Melbourne’s The Night Terrors seemed to have arrived at a sound that has become the fetish object of an army of film soundtrack geeks all searching for bombastic synth heavy 70’s horror movie sounds. It’s no luck, nor is at an opportunistic move as they’ve been carefully developing their sounds and approach over the course of the past 15 odd years. It’s just somewhat of a coincidence that the music that inspired the band has now suddenly become so in vogue.
The band is centred around virtuosic theremin player Miles Brown, classically trained, to watch him perform with this remarkable instrument is a thing of beauty. Whilst the band allow plenty of space for Brown’s soloing they’re also very much interested in synthesis, and their music is an upbeat bombastic rock out that is equally informed by John Carpenter and Goblin. In fact it was following the Italian prog rock soundtrack maestros performance on the Grand Organ at the Melbourne Town Hall that their support act for the tour, The Night Terrors were commissioned to record an album using the instrument, which is the 2nd largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
To cut to the chase yes it sounds like a Dario Argento film. Or it would if Argento still made good films and had refined his approach instead of churning out lazy pastiches of his past. This is how Argento films should sound in 2014. The Night Terrors posses a kind of indie rock cool as opposed to say Goblin’s over the top kitsch. They’re also more adept at infusing electronics into their sound, though they do drop a few knowing hints in Goblin’s direction. Such as on “Kuceli Woke Up in the Graveyard,” which does have certain stylistic links to the heady Suspira theme, though a steady rock beat makes everything feels tighter, before it develops into a near hysterical prog baroque section. This piece has everything you need to know about this album, particularly towards the end when everything abruptly changes into gentle Morricone drenched melancholic chords before erupting again into a synth rock opus. It’s all packed into it’s 5.40 minutes and it will have you wondering if there’s nothing these guys can’t do.
An unmistakable religious symbolism is sonically portrayed across the album by some churning church organ, yet it’s regularly juxtoposed against the band’s synth and electric sounds. It makes for some compelling work. Though apparently recorded in one day at the town hall (friday the 13th of June of course), the tunes are quite complex and diverse, with some gentle despairing moments interspersed with the more over the top gothic synth rock opuses. The presence of the organ too is fully integrated into the music and its use doesn’t feel self conscious in the slightest. If anything it feels like it’s always been there. In fact despite the presence of the Grand Organ the theremin is still the most compelling element here, its ability to simultaneously sound so melodic and so heartbreakingly beautiful, seems to connect straight into your emotional core, possibly even more so than the human voice.
On Pavor Nocturnus The Night Terrors effortlessly bridge worlds. From a grand old instrument originally built in 1929 to almost current day analogue electronics to an instrument you can’t touch that was also invented in the early 1920’s. From film soundtrack music to stadium rock, from the electronic to the gothic. They’re making darkly complex and eerily compelling fusions that not only defy easy categorisation but also seem to plug straight into the emotions.