The last couple of years, I’ve been throwing together Halloween mixes for friends. Lots, of course, has been written about Halloween music as the holiday becomes more important (in terms of dollars) in the US. But, the question that I ran into when putting together these mixes, and the question that remains is – what does Halloween sound like? Christmas – sure chimes, bells, maybe a ukulele. Thanksgiving – Dead Milkmen and William S Burroughs wash the sweet potato pie right out of the mouth.
Halloween is, at its core, a ritual holiday. And ritual takes music. Hundreds of years ago (and today as well, I imagine), there were bonfires and slaughtered animals tossed to the flames. Costumes and mask were worn and identity became fluid, at least for an evening or two. The darkness grows, the light disappears and many of us begin to feel a bit of madness creep along our backs.
In other words, Halloween music is Industrial Music.
And no one currently carries the torch of industrial music as high or bright as Van Richter Records. Van Richter has stepped up to the plate this year just in time for Halloween with a compilation of industrial music. Van Richter keeps their roster of artists small exclusive with a roster of seven of the leading Industrial bands - Testify, The Fair Sex, Plastic Noise Experience, Sielwolf, Death and Horror Inc., Girls Under Glass and Underwater Pilots
One of the big drawbacks to compilation albums are the inevitable filler tracks, but they just don’t show up here. The tracks are throbbing synth-pop like the cover of Ministry’s “Every Day is Halloween” by Underwater Pilots. Testify’s “Future Love” is pure industrial with hammering rhythm and sampled movie clip dialogue. Trauma’s “The Last Rose” sounds lush and orchestral; Industrial Music driven to its inevitable high romantic end. None of the tracks slide into the pure noise end of the genre – it’s all pretty accessible stuff, leading to an album that can also be thrown on at a Halloween party.
Some of these tracks are hard to find, rare stuff, even in the Internet age, making this album a must have for your holiday. It’s music as theatre – much as Halloween is holiday as theatre. However you celebrate it.