Suspiria (OST)

by Thom Yorke

So, you’ve been the lead singer in a successful band for a number of years, played big venues, sold the t-shirts, and you decide it’s time for a challenge.

A member of your band has already gone off and done his own thing, recording a number of soundtracks for films. And, annoyingly, done pretty well at it too; so much so that his last one earned him an Oscar nomination.

Now obviously it’s not a competition, but hey, anything he can do...

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As Thom Yorke is far too cool for school, this is definitely not how his mind works. But the fact Jonny Greenwood has done so well on the soundtrack scene, it’s no surprise that Yorke has picked up the music baton and run with it, by producing the entire soundtrack to director Luca Guadagnino’s remake of the 1977 classic horror Suspiria.

Now when you sign up for something like this, and you just so happen to be Thom Yorke, how much insistence is there to add vocals to a track or two? Obviously, fans of the band would have preferred an entire album, but that’s just not how soundtracks work, unless you’re the Bee Gees or Abba. There are four tracks though that do feature his vocals, which isn’t too shabby.

Stand out track is ‘Suspirium’, which just has Yorke’s distinctive voice accompanied by a piano and a flute. It’s melancholic, and a tad haunting, without being a horror show. It could easily be a track on a Radiohead album, or indeed a Yorke solo project, as this is, essentially.

‘Has Ended’ has more of a Middle Eastern vibe, that you could imagine being played in a cool cafe, after dark, with Shisha pipes on the go and everyone chilled.

Later on that evening, with dawn fast approaching, ‘Open Again’ would be hanging in the air, just floating, with little direction. A track that certainly wouldn’t be worth the price of admission on its own.

For ‘Unmade’, Yorke returns to basics once again, with a piano and his voice, supported by what sounds like a horde of angels (or whatever the collective noun actually is), in a track that is suitably ethereal.

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What’s left, and for a two CD set, there’s a hell of a lot, is Yorke essentially experimenting and learning a new craft. It’s difficult to listen to out of context, particularly as there is no signature music, as in Halloween for example, to hang your horror hat.

It’s atmospheric though, and you can’t really ask for more than that from a soundtrack. Yorke understands the role of the soundtrack, and therefore is fully aware of the job at hand.

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The second CD is another matter. This is where it all goes a little free style. One track for instance, ‘A Choir of One’, lasts 14 minutes, and could easily induce a coma state if you let it. How much of the music here is used in the film is unclear, but if nothing else, it shows a decent level of commitment from the Yorke-ie.

For the most part, Yorke has done well in his first foray into soundtracking. It’s all about atmosphere, and he certainly lays it on thick in places, as befitting the horror genre.

No doubt Greenwood will be a tad annoyed at such close competition, and at how well his band mate has done at his first attempt. Not Oscar nominated good, but good nonetheless.

three out of five