Top Scores #8: Goblin & Suspiria (1977)

One of the most anticipated films of this year was Luca Guadagnino‘s interpretation of Dario Argento’s 1977 cult horror classic, Suspiria. The excitement surrounding the theatrical release of the film over the Halloween period was matched – if not exceeded – by the buzz for the new film’s soundtrack, scored by none other than Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

Both films follow a series of unsettling incidents that occur after a young American ballet dancer enrols in a prestigious dance school in Germany; as the plot progresses, the school is revealed to be a cover for a violent, supernatural conspiracy led by a coven of witches. The 1977 original is renowned for its chilling imagery, captured in Argento’s influential colour-drenched style. What also helped cement the original film’s iconic status is its soundtrack, composed and performed by Italian prog-rock outfit, Goblin.

Goblin was founded by keyboardist Claudio Simonetti, and they initially came to prominence through their first collaboration with Argento in 1975. That experience was a true trial by fire for Goblin: Argento had originally commissioned composer Giorgio Gaslini for the score of his film Profondo Rosso, but was unsatisfied with the results. Goblin were then brought in to liven up the composition, with a deadline of ten days, but after Gaslini suddenly left the project the band were tasked with composing AND recording a score in 48 hours! Profondo Rosso‘s soundtrack turned out to be an unexpected and unprecedented success, selling more than one million copies and dominating the Italian charts for a year.

For Argento’s next project, Suspiria, Goblin were brought in again with a more reasonable timeframe of three months. It was a truly collaborative effort, with Argento using Goblin’s demos to help establish a mood on set while shooting the film’s principle scenes. The eventual soundtrack is an early example of  synthesizer-heavy film score composition, something which would become commonplace during the late 1970s and ’80s.

Much of the soundtrack’s signature sound was achieved through Goblin’s use of the rare System 50 Moog modular system. In addition to the nerve-shredding sounds of voice chants and hums, Simonetti and Goblin created a groundbreaking work full of tension and suspense, most notable in standout tracks “Suspiria,” “Witch,” and “Sighs.”

The Suspiria revival has had the effect of reigniting interest in the ’70s original: Claudio Simonetti’s current incarnation of Goblin is currently on tour, performing the 1977 soundtrack in its entirety alongside live screenings of the original film.

Listen to the SUSPIRIA soundtrack by Goblin, below.

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