Thanks to doing some planning in advance for my DJ sets at the GVWI Hallowe’en Party on Saturday, the inspiration hit me quite quickly to consider a Ten based upon the spooky goings-on around Hallowe’en. Some are directly relevant, some are on themes appropriate for the subject. Either way, consider it a relation to previous Tuesday Ten: 126.
Anyway, time to get out from behind the sofa, bring out the candy jar, and wait for each of these ten to knock at the door.
We Only Come Out At Night
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
One of the more curious, throwaway tracks from the sprawling, double-album opus that was Mellon Collie…, it was also one of the first electronic-based tracks that Corgan and the band had experimented with. Either based on some Victorian-era freakshow, Goth kids or bats (the lyrics work for any of them, really), this is the perfect song to begin a Hallowe’en list with. A strange, programmed beat, is that a harpsichord doing the rest?, Corgan singing a lullaby for outsiders. Like the rest of the album, even at the simplest moments it is still wildly overblown, but somehow works.
Pins and Needles
One band that seem perfect for Hallowe’en every year are the goth-spook-rock thrills of Toronto’s The Birthday Massacre. Something, perhaps, of a guilty pleasure for someone my age, but frankly they’ve been doing a better job of the goth-rock thing than many other bands for nearly a decade now, and they have a slew of songs that are cracking pop songs *and* are suitable for Hallowe’en adventures. Pick of the bunch – and probably my favourite TBM song nowadays – is Shallow Grave, which despite it’s gloomy tale of murder and lost hope (it’s inspired by the Black Dahlia murder of 1947), is a storming dark pop song.
Never mind the band name – which is probably appropriate enough for this subject alone – Michael Holloway’s quite exceptional industrial project has specialised over two albums (and a third, All The Way Down, that is due in a couple of weeks) in exploring the darkest corners of the human psyche, where self-doubt, fears and death loom around every corner and there is little or no light at the end of the tunnel. Thus, partly as a result of the clever use of film and vocal samples, and an amazingly dense production style that ends up with complex, lush songs with all kinds of surprises to uncover, there many very unsettling songs to be found on his albums. The opener to his debut, though, is the one featured here, Curtains – an instrumental that samples Dark City among other films, but comes up with a similar, dark, rainy atmosphere as the curtains close on a number of characters’ lives, and mournful piano sees the end of it out. There is much more on his thoughts on song composition in the recent interview here on amodelofcontrol.com.
The Ones Who Walk At Night
Just about to return with a new album (at last!) on Hallowe’en this year, Zombie Girl’s original follow-up to Blood, Brains and Rock’n’Roll was a Hallowe’en-themed EP six years ago (I didn’t even realise it was this long ago). It was a bit patchy, really – the lead track was not great, as far as I was concerned – but this track was marvellous. A genuinely unsettling, multi-vocal spoken word piece, over droning electronics and a general feeling of malevolence that would fit nicely in a horror movie score.
Cleanse Fold and Manipulate
Talking of horror movies, actually, The Blair Witch Project didn’t actually have music in the film – it didn’t need it – but cleverly built a soundtrack based upon a tape “found” in one of the protagonist’s cars. This turned out to be an exceptional industrial/goth compilation, without having to rely on the “cool” bands of the time. In fact, some of the songs picked were so frighteningly appropriate for the film that you had to do a double-take when you realised that the songs were much older – like this one. Probably the single most nightmarish song Skinny Puppy ever released, for much of it the synths are a swirling fog with random voice samples scattered through the mix, and then a thumpingly heavy industrial rhythm bursts in for just a short while, with ohGr murmuring away, distorted to all hell. Not a song to be listening to at home, alone, in the dark.
…And This Is What The Devil Does
I See Good Spirits and I See Bad Spirits
Maybe best known for their soundtrack appearances (particularly, you know, The Crow), TKK had far more fun pulling apart schlocky old films and re-assembling them to provide hook-after-hook for many of their greatest songs – and the archive of the much-missed sloth.org tells me that this track (along with a number of other songs of theirs) is based around dialogue from I’ll Cry Tomorrow. Whatever the film is, and it certainly isn’t a horror movie, this is still a belting track – a sleazeball of a beat and groove, and that breathless titular vocal hook, with Buzz McCoy and Groovie Mann letting their own vocals remain deep in the background. And just one of many TKK songs to play with satanic/horror imagery, mainly to bait the religious right and have a ton of fun doing so.
For one of the darkest, nastiest horror films of it’s time, in retrospect an artist like Coil would have been an obvious band to do a soundtrack for Hellraiser, right? Apparently not – their submissions rejected as “not commercial enough” (well, duh), they released it themselves anyway. I can’t see what was wrong with it, myself – it has the right kind of electronic…danger?…to it, ominous synths wash like hands covering the eyes from horrors you don’t wish to see, and a distinct sense that all is not right with the world. Christopher Young’s theme, that was used in the end, was something of a generic 80s orchestral theme, that could have been used in any horror movie of the age. A shame, really – Hellraiser was very much a different take on horror (I can’t think of many other films to hit the mainstream that explored sadomasochism with such glee and explicit violence) that it deserved better for the soundtrack.
Aquí Y Ahora En El Silencio
I may have gone on record in recent times as suggesting that “harsh industrial” has become a little tired and comical, frankly, but some of the originators of this style released some truly brilliant tracks early on, and this is one of them. Mr Pink opens things up (“I mean everbody panics, everybody…it’s human nature to panic, I don’t care what you name it you just can’t help it.“), a fast-paced beat kicks in and Erk Aicrag hisses a tale of nighttime terror, of that terrifying blur between nightmare and reality just as you wake up and can’t work out what is going on.
God Module, for me, have a patchy back-catalogue – moments of utter brilliance and great leaps forward checked by shoddy, near-comically bad albums (Let’s Go Dark being a particular nadir for me). They hit a stunning peak with Séance, though, where the “spooky”, horror themes that have always permeated their work got the songs that they deserved and the result was songs like this. Devil’s Night is basically the best God Module song yet – a hammering, intense dancefloor rhythm and horror-film synths, while Jasyn and Courtney trade tales of lovers on Devil’s Night, as things get frightening and sexy, and it sounds like a world of scary fun.
Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)
Yeah, so it’s an eternal cliché, but this gloriously tongue-in-cheek take on the subculture where it’s Hallowe’en all year ’round gets rolled out every time for a reason, you know? (And it’s vastly better than Ministry’s synthpop dirge Every Day is Halloween, too). The brooding song that is the ultimate goth-girl character sketch, “boo-bitch craft” and all, is absolutely spot-on in so many ways and could only really have been written by someone who truly understood the scene his band worked in. That, and it’s a bloody great song, one of the greatest the Drab Four ever did. Also, in the video – Peter Steele, the only man who could look comfortable holding a double-bass like a bass guitar.