Spooky spooky tunes, where are you?
October 16, 2018 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I've been reading horror novels on the train to work and horror film soundtracks are improving the experience, both by enhancing the mood and blocking out competing noise. What are some you would recommend? Instrumental only, please. Only recent stuff. Preferably on Spotify for easy access.

So far, I've been listening to the soundtracks from It Follows and The Signal. Stranger Things might work, so it's already on my list.

I know the new Thom Yorke tracks for the remake of Suspiria are supposed to be great, but the one they released as a single has vocals. I can't quite focus on the page with lyrics in my ears.

And please limit this to fairly recent stuff. No more than 10 or 15 years old. Folks who know me here will know I'm a dedicated horror film nerd and I've already got John Carpenter, Bernard Herrmann, Goblin, etc. long since committed to memory. I won't be able to accept anything too knitted into my memory as a background noise.
posted by DirtyOldTown to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: the Hereditary soundtrack is really cool!
posted by cakelite at 12:02 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I just watched The Witch (the VVitch), and was blown away by the soundtrack. There are two vocal tracks at the end of the album, and a bit of chanting in Witch's Coven, but otherwise I think you are good. Spooky stuff. Spotify link.
posted by zoetrope at 12:10 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by effluvia at 12:27 PM on October 16, 2018

Best answer: I posted this comment about my dog's reaction to the soundtrack/score of the movie Annihilation, so that's my recommendation.

Spotify link
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:30 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Demdike Stare seems like it would work really well for this. Here's Rathe, from the Testpressing series, and here's the Triptych compilation album.
posted by implied_otter at 12:37 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you end up liking the Hereditary soundtrack for its spooky vibes, it's worth checking out Colin Stetson's other work. To See More Light is an eldritch monster of a song, astonishingly huge given that it's performed by just one man with one instrument.

Mica Levi's soundtrack to Under the Skin was also pretty unsettling.
posted by yasaman at 12:39 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Philip Glass/Kronos Quartet - Dracula soundtrack
posted by hydrophonic at 12:47 PM on October 16, 2018

The soundtrack to Interview with a Vampire is nicely spooky
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 12:53 PM on October 16, 2018

There's some good stuff on the Donnie Darko soundtrack.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:57 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I’m not a horror fan generally but I really liked the spooky soundtrack for Get Out.
posted by matildaben at 1:02 PM on October 16, 2018

Here's a recent AskMe looking for eerie instrumental music.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 1:03 PM on October 16, 2018

Someone on Reddit posted a Spotify playlist for Spooky board gaming. Here is the link.
posted by beccaj at 1:11 PM on October 16, 2018

I find spooky electronic music just the thing for concentrating and generally go for "future garage mix" or "dark dubstep mix" search results on youtube. There are occasional samples, but almost never actual lyrics/vocals. This is not aggressive, drop-focused dubstep, but more ominous and ambient.

Moirai Sound's dark dubstep mixes and Kevin White's future garage mixes provide a few solid hours of content.
posted by subocoyne at 1:13 PM on October 16, 2018

I like Blanck Mass and Forest Swords for something like horror soundtracks, but not. Dance with the Dead too.
posted by andrewzipp at 1:24 PM on October 16, 2018

This isn't so recent, but might be obscure enough that you haven't heard it: Coil's unreleased themes for Hellraiser.
posted by googly at 1:33 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

The soundtrack for The Thing is pretty classic; unfortunately, only some of it is available on Spotify.
posted by Fister Roboto at 2:34 PM on October 16, 2018

*Cracks fingers.*

Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble does a kind of breakbeat/triphop/nujazz hybrid inspired by classic horror movies. They also have a side project called the Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation which leans more jazzy.

Speaking of jazz, there is also Bohren & Der Club of Gore. They've been making music since the '90s, but if you haven't encountered them before they make jazz inspired by black metal. Very ponderous and moody stuff. Equal parts horror movie and film noir.

