This is the soundtrack to one of the slowest moving, fascinating, and maddening science fiction films ever made. Directed by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky and based on the novel of the same name by Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, Solaris as a film mesmerized virtually all who saw it with its bright colors, shape-shifting orbs, and hallucinatory frame sequences. Remember though, for all those high-tech sci-fi fans, this was Soviet sci-fi, no special effects that couldn't be made of cardboard, wood, or rubber. This isn't low tech; it's no tech. One of the things that made the film such a freakout was the soundtrack -- though no one could tell that when they were watching it. It's only now that the music is available as a stand-alone text that this becomes possible. Edward Artemyev and Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov took a spaced-out film and authored a dense yet spacious score. Heavy on the droning pipe organ and tape-edited effects, the score opens slowly as a conventional theme and drifts very quickly into a music that cannot be named. Electrical sounds of wires shorting out, bubbling noises, and the ever present eeriness of the organ haunting the backdrop make this claustrophobic at times and creepy beyond belief at others. Perhaps the reason is, though, that this is music to give birth to in unknown places (referring directly to the novel and film) and alien spaces. For contemporary listeners, the reference point might be the long-reverb location and sound-collection methods used by the industrial unit Organum in the late '70s and early '80s as well as 23 Skidoo Nurse With Wound and others. As electronic sound sculptor Hrvatski has stated, Solaris "comes as close to recreating in sound the whole 'space' experience as thought possible." He's not far off, on the music, but the music is way off the map. Awesome.
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