Cliff Martinez – Solaris *Review In English*

“To be fair enough, SOLARIS’ score is as conservative as Cliff Martinez can come up with. It fits the film very well but it won’t last long on its own.”

Soundtrack Label (2011): La-La Land Records

Soundtrack Label (2002): Superb Records

SOLARIS is a remake based on a sci-fi novel and a Soviet film of the same name. This film version is directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. For the film itself, it is amazing how Soderbergh can make such an absorbing sci-fi/romantic flick which is mainly occupied by only two actors with some weird but beautiful atmosphere of space. To be honest, SOLARIS is one of favorite films of all time and I won’t deny that the score makes it right. But by the name Cliff Martinez, there are always what I can appreciate and not appreciate.

As this is my first Cliff Martinez’s soundtrack review, I am going to tell you something briefly. Before entering the world of film music, Cliff Martinez used to drum for Red Hot Chili Peppers from 1983 to 1986. Therefore, it is obvious that he is good at drumming involving electronic instruments. Entering the world of film music for real, Martinez has shown the skill in making ambient music in all the films he worked for. For Martinez, the collaboration with Soderbergh is highly successful in the film called TRAFFIC. The film has received a very positive response from the critics as well as the audiences and I think the film is great too. However, in my case, that greatness doesn’t include the music which I hardly think of it as any memorable piece of music, not to mention its album presentation which is a kind of intolerable. There is no doubt that Soderbergh calls Martinez to work on the score again in SOLARIS and I can feel more that Martinez’s score does some good effects here.

Martinez has added an orchestral music, mainly strings and brass, into his ambient music with lots of experimental synthesized percussions. The score results in an orchestral ambient which has a sense of subtlety, romance, and vast boundary of the space which do a finest job carrying out to film to the best! Outside the big screen, Martinez brings you almost exactly what you heard on the film. The main theme is nice and moving. It is a bit hard to catch because it is not even created to be catchy enough. At least, the first track Is That What Everybody Wants gives you the idea of the theme and to be heard more with faster but still tender percussions in First Sleep.

A few minutes after that, the transition between orchestral and ambient music still move on but quite the same which means no progression to be picked up and talk about much. To give you one example; if you previously like the track First Sleep, then I can say that Don’t Blow It will be another enjoyable one but just don’t expect enough progression from either percussions or ambient music. Wear Your Seat Belt is also no exception from the former two. Hi Energy Proton Accelerator is the track which I am surprised that Martinez can composed an almost 11 minutes cue yet it is not as impressive as one may expect something from a long cue. The music is slow and haunting just like the particular scene in the film but it will leave you nothing but just some listenable thing to hear in this case.

To be fair enough, SOLARIS’ score is as conservative as Cliff Martinez can come up with. It fits the film very well but it won’t last long on its own (and don’t try to find the excuse for it because it is now on the album presentation and the album needs its own point). Luckily, this score’s length is not too long and the orchestra doesn’t make it too intangible to be dull. I think what we have here, the 43-minute journey to the dreamy place, is already sufficient. Then, to be a little bit fairer, I gotta admit that this score has shown some composer’s better effort when comparing to his other scores lately which show no maturity at all. Probably, if I have to, this is the “only” Cliff Martinez’s soundtrack CD I will collect.


01. Is That What Everybody Wants (****)

02. First Sleep (****)

03. Can I Sit Next to You (***)

04. Will She Come Back (***)

05. Death Shall Have No Dominion (***)

06. Maybe You’re My Puppet (***)

07. Don’t Blow It (****)

08. Hi Energy Proton Accelerator (***)

09. Wear Your Seat Belt (****)

10. Wormhole (***)

11. We Don’t Have to Think Like That Anymore (***)

Final Score: 7

Buy It @Boomerang


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