Artist: Cliff Martinez
Album: Drive

Released: 6 September 2011
Label: Lakeshore Records

Drive Cliff Martinez
Every Electronic Musician has surely been asked, "Have you ever thought about doing music for a movie soundtrack?". The answer is, "Yes, we've thought about this every day since beginning making music"... Electronic Music does seem perfectly suited for use in movie soundtracks, but film scores using electronic instruments are sorely under represented throughout the history of cinema - and having one's own independent works of Ambient or Spacemusic placed in a major movie release is very nearly impossible.

Soundtrack artist Cliff Martinez is working to change this situation. His score to Drive (70'27") (as well as that of the con-current Contagion) are both overtly electronic in nature, and so good as to revive the hope of more directors ordering up innovative electronic soundtracks for their projects. Both the atmosphere of Drive the film and its unique soundtrack have drawn comparisons to "Thief", the 1981 heist movie featuring an excellent (and now legendary) synthetic soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. But this look-back should be only momentary as everything about Drive is forward-looking - both in the genre of Film Noir and in the art and craft of movie scoring.

This music has been composed in precise synchronization with the changing images and on-screen action of the film. As part of the cinema experience Martinez's music aptly provides emotional cues for the story line and genuinely enhances any scene where it is heard. From moments of tenderness, to scenes of graphic violence, and of course all those pulse quickening car chases, the soundtrack to Drive works stunningly well - far better than any conventional symphonic film music would have.

One notable difference between Drive and its non-soundtrack counterparts is in this music's quick peaks and dramatic changes. While contemporary Electronic Musicians tend to realize sprawling slowly evolving soundscapes, each track on Drive is a brief interlude charged with echoing sequencer patterns and cool crystalline synth pads. In any given piece the energy level may suddenly ramp up, briefly sustain, then quickly decelerate before resolving and fading out, while other tracks offer more gentle layers of breathing synthesizer tones and resonating swirls of hollow ringing metal. The overall dark atmosphere of Drive is finely wrought. With its propulsive minor key arpeggios churning out a sense of foreboding alongside more gorgeous ethereal sounds, the Drive soundtrack maintains its theatrical sense even outside of the theater. Martinez provides much more than appropriate music for the moving pictures on-screen. He enlarges cinematic sonorities beyond the dimensions of the orchestra - allowing Drive to retain its musical significance even when detached from the visual counterpart.

- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END   20 October 2011

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