Published Jun 05, 2018Colin Stetson's avant-garde saxophone work doesn't inherently skew into horror, but it isn't much of a reach either. Some of his finest compositions twist themselves into maze-like helixes of sound, feeling both labyrinthine and unfamiliar as they unspool through emotions of every shade.
But in the service of the Hereditary soundtrack — for a movie about a family's terrifying realizations about its ancestry — he gets to focus his energies exclusively on being the spookiest Stetson he can be. It turns out he's a very spooky Stetson.
The Hereditary soundtrack layers on menace with unhurried confidence: many tracks start in almost silence, with a single sound drawn out from around the edges of your auditory reaches, before the unease begins to build. A stock-in-trade Stetson sax line emerges and disappears throughout "Charlie," as if some unfamiliar figure is drifting in and out of sight; the abrupt end of "Party, Crash" follows a slow-burn build of percussive rattling and big stings. "Séance Sleepwalking" finds more hopeful notes before curdling them into something else: its skittish flutters harken a brassy, Zimmerman-like blast of sound.
Plenty of tracks here end abruptly, which likely works well for their use in the film itself, and maybe less so in an independent listen. But even removed from visual and narrative components of Hereditary, Stetson's compositions still manage to conjure a deeply unsettling, unrelentingly tense mood. (Milan)