lined demographic, while All Saints' sea-breezy 'Pure Shores' also heads for the spiritual route via Madonna's orbit. Best in the cosmic category is the muted ripple of Underworld's '8 Ball', Karl Hyde's unique phatic panic coming over loud and weird.

The threat-edged stuff is more successful. Barry Adamson's knowingly titled 'It's Business As Usual' is trapped between jazz and a hard place; Leftfield drown more horses with the shudder and splash of 'Snakeblood', and Faithless' 'Woozy' is more slight hangover than 'Karmacoma'. New Order re-emerge with 'Brutal', heading off on an epically rock road-trip while Bernard Sumner advises, "If you can't overcome what gets you down/Don't get uptight/It's alright". More sense there than in Leo's hippy nonsense, but nothing can ruin Orbital's brilliantly sappy take on the Angelo Badalamenti theme, a recrowning for the kings of atmospherica. "Paradise is not where you go - it's how you feel for a minute in your life", says Leo, profoundly. Hmmm. This is a quality soundtrack, sure - no straw-donkey cash-in, but the handwoven robe, the rare herbs, the endless CD-ROM slide show. It's a conversation piece. Yet as the conversation turns to authenticity and sunsets, a package deal to Ibiza has never seemed quite so appealing.
7 / 10

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