Atticus Ross

Love & Mercy Soundtrack

img_7084Atticus Ross/Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys – Love & Mercy Soundtrack

On one hand this is a shared release between Atticus Ross, Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, but on the other there is really no doubt that the name on the cover should be Atticus Ross as its his work that made this an extraordinary project. Love & Mercy, the film, is not a Beach Boys biopic nor even a Brian Wilson biopic but a document of Brian’s descent into a mental and emotional breakdown in the mid-’60s and his eventual recovery in the early ’90s. While the soundtrack showcases a few classic Beach Boys songs, and some fantastic live as well as new Brian Wilson songs it is Ross’ creations that bring the viewer and listener into the hallucinatory viewpoint of the film.

Anyone who has seen my previous post on the recent Beach Boys’ 1967 Wild Honey release will know what a gigantic fan of the band in general and of Wilson in particular I am. It was a stroke of genius and an amazingly difficult task to make a film that told the story of this aspect of Brian’s life. The movie could have so easily gotten it all wrong and instead it nailed it, from Paul Dano’s, John Cusak’s and Paul Giamatti’s performances, to director Bill Pholand’s picture perfect recreation of actual Beach Boys events to Atticus’ audio depiction of everything from Brian’s internal musical monologues to the swirling voices in his head.

I’ve been a big fan of Atticus Ross since his early days of working with Bomb The Bass and Barry Adamson. I really loved his band 12 Rounds as well but about the time he came on the scene in the Reznor-verse I had kind of moved on from NIN. I have however truly enjoyed his soundtrack work with his wife, Claudia Sarne, and brother, Leopold Ross though none of it really prepared me for the immersive and transportive material he created for Love & Mercy.

Ross crafted the music for the film by sound collaging bits and pieces from numerous Beach Boys master tapes, old audio tapes of Brian Wilson speaking as well as dialogue and sounds from the film itself. Ross layered, combined, manipulated and arranged these to create swooping melodies that represent the harmonic orchestra Wilson claims to hear constantly and is the muse to the music he creates. Conversely these same sounds represent the madness inducing voices in Wilson’s head that lead to his extended and repeated breakdowns. The effectiveness of what Ross created for the film and soundtrack can’t be understated and shows his mastery of the sonic form. In an interesting fashion it took the genius of Atticus Ross to illustrate the genius of Brian Wilson and I’m blessed enough to get to enjoy them both.

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The Beach Boys

1967 (Sunshine Tomorrow)

The Beach Boys – 1967 (Sunshine Tomorrow)

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with the most American of all bands, our national musical treasure, The Beach Boys. Yeah I know they’re not quite The Beatles or The Stones or even The Who, but in many ways that’s exactly the point. Their decidedly American take on rock and pop with its California themes is exactly why they’re perfect for today. 

1967 (Sunshine Tomorrow) pulls together all of the band’s unreleased material from that year. In truth bits and pieces of this album have surfaced on box sets and in other iterations but it’s great to have it all collected in one place. The gem of the release is the amazing stereo version of the Wild Honey album. These are the tracks where the boys got in touch with their inner rhythm and blues, stripped down the huge productions of the Smile record, dispensed with studio machinations and just performed from the heart as a band. 

Carl Wilson’s move to the forefront was instrumental in this change in approach and sound and while upon release the album was thought of as simple, give it one listen today and try not to be swept away by its charm. And that’s hardly all that’s on these CDs. We get many alternate versions and unreleased songs from the sessions, plus live versions of some album tracks. On top of that there are yet more unreleased bits from the Smile sessions, not to mention a number of live in the studio recordings from the abandoned Lei’d In Hawaii project and more. I’m starting to feel like an infomercial host – but wait, there’s more!

In all seriousness they couldn’t have jam packed this release with more great material. For the price it is an amazing steal. Let’s hope there’s more in the Beach Boys’ vault where this came from and we can look forward editions like this for the Sunflower and Love You albums.

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1967 Sunshine Tomorrow from Amazon
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