Halloween is coming, but what does that actually mean? And where does it come from? Ask most people to think of Halloween and they’ll think of pumpkins, horror films, and hoards of angry, sugar crazed zombie-children, armed to the teeth with rotten eggs and a strange sense of entitlement that you should give them something because they put a sheet on their head and bothered you at home. The origins of the festivities though are considerably more ancient than you might imagine.
Halloween is most likely to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival, known as Samhain, which would see people light bonfires, sacrifice animals and dress up in costumes to ward off ghosts, which we must admit does sound a bit too much like the start of a KKK ceremony for our liking. Like many Celtic traditions, Samhain was ultimately replaced by a church based event, All Soul’s Day, which was celebrated in a similar fashion, only with the traditional animal skin and head costumes of the Celts replaced by the far less interesting costumes of angels and devils – typical church spoiling all gruesome fun.
Halloween would really reach its creative peak across the sea from its Celtic origins, in its spiritual homeland of America. A rush of Irish immigration in the 19th century, mixed with a touch of starvation and begging, led to the birth of trick of treating, as a way of poor children to get some food, in exchange for saying they’d pray for the “treaters” dead relatives: rich people really will believe anything won’t they.
Halloween, like so many holidays, is a truly multi-cultural holiday, meshing various traditions from around the globe – slightly ironic when the scary, orange fella haunting most American’s this October is campaigning to send most immigrants home.
Our guest mixer today is Jamie Halliday, the man behind the excellent Audio Antihero label. Based out of South-East London, the record label formed in 2009, and as Jamie wryly puts it, “has been dying ever since.” They began by releasing We’re Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones on to Block Out the Noise, the lengthily titled debut album by Nosferatu D2. The label has gone to release numerous records by the likes of Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love, Frog and Jack Hayter, as well as a series of brilliant compilations for a series of brilliant causes including Rape Crisis, FSID (now The Lullaby Trust) and even Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
2016 has been an exemplary year for the label, seeing the co-release of the brilliant My Band Is A Computer by CHUCK, and this week marks the release of Golden Tongue, the bewitching debut EP from Mangana. Audio Antihero might revel in the tagline of, “specialists in commercial suicide”, but if they keep releasing music this good, they might just sell a few records yet.
While the natural born cynics who run this website have a slight scepticism about Halloween and all things spooky, Jamie from Audio Antihero absolutely loves the festivities, and horror in general, and he’s been kind enough to make us a mixtape of some of the finest examples of horror melding into music we’ve ever come across. You can read his introduction and check out the tape below.
“I’ve loved Horror films for a really long time, even if it isn’t always exactly an easy thing to do. Horror and Music don’t always mesh as well as I’d like but I’ve got a lot of love for those who give it a really good go. Here are a few examples of some fun and frightening musical takes on life’s spookier events. Hopefully some will be new to you.”
1. Fabio Frizzi – Zombie (Main Title) [From ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’ aka ‘Zombie’ aka ‘Zombi 2’)
Fabio is the man. He did all those great scores for Lucio Fulci’s most brutal and bizarre films and these big themes are often the best part of them. ‘The Beyond’, ‘The House By the Cemetery’, ‘City of the Living Dead’ all have these killer synthy scores but I’m gonna run with this one for now. When this plays, things are about to get really bad, which is saying something because I can’t remember a single instance in a Fulci film where things are going well.
2. Mark Fry – The Witch
This might be the best of all. It’s actually a really scary song, it has a real creeping lonely feel. Most Halloween music is done with kind of a wink but this feels like some serious shit.
3. Alan Parsons Project – (The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether
Parts of the ‘Tales of Mystery are Imagination’ album are not the most fun thing in the world to listen to. But as a Prog Rock concept albums about Edgar Allan Poe go, this has some really fun Rock songs on it. “The Raven” and “The Cask of Amontillado” are both beautiful but this one makes me want to dance.
4. The Fiends – Horror Business
The Fiends were a one-off supergroup with members of the Rif Mountain folk collective, who did a lot to get me interested in that genre. They made this wonderful Halloween EP of Misfits covers and it’s hard to pick a favourite but I do like this one a lot.
5. Beings – Zombie
Beings were the coolest band from Miami and their drummer Beatriz Monteavaro has an awesome art book and is my hero. I really wanted a complete Beings anthology to be the second release on my Old Money Records reissue sub-label but somebody beat me to it…by having the idea before me. Pro Tip: In industry, always think of things first.
6. Rob – Juno (feat. Chloe Alper) [Taken from ‘Maniac’]
I can’t remember if I actually liked either version of of the film ‘Maniac’ but the score to the 2012 remake is killer with some really nasty sounding synth. “Juno” is kind of the pay-off though, the big dancy reward. If you’re into the ‘Stranger Things’ or ‘Hotline Miami’ scores, you might enjoy this more subtle record.
7. Tom Waits – Poor Edward
Tom Waits is a weird guy. ‘Alice’ is one of my favourite albums of his, it’s such an interesting little world in there. This song is sad. And terrifying. Imagine that shit. Imagine having a face on the back of your head that tells you things. Fuck that, right?
8. Fantômas – Rosemary’s Baby
On ‘The Director’s Cut’ LP, this big bunch of jerks covered popular scores from films like ‘The Godfather,’ ‘The Omen,’ ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ and ‘Cape Fear’ – all very cool and very noisy. It’s pretty hard to pick an actual favourite from this collection but this version of the ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ theme is both sultry and spooky.
9. Circus Devils – George Took a Shovel
This is more Sci-Fi than it is traditional Horror…but I’d watch ‘The Thing’ on Halloween, wouldn’t you? The final lines give me the creeps. The album it’s taken from has 32 songs on it and this is by far my favourite.
10. Okkervil River – Westfall
Best Indie Kid murder ballad ever. I first heard this song sung by Benjamin Shaw and I just assumed he’d written it and I remember thinking he was an idiot for saying “Twelfth Grade” when he’d gone to school in Blackpool. But no, I’m the idiot. You win again, Ben.
11. Lovage – Archie & Veronica
Here’s a good song about necrophilia. “Flowers on your Grave” is a surprisingly good euphemism but I prefer the more literal “sitting on a cold slab, feeling my warm stab” lyric. Dan the Automator is awesome, Mike Patton is my guy and Jennifer Charles has the greatest voice in the world. This is from a really fun 2001 album called ‘Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By,’ which you might enjoy.
12. Comus – Drip Drip
‘First Utterance’ by Comus is another of my favourite albums, it’s basically Troll music. Who is this nasty guy saying all this weird stuff about murdering folk? Being ten minutes long, you could actually play “Monster Mash” three times instead of this, which I think is what most DJs choose to do. I once missed an album launch for a record I was releasing to see a Comus reunion show because I am a terrible person.
13. Goblin – Suspiria (Main Theme) [Taken from Suspiria]
Goblin are kind of the kings of Horror soundtracks, especially in Italy. The work they did for Dario Argento is pretty riff-tastic. In 2016, it seems pretty weird that directors would hire Prog bands to just write soundtracks to films…but that’s what some people did. Glory days.
As well as the superb picks above, Jamie also put together 32 track long mix, which you can check out below (a perfect soundtrack for all your Halloween party needs)
For more information about Audio Antihero, head over to their website – HERE.