October 15, 2003Scary Music
Format: Hybrid Multichannel SACD
Most of the quality music associated with Halloween was used up on Telarcs previous Cincinnati Pops release, Chiller (CD-80189). That disc, however, was released in 1989, way before multichannel SACD became a reality. Telarc producer Robert Woods, sensing the potential for a surround-on-a-"scary theme" release, chose to use all new material, which is definitely lightweight. I surely would not have minded the repetition of a few heavyweights from the first album re-recorded in multichannel sound, items like the Saint-SaŽns Danse Macabre or the Phantom of the Opera overture.
As this recording is, the listener is offered themes from some decent horror films, including Sleepy Hollow, Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, The Exorcist (Mike Oldfields Tubular Bells), and The Blob; TV theme music from The Munsters and Tales from the Crypt; and novelty pieces like "Monster Mash," "Martian Hop," and "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes." This material is all impeccably sequenced, so that the entire 50-minute program flows smoothly from beginning to end.
You might ask at this point why I am allotting a review to this sort of album. It is not great art, but it is great fun, and it is a sound spectacular that will test any SACD multichannel system to the max. Sequenced into the track order are three SFX sequences recorded at the Blood Palace Studios. The second of these, Haunted Fun House, finds a young girl entering a carnival "haunted fun house," only to discover that it has real audio demons in all of its channels, not to mention ominous thuds and thumps directed to its LFE channel. This track is a tour de force guaranteed to scare the bejesus out of you, if for no other reason than producing high-anxiety doubt that your speaker system will survive. (Make sure your bass-management system is set correctly and you will be OK!)
The orchestral sections have good range and excellent presence, with a wide and deep sound stage. Both dynamic and frequency ranges are quite wide. In the past, Telarc has mixed its music and SFX tracks so if you set the effects at a safe level, the music sounded as if it were being phoned in from the next block. This release avoids that disparity; one comfortable setting will work for both music and effects.
Buy this SACD with the idea of having fun and you will have as much as the Telarc production team obviously did. Each of its members has taken an assumed, "gory" name in the credit list. The producer becomes Robert Redrum Woods; the engineer is listed as Michael Blood Bishop. Listen in that vein and you will have a ball, as well as being able to treat the ears of your local trick or treaters to state-of-the-art scary sounds to go along with their M & Ms.
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