Do you like scary movies? Sorry, let’s be more specific. Do you like scary movies scored by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke? Well, you’re in luck, kid: Don’t look now, but there’s one right behind you! AAAAAAAAHH!!!!!
Yorke’s soundtrack for the new remake of the cult-classic Seventies horror flick Suspiria isn’t a film score in the way that, say, his bandmate Jonny Greenwood’s avant-orchestral opuses for There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread are film scores. Nor is it a proper sequel to either of his own solo albums, 2006’s The Eraser and 2014’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes (an underrated triumph that he’s finally touring widely in the U.S. next month). Instead, he’s recorded an 81-minute grab bag of witching-hour instrumentals, strange grunts ‘n’ gurgles, creepy monk chants — and, every so often, a drop-dead gorgeous song. “Suspirium” is a radium-glow piano ballad that would have fit in nicely on Radiohead’s most recent album; the jazzy soul of “Unmade” and the trip-hop shiver of “Has Ended” are even more surprising, carrying welcome echoes of Yorke and co.’s brilliant Amnesiac-era B-sides.
These tunes are vintage Yorke, and they make you wish he’d written more of them for Suspiria. At least until you hear the second half of this record, where the song-songs thin out in favor of even weirder electronic buzzes. “A Choir of One” is a 14-minute descent into an icy hell; “A Soft Hand Across Your Face” and “Synthesizer Speaks” (both under a minute) sound a bit like Side Two of Low if Bowie was an actual vampire, which makes a fair amount of sense, given that this Suspiria takes place in ’77 Berlin. It’s an intriguing sideways swerve for Yorke, who’s still finding new ways to unsettle and delight listeners after all these years as one of rock’s greatest ever late-night spooks.