Have you seen the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” on Netflix? The American series, based on the comic, tells the double life of the teenager Sabrina Spellman, half human and half witch. The series is littered with quotes, at least two referring to “Suspiria, the go-to cinematic masterpiece when talking about witchcraft. It was the first Italian horror, dating back to 1977 from the master filmmaker Dario Argento. The remake is set in Berlin and directed by Luca Guadagnino, in cinemas from 1st January 2019.
However, “Suspiria (Music For The Luca Guadagnino Film)” came out on 26th October via XL Recordings; the first commissioned soundtrack by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, his third solo album. It’s an ambitious double album in a stream of (in)consciousness that could have been reduced: twenty-five tracks, about eighty minutes in total.
It’s as ambitious as Guadagnino’s work itself, in its duration and demand to insert psychoanalytic and political reflections in a completely out-of-focus script. It would be impossible to replicate the opulence of the original soundtrack by Claudio Simonetti’s Goblins, who went beyond the prog reference-rocker experimenting with African drumbeats, bouzouki, Indian tabla, Moog, terrifying noises and vocals. However, the British artist seems to have managed it better than the Sicilian director.
Diving deep into the sounds of the album, we go between instrumental (where we have to mention the progression of keys, strings and monstrosity of “The Hooks“, the classic epic of “Klemperer Walks” and the Carpenter style serpentine of “Volk“) and songs (if the waltz with the flute of “Suspirium” or the beautiful ballad “Unmade” sound quite predictable knowing the repertoire of their author, it goes better with the shamanic groove of “Has Ended” and the disturbed mantra of “Open Again“). Sources of inspiration declared: “Blade Runner“, the concrete music, the electronics of James Holden, the German krautrock and Morricone. Yorke composed hypnotizing piano scores and made use of modular synths, dancing amid recurring themes, white noises and drones, with the help of the London Contemporary Orchestra and Choir and his son Noah on drums.
This time it’s not always magical, but it is a respectable try from the (apprentice) warlock.