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music: Random Noise

General rants and raves about music

Roman Coppola's first feature, "CQ," out now in more important cities, is a movie within a movie about a director torn between making his own art film and finishing a "Barbarella"-like sci-fi sexploitation flick. As he's drawn further into the B-movie he comes dangerously close to the beguiling charms of the sci-fi picture's seductive actress/heroine as the two, with the help of a hip and sexy accompanying soundtrack, navigate the colorful spectacle and mod trappings of 1960s Paris. "CQ's" song set is a combination of soundtrack and score, with real '60s French artists providing the former and relative newcomer Mellow composing the latter. Mellow is a marginal contender with Air (who composed "The Virgin Suicides" soundtrack) in their native country — the Mellow trio being the lesser-known of the two. Virtually unknown is more like it, though they've released a handful of CDs full of spacey, psychedelic pop.

Sounds perfect for "CQ" and its French plot twists: the sexy secret agent debut of Angela Lindvall; the year 2001 as the setting for a movie set in the future; and eternal skinny boy Jeremy Davies — once seen crying in the dirt as Corporal Upham in "Saving Private Ryan" — cast as a leading man.

Working on his sister's set, Roman certainly noticed how Sofia scored big with "The Virgin Suicides" score by including Air. For a film that favored style over substance, Air's timeless electro-pop was a lot of the wind beneath that movie's retro-wings. By contrast, Mellow tries to make its contributions to the "CQ" soundtrack sound of a specific time, but the Air Lite sound falls flat.

The real French pop songs — provided by Claude Francois, Paul Piot and others — are the best parts. French pop, most notably Serge Gainsbourge's, is the frogs' answer to rock 'n' roll. Modish and outlandish at the same time, it is swaggering sexuality in a tapered suit. None of Mellow's music sounds like that. Mellow's best songs sound like B-sides from Air's "Moon Safari," but even those are variations on the same theme. They combine soft instrumentation and faceless female vocals over a shagging beat, and they often sound better suited for a much more American, Austin Powers-inhabited '60s.

There are enjoyable Mellow moments on this disc, including the spacey opener, the freaky male voiceover on "Rivolizione Sessantonove" and the Zeppelin-inspired riff on "CQ Theme." Suprisingly, though, this French film score by the French band Mellow isn't very French. Not surprisingly, it is very mellow.

— Wayne Melton

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