Release date: April 2nd, help 2012
Running time: 70:27 minutes
Composer: Cliff Martinez
If it wasn’t for Cliff Martinez I wouldn’t have been as inspired as I was to learn music. It was on hearing his deeply affecting compositions for Steven Soderbergh’s remake of Solaris (2002) that I started to take my keyboard seriously and began to memorise those basic notes which had always escaped me.
His minimalist melodies awakened a need in me to understand why they made such perfect sense. They slowed down the chaos and spoke a language that proved the old adage to be true…”music soothes the savage beast”.
The Bronx born composer’s first foray into film and television music came in 1987 when a tape collage he had constructed led to an opportunity to score an episode of Pee Wee’s Playhouse. It also brought him to Soderbergh’s attention and the two of them would go on to work on 10 films together so far, site including Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), Kafka (1991), Traffic (2000) and Contagion (2011).
In 2011 he also scored Drive, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. As one of last year’s most critically acclaimed films, it had a soundtrack to match.
The first five tracks are synth driven pop pieces by Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx, Desire, College feat. Electric Youth, and Chromatics. They immediately make me remember bands from the late 90’s such as Les Rythmes Digitales, Air, Boards Of Canada and Black Box Recorder, with a dash of the mid-2000’s with the likes of Goldfrapp and The Knife. They’re nice tracks – but they’re not why i’m interested in this soundtrack.
Track 6, Rubber Head, is where Martinez’s score begins and we hear those familiar minimalist rumblings and pulsing rhythms. It moves into a haunting synth section which brings it to a close. I Drive opens with a sombre mood, its ambient textures recall moments in Solaris, and also William Orbit’s re-workings from Pieces In A Modern Style (2000) together with Clint Mansell’s score for The Fountain (2006).
The brief but memorable He Had A Good Time evokes a melancholy feeling with its pads and it carries on to They Broke His Pelvis, which is a track you would expect to be anything but quiet. Kick Your Teeth is a little darker; the strains of an electric guitar can be heard, amidst the muted sounds of bass and percussion. It builds to a slow crescendo before fading out and then starting again.
Where’s The Deluxe Version? is a grower with flashes of Kraftwerk in between but it always maintains the Martinez-ness throughout. It’s a pulsating track and manages to bring in the piano where you wouldn’t expect it.
Track 13, After The Chase, teases us with the sound of drums over its pads but it’s a restrained piece – until it reaches its climax with a flurry of synth effects, and then quietly fades out.
Hammer reintroduces us to those shimmering sounds and metronomic beats that defines Martinez’ film scores but there’s something darker in there as well. It breaks mid-way and the direction changes suddenly to reveal something exotic and distant sounding. It wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dead Can Dance compilation if it weren’t for its electronic overlays.
The lullaby-esque Wrong Floor is a soothing track that’s over all too quickly. It fades away to open Skull Crushing which immediately recalls the urgency of Hans Zimmer’s Inception (2010) and Daft Punk’s TRON Legacy (2010) scores. It’s without the drama though, and again, Matrinez’ sound remains distinctive throughout.
By the final track, Bride Of Deluxe, I felt as if I’ve travelled miles. The score is breathtaking throughout. Each track is perfectly sculpted, and as a stand-alone collection it’s enjoyable – doesn’t require you to be familiar with the film.
If you’ve enjoyed Martinez’ other work as much as I have, then Drive’s soundtrack is one you also want to hear. He remains one of those composers I always like to keep my eyes and ears on – he keeps on surprising and inspiring with each new score.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .