mon 29/05/2023

CD: Cliff Martinez - The Neon Demon OST | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Cliff Martinez - The Neon Demon OST

CD: Cliff Martinez - The Neon Demon OST

Soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Refn's fashionista horror flick contains nuggets worth mining

Elle Fanning, pouting for her life

Cliff Martinez isn’t your average Hollywood film composer. He didn’t come up via an orchestral academy or even move sideways from the electronica/classical crossover milieu. Neither John Williams nor Jóhann Jóhannsson are his template. Instead, he took a sharp left out of the LA punk scene, drumming in bands ranging from Lydia Lunch’s no wave noisiness to the nascent, raucous Red Hot Chili Peppers. He even played on Captain Beefheart’s final freak-out, 1982’s Ice Cream For Crow.

However, since the Eighties, and especially working with the director Steven Soderbergh, he’s carved himself a niche as a film soundtrack creator.

In more recent years Martinez’s work has connected with the arty, occasionally kitschy, end of electronic pop. His collaborative score with Skrillex for Harmony Korine’s extraordinary Spring Breakers was a case in point, but it was the Eighties-style synth tautness he added to Nicholas Winding Refn’s cars’n’robbery'n'Ryan Gosling flick, Drive, that really captured imaginations. It's a soundtrack that goes beyond filmic functionality, and became much-listened to in its own right. The score for Refn’s latest, the hyper-stylised, LA-based fashion-horror flick, The Neon Demon, occasionally reaches similar heights.

As is usual with soundtracks, much of the album consists of short pieces, mood-setters. These range between Italian giallo horror sinister synthesizers (“Somethings In My Room”) and twinkling, sonic sparkles such as “I Would Never Say You’re Fat” and “Kinky”. The most interesting stuff, though, is when Martinez lets his inner club lizard out for upwards of five minutes on the moody, dubstep-tinted squelcher “Are We Having A Party” or, especially, the dub-house groove of “Messenger Walks Among Us”. His thunder is almost stolen by his director’s nephew, for Julian Winding’s “Demon Dance” is a mighty psy-trance techno banger. There are also a couple of songs by other artists, Sia & Diplo’s “Waving Goodbye” and Danish band Sweet Tempest with the electro-goth rocker “Mine”, but it’s Martinez’s cool, polished electro palette that’s the main dish. It’s no Drive OST, but there’s cherry-picking to be done.


I'm curious as to how you feel about his work in Solaris and The Knick?

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