Berberian Sound Studio is a 2012 thriller in which a sound engineer is working on a horror movie, which ends up becoming his own reality. I have not yet seen this film (I admittedly never even heard of it until today) until I saw the soundtrack credits – which is helmed by English independent band Broadcast. Totaling 39 tracks under 40 minutes, Broadcast created a haunting, exasperating ride that is as strange as it is beautiful.
Broadcast, throughout the album, created a sonic experience that can liken to an Alfred Hitchcock soundtrack. BSS is full of ambiance that put me into a sort of sonic seduction – the track “Monica (Her Parents Have Been Informed)” has a beautiful flute part hanging around in the back that is rather relaxing to listen to. Immediately following that, however, is the unnerving “The Fifth Claw,” where one of the actors in the film sounds like she is being strangled. It’s even more creepy when it sounds like she is actually enjoying it. The mixture of these two kinds of moments makes this a riveting soundtrack – you don’t really know what’s coming up next until it happens. The additions of the audio clips from the movie helps create that atmosphere as well, and also helps with it’s pacing (if you understand Italian, I bet it would even help with the story).
There isn’t a whole lot out there to compare a work like this to. The closest has to be Scott Walker’s latest album, 2012’s Bish Bosch. Both of these albums are nothing to put on while friends are over. In fact, the only way I’m going to listen to this again is on my own time, with some headphones so that no one can judge me for listening to such weird content. I’m not calling this album bad – I find it pretty great actually – but there is no place or time that this kind of music is acceptable to listen to. Much like Walker or Damon Albarn’s Dr. Dee, this is an album that you might just want to set to the side after digesting it fully.
The beautiful instrumentation and gorgeous vocals from the late Trish Keenan (she died in 2011 due to pneumonia complications), this is a must listen for 2013. For music fans that are more into what’s being played on the radio, Berberian Sound Studio will come as some sort of culture shock – delving you deeper into the world of the completely abstract and strikingly stunning. For others who know of Broadcast and loves their thrillers, this should be a walking the park. At night. With someone following them.
Final Grade: A