Release Date: May 1, 2012
Record label: Invada
Genre(s): Electronic, Electronica, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Soundtracks
It's an understatement to say that Geoff Barrow has stayed busy outside of his Portishead duties. Not only did he make time to produce albums by the Horrors and Anika, but early 2012 saw the release of another album from his band Beak> and of two other very different but equally successful projects: Quakers, an underground hip-hop collective that made his fondness for crate-digging more explicit than it had been since Portishead's early trip-hop trailblazing days, and Drokk, a collaboration with composer Ben Salisbury. As the title Drokk: Music Inspired by Mega-City One suggests, this is an imaginary soundtrack (or "outsider's perspective," as the duo described it) to the long-running cult comic strip Judge Dredd, which spawned the Sylvester Stallone movie of the same name and began appearing in the British sci-fi anthology 2000 A.
Towering concrete starscrapers and angular steel constructions dominate the spare soundscape of Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury’s Drokk. Recorded in six months between Barrow’s world tour with Portishead and Salisbury’s work for the BBC, Drokk is “soundtrack music” inspired by Mega-City One, the dystopian metropolis policed by a group of authoritarian lawmen in the iconic British comic strip Judge Dredd. Drokk keeps one finger firmly on the thumping pulse of classic sci-fi scores by John Carpenter (Escape From New York) and Vangelis (Blade Runner).
The fictional Mega-City One is the ultimate impure vision of the future. Apartment blocks shoot toward the heavens, spilling over with bored and persecuted citizens. Unemployment rates are high. The crime rate is even higher. Forget about buying coffee-- it's been outlawed as an illegal stimulant ….
Is Geoff Barrow losing his edge? Ever since the boundary-pushing Third the Portishead maestro has been off the boil where the musical vanguard is concerned - shipping experimentation for retrograde passion projects that indulge his boyhood fantasies of 1st-wave kosmische (Beak>) and Nineties hip hop with the recent Quakers, while producing for Invada's very own post-punk Nico, Anika. In collaboration with Brit film composer Ben Salisbury,DROKK finds Barrow again in retro mode, exhuming Eighties darkwave in order to dream up the sound of Mega-City One, the futuristic setting of his fave comic as a kid - the Judge Dredd-toting 2000AD. Taking the form of a 'fictional' film soundtrack, true to form it's a strong set.
The two men responsible for DROKK, composer Ben Salisbury and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, met in the unlikeliest of places—a football club for old men in Bristol. Both had joined the team and subsequently left in pursuit of a collaborative musical project. At one point they had met with an undisclosed screenwriter to pitch an idea and discuss possible work on a film project.
Geoff Barrow has been a busy man of late. Last month saw the release of his Quakers hip hop project, he's been busy working on new Beak> material and has told The Quietus that it might not be too long before Portishead material begins to ferment... so long as he can keep out of the garden shed. The loveable curmudgeon's excellent purple patch spreads wider here.
Dredd himself would approve of this imagined soundtrack for 2000 AD's megalopolis. Mike Diver 2012 Step inside your nearest CD stockist and chances are you won’t find a section for imaginary soundtracks. Yet it’s here that one should rack Drokk, a collaborative set from Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and Life of Mammals composer Ben Salisbury. It’s inspired by the near-future urban sprawl that is the fictional Mega-City One, home (and office) to 2000 AD’s most famous law enforcer, Judge Dredd.