Next month, music obscurantists extraordinaire Superior Viaduct are rereleasing a fascinating gem: the soundtrack to Andrei Tarkovsky‘s “Solaris,” a preview of which is available right now down below for your listening pleasure.
“Solaris” is a ceaselessly intriguing film, rivalling “2001: A Space Odyssey” not just for the title of best and most thought-provoking/puzzling sci-fi film ever made, but also for its deep and elaborate production backstory. Tarkovsky battled with Soviet censors and received a set visit from Akira Kurosawa himself, who liked what he saw. The film also featured a revolutionary, genuinely unique musical score, composed by experimental electronic musician Eduard Artemyev, who also worked on Tarkovsky’s “The Mirror” and “Stalker”.
For “Solaris,” Artemyev was initially asked for a totally nonmusical score consisting of ambient, technological sounds. But he went one better, coming back to the impressed Tarkovsky with a kind of quasi-music, produced on an experimental prototype synthesiser that created sounds in response to images. Artemyev showed it pictures of mathematical wave functions and recorded the patterns of swooping sound it made in response, using them as his soundtrack. Shortly afterwards, the prototype was destroyed, Artemyev’s haunting work was one of the few documents left from it: to this day, there is only one comparable machine still extant. Tarkovsky, thank goodness, was delighted with the resulting symphony of ambient ambiguity: it’s not like he could have had it rewritten.
An envelope-pushing score to accompany an envelope-pushing film, the soundtrack to “Solaris” is released next month by Superior Viaduct making it available for the first time commercially. And be sure to check out our retrospective on Tarkovsky right here. [Aquarium Drunkard]