Shadows Slowly Stretching Over Empty Rooms
March 2, 2015 12:47 PM   Subscribe

I have been reading creepy things, and listening to creepy stuff while I read those creepy things, and have arrived unprepared at the horrifying realization that I do not have as much weird, unsettling, mysterious music as I should. Help me fix that--before it's too late.

Recently I've been tearing through Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach books, and somewhere in the second, as an experiment or accident, I ended up reading while listening to Cliff Martinez's score for Solaris. I don't listen to music while reading often, but the mysterious, melancholy, haunting sounds fit with the atmosphere of the book perfectly, and it put me in the mood for listening to other things that are a bit creepy. It hasn't hurt that a seemingly permanent fog has settled over my part of the world this winter.

It's hard to describe exactly what I want. This will be a bit of a flurry of contradictions. As with any recommendations thread, there aren't any solid rules or anything. But: it should have some melody; it should be airy and "pretty," but also maybe just a touch discordant. It should be unsettling, but not loud or aggressive. An air of quietly building dread marrying mystery to revelation and the transcendent to the small and sad, is how I think of this. "Alien ghost music" should do it. The kind of mixtape you'd want to bring with you to Solaris or the Zone. Something you can imagine a contemporary Lovecraft protagonist listening to at low volume as they rock back in forth, muttering, mind reeling at the endless horror of it all and so forth. I want to hear the music of Erich Zann.

The mood should be soft, meditative, but carrying an undertone of uneasiness, rather than energetic, active or overtly menacing. Like an entrancingly beautiful flower that might conceal something stranger which will eat you if you inspect it too closely.

It can be original, or it can be a score (for a film, or a game, or something more unique). Here are a few examples of things that evoke this mood in me, to help establish what it is I'm looking for:

Tomandandy - Movement 6
Joel Nielsen - Black Mesa Theme
Shane Carruth - A Low And Distant Sound Gradually Swelling And Increasing
Kanno Yoshihiro - Memories of Water
Max Richter - Infra 2
Steve Roach - Infinite Shore
Ernst Reijseger's score for Wild Blue Yonder/Requiem for a Dying Planet
Gregor Samsa - Rendered Yards
Rudi Arapahoe - Pleroma
posted by byanyothername to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think you'll definitely enjoy The Caretaker.
posted by merocet at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I coincidentally read the Southern Reach series while listening to Glass Animals, and it really set the mood for me. Especially songs like Psylla and Exxus.
posted by neushoorn at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2015

There are a couple of tracks on Side 2 of Jeff Beck's Blow by Blow that seem incredibly melancholy and a bit eerie to me.

Can't link to the specific tracks at work, but try "Cause We've Ended as Lovers" and "Diamond Dust."
posted by ereshkigal45 at 1:35 PM on March 2, 2015

You might enjoy a lot of Selected Ambient Works II.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:47 PM on March 2, 2015

Tim Hecker's two most recent albums (Ravedeath, 1972 and Virgins) would be great picks.

The first thing I thought of was SunnO))), but it definitely fails the "airy and pretty" test.
posted by The Michael The at 1:52 PM on March 2, 2015

Trent Reznor:
Ghosts I-IV
Gone Girl Soundtrack
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:12 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ooh I LOVE the Cliff Martinez Solaris score! Excellent to hear it's been an inspiration to you, too.

If that presses your buttons, I think there's a lot of really open, drone-y ambient music that you might enjoy. Here are some suggestions that come to mind starting from that esthetic (Tim Hecker's already been mentioned, and I second that recommendation, although I really like his Radio Amor, especially I'm Transmitting Tonight):

Adam Pacione--From Stills to Motion (example, Warming Trend)
Deadbeat--Wild Life Documentaries (for example, For Palestine)
Anything from Stars of the Lid
Some stuff from Marconi Union
William Basinski--The Disintegration Loops (this one can really give me the eeries sometimes)
Biosphere--Substrata (especially Sphere of No Form)
Dead Can Dance--Serpent's Egg (example, Host of the Seraphim)
Possibly any Boards of Canada (but maybe especially Music has the Right to Children)
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:30 PM on March 2, 2015

Seconding the Stars of the Lid and Basinski

Godspeed You Black Emperor - F#A# ∞ There's a bit of voiceover but it's mostly slowmo instrumental doom.
You will need to cherry pick tracks but the Fire Walk With Me soundtrack and the original Twin Peaks soundtrack fit the bill.

I wouldn't describe the following as creepy, but I think of them as good reading music:
Ry Cooder - Paris, TX soundtrack
Kronos Quartet performs Philip Glass
Tortoise - DJed from Millions Now Living Will Never Die

posted by Treeline at 3:50 PM on March 2, 2015

Best answer: The Conet Project recordings might be up your alley... CD1 CD2 CD3 CD4
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:03 PM on March 2, 2015

I think you will enjoy Sigur Ros There are vocals, but they are in a made-up language.

"The mood should be soft, meditative, but carrying an undertone of uneasiness, rather than energetic, active or overtly menacing. Like an entrancingly beautiful flower that might conceal something stranger which will eat you if you inspect it too closely."

This might not be alien enough, but chant does this for me. Hildegard Von Bingen
posted by prewar lemonade at 4:08 PM on March 2, 2015

You might enjoy Espectrostatic, who are pretty heavily influenced by John Carpenter's musical work.
posted by rodlymight at 5:24 PM on March 2, 2015

Kemialliset Ystävät
posted by katya.lysander at 5:30 PM on March 2, 2015

Maybe you'll like Paavoharju.
posted by mythical anthropomorphic amphibian at 6:40 PM on March 2, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies, everyone, and keep them coming! I'm liking a lot of these as I check them out.


Glass Animals...Psylla...Exxus

The sound here isn't quite what I was looking for, but the videos are amazing! I love these! A lot of the imagery is sort of overtly Southern Reachy, so I can definitely understand the association. Thanks so much for mentioning them!
posted by byanyothername at 9:17 PM on March 2, 2015

Todmorden 513, Markus Reuter
posted by j_curiouser at 9:50 PM on March 2, 2015

That Psylla video reminds me of Connan Mockasin's Faking Jazz Together.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:23 AM on March 3, 2015

Best answer: try David Sylvian's ambient stuff, esp Plight & Premonition
posted by supermedusa at 12:32 PM on March 3, 2015

Best answer: Esben and the Witch, Hexagons EP.
Labradford, Prazision LP.
Jessica Bailiff's most recent album, At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim of the Sky.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:43 PM on March 3, 2015

Forgot to add: Labradford, A Stable Reference.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:51 PM on March 3, 2015

Best answer: [Coil was] the only group I’ve heard on disc whose records I’ve taken off because they made my bowels churn. – Clive Barker.

Their Unreleased Themes to Hellraiser disk is quite chilling and also soft and meditative, especially for Coil. It's not at all noisy or crunchy like a lot of their work and there are no vocals at all, if I recall correctly.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:43 PM on March 3, 2015

You may also like the soundtrack for Utopia, the UK TV series (it's by Cristobal Tapia de Veer).

And perhaps anything by Kreng.
posted by taltalim at 12:46 PM on March 5, 2015

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