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Saturday, 29 October 2016

Ghost Stories

It's Halloween weekend, or All Saints Day, Samhain, All Hallows Eve or any other of the many names it can be called. Some people love it, some people hate it. Me, personally, I can go with or without. It's not an occasion I immensely look forward to nor is it one that I abhor. I'm not one for dressing up and haven't really made the proper effort to do since my teens. The one thing I do love about this time of year though is the influx of horror films on TV, old and new. Then there's the ghost stories and, of course, Halloween playlists. I've always been a sucker for playlists, especially themed playlists.

So with that in mind, a few days ago we asked a few of the Bricolage artists to give us their Top 5 Halloween type, creepy/eerie songs and a little bit about them. There's a lot of diversity in among the selections. Atmospheric stuff, alt.rock, twisted techno, downright creepiness and childhood memories.

First up with some alternative choices and a video game classic is Mute Branches....

1. Tim Hecker - 'Virginal II'

From the opening stabs of piano, you should probably have a good idea why I thought this was a good place to start. Like much of Hecker's work, 'Virginal II' is a track that comes to sound compellingly and beautifully hellbent on its own self-destruction. To me, 'Virginal II' paints in my head the image of being chased by something, and sprinting through a nightmarish landscape that gradually degrades into glitching digital noise."

Broadcast - 'Black Cat'

"Throughout their tragically short career, Broadcast had pretty close ties to the horror genre. As well as being influenced by films like 'Valerie and Her Week of Wonders' and the cult 70s TV series 'Children of the Stones', the band also soundtracked Peter Strickland's 2012 film 'Berberian Sound Studio'. On 'Black Cat', from 'Tender Buttons', the stripped-down line-up of James Cargill and the late Trish Keenan create a surreal, creeping atmosphere through the lo-fi scrapes and squalls and stutters of creaky electronics. In terms of the lyrics, "awkwardness happening to someone you love" is a brilliant example of the vague sense of threat that emerges through Keenan's cut-up poetry, as well."

Akira Yamaoka - 'White Noiz'

Trying to find something that can match the ghostly, bleak, and downright weird atmosphere of 'Silent Hill 2' (or, I suppose, specifically the memory of playing it in a tiny bedroom on a little old tube television) has led me down all kinds of interesting cultural paths both in and out of the horror genre. This track, which opens the game, captures perfectly the air of lonesome dreamlike melancholy that makes 'Silent Hill 2' the classic that it is."

Slint - 'For Dinner...'

"'Spiderland' is a mysterious album. The cover art is strange, its backstory is strange... just about everything about 'Spiderland' (and Slint, in general) is strange. The music is no exception: unorthodox time signatures, the whispery spoken word vocals, and the "loud / quiet dynamics" are utilised seemingly with the primary aim of unsettling the listener. 'For Dinner...' is one of the most successful of their efforts: a constant build-up without a crescendo, the instruments always sound like they're creeping up on you, on the verge of striking. Then, just as you're about to turn and look, they disappear again back into the shadowy silence."

Sonic Youth - 'Death Valley 69'

"Basically anything from 'Bad Moon Rising' would fit here. Sonic Youth sound pretty convincingly like a band formed in the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse on this album; and, crucially, the cover art depicts a pumpkin-headed scarecrow man (is there a more Halloween-appropriate image than that?). Having spent much of the album slowly building up a sense of dread, Sonic Youth (with Lydia Lunch) let it all out on 'Death Valley 69' and unleash five minutes of violent, aggressive noise-punk into your ears."

Mute Branches, just yesterday uploaded his own Halloween inspired track to Soundcloud, "Huh? Radio?" is a tense affair with a slow building, foreboding, guitar soundscape that turns into a short burst of white noise and glitchy effects and cut up samples. Listen below.


Next, Edinburgh techno aficionado and purveyor of deranged electronics, Willy, offers us his Top 5 Halloween-esque techno tracks.

