2 out of 5
Label: Waxwork Records
Produced by: Douglas Pipes, Kevin Bergeron, Michael Dougherty
There would seem to be, hrm, three Douglas Pipes at work on the Trick ‘R Treat score: one with a Danny Elfman fetish, one who functions in a more traditional horror strings-jump-scare vibe, and one with a fantastic sense of creepy ambience and heart-beating buildups. Alas, most of the time we get a composite of all three, with the much more original and preferred latter version only poking his head up for moments on any given track. At the points where Pipes gives in to what I’d consider his more instinctually driven compositions – my ears keep perking up at the devastatingly nervvy The Halloween Schoolbus Massacre, for example – the songs are gorgeous, and deep, and absolutely noteworthy.
Michael Dougherty’s accompanying film is something of a hodge podge of tropes and originality, so that same approach on the score is somewhat fitting, but because Pipes doesn’t sit for long enough with whichever style, the score lacks listenability: things that should be grabbing, like the theme, are too generic, and elsewhere, we stutter between the aforementioned stylistic variations in an approach that suggests the grandeur of a fully scored film, but with the brevity of something scored with cues. It’s a strange experience.
That said, there’s enough oddity packed inbetween the notes here – Pipes does a lot of amazing work with non-music ambience to make Trick ‘R Treat the score a lot scarier sounding than the darkly comedic accompanying film actually is – to make the score an interesting “what if” proposition of music. …Certainly interesting enough to not merit the two-star score, but that’s where I have to knock this down specific to the Waxwork Release. Bemarked by the imprint’s early-release woes, the vinyl has quite a bit of pops, but more than that, the mix just does not serve the songs well. The strings get a huge bump over all else, leaving much of Douglas’ subtleties almost unheard. I switched to a digital version over headphones and was able to discern much that instantly increased my appreciation for what was being attempted here. I admittedly have a crappy vinyl player, but I’ve listened to enough to sense where that crappiness might impact the sound, and I think we’re dealing more with this particular version of the release over my budgetary listening limitations.
So I do love Waxwork – the packaging and picture vinyl are delightful – but if you’re interested to hear what Pipes has to offer, I’d go with a CD or digital version.