A perfect partnership of movie and music, albeit of the creepiest kind.
Ian Wade 2013
Berberian Sound Studio was one of the finest films of 2012. Released on a limited cinematic run last summer, it’s a psychological thriller/horror affair starring Toby Jones as a sound effects specialist who begins work in an Italian horror film studio on an amazingly titled (if slightly worrying) film called The Equestrian Vortex. And he soon starts to go a bit mad.
So far, so Broadcast, you may think. And you’d be right. Having created spooky soundtracks for imaginary films – check out their 2009 album, Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age – creating unnerving accompaniments comes easy to them.
Using wonky equipment, elderly electronics, spooky organs and creepy reverb, James Cargill – the one remaining member after Trish Keenan’s shocking early death in 2011 – has assembled a perfect soundtrack for the on-screen action. This was the couple’s final work together, although Cargill has said there is more unreleased Trish-featuring material, which may come out in the future.
At 39 tracks, it may seem a bit daunting, but much of these are tiny fragments of sounds and effects – The Serpent’s Semen is just eight seconds of screaming; Mark of The Devil and Found Scalded, Found Drowned unfold menacingly, yet still somehow only 45 seconds apiece; and at least half the tracks clock in around half a minute.
There’s a kid-in-a-sweetshop aspect to proceedings, as Cargill throws in everything to create a perfect spooky mood. Numbers such as The Sacred Marriage, the film-in-a-film title track of The Equestrian Vortex, Beautiful Hair and His World Is My Shed are suitably eerie vignettes to underscore the visual tenseness.
The two tracks that, by comparison, go on a bit – the floating creep-out of Teresa’s Song, and Lark of Ascension – could have been lifted from Dario Argento’s horror masterpiece of 1977, Suspiria. And closer Our Darkest Sabbath is actually quite gorgeous in a “Hello, you have a stalker” fashion.
Berberian Sound Studio and Broadcast are a perfect match, and this soundtrack – something you may not want to listen to alone if you keep hearing a weird noise outside the window – gives you an idea of how magnificent this band can be.