Sountracking a movie is the century challenge: mapping out crucial moments by providing a tuneful background can require exhausting searches and picky selection. So why not giving it straight away to artists who have been marking their territory for quite some time?
That’s must have been Alma Har’el’s thought, when making Honey Boy, her new film based on a Shia LaBeouf’s screenplay that portraits a young boy’s troubled widening across adolescence and adulthood, filled by thriving search for connection and upsetting traumas.
Called to take care of the melodious engagement, Alex Somers was steered for the role. He worked with an array of collaborators to a 26-tracks album, an extensive work immaculately produced that involves past collaborator Paul Corley, as well as Zach Shields of Dead Man’s Bones, and the London Contemporary Orchestra’s Robert Ames, Galya Bisengalieva, and Ben Corrigan.
The American visual artist and musician from Baltimore lost his creative virginity with season four Episode Hang the Dj, from Black Mirror, and who has been recently absorbed in the Riceboy Sleeps anniversary tour, pairing with his lifetime partner Jónsi with whom also released, as gift addressed to their vast fan base, the album Lost and Found.
The Biopic get its translation in music with the self-titled track, carillon-fueled, spilling over Apologize, where the emotional wear is elegantly glossed over an enjambement-like crescendo in the end, evaporating in Good day, with its ensemble of treble voices, enthralling the fascination for Sigur Ros’s Takk-era.
There certainly is level of refinement and mainstream acclaim: the ex member of Parachutes band is at ease with brief landscapes and ardent melodies snugly whisked together. Tracks like Where You come from, with its steady trajectory of invoked sounds and organ-pumped atmosphere and Blood Family, deeply immersed in the 2002 Hlemmur by Sigur Ròs, work along with any semblance of dream-inducing outline as a result of a common effort filtered through one persons’ flair.
Making the music for Honey Boy was a dream, stated Somers. We stayed up all night in my studio experimenting with weird sounds and toys to create a musical collage that would tell the story of Otis our central character: Otis as a mistreated child; Otis as a struggling adult; and the fucked up relationship between Otis and his addict father.
Without a net backing his compositions, Alex is often completely naked in his distinctive devilry: the simple chords of Blackout are winged weapons for developing ingenious cues, the strings in Save Yourself reinforce the slumber-like torpor.
The songs of the records are not a catatonic bliss, let’s say it out off the chest, yet they stand for a very enjoyable journey, echoed in serene simplicity along its pastoral vibe.
Tracks are mostly doused in spacious reverbs compressed in few-minutes songs (Old man), often befitting ambient, jazz and folk, with a sweeping grandeur that probably lacks some vocal backup. I’m your cheerleader honey boy, for instance, would benefit so much of Jonsi’s cherubic vocal range, whereas You’re a fucking star could be a summery Bastille up-tempo instant hit, its grasp was a bit more intuitive, and a Violent act could feature Dulce Pontes’s vociferous resonance.
But overall this record fully reveals Alex’s winning modus operandi, with a result that could have gained in intensity with some sung moments, but that still manages to perfectly reflect the angst-ridden search for balance, well stressing the outpouring of emotional bursts in between, and the constant, never-achieved steadiness of feelings.