Air - The Virgin Suicides - Review
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critics' view

1999 was a big year for both participants of the Virgin Suicides project. Although Jeff Eugenides (author of The Virgin Suicides) wasn't involved, it was still Sofia Coppola's first big film; a dark depressing tale of adolescence that needed music to bring out the glumness and how bad it can be. Enter Air, although coming into this they had previously only one full-length album and an EP, they were trusted with the job of giving this piece musical accompaniment. Moogs and drum machines in hand, Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin released the third installment of their esteemed discography.

The first thing one notices about this collection of songs is how cohesive it is. The separate 13 songs are generally close in length; and when listened to on their own could be responsible for conjuring up mental images of walking alone or feeling isolated. Not so much a feel good piece, one of these songs is Dark Messages which is one of the less musically involving pieces, but for this kind of setting the most effective. In it a repeating electronic beat is occasionally splashed with the paint of what sounds like pianos floating in the air. Keys just hit and play consecutively as the wind chooses, and sometimes join together. Eventually it all fades out and makes a perfect dive into The Word "Hurricane" which is a mood and tempo change but one that is done so smoothly and effortlessly. The song contains a part from the movie which is played in the middle, and is then thrown back into the song as if it only changed speed.

Appropriate enough for a soundtrack, there are many fine transitions that play in between songs, or songs that themselves are transitions. Take from the near beginning, Clouds Up is a short minute and a half synthesized piece that has no particular point except to link together the opening Playground Love and Bathroom Girl (which according to their names don't seem to mix, unless the bathroom is your playground…ew). What also seems to go well together are the melancholy instrumentals which are played on either keys of live instruments. A good pairing of these can be found with Highschool Lover and Afternoon Sister; the first song of this set is found using the more traditional Air pairing of piano and guitar strums with keys playing the basic and repeated melody. Characterization is sought out by this piece and accomplished even with the simplicity of a repeating melody and static string effects. The next song is what most of this soundtrack sounds like, very much buried in Moog made grooves, slowly playing in the beginning but picking up steam as every piece of the song comes together and plays as one.

In the end, Virgin Suicides can be viewed as a success and as a win/win situation. Though it seems that this album would only set it up to not do well in terms of sales, (the score to a movie" its not even the soundtrack") it fared surprisingly well. Debuting at number 14 in the UK and having Playground Love be featured in a Levi's commercial is something that most score makers only dream of (unless you're Michael Andrews, but you're probably not). On the other hand it gave the movie personality and was not only a superb book to movie work, but was Coppola's first work that put her on the map as a director.

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