If Carpenter-inspired synths are more your speed then there is a very active scene from the last five years or so. The best of the bunch for getting that horror vibe is Zombie Zombie, but you can't really go wrong with the likes of Perturbator, Dance With the Dead, Carpenter Brut, Slasher Dave, etc.

Do you like dubstep? Not the bro-y video game kind, but the spooky stuff? Producers/DJs like Sectra, Goth-Trad and so on. Pretty much anything off Deep Dark Dangerous label has that vibe.

If you're down with more experimental and ambient music then I strongly recommend Tim Hecker's Virgins album. It's a good place to start with his music and I think the spookiest one overall.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 2:49 PM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

For dark cabaret moodiness, Jill Tracy's accompaniment to Nosferatu, "In the Land of Phantoms" is great. I bet there are a lot of similar new music scores for old films, but sorry I'm blanking.

Xiu Xiu covered the Twin Peaks soundtrack, which is awesome but has lyrics. They also did a "Twin Peaks Ambient Shroud" which might suit.

Spookiness sounds like a theremin to me! Clara Rockmore is the greatest theremin virtuoso, but you can also look for stuff by Lydia Kavina.

For really dark intense instrumental music, I also like Daniel Bjarnason's contemporary classical and Ben Frost's ambient work.

The Caretaker is creepy in a doddering-old-man-with-dusty-records-and-music-boxes sense.
posted by mermaidcafe at 3:58 PM on October 16, 2018

Lustmord and other dark ambient stuff is my go-to for fun horror times. Brian Eno. I also enjoy the Alien soundtrack.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:42 PM on October 16, 2018

Oh and definitely check out the Dungeon Synth Archives - some really excellent stuff in there, one of my favourite YouTubes for background listening at any time of day.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:45 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

And seconding forbiddencabinet's Kilimanjaro and Bohren recommendations.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:47 PM on October 16, 2018

It's older than you want but a lot of David Lynch's "Lost Highway" soundtrack is sorta spooky creepy. Every third or so song has lyrics but most is ambient instrumental stuff.
posted by BeeJiddy at 5:52 PM on October 16, 2018

Elegia by New Order is spookish.
posted by workerant at 9:18 PM on October 16, 2018

I've been slowly putting together a spooky spotify list; less "horror soundtrack" than "songs with a spooky/vampy feel.
Faves so far:
Tom Waits - Talk ing at the Same Time
Squirrel Nut Zippers - Danny Diamond
Punch Brothers - Kid A (the noodling violins are nice and spider-like)
posted by ikahime at 8:23 AM on October 17, 2018

Oh. Oh my yes, this is my wheelhouse. I've got a tremendous swath of dark-ambient, evil-film-score, horrid-noises-in-the-dark in my library, so much so that the ladyfriend had to specifically ask me to stop playing 'creepysleep cave noises' at night when heading to bed. Let's start with film/TV scores and derivations thereof:

Dean Hurley: Anthology Resource Vol. 1 (Twin Peaks: The Return) - a collection of eerie ambiance and malevolent energies, whispered secrets from the Black Lodge percolating throughout.

Sinoia Caves: Beyond the Black Rainbow OST - a swirling mix of pulsing synthy dread and cresting psychadelic horror, from Panos Cosmatos' hypnotic first film

Clint Mansell / The Kronos Quartet / Mogwai: The Fountain - not explicitly a horror soundtrack, but hands down one of the best film scores of all time. Darkly moody with beautifully swirling strings and ominous drumming, punctuated by moments of climaxing ecstasy and mournful bittersweetness.

Climax Golden Twins: Session 9 OST - one of my absolute favorite horror films, and the twitchily brooding score of found audio and tape loops is absolutely key to maintaining the air of paranoia and disintegrating sanity.

Christopher Young / Various Artists: Sinister - a middling film with an elevated score and soundtrack. Due to rights issues, the standout tracks by Aghast, Ulver, Boards of Canada and more were not included in the released 'score', however this link weaves them back in and you can purchase them separately if you want to recreate the whole experience.

