Audio: On The Score With Cliff Martinez

By • September 1, 2011

(Photo by Robert Charles Mann ©2011)

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

Starting his career as a drummer for such progressive rock /jazz groups as The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Captain Beefheart, Cliff Martinez would bring the same experimental shock of the new to film scoring when he teamed with writer-director Steven Soderbergh’s for 1989’s “Sex, Lies and Videotape.” Not only did their erotic, esoteric masterpiece establish Indie cinema, but “Sex” served as vehicle for Martinez to bring the artsy, avant-garde sound of propulsive minimalism to movie soundtracks. Martinez’s haunting beat-and-drone approach would soon incorporate the orchestra, rock rhythms and crystalline sound, innovating the sound of crime noir with “The Limey,” “Narc,” “Traffic” and “The Lincoln Lawyer,” while also capturing the haunted mental anguish from “Wicker Park” and “First Snow” to the hypnotic orchestral and glass reaches of “Solaris.”

Even at their most rhythmic, Cliff Martinez’s scores have a beautiful sense of quiet introspection to them. Now his hypnotic minimalism speaks volumes for a monosyllabic stuntman turned getaway wheelman in “Drive.” In this remarkably subtle and effective action score, the composer’s mix of ethereal melodies and growing, percussive vengeance mark an antihero’s violently doomed hopes for salvation.

Where it’s a thoroughly modern approach for director Nicolas Winding Refn’s salute to such hardcase 70’s action movies as “The Driver,” Martinez’s long-awaited re-teaming with Steven Soderbergh on “Contagion” take this period approach to a new musical level. Drawing on the experimental orchestral approach of “The Driver”’s Michael Small, as well as Don Ellis’ experimental score to “The French Connection,” Martinez layers his suspensefully percolating approach under brooding orchestrations and ticking percussion. It’s a high-tech, neo-retro sound that desperately ticks away the hours for humanity’s potential extinction. And just as bacteria evolves to new strains, Martinez’s ever-mutating sound finds new ways to Armageddon with another mesmerizing another score that marks him as one of Hollywood’s true scoring innovators.

Now on a new episode of “On the Score,” Cliff Martinez talks about “Drive” and “Contagions” different, mesmerizing shades of doom- one a sleek, psychological race towards vengeance, and the other a desperate effort to save the human race.

Click above to Listen Now

a Buy the Soundtrack: DRIVE
a Buy the Soundtrack: CONTAGION
a Buy the Soundtrack: SOLARIS
a Buy the Soundtrack: THE LINCOLN LAWYER
a Buy the Soundtrack: TRAFFIC
a Visit Cliff Martinez’s website

Listen to the previous ON THE SCORE show featuring Tyler Bates

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