October 31, 2018

A guide to spooky vibes - the Halloween playlist

A guide to spooky vibes - the Halloween playlist

The Low-fi team
BACKSTAGE — PLAYLIST

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Happy Halloween! If you are into that kind of thing! If not, just do like some of us and simply embrace the dark side of the holiday and be as gloomy as you want. To help you with either scenario, here is a playlist that will put you in the right mood. Plus we haven't done a Low-Fi team playlist since the Pride one and we missed it. 

Delia - "What's he building?" by Tom Waits

Listen, when you're entirely too drunk and in need of sobering up fast, sit down, put your headphones on and play Tom Waits' "What's he building?" from his album Mule Variations. I sacrificed myself for the sake of science and tested this theory and I can attest to feeling much soberer after listening to it. Calling it a song might be a stretch — it's more a cross between radio story and campfire creepiness – but it's sure to get your blood moving and your brain speculating on the reasons why a man would need enough formaldehyde to choke a horse.
As a close runner-up in the scare-yourself-out-of-a-stupor category, there's always Russell Means - "I will take you home" from the Natural Born Killers soundtrack. 

Christy - “The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra” by Anna Von Hausswolff

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It’s the only time of the year where you can dress up in your spookiest costumes and live your witchiest dreams without feeling out of place. With that in mind, I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate it than with Anna Von Hausswolffs gothic and ghoulish track “The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra” from her latest album “Dead Magic”.

The droney track features her haunting blood-curdling screams and demonic laughter, it is almost worthy of replacing your holiday horror flicks. The pipe organs in the song were recorded in a church (Marmor kirke in Copenhagen), which adds an extra creepy element to the song. So, instead of getting a thrill from your Ouija board this Halloween, why not try this track as a scarier (and safer) option? Watch the music video too, it is so worth it!

Mihaela - "Broken Homes" by Tricky ft. PJ Harvey

The theme is Halloween and the key word is spooky. Having grown up in a place where Halloween doesn’t have much significance is a bad start, however having had a full blown trip hop obsession in my teenage years gives me a lot to choose from.  My pick is Tricky’s "Broken Homes". The trip hop legend hardly needs justifying to be classified as dark and moody. On the contrary, I had a hard time choosing only one song: listening to his discography feels like walking through a haunted house. Sometimes quite literally (listen to Strugglin’) the entire song is a nightmare-ish soundscape of sounds of a gun being cocked, squeaky doors, hollow steps and dripping water. You will not want to be alone in the dark. Or maybe you would, whatever rocks your boat!

But anywaaaays, it was the added bonus of creepiness (in the best possible way) of PJ Harvey’s vocals that made me settle down on "Broken Homes" as my final pick. Polly Jean’s eerie vocals add another layer to the hypnotic vibe created by the monotone drums and Tricky’s signature whisper. Plus, what a power duo - can’t go wrong with it! 

Cristian - "The Shining Main Theme" by Wendy Carlos

Music is a metaphor for our interior lives, says famed conductor Leonard Bernstein. For me, this manifests primarily through images. I imagine an abstract space of non-Euclidean shapes in colors that don't yet exist. Wendy Carlos' opening theme for The Shining stirs a multitude of such images in my imagination. It is one of my favorite pieces of music for when I want to feel the spirit of horror and supernatural. Halloween is just around the corner, so I have been re-listening to it to get in touch with all that is otherworldly and eerie. It's the sort of piece that yields earworm humming and shivers.

It starts with a grim funerary march, which sets the tone and tempo of the piece. It is the part that I find myself humming at times, for no particular reason. For me, it's akin to an archetypal monster crawling through the dark of humanity's subconscious. It is like a dark omen of things to come. You then descend into a sonic onslaught of dissonant strings, banshee wails, and reverberating soundscapes. The music falls apart and the world is pulled out from under your legs. You find yourself in a floating state of inertia and desperation. There are no musical notes as such, only echoing chants and ghostly synths. Then, finally, relief: the motif of the funerary march returns. It grounds you and pulls you back to earth, as a somber member of this burial cortege. The nightmare screams never leave you though. In the breaks between the notes, they are still there to haunt you. Just like this piece and the movie it accompanied will haunt you for the rest of your life. Happy Halloween!

