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Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow on the eerie atmosphere of Archive 81

Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow (Archive 81)

Welcome to Right on Cue, the podcast where we interview film, TV, and video game composers about the origins and nuances of their latest works.

It’s safe to say that the world of film music, especially modern film music, owes a lot to Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. In a large way, that’s due to the instrumentalist and musician’s founding of indie label Invada Records in 2001, which placed an early focus on hip hop and experimental acts before pinning down a unique emphasis on releasing film scores.

But he’s a prolific film and TV composer in his own right, as he paired with composer Ben Salisbury in the early 2010s for an abortive score to the 2012 film Dredd, which they later released as DROKK. From there, they sailed into an easy partnership with filmmaker Alex Garland, for whom they’ve scored all of his works since, from Ex Machina to Annihilation to Devs: sneaky, unsettling scores that use found sounds and minimal instrumentation to convey the alienness of Garland’s worlds.

It’s an approach that works nicely for one of Netflix’s newest shows (now a one-season wonder thanks to the recent news of its abrupt cancellation). The show follows an archivist (Mamoudou Athie) tasked with restoring a cache of mysterious documentary footage from a burned-down New York apartment building known as the Visser. From there, he finds himself lured into the viewpoint of deceased filmmaker Melody (Dina Shihabi) and the secrets she unearthed during her investigation. Timelines merge, prophecies are unraveled, and the true nature of the Visser’s fate comes into sharp relief.

For the podcast, Ben and Geoff were kind enough to talk to me about the origins of their years-long partnership, Geoff’s work with Invada Records, and the painstaking but rewarding process for carving out the analog atmosphere of Archive 81.

You can find Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow at their official websites.

Archive 81 is currently streaming on Netflix. You can also listen to the score for Archive 81 on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Invada Records and Lakeshore Records.

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CategoriesRight on Cue
Clint Worthington

Clint Worthington is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Spool, as well as one of the founders of the website/podcast Alcohollywood in 2011. He is also a Senior Writer at Consequence of Sound, as well as the co-host/producer of Travolta/Cage. You can also find his freelance work at IndieWire, UPROXX, Syfy Wire, The Takeout, and Crooked Marquee.

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