4 out of 5
Label: WeMe Records (LP version)
Produced by: Alan Sinclair (?)
Nostalgia has always been a thing, but sometime during the last decade, as content creation – games, movies, TV – became more accessible, and audiences’ potential exposure to that excess creation became greater, nostalgia veritably exploded, establishing set sub-genres of style and sound. On the music front, an appreciation for 70s prog and 80s synth – often with a horror-influenced edge – gave way to Carpenter-inspired keyboard tunes and darkwave, and as with any veritable style explosion, you have those leading the pack… and you have the followers. You can’t wholly dismiss the followers, of course, but it’s simply to say that it becomes easier to bucket things in to categories, and things that once came across as flourish becomes staples; your new favorite sub-genre becomes predictable.
Repeated Viewing, the kitschily named project of Alan Sinclair, would seem to be feeding off of the fascination with the above mentioned hallmarks – Halloween-esque keyboard lines; proggy glam – and with ‘The Three Sisters,’ matching those sounds to a modern day giallo flick, could be dismissed as a predictable application of the same.
And yes, those retro sounds are here, but it’s also clear from the outset that Sinclair’s score for the film isn’t just a hasty application of familiar sounds: the opening theme touches up those ghostly keys with a current-day approach to pacing, and layering, while maintaining a sense of dedication to the classics with the spacey, cavernous production. An instantly grooving beat and a patient, grinding guitar lick make the song build and build through its 6+ minutes; Repeated Viewing isn’t out to repeat what we’ve heard before: Sinclair is using the past to create something new.
This carries on through the score, not only making sure to stay true to the melodies of that opening theme – something a lot of independent / low-budget film scores neglect, creating an “identity” for the music of the movie – but continuing to iterate on that progressive, modern approach to nostalgia, as songs shift through haunting ambience, delicate, piano-led moments, and more outright rockers. The B-side of the LP version is a nonstop, impressive onslaught of this; the A-side only suffers due to the inclusion of the minimalist “She Hears Him,” which is comprised of (as I hear it) only a couple of notes, and due to it being seemingly mastered way lower than the rest of the album, the momentum hits something of a stop.
I like horror movies and follow a lot of small music labels, and so it’s not unusual to get exposed to a healthy cross-section of music like Repeated Viewing, which I can give a passing listen to and, for better or worse, brush it off as predictable. It was worth noting that one of my favorite labels – WeMe – put out Three Sisters’ score, and the quality of the works speaks to why: Repeated Viewing’s score is a standout in a crowded field.
Note: Other versions of this – digital, CD – have four remixes at the end of the album. I’d consider these mostly inessential, excepting Umberto’s remix of the theme, which makes for a perfect coda – maintaining the sinister vibe while also perking it up in a way that gives it a more conclusive mood; it is a tailor-made remix, and not, say, just putting a dance beat underneath. The other remixes somewhat fall into this latter category, or don’t affect the source material enough to make much difference.