Cliff Martinez

Cliff Martinez

Before Drive helped catapult Cliff Martinez to wider, Gosling-fuelled recognition, the former Captain

Beefheart and Red Hot Chilli Peppers drummer had already done a pretty brilliant line of cinematic

soundtracks, including Traffic and NARC. A decade on, Solaris remains his masterpiece; a haunting, space

odyssey that weaves its way amongst the psychodrama and synthetic memories of Chris Kelvin. Using a

symphonic orchestra to help blow out the nebula panorama, it’s a dynamic that gives ‘Can I Sit Next To

You’ its Apollo-eqsue gravitas, but the real beauty lies in the steel drums that permeate the score.

Finding their darker side, Martinez plays on the minimal and understated, allowing ‘Don’t Blow It’ to bloom into low

frequency life with a warmth and resonance that 74 contrasts to the cold, black void of space. Elsewhere, the

all-sensory ambience of ‘First Sleep’ and ‘Will She Come Back’ only serve to pull you further into a timeless

soundtrack of fragmented introspection. Timeless.

There’s a distinct shift in the general feel of the music on ‘Back To Land’, and this ostensibly

pertains to the album’s title and is no doubt partly down to a change in geography – Wooden

Shjips are no longer a San Francisco based gang of dropouts, but a group homed in the “lush

climates” of Oregon. It’s made their jams less celestial, warped and meandering, not that they

ever lose sight of their minimalist psych core, the opening title track’s echo and fuzz instilling

everything that follows it. From the expansive urgency of ‘In The Roses’ to the soporific

languidness of ‘These Shadows’, each song here retains a sense of purpose, none too short, and

none too prolonged to outstay its welcome.

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