Happy Halloween, everyone! If you’ll be entertaining trick-or-treaters, here’s your house soundtrack: spooky, genuine, and all-around fun. You won’t need to collect box tops to get it; just Name Your Price and it can be in your hands by sunset.
When I was a child the go-to Halloween record was Disney’s Chilling Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House, which seems to have snuck into this mix (the repeated scream in “Night”, beginning at 2:39). It was a way to get into the spirit of things ~ pun intended ~ while staying relatively safe: scary, but not evil. The same can be said of The Holocene‘s nostalgic tape. So yes, there are cats and crones and bats and moans, but also old movies, warped cassettes and Casios. A Casio is not very scary, which is kind of the point.
Just like there are two types of autumn (see our recent Lullatone review), there are two types of Halloween. There’s the stab-slash-kill of pure evil (Michael Myers) and the funhouse giggle of an amusement ride; the dark side of human nature (the daily news) and the courage to laugh through fear (dressing up for candy). The more popular Halloween gets, the more some people want to ban it, completely missing its value as both a rite of passage and a statement of faith. On other nights, our children are told not to talk to strangers; on Halloween, they are told to go to their houses. The irony: Halloween makes us safer, because we get to see who lives in our neighborhood and how friendly they are. Horror Scene reflects this spirit in aural form, as it sounds like a breach between this world and the next, with good and evil swirling around and innocence spinning in the middle. It’s got lots of horror, sure ~ but it also has beats (“Dawn”).
Peter Hamlin (The Holocene) recently became a father, and this may have something to do with the sound of the tape. We certainly don’t want to scare the baby. Better to wait until he gets older (say perhaps 2? If the “terrible 2s” are something parents must bear, why not? Just kidding.). Becoming a parent makes one nostalgic for one’s own childhood as one starts to think of all the things one wants to share. A newborn child won’t care if he’s dressed as a pumpkin or Scooby-Doo, but someday he’ll be choosing his own outfits, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll be listening to this tape, and asking why Daddy buried cassettes in the backyard to record on later. (Direct him to “The Fall of the House of Usher”.) “We’re going to try to hear spirits speaking to us in real time”, says a hauntologist on “Day”. The spirits of the future are just as present here as those of the past. (Richard Allen)