4 out of 5
Label: Waxwork Records
Produced by: Ariel Loh (?)
When Ariel Loh’s ‘The Eyes Of My Mother’ gets into its opening, swelling synths of ‘Meet Charlie,’ I kinda stirred uncomfortably: another synth score? But there was no retro drop to the track when it suddenly broke out into beats; it hovered in the slow and meticulous range, allowing its sounds to build but not overwhelm. When followup ‘Almost Dead’ continues on this precedent, adding more layers of tones and still holding on to that slow, ominous pace, I began to perk up: moody drone is my jam, y’all, and Ariel Loh’s score, though disappearing into the most minimalist minimalism at points, creates quite an awesome effect amidst the more “obvious” scores of many of its horror peers, recalling, to some extent, the simple keyboard work of classic Carpenter while adding a modern awareness to it.
‘Mother’ punches up with hope at brief points, before Loh steers it back toward darker chord progressions, some plodding keys providing a slow, heartbeat backbone here and there, letting the sounds phase into drone, only as long as is needed to punctuate a point. But we’re also given brief respites of more emotive pieces like ‘Conversation Piece,’ or the sudden honky tonk jam of ‘Pub Rock,’ which leads into a rather stunning buildup over the C- and D-sides (while remaining within the confines of synth-y drone, of course).
The B-side is where things get lost a bit. Besides the appropriately haunting lilt of ‘Dreaming,’ the cues are maybe a bit too subtle – leaning toward ambient at points – or brief to wholly maintain the atmosphere. They’re interesting pieces of work, for sure, with a couple of notes that also, for me, bring a Twin Peaks weirdness to mind, it’s just a little more ephemeral than the rest of the score.
But that aside, this is a really effective set of music, something that demands a more intimate listen and really wraps the listener up with the best of horror music experiences: notes of nostalgia, notes of mystery, and then underwhelming dread.