Geoff Barrow & Ben Salibury’s DROKK: A bleak, minimalist synth masterpiece


One of the best soundtracks of the decade doesn’t even have a film attached. It nearly did, though. Geoff Barrow (of Portishead and BEAK>) and the BAFTA and Emmy-winning score composer Ben Salisbury were approached to make the soundtrack to the 2012 Judge Dredd adaptation Dredd but eventually found their minimal synth works were being sidelined for more orchestral trailer-snappy pieces, and the collaboration tailed off.

‘Drokk’ is an expletive in the wider Dredd universe and you imagine Barrow and Salisbury might’ve uttered a few of those when the project seemed to be folding. No hard feelings though, the pair got the blessing of 2000AD to finish the album, Music Inspired By Mega City One, capturing the sprawling post-nuclear city-state set 122 years into a hopelessly bleak future.

drokk

Released in 2012, Music Inspired By Mega City One has become a cult curio, a suitably dystopian portrayal of the Mega-Blocks and feral humans on festering streets of MC1. Much of the album was composed and performed on a single vintage analogue synth, the Oberheim 2 Voice Synthesizer, with a clear nod to John Carpenter’s iconic minimalist scores for Escape From New York and Assault on Precinct 13, as well as the original Terminator theme or Tangerine Dream at their most oppressive.

Resisting at all costs the urge to slip in strings or Zimmer bombast, Drokk’s tension is instead planted by the seething dissonance and zoned-out decay on tracks like ‘Titan Bound’, ‘Eagle’ and ‘Puerto Luminae’, while there’s a real button-punching visceral feedback loop on ‘Helmet Theme’, which is reprised in shapeshifting forms through the record. And if you can handle even more acid rain-soaked mechanised paranoia, the new reissue on Invada Records has extra tracks previously unavailable on the original vinyl and the Bandcamp stream, as well as new floppy disc-inspired packaging for the double vinyl set. Mega Mega grey thing…

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