Mogwai: Les Revenants - this entry is all Mogwai all the time, and once again not strictly horror but more of a phenomenal and mournful mood piece with mysteriously creepy elements threaded throughout.

Chu Ishikawa: Tetsuo The Iron Man - a throbbing industrial monstrosity of clamoring anxious mechanisms, the brooding and shuddering score to this seminal Japanese body-horror is perpetually fantastic.

Jozef Van Wissem / SQURL: Only Lovers Left Alive - a few specific tracks aside, this score is largely carried by Van Wissem's darkly elegant lute and guitar compositions, lending an air of time-displaced melancholia to Jarmusch's music-centric vampire film.

Akira Yamaoka: Silent Hill 3 - the best soundtrack to the second best SH game. A few tracks contain vocals or lyrics, and there are a couple spoken word interjections or poppier cuts which are good in their own right, but for the most part it's a combination of sweetly low-key despair and skin-crawling audio textures.

HEALTH: Max Payne 3 Original Score - seems like an odd source to use, but HEALTH's electro-apocalyptic work takes a shadowy and subtle approach to score this work, creating one of the best game soundtracks I've ever heard and leaning far away from your standard 'World Music 1' / 'Battle Victory Fanfare'. The tones move between hypnotically spaced and anxiously malevolent with equal confidence - a must-listen.

Next up - dark ambient, bleak electronica, and generally creepy moods.

Lustmord: Rising - Lustmord is an absolute master of dark ambient works, creating spectral moods and hackle-raising atmospheres to unnerve in every occasion. This particular album is actually a live recording of the performance he gave on 6/6/06 during the Satanic High Mass for the CoS in Los Angeles, and brims with cthonic groans and sepulchral drones to crawl the skin as black winds blow from the chasms of the earth.

Lustmord: The Word As Power - a second Lustmord composition AND one with vocals, altho these fall more into the 'wordless vocalization' than lyrics. This is a collection of different vocalists lending ritual tones to classic Lustmord tracks, and is a haunting tone that lingers in the psyche long after the album closes.

Karl Sanders: Saurian Exorcisms - the coven gathers in the grotto, lurching and undulating before a sickly discolored flame. Their drums stretched with skins, the pulsing drums and calling pipes draw you in as the rites themselves repel... (some chanting and muttering involved)

Cryo Chamber Collective: Azathoth - one of four Cryo Chamber ambient productions dedicated to the cosmic horror of Lovecraft's canon, this is the sounds of dark winds howling through the gulfs between stars... dead cities built by inhuman hands, now crumbling but still waiting for new visitors to arrive... dying suns casting hellish glows upon noxious seas. Low key and unnerving.

Tribes of Neurot: Grace - one of my first explorations into the genre, this ambient side project of the psych-metal masters Neurosis is designed to be enjoyed on its own, or played simultaneous to their seminal masterpiece 'Times of Grace'. As a solo operation, 'Grace' is a brooding sweep of thrumming tones and distraught whispers, wide-eyed in the hungry night. Anti-melodies seem to glide by like the barely-comprehended limbs of leviathans plunging through fog, disorienting and unnerving.

L'Enfant De La Forêt: ABRAXAS - this side-project of the unstoppable synthwave wunderkind Perturbator falls into the much more abstract and threateningly fantastical land of not-quite-dungeon synth. Nightfallen forests abound, and the beasts that haunt them seem to lunge from every shadow. Alternately throbbing and creaking, this is the distorted score of a cobwebbed castle and the shivering lands beyond.

Dahlia's Tear: Harmonious Euphonies For Supernatural Traumas Mesmerising Our Existences In Radient Corpuscle Galaxies - DWISOTT.

I'm going to stop here because I've already lost more of the workday to this than I should have, but there's tons more where that comes from!
posted by FatherDagon at 12:29 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

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