Thom Yorke, "Suspirium" (XL)
One does not envy the film composer trying to outdo—or even equal—Goblin's work for Dario Argento's 1977 horror classic Suspiria. (On a side note, one wonders why we need a remake of Suspiria in the first place. But maybe that's a post for Charles Mudede...)
In a piece written in advance of Goblin's Seattle show last year, I said: "Goblin are operating at their foreboding zenith [on Suspiria]. Whether using understated stealth or elegant pandemonium, Goblin summon powerful tremors in the listener, with or without the horrific imagery to accompany them." I've not heard Thom Yorke's entire soundtrack for Luca Guadagnino's new film, but based on "Suspirium," I have to guess he won't be making folks forget about the original. And surely that's not his goal. Yorke is too savvy to try to out-horrify the Italian masters. That being said, the trailer music is suitably foreboding and promising. (You can hear Yorke discussing his scoring approach here.)
The Radiohead front man wrote 25 original compositions specifically for Guadagnino's reworking of Suspiria, blending instrumentals, interstitial pieces and interludes, and more conventional songwriting.
The album's first single, “Suspirium” contains the melodic theme that recurs throughout the film. It's a delicate, melancholy, piano-heavy ballad featuring Yorke's familiar high-pitched, pathos-saturated vocals. Undeniably pretty and tender, "Suspirium" wears its gravitas lightly. The Radiohead residue is apparent, but it also possesses some subdued, Moody Blues-like melodrama, thanks in part to Pasha Mansurov's affecting flute. It's fairly certain that Yorke's millions of fans will dig it, and he may even gain some new ones with this soundtrack.
Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) comes out October 26 on XL Recordings. The album also features the London Contemporary Orchestra and Choir, Noah Yorke on drums on “Has Ended” and “Volk,” and Pasha Mansurov on solo flute on “Suspirium.”