Lobster Organotron spotted on Ping Island

Sunday, March 13, 2005


I watched La Vie Aquatique (The Aquatic Life with Steve Zissou) on Thursday night. It was a little underwhelming; the story was all over the place and many characters were completely wasted. Like Owen Wilson is so flat out normal...What is this? Behind Enemy Lines? From his Wildcat manoueveurs as Chad, dishy hot spaghetti western, in the Tenenbaums to Ned??... the Kentucky pilot who is little more than the foil for Bill Murray's almost characterless dad? Terrible. What a waste.

I've seen old-school Cousteau films that guard their salt better than this mess. And I'm always a fan of pirates, especially Filipino new-age pirates, but those pirates?... Not enough flavour, cardboard and chewy pirates. I mean, look, they could have just made a film that was all magical undersea wildlife and jaguar shark, with underwater sketches and stuff like that, all delicate and mystical slow motion, and it would have been lovely...they could have dressed Owen Wilson up in a camouflage flourescent dolphin suit and the film would have already been better... or hatch an octopus head gear for navigation...But, ahem, yes, I am a undersea wildlife aficionado.

Despite all this griping, which is really besides the point of this post, I have to give a shoutout to one of the elements of an Anderson film that never lets me down: the music. There's something about the little tinny lute and harpsichord like melodies that run through them, like the counterpoint to his delicate colour scheme. I'm such a fan of the Rushmore soundtrack: Margaret Yang theme, The Hardest Geometry Problem in the World, Pirahnas are very tricky... or Snowflake music from Bottle Rocket. But this film has a certain ditty that just pummels and fripples: the Ping Island Lightning Strike Rescue song. It's all 70s moogy melody, electro dirty beat base, with a great little tapping hi-hat.

This is not a surprise to those who know who the composer of Anderson's films is. Why... it's Mark Mothersbaugh. The little guy with the big glasses, legally blind, and front row centre in one of the greatest 80s bands ever, DEVO. DEVO, of the monkey head, of the pyramid hats, a college art project gone right. DEVO, of Penetration in the Centrefold, The Mongoloid, Jocko Homo, and Devo Corporate Anthem fame... and of course Whip It. The electro-artpunk masters, the kings of proclamatory pop song, DEVO... too good to be anything else.

Mothersbaugh, when Devo was going through the 90s and thus was uncool, started his own production company that scores films, tv shows and commercials. I believe it's something called Mutato... But, hot damn, this guy along with Francois de Roubaix stand as the two best film composers of all time. Funny, when you know that Francois de Roubaix was a mad scuba diving passionnata, and died while exploring coral. Maybe there's some secret coral/undersea fish thing that sings in a baroque 70s way... and we just have to catch it.... Lobster Organotron!