Thom Yorke’s “Suspiria Unreleased Material”: More Jarring Than Atmospheric

Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Photo by Mairo Cinquetti/REX/Shutterstock (8870954q)

With seven songs totaling a measly 13 minutes of new material, the main question we had when delving into Thom Yorke’s latest release was “is it really necessary?” More harshly still: “Does it actually add anything to the previous Suspiria release?”

What’s interesting about the unreleased material is just how fiercely it has divided critics. While some critics cannot help but praise everything the Radiohead frontman does, others deem the release to be wildly unnecessary. At Hot Pop Today, we’re having a hard time getting off the fence.

Let’s start with the positives. The album is almost entirely instrumental and keeps it tone well with the movie. “A Conversation With Just Your Eyes” succeeds in being beautifully atmospheric and creepy while also being unpleasantly jarring in an extremely effective way. Thom’s vocals are so distorted here that they sound like a wheezing animal’s dying breaths. It’s remarkably haunting and darkly chilling.

The same can be said of all the early tracks of the album. The record introduces new tracks including “The 7th7th7th7thson” which is just a minute long but terrifying. After this though, the music sounds like a bunch of teenagers who have gotten high in a makeshift studio.

“Volk Spin Off v1″ sounds like the kind of things teenagers would make when messing around on the retro school keyboards. Of course, Thom Yorke is a genius and experimental music, like modern art, is down to interpretation. We’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this occasion.

And yet the rest of the “Volk” tracks consist of unpleasant screeching sounds. Even on a set of $500 speakers, they sound jarring and uncomfortable. Yes, this is appropriate for a horror movie soundtrack but it doesn’t really encourage to buy the album. This makes us wonder who actually will be buying the Suspiria Unreleased Material LP when it does come out on vinyl.

Ultimately, the best we can say of the first half of the album is that if you are trying to write a horror screenplay, playing this in the background will give you all kinds of creepy inspiration. By the end of the album though, you’ll more likely be in a hurry to finish the page you are writing so you can turn the dreadful screeching off.

So yes, as much as it pains to admit it, Thom Yorke’s latest release is slightly disappointing. Of course, the previously released Suspiria soundtrack more than compensates.