This marks Mac McCaughan's second foray (following 2001's "Looking For Leonard") into soundtrack work in the guise of his musical alter ego, Portastatic. Inspired by film music from composers such as Henry Mancini, Ry Cooder, Francis Lai, and Piero Umiliani, Portastatic's score is a beautiful musical interpretation of the themes of the people we love and how much we hate them, sex, and the ensuing tensions that can arise within the confines of friendship and the extended family. In addition to Mac's traditional guitar-based songs, he incorporates strings, oboe, flute, and piano to propel the infectious melodies. Fans of Belle Orchestre, Rachel's, and Calexico will enjoy this score. The film stars Lukas Haas and Molly Parker.
Portastatic may be a side project for Mac McCaughan, frontman of Superchunk and cofounder of Merge Records, but it never feels like an afterthought. Here, McCaughan has assembled a crack team of musicians from his home base of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to produce a lovely, mostly acoustic score for Matt Bissonnette's movie. (Bissonnette had codirected 2001's Looking for Leonard,
for which Portastatic had also composed the music.) Some tracks recall the loose-limbed jauntiness of Belle & Sebastian ("Fighting Music," "Lively Chase"), others aim for the wistful mood of 1960s-style pastoralia. McCaughan also nicely varies the dominant voices on the vocal-less album as instruments take turns leading the tracks: cello on "Maggie and Mary," acoustic guitar on "The Search for Daniel," flute on "Nice One," piano on "Snake Music." Hollywood producers and directors could learn a lot from this deceptively modest score to a low-budget indie movie. --Elisabeth Vincentelli