Artist: Cliff Martinez
Album: Solaris

Label: Superb

The main purpose of the film score is to further communicate themes portrayed on the screen. With the sound and vision of the cinema experience being inextricably intertwined, the experience is somehow lessened - one without the other. Over the years, Cliff Martinez has been responsible for scoring the many films of Steven Soderbergh and gained a reputation for producing works as powerful as they are unconventional. Of the score to Solaris, Soderbergh offers, "I relied on it not only to unify the film emotionally, but to import actual narrative information." On this soundtrack, Martinez explores an area where orchestral sound, third world instrumentation, ambient music and science fiction themes all converge. The result is engaging, insular music - equally valid with or without the visual element of Solaris the film.

The spellbinding sound and score for Solaris heightens the film's intimacy and helps portray the intensity and isolation played out by the characters of the film's plot. Here, Martinez uses a traditional orchestra (strings, horns, winds, vocalists) in a unique way. The horns' slow swells of volume and brightness sustaining beneath the string section's shifting harmonic contrasts are reminiscent of the spiritual movement in modern classical music. By adding steel drum rhythms and cyclical gamelon tones, Martinez creates a score with a strong personality and presence. It's like a character from the film, as alien and unseen as the force affecting the hapless crew of this psychological drama.

The score to Solairis provides an impressive range of moods; from the welcome embrace of a lost love to the void, vast distances between stars. The track "Hi Energy Proton Accelerator", with its contrast, disonance, cacophony and ultimate resolution, beautifully demonstrates the orchestra's emotional coloristic range. "Will She Come Back" offers tenderness and a soothing space for those haunted by loss, while "Wear Your Seat Belt" combines the energetic rhythms of the steel drum with the orchestra's brilliant animations.

The soundtrack to Solaris serves its purpose well by adding substantial depth and a palpable atmosphere to the film it was designed to accompany. Cerebral yet emotional, at times warm and inviting, at others frigid and empty; these compositions easily stand apart from the film as an interesting and accomplished album of acoustic ambient spacemusic.

- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END   22 January 2003

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