“NIGHTMARE” (CD Review)Books/Art/Culture,News Tyler Doupé
Genre-film auteur Dante Tomaselli’s third audio adventure, NIGHTMARE (on CD from Elite Entertainment), is like the soundtrack to a horror film that doesn’t exist, and appropriately titled; it’s the auditory accompaniment to your worst dreams.
Like his previous musical outings, THE DOLL (review) and SCREAM IN THE DARK (review), NIGHTMARE is unnerving music that catches the listener off guard. In fact, much of the album sounds like what might be playing when one is swallowed by Satan and descends into hell. It’s an auditory hallucination, with a multitude of instances that will keep the listener off balance. What makes Tomaselli’s music so unsettling is that unlike the experience of watching one of his films, here you have no visual indication of what is coming next, and thus there is nothing remotely predictable about any of the tracks. NIGHTMARE made this critic jump several times within the first five minutes, inducing a sense of dread even stronger than Tomaselli’s previous two albums.
Just as you begin to think you know what’s coming, NIGHTMARE pulls the rug out from underneath you. Listening to this album evokes the same sense of fear one might feel while viewing the most harrowing scenes in a horror film. The album opens with “The Hole,” in which a cry for help is followed by the chants of young children who sound as though they might be playing in an abandoned schoolyard. This cut is followed by “I’m Not a Witch,” which is unnerving as hell—laced with eerie whispers, tolling bells and synth noises interrupted by creepy, unnatural laughter. There are screams in the background of this track that sound like they were recorded while a witch was being burned at the stake. Also worthy of mention is “The Lake,” which comes along at the halfway point. It is almost unbearable to listen to due to the profound sense of unease it conjures in the listener’s mind. Like the rest of the album, it defies expectations and creates a sense of total discomfort.
While “Mausoleum” is exceptionally long at 14:43, it doesn’t drag terribly, and the rest of the disc has a nice flow about it. Not dissimilar to the rest of the album, the titular track is an auditory journey into sheer madness. It goes to a series of strange places, but all of them work brilliantly.
NIGHTMARE is this reviewer’s personal favorite of Tomaselli’s albums to date. It’s the most authentic and the most frightening—which is saying a lot given the high quality of his two previous outings. Those created high expectations for this CD, but NIGHTMARE lives up to and even tops them. If you’re a fan of the filmmaker’s previous aural efforts, this is a must-buy. It’s a disc you’ll want to listen to year-round.