Paul Zaza – My Bloody Valentine

4 out of 5

Label: Waxwork Records

Produced by: Paul Zaza

A few things that normally don’t work for me on scores work really well on Paul Zaza’s ‘My Bloody Valentine’ soundtrack: the score is divided into suites instead of individual tracks, which normally results in a very stop / start feel but, here, adds a “what’s around this corner?” sense of atmospheric dread; sides are often paired with kitschy folk / country ditties, which are often just that – kitsch – but again, come across as an appropriate in-universe juxtaposition to the rather haunting tunes; and I’m not sure that there’s any real standout theme here, rather notes from other suspense and horror yarns that are threaded together and morphed into a swirling collection of ominous moments.

That last bit, while it still allows the score to be interesting throughout – it’s not aimless feeling, which is often the downside to lacking a theme – is also, maybe unfairly, my only criticism: without that type of defining mantra, I don’t know that I’d be able to say what I’m listening to if I heard it out of the blue.  As I’ll often note, this might be because I have no strong connection to the movie (though I watched it in my rush to get caught up with horror back in my teen days, so I should give it a rewatch now), but even though I went through the score several times for review, while Zaza should absolutely be congratulated for stringing many stylistically disparate ups and downs into a consistent-seeming, – and often quite chilling – score, I struggled to find anything unifying it beyond that compliment.

Despite that, I was rather pleased with how rich the music was, as the glut of slashers from this era often just went with some Halloween or Suspiria knockoff tunes and called it a day, and Paul flirts with Carpenter’s minimalism, but adds his own weird takes to it.

Waxwork’s presentation of this is solid; the recording sounds deep and soulful on wax, and I always love when we get notes from the creators in the liner – here, we have words from Zaza, as well as film director George Mihalka .  The art direction, particularly on the interior, is also great.