It's only appropriate that Solaris, Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's psychological sci-fi classic from 1972, contains an equally original and mind-bending score. Solaris explores the inadequacies of time and memory on an enigmatic planet below a derelict space station. To reinforce the film's chilling setting, Tarkovsky commissioned composer Eduard Artemiev to construct an electronic soundscape reflecting planet Solaris' amorphous and mysterious surface; Artemiev rose to the challenge with a prophetic work that defies the era's technological limitations while evoking unparalleled emotional responses even today.
Artemiev's score – centered around variations on Bach's "Chorale Prelude in F-Minor," a somber piece for solo organ – sounds majestic alongside dissonant crescendos and formless, ambient tracks. Armed with the massive ANS synthesizer (aptly named after Russian occultist Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin, who pioneered thought behind the synesthesiatic effects of music), Artemiev drafted sine waves on glass plates for the machine to interpret. The only prototype of the ANS was destroyed shortly after the Solaris soundtrack was recorded. Luckily this artifact of transcendent composition married with technological innovation endures as a masterpiece of early electronic music.