Label: Phantom Limb
Format: LP / CD / DL
Kevin Richard Martin (The Bug) re-imagines the score for Andrei Tarkovsky’s seminal 1972 movie Solaris. Simon Tucker reviews.
In May 2020, British musician Kevin Martin was invited by the Vooruit arts centre in Gent, Belgium to compose a new score for a film of his choice. Having been long inspired by pioneering Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, Martin says that his 1972 masterpiece Solaris was the “natural choice”. With an original score by Soviet electronic musician Eduard Artemyev and one created for the remake by Cliff Martinez, Martin was certainly setting himself a challenge by choosing to revisit this text and to focus a fresh lens on it. If as a listener you had any trepidation when approaching this album then that would be understandable. Thankfully, within the first two cuts on the album (Opening Credits (Theme For Kris) and Solaris itself) you realise that not only has Martin delivered his usual high-quality music but he has also created a score that is as beautiful as it is unsettling serving as a sort of companion piece to the excellent ambient/drone albums that he has released during the pandemic.
With Return To Solaris, Martin has created a work that is heavy in texture and detail. It is a work that circles and circles around repeated motifs allowing the listener to spin around its gravitational pull. Listen as a celestial bed of what sounds like an angel choir harmonise on Solaris as static breaks and pierces the frame allowing for the twisted sensation of equal parts rapture and extreme dread. A high-wire act that Martin excels in. Return To Solaris also finds Martin tapping in to the echo of early UK Industrial music with Concrete Tunnels in particular upping the factory steam and piston firing extremities. This is a piece of music that is in a constant state of perpetual motion, marching forwards one Frankenstein’s Monster lurch to the next and whilst you can hear the influence of bands like Throbbing Gristle or Cabaret Voltaire, Martin refuses to allow it to slide into lazy impersonation. Instead with Concrete Tunnels and other tracks here he is helping to sculpt a new form of Industrial music.
Return To Solaris is packed with great switches in dynamics whether that be from the grind of the aforementioned Concrete Tunnels into the disturbingly vast emptiness of Hari (a piece of music that manages to feel like it has not edges and is infinite in its scope) or the heavy emotional sub-bass drone of In Love With A Ghost which slides beautifully in the gorgeous ambience of Weightlessness (that’s until the last minute or so but I’ll leave that as a surprise for you to discover yourself). Oh and prepare yourself for Resurrection, telling you about that here would spoil it but I will say that it is one of the most exhilarating pieces of music I have heard in a very long time.
There really wasn’t any need to worry was there? Kevin Richard Martin’s is synonymous with deep, progressive music so he is a perfect match for what is a deep and extremely progressive film. Return To Solaris is a lucid dream of an album that soothes and suffocates in equal measures. It is an album that manages to balance the cold blank emptiness of space with a warmth and tenderness that allows for an emotional connection. I cannot recommend it highly enough.