Jana — "Thriller" by Michael Jackson

I chose this legend of a song by Michael Jackson because its video literally used to haunt me in my childhood. It might not seem like that big of a deal right now, but try telling that to a 5-year old me that had just seen the venomous yellow eyes at the end of the video as the very last thing before going to bed. After several nights of continuous nightmares about werewolves, I had learned a little trick of closing my eyes to skip all the scary parts. So, with the help of my dad I knew exactly when to close my eyes and when it was safe to open them again. But even with my eyes wide shut, I could still hear the zombies doing their dance routine on the street, the howling sounds throughout the song and the chilling evil laughter by the end of it. Even remembering it gives me the creeps, so Thriller is truly one of the scariest tunes that has ever existed for me.

Irene - "Pets" by John Maus

This easily danceable tune with strong 80’s vibes turns horrific sinister as soon as John Maus starts singing the simple verse that repeats over and over throughout the song: “Your pets are gonna die”. Just in case anyone needed a reminder.

I was one of many among the audience carelessly singing along and dancing to the song in the old Jazz House at Maus’ last concert in Copenhagen. But now looking back at the whole situation it seems a bit unsettling... what if someone in the audience just had a deceased pet? It will definitely give you something to think about next time you are all cozy up in the couch, lovingly petting your cat or dog. So today, tell your pets that you love them.

The American songwriter, composer and – funnily enough - teacher of philosophy and PhD in political science, have many other equally spooky and catchy synth-pop songs as "Teenage Witch", "I Don’t Eat Human Beings" or "The Fear".

Troels - "Monster Mash" by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers

As a Dane, I approach most imported holidays with a sense of irony and I find it difficult to take horror seriously, so amidst all the eerie orchestrations that herald the Halloween season, allow me to take you on a tongue-in-cheek trip to 1962 and the tunes of Bobby Pickett. This was during the lifetime of the great Boris Karloff, who had starred in many Hollywood horror films. After taking inspiration from Karloff to do a spoof horror monologue at one of his shows, Pickett and fellow band member Lenny Capizzi recorded the surprise hit "Monster Mash", in which a mad scientist’s monster comes to life and invents a dance that takes the entire land by storm. Pickett’s vocal charm supported by his band transforms an absurd premise into a catchy tune, in which everything from the drumbeat to the backup singers evokes the carefree style of early 60s pop music. After the success of the original single, they recorded an entire album littered with humorous song titles like Transylvania Twist and Irresistible Igor. The full album is called The Original Monster Mash and can also be found on Spotify.

Erika - "Szomorú Vasárnap" (Gloomy Sunday) by Miklos Sebo

For someone who grew up in the Transylvanian countryside, my tolerance for Halloween and all things spooky is embarrassingly low, so I had to dig deep for my pick. Perhaps more sad than scary, Gloomy Sunday is a lonely violin, funeral tolling of bells and despair wrapped in a dark and heavy cloak. The song is composed by Hungarian Rezső Seress and was originally titled The World Is Ending. In one version, the last couple of verses paint the eerie picture of a young man who decided to end it all. As he lays in his casket, eyes wide open, he reassures his lost sweetheart that he just wants one last, harmless glimpse of her. Urban legend has it that Gloomy Sunday was connected to the suicide of over a dozen people, hence being dubbed the Hungarian Suicide Song and banned from radio stations for years. Looking back, perhaps the scariest part about Gloomy Sunday is that teenage me was proud that it was written by a fellow Hungarian and known to the world - mostly via Billie Holiday.

Miruna - "Hot Blood" by Soul Dracula

My choice for this playlist might not strike one as “spooky” or “scary”, but I’d say that it has a tint of creepy. No matter what, you can still shake your groove thang while at a Halloween massacre party on this song.

It all started when I was doing an internship at an agency, on top of some research task, like any respectable intern at that time, and listening to playlists on Soundcloud. I was all alone in the office and immersed in my spreadsheet when the soft sound of an antique clock forged its way through my ear drums. Two seconds later the sound spirals into a lively disco tune driven by a crispy male vocals saying “Soul Draculaaa….” which is immediately followed by an evil laughter, slow and maniacal. On top of that, the accompaniment is provided by some eerie, yet cartoonish, “Uuuuuuh” vocals that seem like a bunch of drunk ghosts tumbling down from your attic. I’d say this is the perfect combo or the very fine line between creepy and quirky, but I’d dance to it at any moment.

P.S. Jim Jarmusch used a snippet of Hot Blood’s video of this song in the movie “Only Lovers Left Alive”. Seeing a vampire laughing at a disco vampire is pretty hilarious.

And if this wasn't enough, here is a Spotify playlist that will keep you spooked out for a while. 

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