The international landscape of narco traffickers and the drug cops trying to hunt them down, moves to the music of Mogwai and Cliff Martinez.

In popular culture at least, the atmospheric music of composer Cliff Martinez and post rock band Mogwai create the feel of this world.

Watch Traffic

The sprawling, multi perspective movie showing the decision and consequences of the so called ‘american war on drugs.’

The atmospheric musical score by Cliff Martinez is as much a character of the film as the persons and locations.

From the yellow washed out filters of Tijuana and the desert, to the cool greys of Cincinnati and Washington DC.

The music brings the characters and places alive. There’s suspense, menace, danger. Addiction and apathy.

Grooving cargo

Watch ZeroZeroZero and soak in the locations of Calabria, New Orleans and Monterrey, Dhaka and Marrakesh courtesy of the musical score by Mogwai

Trepidation in the piano. Expansion in the guitar.

The post rock sound of Mogwai, which combines rock instrumentation with electronica is the perfect complement to a narco movie or TV series.

These are the sounds of the international drug trade. Atmospheric and ambient.

It’s a drug plane landing on a deserted desert airstrip.
Its drug agents on surveillance moving up trafficking ladder having turned an informant to the destination of a drop.
 
 
 
The soundtrack can take on the feeling of the user, alternating between anxiety palpation and advancing paranoia.
 
Cliff Martinez and Mogwai symbolize the narco world.
It’s power, money, opportunities, treachery and traps. Elation and grief.
 
 
 
 
 
 
In Michael Mann’s underrated Miami Vice the terrain is ideally built for Mogwai.
 
They deliver two tracks which blend seamlessly into the emotion and setting of the narco/undercover cop landscape.
 
‘Auto rock’ is night-time Miami. Humid tropical storms, menace lurking beneath the sway of palms.
The guitar heavy ‘We re no here’ is Colombia. Lush, volatile and unpredictable.

Mogwai guitarist Stuart Braithwaite credited the movie with their big break and said things changed when some of their music featured in the 2006 movie.  “Michael Mann used a couple of our songs in his Miami Vice film and that perhaps showed people our music could be used like that and that was the catalyst.”

The music of Cliff Martinez and Mogwai signify the adaptability of global drug trafficking organisations.
Contemplation and plotting in the piano.
Transportation and action with electronica and guitar.
 
 
It’s the music of mafia groups moving contraband around the world…
The Federation from Sinaloa. The most dependable and stable of the fragmented Mexican cartels and sub groups.
The Ndrangheta from Calabria who control most of Europe’s cocaine trade.
The Albanian Shqiptare who control most of the UK cocaine trade
It’s the alliances of the Colombians who influence and export it all.
 
 
It’s the accompanying sounds of narcs trying to stop them…
The DEA.
The task forces.
The municipal police forces.
 
 
Final Destination 
 
 
 
An honourable mention has to go to the late Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson for his disturbing and unsettling piece of music ‘ the beast’ used in the movie Sicario.
This is the paranoid sound of going into a place with the likelihood of not coming back out alive.
 
 
Globalised narco trafficking.
 
 
The worlds most traded illicit commodity.
 
Moved outward from source country to consumer market.
Moved by the ton in containers through the worlds strategic ports.
Moved in trucks and vehicles through Mexico/US border crossings.
It helped build the skyline of Miami in the 70’s and 80’s. And Panama city. And various others. Some economies rely on it.
Billions in laundered drug money pour through the world’s financial systems annually.
Cartels. Cops. Financiers. Politicians. Launderers. Real estate lawyers. Shell companies.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Robert Saviano’s original book ZeroZeroZero says it all;
 
 
Look at cocaine and all you see is powder.
Look through cocaine and you see the World.