Human Suits: Planetary (OST)
Planetary Collective

Though Human Suits' Planetary holds up superbly as a stand-alone musical work, a bit of context is needed to clarify what the project's about. The material is formally speaking the original soundtrack Human Suits—Jerome Alexander (aka Message To Bears), Justin Radford, and Maximilian Fyfe—created to coincide with the global theatrical release (on Vimeo On Demand) of the debut feature-length film by Planetary Collective. Conceived as a follow-up to the award-winning short film Overview (whose soundtrack was also composed by Human Suits), Planetary aims in poetic fashion to remind viewers of the need for a more global perspective on the world and to promote the belief in the connectedness of all things. In doing so, the film features, among other things, footage of the Milky Way, Buddhist monasteries, and big-city life in Tokyo and Manhattan.

As one might expect from a soundtrack featuring track titles such as “Space,” “Gaia,” and “Meditation,” the music Human Suits created for the release is immersive and panoramic in scope. Alexander, Radford, and Fyfe apparently generated the seventy-five-minute recording without the benefit of high-end equipment or an expensive recording studio and used classical strings, Indian instruments, voices, piano, guitars, and analogue synthesizers to produce the soundtrack's emotionally affecting material.

Rich in luscious strings, hushed vocal textures, and ambient shimmer, the hymn-like “Space” and “Epilogue” bookend the recording with uplifting meditations. Though the title “Mass Extinction” suggests apocalypse, the tone of the music isn't violent but plaintive, as if intended to to mourn the tragic squandering of human potential. The film's global perspective is embodied by “Seeing” in its merging of an Eastern-styled vocal-and-strings drone with piano playing that hints at a classical minimalism influence. Not surprisingly given its track title, the eleven-minute “Meditation” revisits the drone form, though this time with a melismatic string instrument in the lead role. At times a string instrument rises to the forefront during the dozen tracks (e.g., “Indigenous”) and in doing so intensifies the poignant quality of the music.

There are moments on the album that could be classified as New Age, though I hesitate to label it as such given the sometimes negative associations attached to the term. But genre labels cease to apply when music of such soul-stirring beauty is present, and Human Suits' Planetary offers more than its share of such moments. Experienced separately from the film, the soundtrack holds up as an exquisite piece of work whose emotional impact is powerful.

June 2015