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Horror in Music PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE Retro

Phantom_of_the_paradise
Phantom of the paradise
When was the last time you turned to music for a good horror tale? The union of unsettling lyrics and eerie orchestration can be powerful, especially if it all rhymes. In fact many belief structures say that music is, in the original sense of the word, powerful. It is also a saturated market in the horror community and I would like to highlight a few great albums here.

Back in 1974 a man named Brian De Palma released Phantom of the Paradise, a (campy) rock opera following a young composer named Winslow Leach who makes a deal with the devil. The soundtrack is downright haunting, just read this excerpt from the song The Phantom’s Theme:

To work it out I let them in
All the good guys and the bad guys that I’ve been
All the devils that disturbed me and the angels that defeated them somehow
Come together in me now

Face to face I greet the cast
Set in silence we begin
Companions in an empty room I taste their victory and sin

This decade also offered another great musician, Alan Parsons. If you don’t recognize the name you can just thank him in part for Dark Side of The Moon. In 1976, though, the Alan Parsons Project came out with Tales of Mystery and Imagination, a musical adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe stories. Being the audio engineer he was the music itself is enough to stand on its own and still adequately represent the tonality of each tale, but the lyrics seal the deal. Let’s look at two in particular, The Raven and Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether.

Phantom_of_the_paradise
Phantom of the paradise

The raven provides a fantastic pentameter to base a song off of and Alan Parsons stayed true to it, as you can see here:

The clock struck midnight
And through my sleeping
I heard a tapping at my door
I looked but nothing lay in the darkness
And so I turned inside once more
To my amazement
There stood a raven
Whose shadow hung above my door
Then through the darkness
It spoke that one word
That I shall hear forever more
Nevermore

It’s in Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, though, that you can really see their ability to summarize in song these wonderful tales.

At the far end of your tether
And your thoughts won’t fit together
So you sleep light or whatever
And the night goes on forever
Then your mind changes like the weather
You’re in need of doctor tarr and professor fether

Phantom of the paradise
Phantom of the paradise

Now, for this last one I want you to imagine the most horrifying combination of things you can. Raise your hand if it was the Cthulhu Mythos and Christmas carols.  That’s right, our last album is A Very Scary Solstice brought to you by The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society in 2003. I could go on about every song on this album but for time’s sake I’ll just pick some favorites.

Let’s start with the title track:

Have yourself a scary little Solstice: it’s a long dark night.
Now’s the time when horror’s at its greatest height.
Have yourself a scary little Solstice: chaos all around.
Now’s the time when terror’s at its most profound.

Or maybe Silent Night is more your thing:

Silent Night, Blasphemous Night,
People Quake At the Sight
Monsters Rising from Deep R’lyeh
People screaming ‘please go away’
Great Cthulhu has come
Great Cthulhu has come

Silent Night, Blasphemous Night,
Great Ones reign, Death in Sight
 Horrid beasties enslaving mankind
Cosmic Terror Destroying Your Mind
We’re all going to die
We are all going to die

See if you can switch these out with the real ones at your next Christmas party *checks calender* eight months down the road.

Imagine grandma and grandpa singing along to I’m Dreaming of a Dead City:

Some old press clippings, my uncle’s notes, a bas-relief made out of clay.
The horrors that these convey have given me much dismay.
I think I’m starting to go insane.
Strange nightmare images haunt my brain.

I’m dreaming of a dead city
Where Deep Ones swim in depths of night.
Where Cthulhu’s sleeping while stars go creeping
Until the time they are right.

I’m feeling the spirit, I don’t know about you guys.

I know this part of the review has had a touch of novelty to it, but I genuinely like listening to these songs.  As someone who has worked in retail for years,I find these versions much less horrifying than actual Christmas carols. I hope you can find a place in your collection for all of the albums mentioned.

I’ll leave you with my favorite track, Away in a Madhouse:

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I am a 23 year old freelance artist and book enthusiast. I currently make a living doing art and needle felting commissions, while working on a webcomic in my spare time.

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