Release Date: Oct 26, 2018
Genre(s): Soundtracks, Stage & Screen
Record label: XL
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Were such an invitation cast in the often harsh, glitch-y tones of the Radiohead front man's previous solo works, the feathered friend would most likely take wing and fly off fast. Faced with the hypnotic, often intimate and minimalist templates of Suspiria, you'd imagine the bird would quite happily cuddle up and relax... at least for a little while.
A haunting, at times beautiful double album that finds Thom Yorke widening his songwriting horizons. While surprising news at first, the idea of the frontman for Radiohead scoring the arthouse horror remake Suspiria makes sense. His atmospheric solo releases explore cold, mysterious places and contain abstract lyrics open to interpretation. Suspiria fits with The Eraser and Tomorrow's Modern Boxes by having memorable melodic phrases in abstract, electronic music styles.
Thom Yorke is an unexpected choice of composer for Luca Guadagnino's remake of Suspiria, Dario Argento's 1977 horror classic. The original's iconic soundtrack came from Goblin, an Italian progressive-rock outfit who brought a wild, cacophonous aesthetic to Argento's moody mind-fuck of a film. Shoveling all manner of seemingly incompatible ideas into the blender--Baroque harpsichords, synthesizers, tabla, splatter funk, even intimations of death metal--they yielded a score even gorier, in its sticky dissonance, than Argento's gaudily fake blood.
A Thom Yorke film score has been hotly anticipated ever since Radiohead bandmate Jonny Greenwood began his forays into cinema music, but the film that houses Thom's first score remains shrouded in controversy. Dario Argento's original 1977 supernatural masterpiece 'Suspiria' has a sizeable cult following, and the original film score by Italian electronic prog-rock outfit Goblin remains one of the most acclaimed scores in horror movie history. The fans' outcry is straightforward - what is the purpose of remaking such an iconic and recognisable work? And more pressing to the Radiohead frontman's position - how can you distinguish yourself when there is already such a memorable score associated with the subject? Thom tackles the challenge by focusing on a sound and mood that's distinct from what came before.
The Lowdown: With apologies to The Beatles, Radiohead's six-album run from The Bends through In Rainbows is quite possibly the greatest six-album stretch from any artist, in any genre, at any time since albums came into vogue. It's a colossal achievement and has earned the band members nearly unlimited license to try their hand at whatever they may fancy. First to take up film scoring was guitarist Jonny Greenwood, whose orchestrations for There Will Be Blood are among the most admired cinematic compositions of the new millennium.
For Luca Guadagnino's 2018 remake of Dario Argento's 1977 horror classic, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke took the reins to produce an updated soundtrack, adding familiar touches to an appropriately unsettling and tense experience. Yorke's Suspiria feels nostalgic yet strangely futuristic, with creeping synths ("The Jumps," "Klemperer Walks"), ominous atmospherics ("The Inevitable Pull"), and discomforting choral backing ("Sabbath Incantation") amplifying suspense and occasional terror. Though not as scary as "Synthesizer Speaks" or "Voiceless Terror," the sprawling 14-minute instrumental "A Choir of One" is a fine example of Suspiria's power, so unnerving and uncomfortable it's almost unlistenable, making Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' haunted compositions feel warm and welcoming by comparison.
Anything Jonny Greenwood can do, Thom Yorke can at least have a go at. Greenwood branched into the world of movies over a decade ago, usually as Paul Thomas Anderson's in-house composer. Now his Radiohead bandmate wants to try, Yorke's first score produced for Luca Guadagnino's remake of Dario Argento's 1977 supernatural horror Suspiria. Like Greenwood, Yorke aligns himself with a visually ravishing auteur, one who also happens to have a great ear for music.
A lthough it’s a stale, “get off my lawn” sort of take (recently achieving peak snub by being mocked in a recent SNL bit), it is nonetheless worth insisting that the remake/reboot trend has gotten decidedly out of hand. Greenlight bets are so hedged now that the marketplace of ideas has been subsumed by the plain old market. That the main target demo is the Comic Con obsessive who’d be most likely to bemoan the trend is especially frustrating.
Signing up to review a horror soundtrack is not always the wisest of moves. Reviewing involves spending a lot of time in a quiet room listening intently via headphones and horror soundtracks are - by their very nature - a collection of jarring noises and shrill notes made with the sole purpose of igniting fear in the listener. Thankfully, on Suspiria, Thom Yorke's first steps into the world of soundtrack composer, he finds some hope amongst the horror.
F ollowing the critical acclaim afforded the soundtrack work of Radiohead bandmate Jonny Greenwood - Phantom Thread was Oscar-nominated - Thom Yorke makes his first foray into film scores. Suspiria is Luca Guadagnino's reimagining of a 1977 Dario Argento horror flick, and certainly there's a darkness to much of the music here too, most obviously A Choir of One, a 14-minute drone. The unsettling instrumental Voiceless Terror, as its title suggests, is hardly a bundle of laughs either.
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