Album Review: Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury – EX-MACHINA (Soundtrack)

Ex-Machina is a psychological thriller which follows the story of Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) a 24-year-old Coder who wins a competition to spend a week at his CEOs retreat. Nathan (Oscar Isaac) plays the reclusive CEO who has planned to use Caleb in an experiment  involving the first true artificial intelligence robot which comes in the shape of a beautiful woman Ava (Alicia Vikanda) . A complicated relationship builds between all three characters as the bond between Ava and Caleb intensifies.

Alex Garland (writer: The Beach, 28 days later, Sunshine) makes his directorial debut here and as the writer of Ex-Machina you can see he had a clear vision of what the look and feel of the film should be. An important step was making sure the right score was created to capture the atmosphere of  this cerebral thriller. The choice of bringing in Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury to create such a score definitely shows vision.

Geoff Barrow is the founding member of Portishead and Producer/label owner of Invada records. Ben Salisbury is a soundtrack composer with a myriad of film/TV scores under his belt. Both worked previously together on the unused score for Dredd (2012) which saw Garland adapt the story for the film. Although the score was unused Geoff and Ben continued to work on the project to expanded it, this became the Album Drokk: Music Inspired by Mega-City One and is described as Cerpenter-esque dystopian elecrtronica.

Whats refreshing about this project is the treatment of the score they both took when separating it from the film for its own enjoyment. Salisbury commented “we wanted to slightly get away from the type of soundtrack album that has a huge track-list with lots of short cues. Instead, we’ve tried to put together an album of fuller length tracks, by segueing some of our cues and creating a structure and shape that mirrors the film in some way.”

On listening, you get a real sense of the progression of the story and the complex emotions the subject matter evokes. Throughout it’s a minimal soundscape but there are also a few fuller tracks that encompass guitars and percussion which work perfectly within the flow of the album. The film has already achieved high praise and it goes without saying Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury will not go unnoted on this achievement.

Released on April 10th Invada Records.

The track listing for the soundtrack is as follows:

The Turing Test
I Am Become Death
Hacking / Cutting
The Test Worked
Bunsen Burner (composed by Cuts) 
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