Shape and Tension
As architect of the fabulous Micachu and the Shapes, Mica Levi has made a quite a name for herself in the musical sphere, especially after 2012’s fantastic LP, Never. Levi’s style is unconventional, but addicting, and she is never shy about being challenging. So, it should make sense that she should pose a challenge for herself. Hence this project, the film score for the provocative Scarlett Johannsen vehicle, Under the Skin.
Though the score is dominated by walls of string sections, the tension that Mica builds with her small palette is admirable, and mirrors the tension she creates with her unique arrangements with The Shapes. “Creation” kicks things off with a hazy brooding piece that reminds one of the score for David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. It balances between blurry moments of what sound like ambient noise with feverish fretboard scratching runs that jolt the listener.
In fact, this might be something that Mica relies too heavily on the first part of the soundtrack, as nearly every track bears such moments. When the tension is built up properly, such on the nearly seven minute, “Drift” the strategy is quite sublime. However, the second half of the soundtrack adds some subtle variety, like the twin sweeping passages of “Bedroom” and “Love” the latter of which is especially majestic even as the tone of the piece feels somber and uncertain.
Overall, though the work here is nowhere near the dynamism her work is known for, it is clear that Mica was trying to challenge herself by working with a completely different palette. And for that alone, the work is incredibly intriguing. Couple that with her unique sense of melody and mood, and you have another example of a true artist at work. It will be interesting to see if the work here makes any in-roads into her composition style for Micachu and the Shapes, and in turn what creative ways she will ultimately utilize them.