I guess depending on your personality, The Partridge Family album could summon the darkness. I hope that’s not you, though. If it is, please seek help. Seriously, David Cassidy is not the Prince of Darkness.
My point is that there’s all kinds of albums that carry serious shaded spots to them. I covered a few of them last week, and I’m going to cover a few more this week. So without further adieu, get ready for some dark tones.
Repeated Viewing and Timothy Fife : Repeated Viewing and Timothy Five Explore…Paranormal Sounds of the Synthesizer
Repeated Viewing(aka Alan Sinclair) and Timothy Fife cooked up one hell of an album at the end of 2019. In collaboration with Burning Witches Records the two synth wizards made an album to score a stormy, fall night; or perhaps a seance in the parlor. The split LP tows the line between modular exorcisms and ambient fever dreams. It’s the perfect soundtrack to put some weird in your evening. Or if you admire a good, freaky synth record. Both Sinclair and Fife are masters of the synth and pull inspiration from Krautrock to Giallo to exploitation scores of the 70s, and all comes together on this killer(yes, pun intended) LP.
Brass Hearse : Self-Titled
Brass Hearse are a band that’s truly hard to fit into a genre. Gothic, jangly guitars, vocals that tow the line between Nick Cave and Peter Murphy, and a sort of manic frenzy to the tunes that feels part ghost western and R-Rated R.L. Stine. Their self-titled from 2017 felt like part Rob Zombie, part twisted Children’s show theme songs, and desert industrial pop. But overall, there’s some creepy undertones that make their album the perfect sound as you drive through tunnels of changing leaves and relic Halloween decorations. It’s not novelty horror music, though. This is some serious dark music, but the kind that has a sense of humor about itself.
Ogre : Gates of Nessus
Ogre’s debut album with record label Library of the Occult is just one of many insanely good and darkly lit releases from Tom McDowell’s year-old record label. So out of all of them, why this one for the list? I have my reasons, one of which is driving around in October of 2020 and listening to this album in the family van’s cassette deck watching the sun drop sooner and the leaves turn.
This album sounds like the score to some lost NES RPG from the mid-80s; think Castlevania, Trojan, or a darker Zelda. It’s the score to a sleepless night and a restless brain.
Dust Witch : Dust Witch
The debut release of the Massachusetts 5-piece Dust Witch was just a 2-track 45 that came out at the end of 2017 via Mondo/Death Waltz Originals but it landed a mighty punch. Imagine a world where Goblin, Yes, Mike Oldfield, and King Crimson morphed into a musical Voltron of sorts. Then add some sci-fi/fantasy elements and a pinch of Argento panache and Dust Witch you have.
Of course, Dust Witch comes from the classic Bradbury story Something Wicked This Way Comes(the best thing Disney produced in the 80s, btw), so these East Coast synth wizards started on the right foot to begin with. “Mirage” and “Hibernaculum” are the perfect sonic taster to put you in the mood for something wicked. Wicked cool.
Tangerine Dream : Phaedra
Okay, so some may disagree but I think Tangerine Dream’s classic album Phaedra is haunting. It’s like cries from underwater, or ghosts beckoning from the other side. Two album side tracks that linger in the air and hold us at bay. Why else do you think Black Mirror featured the track so prominently in one of their best episodes(Bandersnatch for those not in the know.)
You may not summon the darkness as much as you will summon some deep existential pondering. If you do that long enough horror will surely follow. And really, is it ever a bad time to play Phaedra? I didn’t think so.
S U R V I V E : mnq026
S U R V I V E came into global notoriety with the release of Stranger Things in 2016. Two members, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, were the composers for the show and brought the synth score into a national focus. Of course, the synth soundtrack has been a thing since before those two were born, but they helped to legitimize it. Of course these two being part of S U R V I V E have been legitimizing synths well before the show. The band brings pop melodies with the heavy sci-fi vibes of guys like Carpenter and the industrial techno of Depeche Mode and OMD.
You could grab any S U R V I V E album and make for a slick, shadowy listen. But mnq026 has two of my favorite tracks of theirs, “Floating Cube” and “Black Mollies”. So slap that on at dusk, drink some absinthe, and step out onto the porch and zone out looking at the full moon.
Repeated Viewing : Frozen Existence
You’d be hard pressed to find an album in Repeated Viewing’s canon that isn’t perfect for the changing leaves and brisk evening walks. Alan Sinclair knows how to summon the darkness, and for my money Frozen Existence is my go-to for the creepy-crawly vibes.
This is Fulci territory for sure. Frizzi and Rizzati pepper this amazing heavy synth score, with just the right amount of guitar and drums to give it that early 80s groove. I love everything Repeated Viewing(The Beach House was where I came aboard and have been working my way back since), but Frozen Existence was bought and received in the fall and it remains one of my absolute favorite autumn listens ever since.
Communion : Various Artists(Burning Witches Records Compilation)
If ever there was a compilation made for the chilled air and dying of the light it’s Burning Witches Records 2018 RSD comp Communion. Of course the previous year there was Witches’ Halloween Brew, but for me Communion locks in perfectly. It’s a who’s who of artists like Graham Reznick, Deadly Avenger, Alone In The Woods, Timothy Fife, Cory Kilduff, and Harglow to name a few. It’s a stunning display of talent, vibe, and heady moods. Hell, just put this and Witches’ Halloween Brew on repeat during Harvest Moon and watch the spirits rise from the ground and party like it’s 1799.
Slayer : Hell Awaits
What’s scarier than the idea of eternal damnation waiting for you? Slayer’s Hell Awaits pretty much just says “Fuck it. We’re damned so let’s burn it down.” This album is raw, untethered aggression. A youthful shot of musical violence that locks into bloodshed, violence, and Satanism like a mixed drink at the damnation happy hour. This is a horror score if you consider River’s Edge a horror film(I kind of do.) Put it on and watch everyone scatter.
Maine : V
This is not a horror album per say, but it’s deep melancholy and Gothic mood are the perfect score to a walk in a corn maze or along some deserted country road where fields recently plowed reside. I’ve loved this album since I first heard it in 2017, and it evokes a lot of emotion from me. There’s a sort of doomed romanticism ingrained in this record, and I love it year round. But in the months of September and October it unlocks a certain kind of magic.