Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2019 January 28 • Monday

Because it's a certain person's birthday today, the 554th Soundtrack of the Week is the score for Tarkovsky's Solaris, composed by Eduard Artemiev.

There are seventeen cues, each titled "Part I", "Part II" and so on.

"Part I" is actually Bach's Choral Prelude in F Minor played on some kind of organ.

"Part II" is a brilliantly minimalist and textural electronic piece, a powerful yet restrained soundscape of various colors and feels. Apprently Artemiev used some kind of crazy Soviet synthesizer that interpreted glass plates with sine waves on them that Artemiev created. This is without a doubt one of the best ways to make music.

This aptly describes "Part III" as well, though there are the additions of some percussive elements and more extreme quiets.

The fourth part suggests wind, both the sounds of wind itself and also of wind chimes. It's exquisitely subtle and precise. The fifth cue offers a variation on this, or perhaps better described as the same music at a slightly higher temperature.

"Part VI" is the longest cue on the record, a little over seven minutes. It's hard to say much about it other than that it's another quiet, textural electronic piece that reminds me of the sounds of wind. "Part VII" is much the same.

After a brief electronic intro, "Part VIII" reprises the Bach piece.

"Part IX" brings in what sounds like a woman's voice singing smooth, wordless vocals with some gentle support from a flute. Delicate electronic sounds conclude the piece.

The sound of a man singing actual words in a shanty-like style is the startling opening to the tenth part of the score. Again, he is replaced by delicate electronic sounds.

"Part XI" combines recordings of sounds of water as well as human voices and chirping birds with the electronic identity of the score that's been well established. This is a spacious and multi-dimensional cue, quite effective on its own as sonic art.

After this comes another reprise of the Bach prelude.

The thirteenth cue is more delicate, crystalline electric noises, like a small fire made of glass.

"Part XIV" is a short cue, another quiet electronic statement but with slightly more weight than the previous ones.

After this comes a sonic atmosphere that's thicker and has more gravity, as if all those delicate, wispy cues had massed together.

The next cue reprises the Bach prelude again but this time with more instruments, making it sound more significant. About halfway through, you hear a man breathing heavily and the music is replaced by a very different kind of piece, less electronic and more solid, earthier than it is airy. It crescendoes to what's probably the highest volume level on the record.

The final cue sounds like a variation on the "Part I" piece, a plaintive melody played on a church organ.

It makes me curious to see the movie again, but I'm saving it for a package experience of reading the book, re-watching the made for Soviet TV adaptaion that preceded Tarkovsky's film, then the Tarkovsky film and then the Steven Soderberg re-make, which I don't expect to enjoy. At which point I should be all Solarised out.