Music for Solaris
By Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason with Sinfonietta Cracovia
Film manipulations by Brian Eno and Nick Robertson

“Music for Sólaris” is an ambitious project that celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Kraków writer Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris, which tells the story of a man who arrives at a distant planet to study the ocean covering its surface, a mysterious gigantic intelligence that brings painful and repressed memories into physical being.

Written for twenty-nine string players, two percussionists, prepared piano, guitars and electronics by Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason and performed with Sinfonietta Cracovia, “Music for Sólaris” also draws inspiration from the Andrei Tarkovsky film adaptation, to create a narrative of sound that is an exploration of an interior cosmos. The performance features film manipulations of Brian Eno and Nick Robertson, drawing on moments from the original Tarkovsky film to create a visual parallel to the music composition process. “Music for Sólaris” was has been released as CD and vinyl as an album by the Icelandic label Bedroom Community.

Now “Music for Solaris” is set to make a European tour in September 2012. The dates include:

September 19 – Berlin – Volksbühne Theatre, presented with CTM Festival
September 20 – Brussels – Bozar, as a part of Bozar Electronic Art Festival and Małoposka Region Days in Brussels, presented with Małopolska Region and Małopolska Institute of Culture.
September 21 – The Hague – Lucent Dans Theater, presented with TodaysArt Festival 2012.

This is a unique opportunity to see and hear this piece performed with Sinfonietta Cracovia, Krakow’s Royal orchestra, which features on the album and developed the work with the composers from the very beginning.

Tickets for the Berlin event are on sale already. You can get your ticket › here.

“Music for Solaris” was commissioned by Unsound Krakow 2010, and has already been performed at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York, the Bela Bartok National Concert Hall in Budapest, and the Reykyavik Arts Festival.

Lem’s novel and Tarkovsky’s film are both undoubtedly outstanding works, though different in their focus and perspective. Now Frost and Bjarnason’s collaboration can be thought of as such, filling a gap with a suitably powerful addition. The artistic context is not a prerequisite, as the forever gripping and occasionally terrifying sounds are universal. It is also not an outwardly sci-fi album and, for its ambition and execution, Sólaris should sit very highly in the curriculum vitaes of both its creators.
Drowned in Sound

They clearly revel in the possibilities of working with an orchestra, inducing the 28-piece Sinfonietta Cracovia to replicate, in acoustic “reality”, the effects of digital decay and delay, and contributing their own arsenal of electronics to the brew. The beautifully sculpted results are subtle, sensuous and often majestic.

Tarkovsky’s film — in which memory dances with metaphysics and the intimate circles around the utterly alien — is fertile ground for numerous intellectual and emotional evocations. For the most part, Frost and Bjarnson are up to the challenge: there’s a richness here, a sense of clashing moods, that calls to mind the music of Johann Johannsson and Tim Hecker (with whom Frost has worked). Even without having seen the film from which this piece takes its inspiration, the rush of sensations and almost tactile quality make this album a worthy entity in its own right.
Dusted Reviews

Solaris is an unsettling, albeit wondrous achievement. It is the perfect way to further expose the world to these wonderful minimalist composers, and an expertly crafted record in its own right. Not only have they captured the complex emotions of Stanislaw Lem’s masterwork stunningly well, but they’ve created a dark, beautiful, and captivating piece of music in the process.
Sputnik Music

Małopolska Region and Małopolska Institute of Culture, ECAS – European Cities of Advanced Sound, The Culture Programme of the European Commission, Nordisk Kulturfond, SNS Reaal Fonds, City of The Hague, The Polish Cultural Institute Berlin, The Australia Council for the Arts.

Unsound, CTM, Małopolska Region Days in Brussels & Bozar Electronic Art Festival, Todays Art.