A far cry from the thin, jittery output of her band outfit Micachu and The Shapes, this soundtrack album from Mica Levi is a work of maturity and deftness - her classical training put to good use in a work that belies her still tender years. But then, Micachu and The Shapes were never your average indie band. Their work oozed originality, in spite of its minimal set up, with Mica Levi fooling tirelessly with time signatures and song forms. She is a composer of some note, with a number of residencies and ambitious compositions already under her belt - experience that has paid dividends.
Soundtracking Jonathan Glazer's cryptic arthouse horror Under the Skin, Levi's grasp of atmosphere and tension come to the fore with stunning results - capturing the eerie wanderings of Scarlett Johansson's enigmatic manhunter. It works well, adding a disturbed intensity to a role that could easily seem like inappropriate casting.
Largely centred around a simple viola theme, Levi's musical restraint pays off. Adding emphasis through minimal instrumentation and lingering discord, the soundtrack is repetitive without any sort of tediousness. Percussion ebbs and flows - an eerie two beat drum track heavy with reverb. Meanwhile, the hectic yet quiet strings creep in and out of the piece before bringing proceedings back to land with the primary theme, one that becomes increasingly ominous. Where once the listener was lost in the dissonant beauty of the composition, this short theme brings purpose and constancy to the work, a frequent reminder of the macabre nature of the film. Individual tracks are largely unimportant within the cohesive whole - in a similar way to Jonny Greenwood's work soundtracking Paul Thomas Anderson's films, Mica Levi displays a propensity for expertly synthesising disparate musical forms.
Various other comparisons can be easily made - These New Puritans' Field Of Reeds springs to mind, both in terms of both acts' guitar-based background and by the comparison of the music displayed- Under the Skin OST is a work that is as unique as the film itself, working as well in isolation as it accompaniment. Levi's skills cannot be doubted - it's almost a wonder why she has spent so long dilly-dallying with standard guitar/bass/drum setups. A major commission, and one that Mica Levi has pulled off with serious flair.
8Jon Clark's Score