By mid-movie, the two characters have formed an unlikely friendship (no, they dont become lovers; Coppolas movie was much too thoughtful for that). After visiting the karaoke bar, the pair take a cab back to the hotel. Beautiful shots of Tokyos night skyline flash across the screen as the pair make their way home. The music in the background is incredibly appropriate; the melody sounds as though it was recorded at 3 a.m., as if the musicians who played the tune were neither awake nor asleep.
There are layers upon layers of guitars so many that one could spend countless hours trying to absorb the sound. They are added to vocals that sound as though theyre meant to lull the listener into a psychedelic sleep.
The song perfectly complements the bleary-eyed confusion and wonder of a traveler, like Murrays character, who is still trying to make sense of the foreign land he is visiting. I recognized the song, Sometimes, because it is off the incredible album Loveless by My Bloody Valentine.
After writing that sentence, I could have sworn that I heard the majority of St. Olaf utter a collective Who? Let me do some explaining. My Bloody Valentine is a group responsible for pioneering a sound called Shoegazer, which was popular amongst indie-rock folk in the early 90s. My Bloody Valentine is one of the few Shoegazer groups still being listened to, simply because their album Loveless is regarded as somewhat of a masterpiece within the genre.
What makes this album stand out from the pack, and the reason it is so beloved by those in the indie-rock community, is its innovative approach to the use of guitars as texture. By using samplers, which werent used much in rock when Loveless was released, My Bloody Valentine head songwriter Kevin Shields (who also produced Loveless, along with Flood and Alan Moulder) created the effect of an orchestra of guitars. There are moments on Loveless where this effect is overwhelming, such as in the track To Here Knows When, which isnt a song as much as a mind-warping sound collage.
As a result, Loveless is most definitely an album that needs to be listened to with headphones on, from start-to-finish, and absolutely after the hour of midnight. Only then can one appreciate the overdubbing and layering applied in the albums production. In fact, so much time and effort was spent producing the album that My Bloody Valentine bankrupted their label in creating Loveless.
Another unique element of Loveless is that parts of the album are heavy, but never overly aggressive. An example is the albums opener Only Shallow. After four beats on the snare drum, a tidal wave of guitars arrives. When the first verse comes, a sensuous, just-above-a-whisper female voice coos the melody. The vocals provide for an intriguing contrast to the hard guitar accompaniment.
As Pitch Fork Media put it, when they listed Loveless as their top album of the 90s, The brilliance of Loveless lies in paradox: how can something so incredibly noisy and layered sound so beautiful and delicate? If one buys this album, they will be wondering how to answer this question. Oh, and go see Lost in Translation. Not only is it a terrific film, but Kevin Shields does the score.