It’s hard to get away from the fact that the soundtrack of a dystopian future, thanks to all the bio-disaster and post-apocalyptic epics of the seventies and eighties, has a pulsing, detuned, synthesizer involved: from The Andromeda Strain to Escape from New York, the synthesizer gives these films the hard, inhuman edge that’s needed, and is perfect for stories full of futuristic menace.
Drokk, composed by Geoff Barrow of Portishead, and Ben Salisbury, an Emmy-nominated film and TV composer, is one of these. With a mixture of well-known soundtracks, notably, Assault on Precinct-13 and Escape from New York, as well as Blade Runner, Drokk has all the key elements of a “dystopian-horror” synthesizer soundtrack: a heartbeat pulse, long sustained notes, drones, repetitive arpeggios, and sharp detuned stings.
The theme of the album is a tribute to Judge Dredd from the weekly British comic 2000AD. “Drokk” was a curse-word frequently uttered by the comic’s staple character – a law enforcer and sentence-prescribing judge rolled into one, who would ride around the sprawling future American city, Mega-City One, on a hybrid motorcycle, dishing out penalties to lawbreakers everywhere.
Although 2000AD has never been as well-known internationally as the American comic-houses Marvel and DC, it is still a powerhouse of its own, creating a universe of vast worlds, distinctive stories, and memorable characters like Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog, and Halo Jones.
Unfortunately the sore point for fans has always been the disappointing 1995 film Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone in the lead role, and the similarity, back in the day, of the movie Robocop to the much loved character of Judge Dredd. However, a new (and not a remake) film of Judge Dredd is due out September this year. Simply called Dredd, it has a screenplay by Alex Garland and a budget of 45 million dollars, according to IMDb.
In a meantime, Barrow and Salisbury are reinvigorating and reclaiming some of the mystique of the story, bringing it closer to its roots, with a soundtrack more of its time. There are also a few other influences on the album too: Barrow has acknowledged his love of the German Krautrock genre, and the track “Inhale” is very close to the sound of the band Neu!
The overall album has a few sharp-edged moments, where people will ask you what the hell you are listening to, and despite it sometimes sounding too much like John Carpenter (the heartbeat of the opening track is so close to The Thing) themes begin to emerge that stick with you, and the overall listening experience is pleasurable — in a dystopian kind of way.
Drokk: Music Inspired by Mega-City One is released through Invada.
- "THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING, I REPEAT, THIS IS YOUR..."
- THE SINISTER LOW NOTE OF JOHN CARPENTER
- E. A. POE AND THE KRAUTROCK CONNECTION
- COS/MES: NAVIGATING THE SADISTIC SKATEPARK
- CAUGHT IN THE UNDERTOW: THE NEW ROLAND SEBASTIAN FABER EP
- SOFT ROCKS
- LONG DISTANCE POISON: SIGNALS FROM A HABITABLE ZONE AND GLIESE TRANSLATIONS
- THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM
- THE MUSIC FROM MIDNIGHT EXPRESS
- GET SWEPT AWAY BY THE SWEEPS