When you think of Film Composers, you first think of your classics – John Williams, Ennio Moriccone, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, Alan Silvestri the list goes on. All of the aforementioned have been well exposed as orchestral masterminds, augmenting the finest films with their sweeping themes and anchorous Hooks.
I think back to when I was a young tot sat on the booster seat in the back of my dad’s estate, rolling through the Yorkshire countryside to the ceaseless billow of Kraftwerk from his cassette player. Somewhere deep inside me, this installed my acceptance, and love, of repetitive music and what a talent it is to create a minimalist piece of music that isn’t inherently annoying. That’s exactly what Cliff Martinez does so well for film. He does what every great musician does; instilling a sense of time and place, a stamp in your memory. You remember exactly where you were when you heard them, or which particular scene you were engrossed in. But I guess the key word of why I like Cliff Martinez so much, is ‘mood’.
Cliff Martinez’ background is drumming, which you’d think would spell disaster to any OST buff, but Cliff’s percussive foundations are what make him the composer he indeed is. You often find with extremely talented musicians-come-composers there’s this over indulgence, that it’s become more about themselves than the project in which they’re bringing to life. But Cliff’s minimalist style is perfect for painting character and scene colour with that under brew of moody tension. His stripped back tonalities, as opposed to complex overtures, are massively refreshing to listen to. I recommend seeking out his material including; Arbitrage, Contagion, Solaris, Only God Forgives and of Course Drive.
Take a look at the short interview below, which features the Baschet Cristal, which has pretty much become part of his sonic signature: