When Jim Jarmusch puts a film out, I almost get more excited about the music that it will feature. I discovered Mulatu Astatke’s hypnotic Tezeta in Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers. Dead Man [VINYL] is one of my all time favourite soundtracks, featuring the crunchy echos of Neil Young’s lonely guitar. Epic and desolate, Dead Man must have provided a jumping off point for the soundtrack of Jarmusch’s most recent film Only Lovers Left Alive. This time though, Jarmusch gets involved in the music. It’s his band SQÜRL that contributes the greater part of the OST for this vampire film.
The Only Lovers Left Alive [VINYL] blood-red vinyl release by the All Tomorrows Parties label, also comes in a limited edition all-black vinyl release, in reference to the album featured in the film. I love it when music is woven into the narrative of a film. In Only Lovers Left Alive, the music contributed by SQÜRL is in fact the music released by the male protagonist, Tom Hiddleston’s brooding Adam, who records his epic drawls in a ramshackle mansion that stands alone on an abandoned street in Detroit. SQÜRL comprises of Jim Jarmusch, Carter Logan and Shane Stoneback, who first played together to make music for the film The Limits of Control. The SQÜRL songs are scratchy, melancholy, grinding and everything they should be for late night drives through deserted Detroit and provide a nice contrast to the pieces featuring Dutch lutist and composer Jozef van Wissem, who we interviewed on 15Q last year. Van Wissem has an uncanny ability to play the simplest, most beautiful music and in this soundtrack, his tracks resonate with an old-world lyricism and represent the more ancient vampires in the film, Tilda Swinton’s Eve and John Hurt’s Marlowe. The modality of ancient civilisations combined with the cold twang of the lute, invites you into exotic realms of other times and other worlds. The tracks where van Wissem plays with SQÜRL result in a perfect potion of romance, lament and anxiety. If you like vampires, and even if you don’t, this is a stand alone great album. The Only Lovers Left Alive soundtrack is restrained and yet full with rich imagined histories, layers of texture and solitary moments of plaintive beauty.