Thom Yorke – Suspiria

At this point, almost anything connected to the Radiohead name / brand will receive glowing reviews, accolades by those “in the know”, and give indie elitists a reason to feel like an indie elitist. Which really doesn’t make any sense – Radiohead are one of the biggest bands in the world, ever. It’s always been a a bit of a curious thing that makes me laugh. Anyway, when I read that Thom Yorke was scoring the soundtrack to the remake of the film Suspiria I was intrigued. Not so much by the original 70’s film’s history or soundtrack and how the new film and Yorke’s soundtrack would compare. I was wondering how Yorke’s soundtrack work would compare to Jonny Greenwood’s – his partner in Radiohead who has made a name for himself as a film soundtrack composer.

The answer is – it hardly seems fair that two such talented composers exist in the same band.  The soundtrack feels sprawling and concise all at once. It IS two discs, but it could easy fit on one disc if a minute was shaved off – both discs combine for 80 minutes and 15 seconds of listening pleasure. Throughout the soundtrack Yorke explores piano laden ballads, krautrock, drum & bass (kind of), and heavily orchestrated pieces. It isn’t quite a follow-up to 2014’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes – the album seems to exist in its own universe. And what a universe it is. It should appeal to most Radiohead fans, but Yorke only has vocals on a few tracks (along with weird samples & cut ups from the film on a few songs). Some snippets blend together, some stand out on their own. It truly is like nothing else Yorke has done. Suspirium is the most Radiohead like song – Yorke at the piano, pouring his heart out while the orchestration slowly builds behind him. It feels like it could have come off of A Moon Shaped Pool – if it wasn’t so fucking creepy.  “Is the darkness / Ours to take? / Bathed in lightness / Bathed in heat”.  Unmade pulls off the same trick equally well. This one really reminds me of an older Radiohead song whose name escapes me. Thom & piano. “I swear there’s nothing / Won’t grow back again”. Throughout the 25 tracks Yorke puts wordless vocals to great use, making his voice part of the orchestration. The 14 minute A Choir of One encapsulates everything that is intriguing about this soundtrack – menacing synths, violins swelling, and a sense that all is building towards something. The Epilogue closes the soundtrack in a crescendo of creepiness. Perfectly, in other words. Noisy, creepy, menacing.

So, not your average Radiohead or Thom Yorke album – something else entirely. But it comes highly recommended. And if you aren’t a fan of instrumental music, I implore you to give this album a try – it just might change your mind. Of course, I am looking forward to watching the new film version of Suspiria to see how they used these songs. The original film was a creepy masterpiece with a stunning soundtrack. If the new film matches Thom Yorke’s soundtrack in quality, the originals will be surpassed – no mean feat. The soundtrack is out now and is highly recommended; the film goes to wide release in the upcoming weeks.

Verdict: A Spooky Delight

For Fans of: John Carpenter, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Bernard Herrmann

Tracks:

Disc 1 

  1. A Storm That Took Everything
  2. The Hooks
  3. Suspirium
  4. Belongings Thrown in a River
  5. Has Ended
  6. Klemperer Walks
  7. Open Again
  8. Sabbath Incantation
  9. The Inevitable Pull
  10. Olga’s Destruction (Volk Tape)
  11. The Conjuring of Anke
  12. A Light Greene
  13. Unmade
  14. The Jumps

Disc 2 

  1. Volk
  2. The Universe is Indifferent
  3. The Balance of Things
  4. A Soft Hand Across Your Face
  5. Suspirium Finale
  6. A Choir of One
  7. Synthesizer Speaks
  8. The Room of Compartments
  9. An Audition
  10. Voiceless Terror
  11. The Epilogue

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