Cliff Martinez on

Plus: Solaris, Drive, Refn, Soderbergh, and many many "influence" questions


Film composer Cliff Martinez (Solaris, Contagion) did a IAmA (“ask me anything”) crowd interview yesterday. As of this count, there were 649 comments, many of them unanswered questions, and he weighed in on a lot of topics, from his favorite music, to playing drums with Captain Beefheart, to his ongoing collaboration with director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives). Below are some highlights.

On the Cristal Baschet, pictured below:

[”“]vincentmusic: You use a lot of Cristal Baschet on your scores. Where did you come across this instrument and how did you come to own one? permalink

[”“]cliffmartinez: I first saw the Cristal at the Museum of Modern Art in 1965 when I was a little kid. It was one of those mind altering early experiences that reupholstered my brain and turned me, not only into a musician….but into a weird musician.


On musical tributes:

[”“]Roton7: Hi Cliff, I love your work! I really enjoyed the Only God Forgives soundtrack, especially “Wanna Fight”, which is just phenomenal. Were there any particular artists or songs that inspired that track?

[”“]cliffmartinez: Yes. WANNA FIGHT is my impersonation of Philip Glass, Goblin and Ennio Morricone.

“Wanna Fight” starts 53 seconds into this YouTube clip:

Another on influence melding:

[”“]sweextin: How do you handle the (sometimes blatant) plagiarism that goes on in the composing world? Does it bother you or flatter you?

[”“]cliffmartinez: I think that’s part of the biz. My recipe for avoiding plagiarism is to rip off two artists at once. i.e. Gyorgy Ligeti + Tangerine Dream = SOLARIS

How his score to Solaris helps cheer him up:

[”“]splooshy: The SOLARIS score is one of the most hauntingly brilliant things I’ve ever heard, and paired perfectly with Soderbergh’s vastly underrated version of the story. Just want to say thank you. SOLARIS was part of what drove me to enter film school.

[”“]cliffmartinez: Thank you, it’s my favorite. Whenever I feel depressed, I go to Amazon and read some of the testimonials on SOLARIS….”I held my blind dog up to the speakers and SOLARIS gave him back his sight….SOLARIS cured my arthritis, my razor blades stay sharp when I play them SOLARIS etc.”

Full interview at Read on for getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and not having slept with Lydia Lunch, among other topics. (Image of Cristal Bachet via

Self-Destructing in 8 Bits

A lofi implosion by Michigan's Luminous Fridge

The great thing about great 8bit music is how it sounds as if it’s about to fall to pieces. The first half of “Phantom Spikes The Punch” by Michigan-based Luminous Fridge sounds like three different video games vying for your attention in a dusty old arcade. There’s white noise from a dying speaker cabinet, the blippy melody of a nocturnal adventure, and the heavy beats of a first-person shooter. Together, they form an abstract sort of pop song, one barely holding onto its own self-containment. And then, as if with the flip of a switch, near the 45-second mark, everything shifts. The music gets markedly more contemporary, the beats and tune gathering themselves with a sense of lounge-ready decorum — less Pacman, more Amom Tobin.

Track originally posted for free download at More from Fridge at

Acoustic + Electric = Splendid (MP3)

Complementary parts in a track by San Francisco's Edison

It’s not so much that opposites attract as that they complement each other. In the case of “The Sighs” by San Francisco”“based Edison, aka Nic Dematteo, the opposites are those old purported rivals, acoustic and electric. The acoustic is a rhythmic guitar part. The electric is the beat — not so much a beat as a beat plus underlying tonal foundation. That foundation has almost half a minute to cement itself before the guitar appears, some Sunday-morning chords and squeaky strings heard against the slowly developing rhythm. What makes the track work is that neither section is stagnant. The beat eventually goes into a double-time loop and the guitar, just after a bleepy melody suggests that “electric” has its own way with a tune, gives up in a gentle surrender. And then the guitar reappears for a refreshing coda. The whole thing is a delight.

Track originally posted for free download at More from Edison/Dematteo at

The Children Next Door in NYC (July 26 – Aug 1)

Film for which I did music supervision and, with Taylor Deupree, sound design

From July 26 through August 1, The Children Next Door is screening every night at 7:40pm at the Quad Cinema in Manhattan. The theater is located at 34 West 13th Street. The movie was directed by Doug Block (The Kids Grow Up, 51 Birch Street) and produced by Lynda Hansen. The score is by the talented Taylor Deupree, which whom I shared sound design duties. I handled music supervision for the film.

Anthony Kaufman wrote of The Children Next Door at the Sundance blog, “Doug Block’s searing short … attains a level of pathos as deep as any feature-length documentary.” It’s had a great response at numerous film festivals, including DOCS-NYC and the Seattle True Independent Film Festival, at both of which it received special jury prizes. It had its international premiere at the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival in Greece.

Here’s the trailer:

Trailer hosted at Additional production details at and Theater website at

SoundCloud Blog on “Creating with Constraints”

Great series of interviews – I'm honored to be a participant.


Major thanks to SoundCloud for having posted this interview with me as part of its ongoing blog-post series on the value of creative restraints. Previous posts in the series have looked at Madeleine Cocolas’ weekly music compositions, musicologist Gilles Helsen’s everyday recordings, and Kyle Vande Slunt’s sound design experiments.

In addition to focusing attention on the ongoing Disquiet Junto projects and the Insta/gr/ambient compilation, the piece quotes frequent Junto music-maker Naoyki Sasanami, who is better known as Naotko on SoundCloud:

Naoyki Sasanami regularly participates in the Disquiet Junto group’s challenges every week and compares them to “experimental trials”that are opportunities for sound design. “I feel like I’m playing a weekly chess game using sound.”

Here’s a snippet of the article:

If you’re interested in making music as part of a communal group, Marc shares some advice: “First, I would not model whatever it is you want to do too closely on what other groups have done. Instead, I would identify the loose knit community that you find of interest, and think long and hard about that community’s motivations, about the way its constituents both produce and consume sound. I would try to develop a group approach with those unique characteristics in mind. Second, I would be prepared to alter your approach as time proceeds, in response to what the participants contribute, both in terms of the ideas they share with you but also, and equally importantly, the behavior, the predilections, the habits, they display.”

Read the full thing at

And thanks, as well, to Jorge Colombo for having taken the photo that accompanies the interview. Colombo’s photographs were the inspiration for the 2012 LX(RMX) compilation that featured music from Scanner, Steve Roden, Kate Carr, and Marielle V. Jakobsons, among others.