What is it?
Here is how Wikipedia describes this movie soundtrack:
Released on March 17, 2014, Under the Skin’s soundtrack was composed by Mica Levi and produced by Peter Raeburn. Raeburn suggested Levi to Glazer, who contacted them after hearing Chopped and Screwed, their collaboration with the London Sinfonietta. Glazer wanted the music to express the protagonist’s feelings as she experienced things like food and sex for the first time, and directed Levi with prompts such as “What does it sound like to be on fire?” or “Imagine when you tell somebody a joke and it’s not very good and their reaction’s a bit stilted”. Later scenes use less music, to emphasise the sounds of the natural world that Johansson’s character experiences.
Levi used mainly a viola to write and record over ten months, taking inspiration from Giacinto Scelsi, Iannis Xenakis, John Cage and music played in strip clubs. They looked for the natural and “identifiably human” sounds in the instrument, then altered the pitch or tempo of their recordings to make them feel “uncomfortable”. In an article for the Guardian, Levi wrote: “Some parts are intended to be quite difficult. If your life force is being distilled by an alien, it’s not necessarily going to sound very nice. It’s supposed to be physical, alarming, hot.”
According to Pitchfork, “the strings sometimes resemble nails going down a universe-sized chalkboard, screaming with a Ligeti-like sense of horror; elsewhere, they endlessly drone in a gaping vortex, like Vangelis’ iconic Blade Runner score dipped in turpentine”. The Guardian wrote that Levi’s “score brings together strings, percussion, distortions in speed and clashing microphones to create sounds that are seductive, perverted and compassionate.”
Composer Mike Patton said the Under the Skin soundtrack was the only contemporary soundtrack that had left an impression on him, praising Levi’s minimalist approach. Musician Steven Wilson said Under the Skin was his favourite film of the last decade and praised its “absolutely brilliant” music. In 2019, Pitchfork ranked the soundtrack the 154th best album albums of the 2010s and the 18th greatest industrial album of all time.