Losing Trish Keenan meant more than losing the haunting voice of Broadcast. It also meant losing a true artist who was always willing to step into new realms of audio exploration and invention. This made her an obvious choice to soundtrack Peter Strickland’s art-thriller movie Berberian Sound Studio, a film about the nature of reality and how working with sound can blur our perceptions of what exists and what we create. It’s a shame that we only hear it now, when she has gone.
The thirty-nine sound pieces on the OST run for less than 40 minutes altogether, and somewhere in the middle of it my workmate across the table started playing the new A$AP Rocky. 70% pitched-down “UHH”s plus Santigold. No thanks. What on earth happened to him? Even when he’s rapping about something as boss as Damir Doma, it doesn’t feel fun… more like a hype grab. Oh, it’s off now.
The nature of Berberian Sound Studio means that the longer ‘full-length’ tracks, while giving Keenan and partner James Cargill more space to play in, aren’t necessarily the strongest ones. Shorter pieces mean that more emotion needs to be conveyed quicker, more directly. “The Equestrian Vortex” ushers us in, urgently taking the listener down a spiral staircase of vintage piano riffs and autumnal doom that drifts into the harpsichords of “Beautiful Hair”. With nods to horror scores from the ’50s through to the ’70s, many of the soundtrack elements will feel familiar, but never tired. It’s that comfortably disturbing feeling you get when you’re seeing a horror movie again, only this time you’re home alone, the lights are out and just maybe you’re not alone. Unease is a keyword, especially in the processed screams, Satanic chants, and wet splatters that begin to creep into the music as the film itself winds on. Longer pieces such as “Teresa, Lark Of Ascension” feel like vintage Broadcast tracks, which helps alleviate up the jumpy, ADD mood one gets when listening to soundtracks. The music here may not always be the most engaging music Broadcast have given us, but it’s certainly some of the most compelling. Unless you’re being distracted by an unfortunate Skrillex collab in the background why is that A$AP album on again ˜