Mica Levi: MONOS – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Invada Records / Lakeshore Records
LP / CD / DL
Revered composer Mica Levi soundtracks the new Alejandro Landes directed survivalist thriller Monos. Simon Tucker reviews for Louder Than War.
There are only a handful. A select few. A small group of artists working in the field of cinema scores that you could without fear of contradiction call geniuses. In amongst this group a name stands tall and proud. London based composer Mica Levi is someone whose work is talked about in almost hushed tones. Whether that be her work under the Micachu moniker, or with her band The Shapes or under her own name scoring films like Under The Skin and Jackie, Mica has pushed her music into ever evolving shapes and taking her sound further and further. Experimental music with heart and soul. Abstract music that manages to be warm and not sterile…a human touch threading throughout. Now we see the release of her latest film score project and again we are hearing an artist creating giant footsteps for others to follow in.
Monos is a survivalist thriller set on a remote mountain in Latin America. Location is key to understanding Levi’s score as she has created a work that makes the listener feel like you are being battered by the elements or calmed by the surrounding nature. This is ambient music ripped from the hands of the dull and the stale. Through her use of a variety of instrumentation we can feel the cold air, the birdsong and the storms and for every moment of serene beauty there is always a feeling of danger lurking on its shoulder. Listen to the way Corre rumbles in waves like the coast getting battered by a storm. This is the current avant-garde take on John Williams’ celebrated score for Jaws. That same thread runs through Funeral which feels tribal and ritualistic. Like we are stood around observing an ancient ritual in an alien landscape. At once intrigued yet also slightly disturbed. A weirdly addictive cut is Honguitos, with its evocative wind instrumentation promising a beautiful dawn yet slowly the view gets blurred with a more synthetic sound and we get this contrast between wind, strings and electronics which in turn creates a rather wonderfully balanced schizophrenic sensation.
Throughout Monos Levi mixes colours that should not go together yet somehow work wonderfully. Her painting of bright and dark shades allows for moments of pure transcendence. This is most apparent on album highlight Sin Radio which blends the native with the alien. Nature versus machine.
Monos is a score that serves as a rather beautiful environmentalist protest album. Levi’s tightrope act of the natural sound and studio machinery feels like a hymn to the very Earth we walk on. A plea for us to do something about the oncoming and inevitable disaster that is man made climate change. There are cues that are chock full of fear and threat shaking us to attention yet they are countered with musical moments that are so beautiful they remind us of what we are losing and what we are destroying. This is a more potent protest album than most that wave the right-on flag. Monos is never understated. It grabs your collar from the off and is always forcing us to look into the oncoming threat. Monos is crystal clear one moment and dank and dense the next with never a moment that feels jarring or out of place. It is also further proof that in Mica Levi we truly are in the presence of greatness.
Go seek it out!