A dangerous sound
If sound composers were recognized as highly as they rightfully should be, then Cliff Martinez would be a household name. He’s the man behind the music to films like Drive and Spring Breakers, and his new soundtrack for the TV Show Too Old to Die Young is as riveting and stunning as his previous works.
The record exhibits Martinez’s legendary trademarks, whether it is his captivating synthesizer work or the hypnotic pattern breaks he is known for. “Naked Guy Murder” opens with motorcycle-like fuzz mixed amongst ambient string instrumentation. Martinez creates a digital synthesizer noise that spirals down abruptly, adding a modern touch to the cellos playing in curt tempo.
Perhaps that’s the strong suit of the soundtrack, mixing the more classical tones of the strings with a Oneohtrix Point Never-like digital synth. Powerhouse song “I Hereby Give You Yaritza” has bell and synth chords that are dreamy and hopeful while holding their elegance. “Starlight Cantina” features tremolo-ing and suspenseful cellos while digital tones flash.
Some of the record is more ambient, heard in cinematic pieces like “No Smoking Allowed Here” and “Larry was a Family Man.” Martinez lengthens out single notes and brilliantly creates moments of nostalgia and reflection. Furthering his sound design abilities, he adds silences that build into sporadic mechanic sounds; this can be heard in “Kill Me Fast and Clean.” The strings and live instrument use in the record are strong. “Viggo and Diana” has delicate strings and rich opera vocals in beautiful harmony. Incredibly cinematic, this one hits your feelings.
As we dive deeper into his sonic world, Martinez changes tonality a bit. In “Mother’s Favorite Skirt,” we hear cello strings over a pensive electronic piano warping in and out. It’s certainly softer than sometimes his harsher synthesizer sounds, and it is a nice break from the more intense tracks. “I Got Time” features soft panned percussion and a weird uplifting sci-fi sound, and the song remains cool, calm and collected.
The record finishes off with five additional outside songs to the soundtrack. A standout is “Elvis and Marilyn” a beautiful track with lyrics and a ‘70s soft bluesy rock feel.
The soundtrack is Martinez at his finest yet. He reaches a level of sonic skill that encompasses all elements of a successful score full of dangerous emotion at every corner.