A Creepy Compilation, Part Two
by Alexander Jones | published Oct. 29th, 2015
A wonderful thing about music as an artistic medium, if your definition of "wonderful" is a bit sadistic, is its truly boundless potential to create atmospheres fraught with tension and despair. While film and similar outlets have to rely on visual stimulation to elicit fear from its viewer, the opportunities musicians have to create aural terror are far more numerous. A listener's skin can crawl at the sound of anything from panicked shrieks in the distance to the unbearable presence of almost nothing at all, save for a monotone voice laying out its "special plan for this world." The limit for music's capacity to scare you is your own imagination, and this concept is something our most poisoned artistic minds are well aware of.
Continuing our compilation from part one, here are three more albums to help flesh out the most agonizing of Halloween playlists.
Band: Current 93
Album: I Have a Special Plan for This World
"Once more we feel the tiny legged trepidations," Tibet chants. "Once more we are mangled by a great grinding fear/ But that day will have no others after/ No more worlds like this will follow/ Because I have a plan/ A very special plan/ No more worlds like this/ No more days like that." If there was a musical equivalent to staring directly into the mouth of madness, this would almost certainly be it.
Band: Sunn O)))
Album: Black One
"Black One" is the Friday the 13th to "I Have a Special Plan for This World's"s "Audition" — a gleefully "spooky" romp through bowel-churning drones and terrified screams, abandoning all subtlety and nuance in favor of wonderful haunted house shlock. The members of Sunn O))) (simply pronounced "Sun") wear black cloaks on stage and encase themselves even further in a cloud of fog, as well as a veritable fortress of their eponymous amplifiers. Widely recognized as bringing the oft-maligned "drone metal" genre to a more celebrated prominence, Sunn O)))'s "Black One" feels like a celebration of the popular metal mantra, "everything louder than everything else." On "It Took the Night to Believe," black metal guitar crescendos slither through gnarled spires of feedback. A hoarse voice urges you to "cry yourself to ash." With its championing of everything loud and scary, there is still nothing quite like it, even a decade after its release.
Album: Album: How to Destroy Angels
The legacy of Coil, another darkly experimental British group, is one defined by equal parts devious perversion and teary-eyed existentialism. While the band, consisting of the late John Balance and Peter Christopherson (or "Sleazy," as he's known to fans), has released records like "Love's Secret Domain" and "The Ape of Naples," which eschew heady horror for a more tender sound, Coil is perhaps best remembered for their more discomforting records. "How to Destroy Angels," Coil's very first single, set a precedent for the years of unpleasantness that were to come. Released in 1984, the nearly 17 minute long track is similar to "I Have a Special Plan for This World" in its stark minimalism, capitalizing on found sounds and sporadic bursts of jittering noise to break up the record's oppressive silence.
The cover of "How to Destroy Angels" defines its contents as "ritual music for the accumulation of male sexual energy." The sound of blades being sharpened is heavily featured. Happy Halloween.