Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury - Free Fire OST album review

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

Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury - Free Fire OST album artwork

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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.

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.