Ben Salisbury/Geoff Barrow: Men (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Album Review

Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury have proven to be masterful architects of intricate and artful cinematic scores. Their abilities emerge from their complementary talents: Barrow is famous for his distinctly brooding and sultry drum-laden sounds (notably with Portishead), while Salisbury is an Emmy-nominated television and film composer, deftly attuned to the structural cues needed to the composition of any score. skeleton. Their first official collaboration on DROKK: Music inspired by Mega City One was bold, shimmering with Vangelis-influenced analog synths and roaring with the increased dimensions of the Judge Drdd comics from which it was adapted. Their work on this score introduced the duo to Alex Garland, who wrote and produced 2012’s Dredand would enlist Barrow and Salisbury to mark his directorial debut, Ex-Machina.

Their collaboration continued until 2018 Annihilationthe tv series 2020 Developersand now, Garland’s latest movie, Men. Unlike the complex science fiction worlds of Ex-Machina Where AnnihilationThe world of Men is just ordinary. It is set in the English countryside, where Harper (Jessie Buckley) retreats after her husband James (Paapa Essiedu) falls from their home to his death. Was it an accident or a suicide? Harper doesn’t know. Nevertheless, she finds herself weighed down by the chains of guilt. After strange men – all of whom seem to resemble her strange owner Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear) – start stalking her, the romance quickly unfolds.

With this score, Barrow and Salisbury’s intention is to dramatize the familiar, so that even the ordinary – the comforts of home, a sympathetic gaze from a stranger or the swaying of leaves – becomes disturbing. To do this, Barrow and Salisbury focus on voice. It’s one thing to talk and another to be heard, and whenever Harper tries to vent her discomfort in her new setting, she’s quickly dismissed. Likewise, Barrow and Salisbury’s score heavily involves manipulated vocals that climb to seemingly painful stretches of pain throughout. They rise to strident and hysterical heights and fall to dismal and unsettling lows. These voices are desolate, as if trying to fend off the condemnation of disbelief. They, like Harper, shout, but who is listening?

Harper confides in a priest that she feels “haunted” by her husband’s ghost. “Haunted” also describes this score, which forms around the negative space of silence. As Men– sparsely populated except for Harper and those creepy few – Barrow and Salisbury’s score strays from formal complexity. The vocals and instrumentation start out in isolation, then overlap, but before anything gets too complex, the score kicks back into the void of silence, starting afresh. Even the most anguished screams fade as they began: like wisps. “Runaway / Crash” begins with a four-note riff which then combines with a simple synth melody, quickly building up in intensity, before an abrupt stop.