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Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury - Free Fire OST album review

‘Pub prog’ soundtrack is no mere scribbles on a beer mat

Far, far away from the party mix soundtracks of Guardians Of The Galaxy lies old school underscores such as this. Always destined for the OST realm with his atmospheric collective Portishead, Geoff Barrow and composer Ben Salisbury initially created Drokk, a backdrop to 2012 film Dredd that never made it to celluloid; the visuals and music just didn’t gel.

Their next project however, for sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, hit the mark with a strident Carpenter-esque synth score (and snagged an Ivor Novello too). The duo return for Ben Wheatley’s 70s shoot-’em-up Free Fire, dialling down their initial bombastic visions to subtly underline visual action cues – hence much tension-building percussion and restrained string-tapping longside cast dialogue and tracks by The Real Kids, John Denver and Creedence. What’s of most interest here – apart from finding out the film was shot round the back of Argos in Brighton – is the ‘pub prog’ band formed for Sledghammer Cracks Nut, The Phone Rings and Justine’s Theme. Here classical guitar meets B3 arpeggios, Clockwork Orange moodiness and avant-jazz rock that’d do Old Grey Whistle Test-ers proud. The wild card, though, is the one-minute Free Firing Gunshot Solo from sound design ace Martin Pavey. It’s bang on.