Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Soundtrax: The Beach

We here at H.A.D. have an admitted soundtrack addiction problem. The discs make up a good 25% of our record collection, and we keep on coming back for more. Soundtracks offer up a real sense of place, and give you a vibe that's a lot like a good mixtape: they focus on sequencing, emotion, and flow. Today we're going to have a look at the soundtrack to The Beach.

Let's start off by saying that we know we're going to get a lot of eye rolling on this one: the film has a reputation for being a Leonardo Dicaprio vanity piece, and not a very good one at that. Well, we beg to differ. To start, the source material (read: book) is unassailable in quality and interest. On top of that the film sports Danny Boyle (he of Trainspotting) as director, and most importantly: William Orbit produced the soundtrack.

The film came out in 2000, just as Orbit had finished working with Blur on their brilliant 13. As such, the record features a who's who of late 90's rock/electronica crossover artists: Underworld, Blur, Moby, and Unkle, to name a few. However, the piece that is most intriguing to us are the two tracks by unexpected artists: All Saints and Sugar Ray. Both of these bands managed to put aside their poppy sensibilities and release tracks that are mind blowingly good.

The first is an All Saints track entitled "Pure Shores". It's produced by Orbit, and manages to somehow take all that is good about girl pop bands, while using none of the bad. It's a fantastic piece of poppy indulgence. Even better is the track by Sugar Ray. Completely out of left field, it's a cover of a tune from the Brian Eno/John Cale collaboration Wrong Way Up entitled "Spinning Away". We're hesitant to admit it, but we like the cover better than the original. It's that good.

These two tracks exist among a fantastic selection of pieces by Orbit, and the whole disc fits together seamlessly. The first and last tracks also tie in some sound bytes from the movie, but do so in a way where they manage to create atmosphere, rather than kill it. This disc has been on our consistent rotation list since it was released in 2000, and has surprisingly stood the test of time. Give it a go, it's good fun.

mp3: All Saints - Pure Shores