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Press Reviews for SÓLARIS

Decades before Kirsten Dunst and her manic depression faced planet Melancholia head-on, Russian kino maestro Andrei Tarkovsky was exploring the crossroads of cold hard science and red-hot emotions in Solaris.

The 1972 film, centered on the psychological unraveling of a space station crew while orbiting a remote fictional planet, was a coup for the director and featured a moody score by frequent Tarkovsky collaborator Eduard Artemyev (the film’s 2002 remake also featured a classically-bent soundtrack in the vein of Pärt or Sigur Rós). Almost forty years later, composers Ben Frost (an Australian-born, Iceland-residing protégé of Brian Eno) and Daníel Bjarnason have reimagined the sounds of Solaris for their own haunting symphonic suite.

Where Artemyev dabbled with space-age Bach, glittering, shimmering plinks symbolizing Breughel-esque snow, and ambient drones as vast as space itself, Frost and Bjarnason’s Solaris captures the final frontier with a lush string orchestra, guitar and prepared piano all manipulated to varying degrees of dissonance. There’s still an unsettling largeness to the work, but it's juxtaposed with the intimacy of a nervous breakdown, establishing this imagined score to Tarkovsky’s film as a wordless opera. An especially interesting comparison is how deliberately hollow the chords of “Snow” sound against the spectral pixelization of Artemyev’s own chilly “Winter.”  In Frost and Bjarnason’s world, “Snow” moves into “Reyja,” a highlight of the album that sighs heavily and with a generous dose of pathos.

Bjarnason’s leadership of the Sinfonietta Cracovia brings just the right amount of bloodless sensitivity to the work. 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.

Q2 (December 29th 2011)

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Upcoming events

Jan 11

Ben Frost at Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
Sydney (Australia)

Feb 14

Puzzle Muteson at Union Chapel
Union Chapel
London (United Kingdom)

Feb 15

Ben Frost live at Hi Fi Bar
Hi Fi Bar, Melbourne
Melbourne (Australia)

Feb 20

Union Chapel - w/ Oneohtrix Point Never and Nico Muhly
with James McVinnie
Union Chapel
London (United Kingdom)

Apr 10

James McVinnie - Cathedral Church of the Reedemer, Calgary, Canada
Cathedral Church of the Reedemer
Calgary (Canada)

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