Well this has been fun, hasn’t it? Revisiting these albums in the midst of fall and overcast skies puts a whole new perspective on the sounds embedded on these records. Sadly, we’ve reached the end. But fear not, for at the end of this black rainbow you’ll find a playlist that you can take with you. To remind you of the time spent summoning the darkness. Now you’ll be able to summon it year-round.
Here we go, the final installment. Thanks for coming along with me.
Daniel Davies : Events Score
Back in 2019 Daniel Davies released his solo album debut, the dark and beguiling Events Score. He’s learned a thing or two from his Godfather John Carpenter. Brooding melodies, syncopated rhythms, and a kind of haunted dystopia permeates the record. He’d had some practice in that department writing and recording with John and Cody Carpenter on the first two Lost Themes LPs, as well as reworking the Master of Horror’s most memorable movie themes on the Anthology album.
With Events Score Davies takes all that he’s learned and has applied it to a more sci-fi themed-record, while still giving us some gorgeous Gothic motifs to sink our teeth into. Play tracks like “One 60 Clone”, “Shadows Alive”, or “Stasis” and tell me they don’t run a shiver down your spine. If they don’t, you might already be dead.
Timothy Fife : Black Carbon
I first heard of East Coast composer/electronic wizard Timothy Fife in 2016 with his electronic duo(which also includes Chris Livengood) Victims. Mondo/Death Waltz Originals released their single 10″ Form Hell and those two tracks blew my fucking mind. I was on board from that point forward.
In 2017 Death Waltz Originals released Fife’s debut Black Carbon. That was a favorite for me that year, and was an exploration of both cosmic Komische workouts and dread-inducing electronics. Album opener “Sydney At Night” is 17-minutes of bubbling arpeggios, slow-moving synths, and an undercurrent of anxiety just waiting to grab you around the throat. This is the perfect song to pump into your ears on a long walk home at dusk. It blends in perfectly with the shadows that eventually overwhelm you.
Alone In The Woods : Alone In The Woods
Alone In The Woods tows the line between underground and mainstream. Their music is impeccably produced by members Jon Dobyns and Lonn Bologna. These two make music that is catchy as hell, yet sounds like it could be a soundtrack to a nightmare. But if your nightmare took place in a sleek-as-hell nightclub.
Their debut on Burning Witches Records sports urgency, emotional and melodic turns, and an otherworldly feel. The album grabs you and never lets go until AiTW has had their way with your psyche. One of my favorite tracks is the intoxicating “Mother of Deers”, which is part horror film score and part retro-futuristic pop single. It’s got it all.
Rupert Lally : Where The Dark Speaks
Musician/composer Rupert Lally has released plenty of albums to spin during autumn, but his Stephen King ode Where The Dark Speaks is the perfect deep dive into aural horror vibes. Each track is named after a place in a Stephen King book, and bring up the musical equivalent of teeth-chattering page turning. A mixture of orchestral and electronic textures makes for the perfect sonic concoction to get the blood curdling and skin crawling.
Don’t believe me? Hit play on “The Overlook Hotel(The Shining, 1977)” and see for yourself.
Burial Grid : We’ve Come For Your Flesh
Adam Michael Kozak’s deep dive into grief, anxiety, and self-immolation We’ve Come For Your Flesh is an electronic, vocoder-heavy ride into madness. Imagine Def Leppard’s Hysteria, but interpreted by Godflesh, Skinny Puppy, and Gary Numan with just a touch of Scott Walker for good measure.
Burial Grid always plays close to the chest, and We’ve Come For Your Flesh is the chest plate and rib cage pulled back with the heart splayed out for all to watch as it beats and pumps blood a-plenty. Give “I’ll Cherish Your Skull” a spin for the full display of heartfelt, heartache, and heart-heavy.
Cocteau Twins : Garlands
Now here me out, Cocteau Twins Garlands is some seriously sinister business. Before things got ethereal and dreamy, the 4AD OGs were making some dark post-punk that sounded like it could’ve been on the 8MM soundtrack. That flanged bass, dissonant guitar lines, and simplistic electronic percussion felt downright dingy. This and the Cure’s Pornography came out within a month of each other. I’m not sure which begat which, but I’d say CT had a hand in giving Robert Smith the push he needed to go full Goth.
Garlands is the perfect fall LP. Just listen to “Wax and Wane”, “Blood Bitch”, or “Grail Overfloweth” and let the leaves fall before your eyes. Follow the path that leads home. Or don’t.
Mr Eff : The Parallel
Mr Eff’s fantastic Eyes Down was a sweaty, claustrophobic joy ride through the streets and subways of New York City circa 1981. A horror made of crime, murder, and societal clashes, as opposed to the supernatural variety.
But in 2017 Eff released The Parallel with Giallo Disco Records. This is the perfect coming together of sleazy synth horror and dreamy sound worlds. This album was made for dusk walks and bourbon on the porch watching the moon perch in the night sky.
Dream Division : Beyond The Mirror’s Image
Dream Division’s Beyond The Mirror’s Image locks into some seriously nasty 80s slasher vibes, while still laying down some dense Giallo vibes. Tom McDowell is no stranger to electronic dread, but with this incredible Burning Witches Records release he builds sludgy rock motifs with guitars, bass, synths, and drums. Touches of Goblin, 80s Tangerine Dream, and the score work of Brad Fiedel come together for musical mayhem just as the sun is setting. Maybe for the last time.
The Haxan Cloak : Excavation
There is some seriously nasty business going on with The Haxan Cloak’s Excavation. Thunderous synth lines, industrial percussion, and the overwhelming feeling that things will not be okay permeates this pummeling release.
Bobby Krlic makes claustrophobic music as The Haxan Cloak; electronic tomes that feel as if they’re emanating from some violent slit in the earth and promising pain to all of those within earshot. His work in film takes a slightly different turn, as evident on his score for Midsommar. Here, though, he works swirls of electronica with anxious percussive beats to create the perfect mood for a late night exorcism.
Huerco S : Colonial Patterns
Brian Leeds electronic project wouldn’t typically be seen as the perfect fall listen, but his 2013 album Colonial Patterns wasn’t typical of anything. It’s electronic music that feels and sounds like a needle stuck on a scratch that keeps repeating the same line over and over. I remember listening to this album in the intense heat of a summer walk and feeling as if I was drifting in a wall of humidity and hallucination.
This album still gives me that feeling, even sitting in the air conditioning of my comfortable living room. Repetitive rhythms and gauzy production gives the album a feeling of waking from some anesthesia-induced dream. Half here, half somewhere else, and not sure if the world around you is melting away or if you’re the one melting away. This one is for the ages.