Cliff Martinez - Film Festival Gent

Composed By: Cliff Martinez

Distributed by: Milan Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Cliff Martinez is an American musician and composer best known for his tenure as drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Introduced to new technologies during his time with the Chili Peppers, Martinez began to play, assembling music and eventually moving into scoring.  His first gig: an episode of Pee-Wee's Playhouse.  This eventually led to Cliff Martinez’ first full length film scoring opportunity in 1989: sex, lies and videotape.  Since then, he has created musical scores for such notable works as Kafka, The Limey, Traffic, Solaris, Contagion, The Knick, Pump Up the Volume, Wicker Park, Arbitrage, The Company You Keep, Drive, Only God Forgives, Spring Breakers and more.

                In October 2014, as part of the Film Festival Gent and World Soundtrack Awards concert, The Brussels Philharmonic performed orchestral versions of Martinez’ film themes.  The music was recorded and released by Milan Records as an album called Cliff Martinez - Film Festival Gent.

                According to Cliff Martinez, “When I was first approached about doing an orchestral Cliff Martinez concert and album, I thought the World Soundtrack Academy must be delusional.  But when we started digging into the proverbial closet to rattle a few musical skeletons, this treatment to my scores started taking shape in unexpected and exciting ways.”  Conductor Dirk Brossé, who orchestrated the recording, explains, “Since the beauty of Cliff’s music often lies in its stylized simplicity, our main concern was to highlight this subtle, transparent yet rich world of sound with crystal clarity.  We had to walk the thin line between symphonic and electronic music, complexity and transparency, rhythm and calm.”

                The resulting album sounds like the collective soundtrack of a television series, each track dramatically different, but emotionally expressive in its own right.  While the majority of the tracks are performed on pianos, synths and strings, there’s quite a variety of percussion instruments including rhythmic blocks, rattles, brushed snares and more.  With tracks from well-known films like Solaris, Kafka, Wicker Park and The Company You Keep, the album also contains music from lesser known films like The Underneath, Contagion, Espion and À l’origine.

                Cliff Martinez – Film Festival Gent is an interesting listen, showcasing some of Cliff Martinez’ best film themes and presenting them in an interesting orchestral format.  I rather enjoyed the album and think fans of the musician and composer will find it enjoyable as well.


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