1. We Don't Need Other Worlds, We Need Mirrors
2. Simulacra I
3. Simulacra II
6. Cruel Miracles
7. Hydrogen Sulfide
8. Unbreakable Silence
9. You Mean More To Me Than Any Scientific Truth
Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason are two composers used to shrugging off the distinction between experimental sound-art and deeply felt melodies. Frost’s vast, blackened post-industrial works often crystallize in moments of quiet beauty before disintegrating in pure visceral noise; Bjarnason’s orchestral music marries brutal modernism to classical aesthetics one moment and soaring ethereal harmonies the next. And yet here, on the tail of two widely acclaimed releases; Bjarnason’s PROCESSIONS and Frost’s BY THE THROAT, we are given something altogether new. A unique collaboration, SÓLARIS is a quiet, stilled and all consuming symphonic suite at once as affecting and uncanny as the science- fiction classic that inspired it.
The power of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris is not in its futuristic sets, or in the hypnotic shots of the alien planet’s weird, fluid surface, but it’s in the way he juxtaposes his alien, futuristic elements against the intimately familiar. This is a future not just of flashing lights and video screens, but of wood and wool and leather, of dogs and horses, books and photographs. In Frost & Bjarnason’s SÓLARIS we do find the futuristic, gaseous atmospheres and pulses one might expect from a sci-fi soundtrack. Yet here they are carved instead from the warm, fragile sonorities of a string orchestra -Poland’s Sinfonietta Cracovia- a gently prepared piano whose harmonies warp and melt before transforming again—and waves upon waves of guitar.
Created through a unique series of processes, Frost & Bjarnason’s initial sketches —improvised to the film— were fed through software designed to correct music which tried to turn their dense and distorted sonic input into a digital sequence of raw musical data. Working from data riddled with error and misunderstanding, a human score was orchestrated; the whole process deftly mirroring the core of the film’s own narrative of memory and loss, alien doppelgängers and emotional feedback loops. Brian Eno —who consulted closely in the creation of SÓLARIS— also used the same film to create a video accompaniment to this music in another strange loop of computer-generated distortion.
But here the score stands on its own. SÓLARIS; a journey into an internal world, into the self, a flux of wonder, horror, sorrow and tenderness, and a ravishing sensory experience.
The cover is a reference to a still from Tarkovsky's film (pictured below). For the occasion, Ben & Daníel dressed the part and the Greenhouse studios were turned into a spaceship.
What the press says
Slow but spellbinding…exploration of tonal and textural ambience.
This is a smart, sometimes exhilarating tribute to a challenging, heartbreaking and singular film.
Mostly strings—the frosty, crystalline sort that seem to only come out of Scandinavia—piano (deployed like its notes are diamonds), and only the slightest electronic textures, you’ll feel just as well the undefined but real threat of Sólaris’ mystery planet, however much you know the actual film.
This is an elegant, sometimes turbulent hour. Shortlisted for album of the year.
The beautifully sculpted results are subtle, sensuous and often majestic
Tense, grave, unsettling but also subtle, majestic and sensuous.
It grabs you not by the throat, but almost by your very essence.
“...extraordinary, grandiose and haunting score [...} Highly recommended for all fans of ambient and modern classical music.”
A nerve-fraying, tension-laden listen, Sólaris should be regarded as a triumph for both composers and as a very welcome added dimesnion to an already greatly-revered work of cinematic art.
SÓLARIS is one of the year’s most sinister song suites, a startling miasma of prepared piano, cutting chords and strings that seem to be strangling your speakers ever so slowly.
Shrouded in mystery and cloaked in melancholy, the album is an elusive beast.
...deeply introspective, nuanced and emotionally charged, Sólaris is a magnificent piece of modern classical music.
This alluring symphonic suite for string orchestra, prepared piano and guitars, from two Reykjavik buddies, made us want to turn off all the lights, run a bath and settle in for a long, healing winter hibernation. (On their Best Classical Albums Of 2011 list)
A powerful and dramatic treatment that effectively distills the film’s essence into abstract sound form.
In the end, you feel the simultaneous effect of a flash freeze and slow thaw, broken down and rebuilt from scratch. And then you hit “Play” again.
...a master stroke because it is its own expression, as much a representation of Bjarnason and Frost as it is of their interpretations of Tarkovsky’s film. In that, it stands as one of the best film scores of all time. And on its own, it is one of the most successful modern classical compositions you could hear.
...the rush of sensations and almost tactile quality make this album a worthy entity in its own right.
…this album is pretty damn good. Pretty, pretty damn good
The perfect collaboration of two masters of tension through minimalist, epiphanies through noise and chaos, and beauty through disconnection and isolation
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James McVinnie, St John's College
St Johns's College
Cambridge (United Kingdom)
James McVinnie, 26th Cork French Film Festival
St Finn Barre's Cathedral
Daniel Bjarnason, MusicNOW Festival
with Daníel Bjarnason and Nico Muhly
Cincinnati (United States)
Mute Mexico Punto de Encuentro Festival
with Ben Frost
Punto de Encuentro Festival
James McVinnie at St Peter's
St Albans (United Kingdom)