Gengahr's Five Favourite Horror Movie Soundtracks

The London psych-pop band spell out the music that keeps them awake at night...
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Berbarian Sound Studio – Peter Strickland

Released in 2012,  this is a film about a sound engineer who has taken a job in a post-production film studio in Italy in the 70s. The film he is hired to work on, The Equestrian Vortex, seems rather tame by its title. However, the film turns out to be a gruesome horror and he finds himself creating and producing sounds to suit the grotesque scenes on screen through a practice called ‘Foley', in which one uses everyday objects to recreate the sounds portrayed in film.

It’s a suitably dark soundtrack with apocalyptic synths creating the foreboding sense of doom that the protagonist is slowly spiraling into. The opening track was composed by the mid-90s dream pop band Broadcast, of which we are fans. The film also frequently features the use of a Watkins Copicat tape loop to create unearthly screams, which coincidentally we used for most of the vocal effects on our album. For fans of Lynch and Polanski.

Aguirre, The Wrath Of God - Werner Herzog / Popol Vuh

This is an awesome soundtrack by the German krautrock band Popol Vuh. Made in the early 70s, it combines sounds from the original Moog synthesizer with the lesser-known church organ. This church organ (made up of tape samples from a choir) creates the most incredible textures of vocal parts, which loop though this disturbing Herzog epic.

The film is about a group of conquistadors searching for a city of gold in Latin America. The expedition is a disaster, gradually falls apart and descends into madness. I think this soundtrack was and still is a truly original piece of work, pushing boundaries technically and sonically. The result is something that feels dream-like and otherworldly but with a lingering sinister edge. This balance of contrasting atmosphere is something that we try and incorporate in our own music.

The Lost Highway - David Lynch / Angelo Badalamenti

This film involves a lot of our favourite people… It is written and directed by the incredible David Lynch, and although it didn’t achieve much commercial success, it certainly built up a cult following. The soundtrack is full of proper 90s heroes, with songs from Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson and Rammstein. Just for good measure, there are tracks from Lou Reed and David Bowie in there too. The producer was Trent Reznor who had also worked on the 1994 classic, Natural Born Killers and presumably it was him that enrolled the help of legendary composer Angelo Badalamenti to score most of the films unique compositions.

The Silence Of the Lambs – Jonathan Demme / Howard Shore

The reason we picked this film is because of the way the music often juxtaposes with the grim nature of the narrative. There is a definite sense of optimism in Shore’s chord changes, well at odds with what’s going down onscreen.

Although Clarice is the only character to have a score specifically named after her, I like to think that the music mostly captures Lector’s personality. Like him, it is sophisticated, intelligent and unnervingly calm. At times it’s as soft as he speaks and as loud as he is violent. Similarly to Lector even at it’s most dissonant- it’s still likable, as is he. A strange thought when you know he likes to eat people's faces.

Alien - Ridley Scott / Jerry Goldsmith

This soundtrack is all about suspense. The movie it accompanies is a very slow build in true 70s fashion, and the music moves at a similar pace. It should be noted the original score was cut up severely for the final cut of the film, which super pissed off the composer Lionel Newman, but the results suggest it was for the best. (We're referring to the movie version, not the reissued original score on iTunes, which is still awesome.)

Ridley Scott uses the more symphonic original score for the early scenes, including the title, but as the film cranks up the tension the score breaks down to little more than dissonant passages and modernistic strings that are basically the sound of us shitting ourselves.

You see the alien only a few brief times through out the movie and those sudden bursts of terror are reflected wonderfully; the movie itself is a series of crescendos of fear and the score plays to that.

The highlight of the score is the main theme, again edited heavily from the composer’s original intention to be far more subtle and ominous for the titles, but then settles to a simple melodic passage of lone brass. It is a soft, melodic piece of music that speaks of the void and loneliness of space. It is this initial pace of the film and the soundtrack that makes the later half so terrifying even when the soundtrack starts to evaporate to a more modern, stark, harsh reality…of everyone being munched by an alien.

Drawing by Danny Ward, drummer in Gengahr

Drawing by Danny Ward, drummer in Gengahr

Gengahr's debut album A Dream Outside is out now, and it's ace. Order it from: iTunes: / CD/Vinyl:
m/ and catch the guys at The Scala in London on the 8th Oct. Tickets.