Cliff Martinez has been quietly dominating indie film scores for well over 20 years, starting out with Steven Soderbergh and his debut film Sex, Lies, and Videotape. He’s scored films as diverse as Pump Up The Volume, Wicker Park, and The Lincoln Lawyer, but he made his name with Steven Soderbergh. His scores are exquisite and precise. They form to the needs of the film and story. There’s never any grandstanding with Martinez. He serves the film and the film alone, but in doing that over the years he’s developed his own voice as a composer. By the time Soderbergh’s excellent remake of Solaris rolled around he’d found this unique way of serving the film, while at the same time creating a standalone piece of art in his music. That score is magnificent, dark, beautiful, and stays with you. I feel from that point on he’s become one of the most important American composers working today.
Back in 2011 Martinez started a working relationship with Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn. Martinez created the darkly lit, synth-driven score to Refn’s Drive that has since turned into a blossoming artistic partnership. He’s scored the aforementioned Drive, as well as Refn’s Only God Forgives and the short doc about Refn himself titled My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, directed by Refn’s wife Live Corfixn. Their newest collaboration is The Neon Demon, and I believe it’s their best collaboration to date.