First Contact: Cliff Martinez “Drive”

Escrito por , el 19 septiembre 2011 | Publicado en Apuntes


There is no doubt  about the the Cliff Martinez’s style; he has his own mark, his own peculiar and fantastic sound, truly immersive and evocative, with a touch between atmospheric and environmental (his fantastic trademark).

It’s one of those composers who know to work with the electronic style; he provide a special «skin» for all his musical projects, for the moments of action and for more reflexive moments, with fantastic synthesizers sounds (Pad) causing a environmental and ethereal touch  (you only have to listen Solaris to confirm this, for me, his masterpiece).

Now, coming from Lakeshore Records, we can enjoy his latest work, Drive (2011), directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Ryan Gosling, where we can find the legendary Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Alien Resurrection, Quest for Fire) or Albert Brooks (Taxi Driver, Terms of Endearment, The Twilight Zone, Broadcast News) or the beauty actress named Christina Hendricks (Life, Mad Men).

Ryan Gosling plays a driver who works as a specialist in films during the day, while at night works like a driver for the Mafia and other criminal bands (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman to be exact). In addition, he has falling in love with his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan). She’s mother of a son, and wife of a ex-convict and problematic man, who has just returned home.

Everything seems to be going well until one of the robberies goes awry, and he discovers that all could be a tramp of the mafia, and worst of all, he discovers that Irene and his son run serious risk, so he decide to take action and retaliate.

The film was rewarded in 2011 with the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and nominated for the Palme d’Or for best film.

The score, edited by Lakeshore Records, includes five songs plus the composition of Cliff Martinez, which highlights the beautiful song Oh My Love, by the brilliant Riz Ortolani, and Tick of the Clock, by Chromatics, with a electronic sound similar to the material of Cliff.

As Cliff  says, the songs exerted a strong influence on the final result, with a sound next to 80’s electronic pop style, a sound loved by Nicolas (the director). So he used those fantastic sounds and musical tones, adding dramatic texture to wrap this action film with a touch of film noir.

Cliff Martinez takes care of all the electronics and synthesizers, with the aftertaste eighties (something fantastic for people like me, who grew up in that time with the sound so suggestive and evocative of people or bands like Tangerine Dream, Moroder, Faltermeyer or John Carpenter, like shows the fantastic and atmospheric cut After the Chase, one of the best).

Two men join the composer in this exciting and evocative journey; the musician Mac Quayle, who is responsible for plucking guitar (adorning so wonderful trakcs like Where’s the Deluxe Edition?), or Gregory Tripi, who runs the sitar and saz, two exotic instruments of string to add an ethnic touch, the first of Indian origin, and the second (a kind of lute) related to Arab countries like Iraq, Turkey, Kurdistan and Syria.

In addition, Cliff plays the Crystal Baschet, an instrument that produces sounds through the oscillations of the glass cylinders (also known as Crystal Organ, like a glass harmonica, which used Christopher Young in The Uninvited). The ethereal sound of this musical instrument is patent in cuts like Wrong Floor or Skull Crushing, where Cliff adds richness through these evocative musical textures.

The score moves between ambient and ethereal, which sometimes include elements of mystery or tension (as Rubber Head, or the brief but interesting I Drive or I Had a Good Time) and intense rhythms, but content, for action , which always include two elements, electric guitar riffs by Quayle and the escapist sounds of Cliff, an area that dominates from beginning to end (as he has demonstrated it in his earlier works), highlighting cuts like Hammer or Bride of Deluxe.

I have heard the CD several times, and I can only say that if you love the music of Cliff Martinez, or whether you like the sound of the 80 synthesized pop, more suggestive tone and environment, this is your job without gender. Do not disappoint, and will make the perfect company to relax or for your daily chores.