Susie... Sarah... I once read that names which begin with the letter 'S' are the names of SNAKES! Sssssssss! Ssssssssss!
The horror movie, Suspiria, is nothing less than a cult classic. It’s not due to the multiple climaxes or unique murders, but something much more sinister. Dario Argento and Goblin made that movie the horror powerhouse that it is. Argento is a very exceptional director, but knew his sonic visions could only be matched by Goblin. Oddly enough, Goblin switches to progressive rock in between composing soundtracks for Argento, and those influences shine through on this record, and the results definantly exceed any boundaries soundtracks had back in the 70’s.
The band is driven by keyboardist Claudio Simonetti, crafting a more overall symphonic mood for their music. He kicks off the soundtrack, and the movie, with a hypnotizing celesta melody in continuous loops while high-pitched acoustic chords strum through the powerful whispers syncopating with the timpani. The whispers soon get buried low in the mix, the music overcome with multi-instrumentation, until the siren pulsates to break the song down. Enter the two minute horror movie progressive jam. The jam still retains the heavy synth and brings in sawtooth leads as well, and soon fades back into the intro where it all started, the whispers growing and growing…soaring above the flickering siren until the winds draw everything to silence. This is the Suspiria theme.
The main thing that sets this soundtrack apart from others is its heavy experimentation. The next song, Witch, sounds like a lo-fi post metal song with a male Diamanda Galas screeching above the pounding timpani and out of tune violins. Static is put to use in an effective way throughout the album as well, something other soundtracks use to dominate the sound, which essentially kills the mood. This record uses samples sparingly, as well as knowing when to incorporate suffocating silences. Plus, who knew detuned harpsichords, 6-string basses, and moans of agony could be so splendidly syncopated?
There are a few bonus songs you get on the album that weren’t in the movie, probably due to their song-structure nature. Black Forest sounds like if you mixed the ambience of Tangerine Dream and an eerie Camel with jazz trumpets/drum beats. The song never would have fit in the movie but is a welcome addition for the listener. Blind Concert is the other not featured in the movie, without a doubt because it’s ***ing weird. It mixes the Suspiria theme piano line with a giant jazz breakdown; it’s easy to see where Mr. Bungle got a bit of their influence from this song.
As the record closes with Dead Waltz, you sway along because you don’t know what else to do. The first 7 tracks have embedded terror in your mind, and here we have a dance tune. This is the uber mind*** of your day, congrats! A simple, yet fabulous 33-minute execution of spine-chilling soundscapes has become a true paradigm for the world of soundtracks as a whole. It just gets bonus points for allowing itself to stand alone from the film. Until you see the movie incorporating these compositions, you can only listen in the comfort of your darkness where bad luck isn't brought by broken mirrors, but by broken minds. After all, reality is a mere illusion, albeit a quite persistent one…
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat. “…or you wouldn’t have come here.”