Comforting Skin

Composed by: Alain Mayrand

Distributed by: Screamworks Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            In Comforting Skin, Victoria Bidewell is Koffie, a sad young woman struggling over her recent break-up and longing for companionship.  A visit to an out-of-the-way tattoo parlor drastically begins to change her attitude.  She gets a back tattoo.  It's a simple tattoo, but one that gives her newfound confidence.  Unfortunately, her relationship with this tattoo begins to borderline on the bizarre as the simple tattoo becomes more complex, shifting shape and even talking to her.

            The musical score of Comforting Skin was created by Canadian composer Alain Mayrand.  Graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in piano and composition and a Master's in composition, Alain Mayrand enjoys performing music as much as composing it.  Spending a number of years playing electric guitar for rock, metal, jazz and big bands, Mayrand also studied guitar, flute and cello.  He is composer-in-residence with the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra and his compositions have earned critical acclaim, leading Film Music Magazine to name Alain Mayrand one of 2010's composers to watch.

            Comforting Skin is a psychological thriller and the musical score does much to define what is going on in Koffie's mind as well as her surroundings, both real and perceived.  As the soundtrack begins, we are taken by how sad the music is.  The first track is entitled Tears at the Mirror and, listening to the music, one can perfectly imagine the young, depressed Koffie silently crying as she looks at her reflection in the mirror.  Things start to get strange once you reach the third track.  The Arrival has a rather spooky sound to it, featuring high-pitched strokes of violins punctuated by bursts of other orchestral instruments.  The track is actually quite disturbing to the listener, putting them right inside Koffie's world.

            There are some beautiful, seemingly happy moments for Koffie, like a Day Out With Peg, but for the most part the rest of the soundtrack reflects Koffie's descent into insanity.  The soundtrack ends on a similar note as it begins, with a track whose title probably sums up how far Koffie has descended into madness: Tears and Razor Blades.

            The Comforting Skin Soundtrack does just what it is supposed to do - keep the listener unsettled.  As background music for a film, I imagine it would do much to enhance the events of the film.  As a stand alone album, the music is entirely unsettling, but not without some beautiful moments.  It is quite easy to imagine what might be taking place in the film based upon the music playing on the album.  A job well done for Alain Mayrand.


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