Boomkat Product Review:
Mica Levi’s absorbing soundtrack for Alejandro Landes’ ‘Monos’ is a jagged tessellation of electro/acoustic/environmental textures riven with pangs of emotive string orchestration.
Following a group of young soldiers and rebels watching over an American hostage in an undisclosed location and time in the South American jungle, ‘Monos’ pursues a storyline where “order descends into chaos”, which surely proved a tasty concept for Mica to dive in with her abundant imagination and remarkably wide-scoped palette of electronics, strings, and field recordings.
Across 15 songs in 30 minutes, Mica plays up to the film’s atemporality by drawing on her knowledge of medieval and renaissance music as much the variegation of global folk styles and modern sound design, with the soundtrack oscillating psychedelic between stark, recurrent flute and pipe motifs and supple, chewy electronics, to panic-inducing strings and moments of chamber-like grace, all interspersed with runs of dramatic timpani and incredibly rich location recordings of colourful birds and running water.
There’s perhaps an obvious parallel to be drawn with Popol Vuh soundtracks for Herzog, and their shared themes of psychological terror in the jungle, but Mica is a master of precision, and her contributions are all more sharply angular and more low key, while still connoting a sense of dread and natural lushness. If you need highlights for a way in, it’s advised to check for the ripping synths and tense string quartet of ‘Lobo Y Lady’, and the the feeling of being alone in the jungle at night connoted by ‘Sin Radio’, which could almost be a Mika Vainio and Hildur Guddnadottir piece, or the way her signature taste for experimental, dissonant tonalities comms into play on the deeply trippy ‘Helicóptero’, while ‘Monos’ is simply a classic end sequence theme bound to take on a new life beyond the film.