Cliff Martinez

Traffic [Original Film Score]

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The original soundtrack to Steven Soderbergh's striking drug war drama Traffic features Cliff Martinez's sparse, evocative score, classical pieces, and electronica, resulting in a collection of music that's nearly as complex and diverse as the film it accompanies. Martinez, who has scored virtually all of Soderbergh's films (except Erin Brockovich), proves once again why they work together so often: the score's atmospheric drones and understated rhythms build a restrained, implosive tension far better than blaring orchestral pieces. Like the film itself, Martinez' pieces aren't obvious. They don't tell the listener what to feel; they just set the scene and let the audience fill in the blanks. And though big beat songs like Fatboy Slim's "Give the Po' Man a Break" and Kruder & Dorfmeister's remix of Rockers Hi-Fi's "Going Under" could be too much of a contrast with Martinez' airy compositions, the album is deftly sequenced, allowing for the highs and lows of the score and songs like Morcheeba's "On the Road Again," Wilhelm Kempff's "Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor," and Brian Eno's "An Ending (Ascent)." Though it sounds even better in conjunction with the film, Traffic is still one of 2000's best soundtracks.

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