Once a member of prog heavies Expo ’70, multi-instrumentalist Matt Hill works a darker ambience into his work as Umberto; his new Night Has A Thousand Screams is the score to an early ’80s Spanish slasher film from which the album’s title is roughly translated. The threatening dissonance, eerie synths, and throbbing urgency of the album unravel an experience just as menacing and delightfully cheesy as you’d expect from an ’80s horror movie.
The tropes of horror soundtracks are all here in various states. Opener “Boston, 1942” pairs tubular bells arpeggios with in-the-red metallic grind and overblown percussion menace overtly, while the haunted theremin squeals and watery wobbles of “The Puzzle” make for an ominous dread. Blaring minor key waves flood “The Dance Studio”, while the Carpenter-chopping “Paralyzed” shifts vintage synth sets midstream, choir-like moans making room for more high-end bells.
Other tracks stand out as singular electro-focused songs rather than mood pieces. Funky basslines underpin the howling wind of “The Waterbed”, everything leading to a very retro percussion loop and some siren-like synths. The stomping percussion and glistening howls of “The Investigation” works without the horror film concept, a dark, retro jam that stands entirely on its own. Its a marvel that both the tone and the era of the accompanying video is immediately apparent in each and every track of the album, as if it were unearthed rather than created in homage.
Horror and dark electronics fanatics alike will put this one on repeat for days, but its very powerful specificity will likely cut out a swath of listeners not interested in either ravenously dedicated sub-genre. But much like Wes Craven watching the line spiral hundreds of feet away outside his booth at Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors, I’m sure Hill doesn’t mind composing for a niche.
Essential Tracks: “Boston, 1942”, “The Investigation”