Diablous In Musica – The Intoxicating Tritones of Goblin
Are you excited Monstergoons?!! The progressive rock band Goblin is back in Oz for YET ANOTHER tour. To celebrate this we’ve got our crack scribe Sam Bowron to revisit the band’s incredible body of work.
For the majority of western culture, the horror film is largely designed around ideas of fear and revulsion. Symbolically it represents the dark side of human nature as well as all things unknowable to our existence. Whether it be the graphic exploits of a serial killer or an H.P Lovecraft creature dwelling in the abyss, contemporary cinema would suggest that from the outset of the first frame we the viewer remain anxious and terrified until the lights of the auditorium illuminate our path back into reality.
As many a seasoned moviegoer will attest, the shrieking sounds of violin strings and thundering organs are a staple of modern film music. While impressive in the traditional sense, most orchestral arrangements are somewhat creatively restrictive and rarely allow for innovation on behalf of the composer, resulting in mainstream audiences becoming accustomed to an almost habituated breed of terror music.
Not so for Goblin.
Unlike the sweeping extravagances of Jerry Goldsmith, Christopher Young, Marco Beltrami or much of Hollywood’s renowned A-list talents, Goblin’s musical approach to the nature of on-screen horror has always emanated from an entirely different instinctual perspective. Since the mid-1970s the now worshipped Italian progressive rock outfit have become synonymous with redefining existing conventions within the soundscape of horror, in particular the presence and prominence of electronic percussion. More importantly, their music has displayed an intrinsic relationship with cinematic images of mutilation and murder that had arguably never been witnessed before in North America, England, Australia or even Europe itself at the time of their rise to fame.
Aesthetically, Goblin’s aural assaults represent horror as a sensation evoking great excitement and drug like intoxication, rather than as something to be feared or repulsed by. Just as ‘giallo’ films like Deep Red, Tenebrae and Sleepless visually position the audience within the viewpoint of the killer, their expert compositions astutely enhance director Dario Argento’s virtuoso camerawork by way of pounding time signatures and synthesised heartbeats, suggesting that the viewer not only identify with the assailant but also vicariously experience their frenzied rage. The thrill of the kill becomes the focus and the energy and immediacy of the music drives home the homicidal synergy to disturbing effect.
Notions of the bizarre and fantastical also play a role in Goblin’s contributions to the genre at large. Their wild experimentation with sound effects and unusual tempo shifts in Lucio Fulci’s Zombi and Luigi Cozzi’s Contamination bring about an impression of kinetic excitement and dramatic unpredictability altogether distinct to the films themselves through the pulsating synthesisation of action and extreme bloodshed. Furthermore, exploitation giant Joe D’Amato made great use of the band’s talents in Buried Alive by incorporating their vivacious compositions with surreal voodoo imagery while the European version of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead sees an even more animated, comic book-inspired rendition of Pittsburghian ghouls via a soundtrack of fiercely buoyant rhythm tones.
And while latter contributions to the more gothic-inspired horrors of The Church demonstrate an even further expression of their style into more alternative worlds, their groundbreaking work on Suspiria remains one of the most accomplished and strikingly original marriages of sound design and music ever implemented into a horror film. Prior to 1977 the most popular existing formulas for Victorian-era genre scores were almost always those established by the likes of early Universal horrors, the UK’s Hammer Studios and even many films emanating from Europe. While perhaps influenced from a thematic perspective, Goblin took the intentions of these early procedures and fiercely modernised them, applying a musical progression and stylistic reinterpretation that completely transformed the way audiences were accustomed to receiving stories of the occult. An arrangement of grand organs, pounding symbols, spooky whispers and an overall sense of daring musical vitality combined with Argento’s extravagant tale of bloodstained witchery resulted in a score that left the two artistic parties virtually inseparable.
It’s hard to imagine a musical lineage without the inclusion of Claudio Simonetti, Massimo Morante, Maurizio Guarini, Bruno Previtali and Titta Tani – the five members who make up the current assembly that is Goblin. Steadfast in their articulation of terror, their maniacal notes have proven to be not only a great partnership to the vibrant flamboyancy of modern Italian fright fare but also an uncanny translation of the macabre; horrific yet heart-stopping harmonies that resonate just as much today as the best rock albums of the 20th Century. In the eyes of Goblin, the devil lives in music and they like what he plays.
Tickets are still on sale from Ticketek.
SUNDAY 14TH JULY Billboard The Venue, Melbourne
with special guest Miles Brown (The Night Terrors)
TUESDAY 16th JULY The Metro, Sydney
with special guest Miles Brown (The Night Terrors)