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The Knick (Cliff Martinez)

September 5, 2014

Synchrotones’ Microtones Review… all of the opinion, less of the words.


cover_theknickTHE KNICK

Cliff Martinez, 2014, Milan Records
20 tracks, 51:00

What is it? Set in New York City in 1900, this new television drama from Steven Soderbergh centers on the Knickerbocker Hospital and the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff who push the boundaries of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. The newly appointed leader of the surgery staff is the brilliant, arrogant renegade Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen), whose addiction to cocaine and opium is trumped only by his ambition for medical discovery and renown among his peers.

What does it sound like? Composer Cliff Martinez does his usual thing – echoing blips, plucks and bells. Percussive loops and dreamy synth pads are also present. It’s a hypnotic work with melancholy undertones. The score contains a few themes as well, but don’t expect them to jump out at you. They too are made up from an echoing series of notes. Certain arpeggios make multiple appearances and, in doing so, contribute to the overall consistency of the score. Martinez’s choice of sounds is fairly old-school. Lots of synth leads and basses that you might more readily associate with 90s dance music, though he uses them very softly and subtly.

Is it any good? The score as a whole is rather understated and just ‘bubbles’ on for fifty minutes. Now, if you like Martinez (or Michael Brook and Jeff Rona for that matter) you may be in for a treat. I generally consider myself a fan of Martinez, but for the most part “The Knick” leaves me cold. Overall I find it too minimalistic and too nondescript. I love the synth sounds, but ‘cool sounds’ alone don’t make a great album. (Yeah I know… I’ve said before.)

Rating [2/5]


Review by Pete Simons, (c) Synchrotones

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