Album art by Denis Cardan
Black Lake is the name of an upcoming horror film by filmmaker K/XI. The film is written, directed, and stars K as protagonist Aarya. The synopsis goes like this:
Aarya, a young woman, looking for inspiration and to pursue her passion for Expressionist painting, leaves her family in the city to house-sit, in a large secluded property surrounded by beautiful Scottish landscapes. She is gifted a red scarf, sent by her aunt from her recent travels to Pakistan, and is haunted by a Churail: a demonic and malevolent South-Asian Witch(traditionally depicted with long black hair over her face and backwards feet), and is forced to face the devastating cycles of violence the Churail brings with her.
K/XI tapped electronic artist Burning Tapes(Burning Witches co-owner Darren Page) to score the film. In doing so K has given her film one of those essential pieces that can make or break a film, a solid score. I have not seen Black Lake(yet), but I’ve heard the score and it is magnificent. Before I get into that, I asked K a few questions regarding the film and how she connected with Darren Page and got this amazing score from him.
J. Hubner: So I haven’t seen your film yet, but I have heard the score. It’s brilliant. Can you tell me how you got Burning Tapes involved with scoring Black Lake?
K/XI: I first discovered BWR when Gary liked one of my Instagram posts. I always check out who likes my posts, and I discovered All of them Witches, and then BurningTapes. I listened to both of their debut albums, and fell in love with ‘Eva’ from Blood Runs Dry. I got in touch straight away wanting to know more about BWR, and asked Darren if he would be interested in composing music for Black Lake.
J. Hubner: So you felt right away that Burning Tapes could capture the mood you were looking for?
K/XI: The film had taken a turn from being shot entirely out in Pakistan, to being shot in South Asia, London and Scotland. I could feel the direction the film was moving towards and ‘Eva’, just had that something. I loved the idea of a synth score. I’m a child of the 80’s.
J. Hubner: So what was Darren’s reaction to your interest in him coming on board as film composer?
K/XI: Darren was super excited. We also had a lot in common in terms of films we loved, which helped when composing. I would ask for instance, a track to contain ‘more worms’ referring to a scene in Argento’s Suspiria, and he would know exactly what to add. I always knew when a track worked because I felt it. Some tracks even inspired me to film additional cutaways (I went searching for the perfect slug one morning in our Scotland location).
J. Hubner: So tell me about the creative process between filmmaker and film composer. What was the process like between you two?
K/XI: I had originally sent the film with songs in place, starting with ‘Virtual Mima’ from Perfect Blue for the opening scene. I had some very high standards and particular ideas. But most importantly, I wanted Darren to own the film’s score and was curious to hear his response to it. We had a meeting and talked about the rhythm and the emotional intensity of the film. I needed my cast and crew to be on board with the rhythm, because sound is the most important element of Black Lake, as the film focuses on the idea of wronged women not having a voice. Everything else in the film had to speak for the Churail. I even had a set playlist to make sure everyone understood the rhythm, the heartbeat, of the film. Luckily, I also managed to get licensing for a few of those tracks, which also feature in Black Lake.
J. Hubner: So it seems you’re happy with how the score came out?
K/XI: Darren has done a phenomenal job with the score. I listen to it on most days, and it gives me chills, or as we always call them, the ‘heebie jeebies’. It’s definitely a cinematic experience.
J. Hubner: Of course, the score is just part of the story. The visuals are the other. When will the film be ready for inquiring eyes to see?
K/XI: I can’t wait for people to see the visuals that go with the score and for it to keep them up at night. We have a cast/crew/industry screening at the Prince Charles Cinema in London on the 20th of March, and enter the film festival circuit straight after.
So you’ve got an idea of the kind of film Black Lake is. Churails, demons, art, obsession and wronged women without a voice to speak up. K/XI has a pretty special film to share, but before that there’s a soundtrack to share. Burning Tapes goes extremely deep with his work for Black Lake. If you’re looking for sonic dread look no further than right here. Warm, bubbly analog courtesy of the Moog, as well as what sounds like guitars, programmed drums, and lots and lots of things that go bump in the night. As far as horror film scores go, Burning Tapes has made top tier here.
Another big aspect of Black Lake is the elements. A film about a woman chasing passion and feeding an obsession only to be haunted by some dark entity could be tied to Mother Nature herself. The elements play into that, and opening track “Earth, Air, Fire, Water” builds on that theme. It’s the most ‘song-oriented’ piece here, reaching back to Burning Tapes Blood Runs Dry album. The haunting and mournful “In The Wilderness” follows that with a quiet interlude before “Landscape Near Figueras” twists and moans like some dark seed growing from a black cavern. “Psyche” has the makings of classic NIN, but with a little calm under the storm added for good measure.
Darren Page has shown some serious scoring chops here. His debut as Burning Tapes already showed an incredible knack for dark melody and propulsive rhythm(not to mention production values for days), but even if you have all of those things it still doesn’t mean film scoring is in your future. Fortunately for K/XI, Burning Tapes, and we the listeners Burning Tapes was right for the job. Black Lake Soundtrack has all the right elements to help push such a dark and alluring narrative; emotional pull, innovative sound, and the compositional skills to tell a tale with our without the moving pictures that it’s helping to highlight.
Simply put, Burning Tapes will move you and scare the hell out of you when you see Black Lake.
Head to Burning Witches website and grab a copy while they last.