1. Yaleesa Hall - "Fourth Perrin" 

2. Blawan - "Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage"

3. Blacknecks - "Life for Rent"

4. Developer - "Hands of Inevitable Change"

5. Blawan - "Blue Bottle" 

Check out one of his own creations below. "Fiddlin'" is full of creepy climbing arps flowing over rapid fire percussion.


Bricolage's resident split personality, "Roy Or Bison?" , is next up on the ghost train with his spooky selections....

1. Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - "Puppy Dog Snails"

"This one starts off straight from the bat with a creepy, almost music box, style guitar and then Guy McKnight's baritone delivery only adds to the mood. For me, the lyrics throw up an image of a coven of witches gathering around their cauldron in an old castle."

2. White Ring - "Ixc999"

"A bit of witch house is always gonna need to find it's way into any Halloween playlists. There's no better track to utilize than this one by White Ring. A buzzing synth, soft whispering about 'my face is falling off'  and an almost child like haunting vocal spouting lyrics and chants. I love the feeling of decay that somehow spreads through this track. The video is also a tad mental!"

3. Aphex Twin - "Gwely Mernans"

"I've always thought this track was a great epitome of eeriness and a weirdly unsettling track that is actually somehow relaxing. Does that make sense??? Sometimes a minimalistic approach is more effective in creating the suitable tension needed for these kinda tracks. The track got even darker for me when I found out the meaning behind the title. I've always thought 'Gwely Mernans' looked Welsh but for whatever reason I never looked it up. Also, AFX, has a tendency to just use random titles or old Cornish language so I thought nothing of it. Then a few years back, a Welsh friend, told me that "gwely" means bed and "mernans" is death. So this track literally translates as "Deathbed". Sweet!"

4. Daniel Avery - Reception (Perc remix)

"Now, this one is just plain raw. A weird sequence of industrial, sawtooth type sounds, a pounding beat and a distorted, creepy vocal lead you up a path which comes to a sudden halt before the main melody from the original dives out on you and is shortly backed up by Perc's take no prisoners percussion and the return of aforementioned creepy voice. It's a very jarring but very interesting composition."

5. A Place To Bury Strangers - The Falling Sun

"As if their name isn't enough, 'APTBS', go all out dystopian soundscape on this one. A haunting shoegaze soundscape and a droning, depressed vocal make it seem like the end of the world is imminent. And if we're all going to be honest, what is more scary than the world we live in ending?"

'Roy Or Bison?' delivered a dark ambient, haunting track for our winter compilation last year. You can listen to "Night Vision" below.


Lastly, drone and guitar experimentalist, Sleep, Data gives us his nostalgic take on what Halloween means to him.....

1. AC/DC - "Hells Bells"

"It's always Halloween when you play that in Arkansas."

2. Flash and The Pan - "Jetsetters Ball"

"As a kid growing up the local radio station always had a Halloween party and this was its theme song. So when you heard it you always knew Halloween was coming."

3. "Grinch Is Gonna Get You"

"One of my favourite things about Halloween was cartoons. And I didn't have to get up early to watch them!"

4. Helloween - "Halloween"

"Epic and 30 minutes long! It isn't but that's how I remember it."

5. The Dickies - "Killer Klowns From Outer Space"

"Last but not least, 'Killer Klowns From Outer Space' by The Dickies. Also, one of the greatest movies ever!"

You can check out the immersive "Interpretive Death" from 'Sleep, Data' below.


Last week we provided you with a 2 hour Halloween themed mix as part of our Headroom mix series. It's an amalgamation of horror cut ups and samples, dark techno, haunting ambience and soundtrack snippets. It's been received rather well and we've been asked a few times now for a download of the mix to made available. You can stream the mix below or at our mixcloud. Read a bit more about the mix and get the full tracklisting fom our previous blog post and grab your free download of the mix here. Perfect for Halloween parties or just giving yourself a good fright!🎃

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