My younger sister and I slept in the same room while my older sister had her own and my parents were next door in theirs. I feel like I’ve leaned towards the slightly dark and dreadful themes most of my life but that may not be true. I may think it began at an early age. Maybe it started with this first visitation. Maybe that had nothing to do with it. I think there were small but lasting things that had influence on us (I say “us”–imagining that my sister psychologically lived the same childhood I did though I supposed I should know better by now). Coming home from school, getting off the bus, and walking into the house where the TV was screening Dark Shadows was a daily, traumatic event. Even as a child I wondered why this strange show with the sinister vibe was on our television in the middle of the day when kids were around. It always seemed to be a wildly inappropriate time. I envisioned that most of my peers stepped of the bus, entered their homes, and then ran as fast as they could through the living room, away from the TV just like I did every weekday.
We had a record player, of course. I think most kids did or at least most households did. My mother listened to classical music exclusively. A person can have random books around, but somehow, record collections lend themselves to unexplained manifestations at an eerie rate. My father had country records and that was understandable. But us kids were handed down a strange mish mash. Spike Jones Murders Carmen was something we listened to over and over again. I was oblivious into my 30s that there was an actual real opera of Carmen. I thought Georges Bizet was ripping off Spike Jones and adding lame ass French lyrics to it.
But the record that influenced me most was Night on Bald Mountain, by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky. This thing was Hell housed on wax. It seemed impossible not only that a human being wrote it, but that any human being would want to write something that perverse and threatening. It was sheer terror in 12 inched of shiny blackness.
I think taking a survey of the first music that scared you to death as a child would be fascinating. It seems impossible now as an adult that a piece of music could be so frightening that you would grab a pillow to muffle out the sound. Actually, I would love to be scared by a piece of music. I think that would be exciting!
If you have a piece of music that haunted you as a kid, leave it in the comment section. I would love to explore this topic. What was it that made the music so unsettling?
Now I’m reflecting on scary music. I could commit seppuku for missing Goblin when they were touring in 2013 and playing the Suspiria soundtrack in its entirety. I waited too long to get tickets. I think hearing them live would have caused me to grab the nearest person and bury my face in their neck until the assault stopped, which again, would have been incredibly exciting! I watched the the Dario Argento movie Phenomenon a few months ago and the most fantastic part of that movie was the subtitles that went with Goblin’s soundtrack. If you can, watch that movie and just pay attention to the subtitled descriptions of the music that are obviously written by a person who takes soundtrack music seriously.
And now this makes me think of one more. The soundtrack to Under the Skin, also 2013. Very effective creep factor. I don’t want to get on a movie soundtrack tangent because that opens up a floodgate of creepy, atmospheric music. But I was stunned by the soundtrack to Under the Skin. For me, the soundtrack and the lack of dialog was the movie. Unforgettable.
For non-soundtrack music that is oddly satisfying, curiously dark, definitely intriguing try Scott Walker with Sunn o))))’s album Soused. Disturbing and unique. I listened this daily for at least 3 months when it came out. Its one of those albums that you crave periodically like dark chocolate or a dill pickle. I will feel that something is missing and then realize, “Oh yeah, it’s time for me to listen to Soused again.”
I began this threat with a divergence. The subject was the first visitation when my sister and I were still little kids. It started with being called out of sleep by a suffocating terror.