Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury

Q&A: Portishead producer Geoff Barrow on hip hop, krautrock, and film scores

DROKKGeoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury: Drokk: Music Inspired by Mega-City One (Invada, 5/1/12)

“Lawmaster Pursuit”

Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury: “Lawmaster Pursuit”

If there’s one band that pulled off the long, mysterious hiatus with mystique intact, it’s Bristol, England’s Portishead. Yet when the ’90s trip-hop act resurfaced in 2006, it had substantially changed — gone were the down-tempo beats and much of the melancholy, replaced with a new sound and sparse, driving rhythms that owed more to krautrock than Def Jam.

Beatsmith/songwriter Geoff Barrow was guiding it that way. Since the reunion, he’s been on fire, issuing music in a variety of guises with Beak> (a rock band), Quakers (a sprawling hip-hop project), and as Drokk (a soundtracking duo). That’s not including the records that Barrow has produced for others and released on his label, Invada.

With no shortage of topics in tow, we caught up with Barrow to talk about drum sounds, film scores, and writing music for Judge Dredd.

Black Pus

Stop-motion stick-figure killing spree: Black Pus and the “1000 Years” video

Black Pus: All My RelationsBlack Pus: All My Relations (Thrill Jockey, 3/19/13)

Lightning Bolt drummer/vocalist Brian Chippendale has released solo material as Black Pus since 2006, first via self-released CDs (with a foundation in experimental jazz) and then via Load Records and now Thrill Jockey (with a poppier formula).

His video for “1000 Years” isn’t of the hyper-colored variety of his and Lightning Bolt’s album art, but it’s entertaining in an entirely different way, with more than 1000 pages of digitized flip-book sketches from Chippendale’s childhood. Watch as our protagonist fights through hordes of bad guys with little more than a trusty sword and a million arrows.

ALARM's 50 Favorite Albums of 2012

ALARM’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2012

Another year, another torrential downpour of albums across our desks. As always, we encountered way too much amazing music, from Meshuggah to The Mars Volta, Converge, Killer Mike, P.O.S, and many more.

Ty Segall

Review: Ty Segall’s Twins

Ty Segall: TwinsTy Segall: Twins (Drag City, 10/9/12)

“The Hill”

On last year’s Goodbye Bread, garage-rock singer-songwriter Ty Segall displayed a newfound sense of maturity — most notably on “Comfortable Home (A True Story),” in which he announced the rather adult decision to invest in some real estate. Now the San Francisco wunderkind prematurely grapples with his own mortality on his newest solo release. “Took 22 years to die / 22 years to lose to my mind,” he laments amid the grinding guitars of “Ghost,” imagining himself as a specter who haunts the California coast. It’s heavy stuff — musically and lyrically — especially from a guy who used to sing about girlfriends and Coca-Cola.

Ty Segall

Video: Ty Segall’s “The Hill”

Ty Segall: TwinsTy Segall: Twins (Drag City, 10/9/12)

In light of his third release in just a year’s time, the ever-prolific garage/lo-fi wunderkind Ty Segall has just released a video for his new single, “The Hill,” a psychedelic throwback to VHS spliced together by the man himself over a series of three days. Think John Lennon singing over the grimy distortions of Big Business or Lightning Bolt…in a bear/dog/eagle costume.

Morrow vs. Hajduch

Morrow vs. Hajduch: Zorch’s Demo EP

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Zorch: DemoZorch: Demo (3/8/11)

Zorch: “Zut Alore!”

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Morrow: Zorch is a frantic instrumental-rock duo that used its debut EP to present swirling keyboard arpeggios, baritone synth grooves, and hyperactive beats that ever-so-slightly recall Zach Hill (after he comes down from speed).  Originally recorded and released on a small scale in 2009, Demo is seeing a re-release and new press push, thanks to a series of SXSW dates and some love from NPR.

Hajduch: “Zut Alore!” the opening track, actually fails the “instrumental” test with its four-bar chant that closes the track out.  There’s a nice riff backed with some big drums and a “bass line,” as it were, provided by a Fender Rhodes.  It’s simultaneously hooky and spastic; they find a way to nail that delicate balance that Lightning Bolt has made its wheelhouse.

100 Unheralded Albums from 2010

Among the thousands of under-appreciated or under-publicized albums that were released in 2010, hundreds became our favorites and were presented in ALARM and on Of those, we pared down to 100 outstanding releases, leaving no genre unexplored in our list of this year’s overlooked gems.