It’s Halloween weekend, and I thought it would be interesting to create a list of spooky albums to help get you guys in the spirit. Some of these are a bit demanding from the listener but if you enjoy the erie end of the art spectrum they should be pretty rewarding:
This piece of late-60’s esoterica juxtaposes Caribbean culture against Greenwich Village outsider folk. The result was a Voodoo themed record which may the first example of the Freak-Folk genre that blew up during the 2000’s. While the album starts lightheartedly it eventually moves into darker territory. When Exuma and his followers begin their incantations, you’ll imagine yourself in the center of a zombie ritual.
Tangerine Dream: Zeit
Before this Berlin outfitted was soundtracking classic 80’s films, their early career explored the farthest reaches of space. Zeit is a dark ambient tour-de-force: 4 tracks spread across 2 LP, each completely devoid of any sense of rhythm. A string quartet sustains dissonant chords that shift slowly and at random. Crude synthesizer appear sparingly adding and otherworldly feel to the ambience. This is music made outside of time and space.
The Haxan Cloak-Excavation
The Haxan Cloak’s Excavation is among my favorite electronic albums and one of the most terrifying records I’ve ever heard. The artist places tropes of the doom and drone metal genre and places them in electronic context. On my first listen, certain moments actually made me jump as a track will fade to silence and then blast you with low end noise.
Sleep Research Facility-Deep Frieze
This dark ambient album may not seem traditionally scary, but its central theme of isolation in desolate cold environments reminds me of films like The Thing. Though designed in part to aid in sleep, the record sounds like being stuck in the antarctic alone with nope hope of survival when listened to under waking circumstances.
If any musician has perfected the sound of evil, it’s Lustmord. The dark ambient master is able to craft music that sounds like it’s coming from the deepest corners of hell. I often have trouble sitting through any Lustmord record due to how unsettling his work can be.
This electronic/proto-punk masterpiece is a perfect representation of dilapidated and crime-ridden mid-70’s New York City. The album is entirely based around primitive organ/synth lines and demented rockabilly crooning about subjects like nuclear war, undead comic book heroes, and murder. Midway through the album lies “Frankie Teardrop”, long considered one of the most terrifying pieces of popular music ever made.
Jandek-Ready for The House
Jandek is the most-unusual of Bluesmen. Instead of basing his songs on soulful mournings, his tracks are built around heavily dissonant chords. In some moments, his tracks begin to collapse entirely and hang on faint vocal lines. Ready for The House carries some of his most digestible yet disturbing work.
After working with various Berlin-based Krautrock groups, Klaus Schulze made his foray into drone music with Irrlicht. Composed mainly on broken organ and leftover orchestra rehearsal tapes, this album consumes the listener and places him in a horrific sci-fi world that remains creepy without ever being cheesy.
Back in 1991 a group Louisville kids crafted an eerie collection of songs whose jagged yet dynamic structures formed the basis of Post-Rock. While most of that genre conjures up images of earths natural beauty, Spiderland’s imagery more like living on the edge of suburbia, where one stares out into the black abyss that the streetlights cannot reach.
Scott Walker-The Drift
As far back as his second solo record, Scott Walker’s work has always featured off kilter string arrangements. The droning dissonant chords added an air of unease to his otherwise beautiful compositions. On “The Drift” these same elements become the core of the music. Tracks like “Jessica” and “Clara” can make my skin crawl every time.
Spooky-aesthetics are central to the discography of singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe. While her current work falls more in line with goth/post-punk, this 2011 LP is an exercise in ghostly folk music. Each listen is like creeping through an abandoned building, where remnants of something beautiful have eventually become deformed and demented by time.
Swans-Soundtracks for The Blind
Swans are notorious for there excruciatingly dark body of work, taxing the listeners with music so heavy and lyrics so depressing they could make the most stoic of people’s skin crawl. Soundtracks for The Blind takes all of these elements and amplifies them to the extreme. Across it’s 2 discs, Michael Gira and collaborator Jarboe compiled a chilling collection of post-rock, electronic, and ambient music that may fans and critics labeled the highlight of their career.
The Care Taker-An Empty Bliss Beyond This World
We all know that scene in The Shining where Jack’s character enters the hotel ballroom and begins interacting with the dead spirits that have been haunting his family? An Empty Bliss is the musical equivalent of this scene. The album is made up of old 78′ waltz records from the early twentieth century which are then chopped up and processed digitally. The decaying records individual pops, skips, and jumps create a ghostly atmosphere once sent through heavy reverb and delay.