Dante Tomaselli: Scream In The Dark/The Doll/Nightmare
Released by: MVD Audio
Released on: January 14th, 2014/April 15th, 2014/January 13th, 2015.
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Dante Tomaselli is probably best known to readers of this site as the man who has directed a few horror films of note, his most recent being last year’s Torture Chamber. One of the things that makes Tomaselli’s work as interesting as it is would be the use of music in his films and given that he not only directs his pictures but scores them as well it only makes sense that he’d branch out a bit in that direction. And so he has, with three different CD releases of ‘electronic horror music.’ These are essentially, in their own strange way, soundtracks to movies that don’t exist yet. If you’re in the right frame of mind and listening to them in the right setting (alone, in the dark), they’re also pretty eerie.
SCREAM IN THE DARK:
The first album is an ‘hour long audio nightmare’ and the premise here would seem to have been to create something akin to the audio equivalent of a trip through a haunted house style ride. As such, the tracks can and will take you by surprise. The opening, Dark Night Of The Soul, sets things up right with the crack of thunder and what sounds like some rusty gates swinging in the wind as the synthesizer swells up behind and eerie voices mutter in the background. A witch cackles, someone screams and rain starts to pour down. It goes from there.
As the album progresses, this basic theme is expanded upon in different ways. The Tunnel has a lot of left to right and right to left pans that make the eerie sounds a bit more active while Chamber Of Horrors, a long track at just over nine minutes, has a more ethereal take on the spooky amusement park ride in that it builds slowly and features a lot of staccato sound effects worked into the mix that take you by surprise. Witches is one of the strangest tracks, it starts off with what sounds like something eating, then uses spraying noises and animal noises in equal doses with the sounds of someone in fear and/or pain possibly attempting to get away from whatever it is that’s growling in the background. Death’s Door is the second longest track at almost ten minutes. It’s got some weird, guttural chanting in the opening minute that leads into a weird mix of ambient noise, minimalist music and heavy effects with a lot of distant, effectively scary screaming to keep you on edge. Devil’s Rain finishes things up with almost twelve minutes of more of the same, this time over some pounding rain that basically sets a rhythm off of which Tomaselli bases the rest of the composition.
The tracks that make up Scream In The Dark are:
Dark Night Of The Soul / The Tunnel / Chamber Of Horrors / Bad Dreams / The Basement / Witches / The Attic / Death’s Door / All Hallow’s Eve / The Devil’s Rain
The second album is a ‘sixty minute audio nightmare containing bone-chilling electronic soundscapes.’ If the first CD was a trip through a haunted house, this second one is a bit more linear. The soundtrack to a movie not yet made, it’s interesting in that it sometimes channels some experimental and electronic music in large doses but works some Carpenter style keyboards into things here and there too – but without overdoing it.
A lot of those same spookshow sound effects used on the first album are here again and used in similar ways, you’ll hear this in the opening title track a lot. Séance gets a bit trippier and it really does feel like it could be playing in the background while someone was trying to communicate with those trapped forever in the beyond! Mannequin starts off with church bells and then a wave of sorts rolls over the listener. Things start to creak and groan in unusual ways and then we get an interesting mix of effects cues and synth stings while the sound of children scurrying in the background makes things… uncomfortable.
Moving right along, Skeletons stands out because it’s got this sort of strange, jittery sound to it that could fit perfectly along the sounds a skeleton might make if it were to move or dance. More sound effects and screams and layer upon layer or ‘weird’ ground it but that jittery sound… it’s creepy. Halloween is more ambient than a lot of the other music here and it builds slowly, albeit very deliberately, to strange new heights. Rain comes down, synths drone, and you’ll find yourself spacing out as this track progresses to its finish. The final track, The Eye, concludes the album with similarly dark, hypnotic tones and pulses, the kind that pull you in as you close your eyes and your imagination takes you away to strange, dark places.
The tracks that make up The Doll are:
The Doll / Toys / Séance / Mannequin / Apparition / Damned / The Den / Skeletons / Halloween / The Eye
The third and most recent album is touted on the back of the CD as ‘a ghastly, spine-chilling journey through the gates of Hell’ and that sounds about right. Again, it’s a goth/prog instrumental piece but it’s more aggressive right from the start as The Hole starts out with someone calling out ‘Help me…’ over top of some eerie children’s rhymes and a cavalcade of creepy sound effects and more droning synths.
I’m Not A Witch begins with a laser sound coming down overtop of a strong heartbeat while more strange laser sounds kick in and then a full on Carpenter/Escape From New York synth beat kicks in – but only for a little while. Female chanting in what sounds like Latin comes into the mix and it just gets stranger from there. The Woods starts off with the serene sounds of nature – birds chirping, that type of thing – until a wind picks up and things turn very dark and strange very quickly. Mausoleum, at almost fifteen minutes long, is as epic as it is weird. Some odd chants begin the track but then it goes quiet only for a slow build of birds and synths and whispering voices to come in and wash over us. It gets much stranger from there, with groaning and pulsing effects that sometimes sound like jackhammers working their way into the mix. The penultimate track, Nightmare, is more aggressive and starts off with some screams underneath some amusement park sounds. Things get dark and twisted from the get go and you don’t get the impression those that were there to enjoy themselves did anything even remotely close to that on their escapade! The last track, Behind The Door, begins with the sounds of rain and then does a loud quiet loud thing with effects and strange panting voices, chanting and the sounds of people in turmoil.
The tracks that make up Nightmare are:
The Hole / I’m Not A Witch / The Woods / Wax Museum / The Take / Mausoleum / The Ferryman / Nightmare / Behind The Door
All fairly similar in nature these three albums aren’t for everyone nor are they the type of thing you put on when you’re looking for a conventional listening experience. They are, however, well made collections of strange, and often times genuinely creepy, experiments in sound design and audio horror. Put them on when you’re home alone with the lights low and the volume up and if you’re in the right frame of mind, they prove to be enjoyably weird trips to some strange, dark places.