Why are we publishing our first year-end list two months early? The answer should be obvious: it’s Halloween week! This follow-up to last year’s Music for Haunted Houses feature covers the best haunted house music released this year. Now prepare to be scared!
This month, we’ve noticed a lot of activity on that previous feature, which can be found here. Since then we’ve covered dozens of dark releases, many of them out of season. But now, as the days grow shorter and the shadows grow longer, they seem just right. So light a candle, break out a bottle of wine and an EVP reader, lock the doors, and whatever you do, don’t go in the basement. Let this music be the soundtrack to your haunted house, deep in the October night.
Anduin ~ Last Days of Montrose House (Infinite Greyscale)
The projector rolls, and it’s unclear whether the sound is coming from a visitor or an unseen spectator. Quiet whispers and distorted bells emanate from the walls. Perhaps we should not have entered the Montrose House. Like the Hotel California, it’s a place we can never leave. This etched 10″ is backed by a variety of digital remixes, but months later, we still like the original the best.
Chains Made of Chalk ~ S/T (Amok Recordings)
This repackaged edition of four CD3″s tells a larger story when played in consecutive order. Bearing titles such as “A Tubular Paper Coffin Stuffed With Dried Plant Matter”, the set tumbles from timbre to timbre without missing a ghost. The first disc is the most suitable for haunted houses, while the other three are simply haunted.
Disasterpeace ~ It Follows OST (Milan Records)
One of the best-reviewed albums of the year, It Follows was a left turn from an artist who had never made a horror album before. And yet, it operates an an incredible homage to John Carpenter while impressing on its own merits. The same can be said of the film, a low-budget stunner that merits a sequel. For the best track, head straight to “Doppel.”
Fossil Aerosol Mining Project ~ The Day 1982 Contaminated 1971 (Helen Scarsdale Project)
The most recent album to appear on our list (released October 30), The Day 1982 Contaminated 1971 is a subtle treat. Loops and samples produce the impression of a place unmoored from time; disembodied dialogue attempts to break through, perhaps to send a warning. The radiation levels are high, but the ghosts don’t mind at all. It just means company is coming.
Isobel Ccircle~ ~ The House in the Harbour (Auditory Field Theory)
When we reviewed this album back in February, we noted that it was “the first album released since our Haunted House feature that might have made that list.” And now it has. The packages included scraps of a detective’s personal journals, documenting his findings as he attempted to understand the events of a shrouded mystery. But even without the journal, one can still sense the suspense. Murder lies within these walls, and knives within these sounds.
people-eaters ~ the only thing left to fear (Invisible City Records)
We’ve included this EP as a bonus, as it was released last November (not the best timing), but eleven months later, its time has finally come. Billed as a mixtape, it’s the strangest combination of sounds one might expect to encounter on such an object. If there’s such a thing as an EVP mixtape, this is it: the best of the dead, on spools.
She Spread Sorrow ~ Rumspringa (Cold Spring)
The video is so disturbing that I don’t even have the heart to show it here. The cover is exactly what you think. The twist is that the artist is a confident, confrontational female whose artistic output is designed to make people talk, squirm, and question. It’s a major statement, classified as “noise” but powerful enough to produce stunned silence.
Slight Nightmare ~ Delicate Grit (Prefix Tapes)
You’ll have a minute or so before the swords cut through the static – so go ahead and relax! It’s only a slight nightmare. But sometimes the slight nightmares are the worst, because they make one wonder, “Am I really awake?” This 5-track EP consolidates the feeling of dread and produces a state of delicate unease.
Teeth Engraved With the Names of the Dead ~ Above/Below (Sol y Nieve)
With a moniker like this, the artist was a lock for our list. The only misstep: releasing the tape in July. This thick, claustrophobic drone set offers some of the darkest, most uncompromising music on this list, and it’s downright gorgeous. This is music for that basement you’re not supposed to go into. But you did, didn’t you? And now you’re sorry. This music is so loud that no one will be able to hear you scream. The trick-or-treaters will just think you’re part of the ambience.
Treha Sektori & Muhd ~ The Sense of Dust and Sheer (Cyclic Law)
Of all of the releases on this page, this is the one that most deserves a physical purchase. The deluxe edition contains beautiful horror after beautiful horror, while the music presents the matching aural atmosphere. Cyclic Law’s new book imprint is turning out to be quite the success, and they’ve saved their best music as punctuation.
When ~ The Black Death (Editions Mego/Ideologic Organ)
How in the world did we miss this one? Maybe it’s understandable, because we were a lot younger when it was first released. After 23 years, the album has finally made it to vinyl ~ kudos to Editions Mego for bringing it to light (or more properly, dark). An uninterrupted sound collage, packed with danger and death, The Black Death is easily the finest album on this year’s list; it’s safe to say that When’s opus has stood the test of time.