A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Steve Nolan’s soundtrack for the 2013 indie horror film Sodium Party starts off all innocence, sweetness, and light, before transporting you to the edge of night; to the brink of madness; the depths of darkness.
Being a horror fanatic is a strange thing. If you’re a regular reader here, i’m likely not telling you anything you don’t know. In reality, it’s no stranger than being in other kind of wide-scoping genre. It would be like assuming that everyone who is into metal listens to extreme technical Scandinavian death metal, or that everyone into harsh noise is there for the kink & perversion.
When you tell people you’re obsessed with horror films, they tend to automatically think of late ’70s/early ’80s slasher flicks, and that you spend all night, every night watching buxom young women being drilled to death, killed with machetes, maybe to have their skin re-purposed into a leather suit or mask.
While this should really go without saying, we’re big fan of women here at Forestpunk. We’d like to see them unpunctured and pierced as much as possible, leaving their skin right where it is (unless she’s slowly devouring herself, like the French movie In My Skin, which is entirely her prerogative).
While we enjoy some slashers, it’s kind of a bummer to be looking for some macabre way to wind down the day, only to have the movie be roughly 50% some pretty, nubile girl being tormented unto death. That’s not what we’re in it for.
It’s similar, when you’re really into horror music. Explore the Horror tab on Bandcamp, and be astounded at the amount of shitty horrorpunk, ’80s metal derivatives, and horror synth. This leads us to the assumption, which is supported by the live shows and online communities we frequent – that a great majority of horror fanatics are the B-movie, zombie splatter ’80s slasher variety.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We regard the horror/splatterpunks as allies and kindred spirits, much like the traditional harsh noise/power electronics scene. We’ve got similar aesthetics and goals, but entirely different methodologies and motivations.
We wouldn’t realize the distinction, or why it was important, until several years after starting Forestpunk. Before that, we’d simply tell the world Horror was our favorite genre, and be done with it. This led to all manner of fights and misunderstandings with the world at large, with accusations of misogyny and racism – basically being forced to defend the horror genre as a whole.
Like any artform, horror can be a vehicle for people to voice their petty frustrations and insecurities, but with even more blunt force trauma than nearly any other genre or movement. Being obsessed with sex, death, blood, flesh, and carnage, horror is by definition a libidinal explosion, an expression of the deep, dark id. Which is why it’s importanter to look, but a lot of what you’re going to find is going to be repugnant beyond belief.
After several years of attempting to comment on culture in an “official capacity”, (apart from the pirate blogging we used to do, back in the day), we were forced to conclude that, while yes, horror is and always will be our favorite genre (moon – pluto conjunction in the 5th house, for those in the known), we’re actually in it for the dark fantasy, the tracks and traces of the supernatural, a sense of whimsy and wonder, an exploration of cultures outside the mainstream (aka. the forest, where we are currently sitting.) We’re looking for the miraculous, for shock and awe in this world that can too often be so cold, dead, and flatly logical.
And nothing encapsulates this duality quite as poignantly as Steve Nolan’s exquisite instrumental score for the 2013 indie horror Sodium Party.
Sodium Party follows a young girl named Claire from childhood, where she was kept secluded by an overprotective mother, and her subsequent exposure to the world, when her Mom finally dies. She meets a young photographer, who introduces her to the pleasures of the flesh – sex and drugs. Claire’s newfound freedom starts to crumble when she begins seeing pictures of her imaginary childhood friend, and all hell breaks loose.
Or so we assume, as we’ve not yet had the liberty of seeing Michael McCudden’s movie. From the sound of it, it sounds somewhere in the vicinity of Carrie meets modern retro-revisionists like Starry Eyes, It Follows, Under The Skin, and The Babadook, which theory seems to supported by the music as well.
Sodium Party is seeing print for the first time in the form of a swank new cassette from the brand new Spun Out Of Control label. Sodium Party takes advantage of the tape format, with the A-side being light, innocent, beautiful, emotive, while the b-side is all industrial menace and ominousness. On the a-side, tracks like “Green Arena” and “Sodium Theme” feature Erik Satie-like light chamber piano, swathed in epic, endless synth strings, like something from a Johann Johannsson score. It recalls nothing so much as the cold cases referenced by the Duke St. Workshop on Lexicon Of Paragon Pines, or some mumbling, dimly-lit bummer of a ’70s procedural drama.
All sentimentality is stripped away from the b-side, however, plunging you into a nocturnal abyss of swooning, growling, grinding industrial electronics. The b-side bears more than a passing resemblance to Mica Levy’s Under My Skin or Francoise Eudes-Chanfrault’s À l’intérieur, both of which are modern classics, in our humble opinion.
So if you’re into the more magickal realism aspects of horror – if you get more psyched for a Jean Rollins marathon than a John Carpenter bingewatch, get thee this tape, and flip your lid!
It’s worth noting that this cassette, which only came out yesterday, is already sold out at the source and most distributors. If you’re looking for the sweet, swank two-toned cassette, Two Headed Dog is your last chance to grab it. We highly recommend you do so.
What’s some of yr favorite horror-related music, either from the film, inspired by, or just evoking a feeling of madness and dread? Leave us a comment and let us know, or tweet at #horrorscores, to be possibly featured in a later edition of horrorscores!
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