EMA - #Horror Original Score

by Sean Hewson Rating:7 Release Date:2015-12-11

By doing a score for Tara Subkoff's new film, #Horror, EMA has taken a bit of a risk as horror soundtracks are kind of a big deal. There have been many well-known successes by big names - Bernard Herrmann, Popol Vuh, Mogwai, Broadcast, John Carpenter, etc. In fact, if you solely listened to Horror Soundtracks you would still have a record collection of enviable depth and breadth.
On #Horror, EMA has used a combination of references to horror classics (Carpenter's synth arpeggios, Herrmann's slashing strings), more recent soundtrack success stories (Drive, Trent Reznor), and modern avant-pop ideas - crashing, industrial percussion and synth/sampled voices. The idea is a good one but it doesn't work across all the tracks. The more ambient soundscapes often just drift passed in a way that Trent Reznor's wouldn't. There are exceptions - the Dark Ambient synth of Foreshadowing Pain will shake your body when it's coming through the cinema speakers and will create a real sense of dread. Also quite underwhelming is the main song, Amnesia Haze. The melody is reminiscent of a small section of Madonna's Like A Prayer whilst, in the background, sounds that will return again and again over the course of the soundtrack come in and out. In amongst these sounds, however, are two examples of where EMA (and collaborator Leif Shackelford) have got it right. There is the unrestrained, Robert Fripp-like guitar and Shackelford's violin. The violin playing is thrilling throughout the album. Paricularly on Dr White In The House, where it's used in combination with a deep, flapping, Carpenter-like synth arpeggio; and on Danger Theme, where it slashes like Bernard Herrmann's Psycho theme but then builds, with the track, into a more frenzied Warren Ellis/John Cale assault. 
Whilst there are some good moments in EMA's score, there is much that also just passes me by. Perhaps this is a problem with film scores, where the music has to drift in and out of our attention, but it still makes #Horror only a partial success as an album. 

 

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