Cliff Martinez – The Neon Demon – Review

Cliff Martinez is a composer who is impossible to pigeon-hole. Yes he veers towards electronic and experimental sounds, but it isn’t choice of sounds that defines a composer, so much as what he/she chooses to do with them, and in that respect Martinez’s scores are wholly unique.

The Neon Demon then, is a completely individual listening experience. Having not yet seen the film it is difficult to comment on the kind of context the tracks will play accompaniment to, but the feel of the thing is of stepping into a snow-globe, wherein is contained a nightmare disco.

How does The Neon Demon sound?

There’s a weightlessness to many of the tracks, and if you’re the kind of person who enjoys listening to music in a quiet place with a large pair of speakers or cans, you can almost feel yourself floating away listening to them. Track 10, entitled ‘Real Lolita Rides Again’, is a perfect example of this. Shimmering, glittery synths twinkle over disjointed pulsing, and a lead line sprays over the top like a meteor tail running across the stereo field.

Yet for all the ethereal beauty there is also grandiose pomposity to be found. Tracks like ‘Gold Paint Shoot’ are so bold and huge that you could picture them providing the soundscape to a space opera. In fact I was reminded, whilst listening, of the concept art to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s much lauded but never made adaptation of Dune. The track opens up wide, as if endless possibilities are opening up all around.

There are some great moments of straight electronica too, particularly in ‘Messenger Walks Among Us’, which is as close as the score gets to becoming reminiscent of the now cult classic Drive soundtrack. It still packs a creepy, somewhat unnerving wallop but the straight beat and layers of arpeggio sounds err the track more towards mainstream electronic music than film score.

The full soundtrack will be released on June 17th, a week before the film itself.

James is a movie obsessive with a particular love for scores and screenplays. He has written for numerous blogs, sites and cinemas and has been involved in several screenwriting projects. He can usually be found in front of a large plasma screen devouring Westerns, 80s pulp, Jimmy Stewart movies or anything by the Coens.