Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow: Black Mirror – Men Against Fire
Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow team up again to score episode of Charlie Brooker’s acclaimed Black Mirror series.
The disturbing and funny Black Mirror series recently returned to our screens (well, for those who have Netflix anyway but that’s a separate sore point) and added to the already intriguing and exciting prospect of new episodes by having each individual episode scored by different artists with the likes of LTW faves Max Richter, Clint Mansell, and Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow all taking a turn.
First up to get a release is the Salisbury and Barrow score for the Men Against Fire episode and what a way to kick things off. Anyone familiar with the duos previous work (Drokk, Ex-Machina) will come to this album with some preconceptions and whilst some of the music here has some signature textures and styles, this is a far more disturbing set of cues than anything Salisbury and Barrow have released before.
The aptly titled Nightmare is a perfect place to start as it is more akin to the sound design of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre than the more sci-fi projects the duo are better known for. It is a crushing and industrial soundscape that claws at the skin and makes you wish (not wish) for it to end. This sense of unease is carried throughout the album with only brief moments of respite to cling on to, the best of which being Setting the Eagle Free which suitably soars and dips before turning in on itself and crushes with a sense of collapse and dread.
The drone and pulse of cues such as See Everything and Other Dreamers help submerge you in the world but it is the way the cues are constructed which really helps make this a wonderful listen. Instead of straight up, linear music a lot of the cues here are presented more like suites with distinct movements. This reaches its apex on Estate. A tour-DE-force in tension and release, Estate starts off all dreamy and distant before pummeling drums catapult us forward before disappearing again. It is moments like this that make the Men Against Fire are rewarding and exciting listen (and the album is chock full of them).
Salisbury and Barrow have, once again, delivered an imaginative and enthralling score that is deeply unsettling yet addictive. It is an album that perfectly soundtracks late night walks when the shadows become danger. As autumn arrives and the nights draw in (and a certain election is about to take place over the pond) Men Against Fire is the sound of our nightmares made reality. Thrilling, uncompromising, and wonderfully inventive, this may just be the duos best work to date. Now if only they would tour….
Geoff Barrow can be found via the Invada website or via Twitter where he tweets as @jetfury