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May 18, 2019  

Reviewer: Cy Borgski

Cinema Braille does it again with their latest release, "Haunted Corridors." Their previous effort, "Blank Screen," was as innovative and eclectic an electronic composition as one could hope for, yet amazingly, "Haunted Corridors" takes this achievement one step further.

Don't let the spooky title fool you: this composition is not just another faux-monster movie soundtrack or Halloween sound effects record. CB takes a wide catalog of aural horror-film "icons" (lightning storm, shuffling footsteps, screams, et al) and reimagines them in refreshing and unique ways. Lingering and meditating on the simplest sound, such as a creaking door, leads the listener into surprising areas of revelation, in which the true essence of the sound, and its underlying theme, become evident. Stretching a "shock" sound to unheard-of limits has a tendency to defang it of its assumed power to frighten, and the strangest sounds are made attraactive here, sounds which might have previously frightened or repelled.

Although the choice of soundbite is deliberate and eclectic, the resultant mix is integral and coherent, and like CB's other work, results in an entirely symphonic work. Themes build one on top of the other, contrasting and complimenting the other in delightful ways. Rumbling, rolling bass soundscapes, alternately ominous and relaxing, vie with screeching string sections, shrill and defiant, in an attempt to create an atmosphere both vaguely threatening, yet curiously alluring.

Although the music can certainly be used as background ambience, it seems a shame to waste it thus, as a full reading of the work offers so much to the astute listener. Interwoven throughout are brief sketches of classical cues, most notably the highly appropriate "Totentanz," and the screaming strings from Bernard Hermann's score from "Psycho," painted in broad expressionist strokes, yet eerily familiar. At midpoint, the work takes a most interesting turn, as tribal drums bring skeletons to animated life, and a creepy yet whimsical dirge of the dancing deceased ensues, with CB thus making a sly statement on the mantric power of music, and its ability to "raise the dead." Raising old ghosts may not be the author's intent, but raising consciousness surely is. Fear, like any other thought or emotion, is an abstract, a psychological construct, and by turning traditionally "spooky" music into a revelatory, charismatic symphonic poem, CB illustrates the subjectivity of all aesthetic experience, an insight both educational and entertaining. Indeed, the listener may be most surprised that for all its (perhaps) intended tension, "Haunted Corridors" is primarily a meditative experience. The repetition and overlapping of distinct sound segments comes across as a form of aural mantra. Rather than obscuring the sources of anxiety, it illuminates and reveals them. If it's overriding subject is fear, the conclusion drawn is that fear resides within, and is not a foreign threat from the outside. Indeed, the message may be that the "Haunted Corridors" discussed are the inscrutable inner pathways of the human brain, from which arise all strife and sorrow. As such, "Haunted Corridors" may offer an opportunity for personal apeothesis, in revealing the internal source of fear, and thus, offering a chance to exorcise it. After reaching an invigorating crescendo via some triumphant faux-orchestral passages, the work comes to a rest at the point from which it began: the thunderstorm which originally invoked a band of screaming demons, returns to soak those same restless banshees in a healing and enervating rain, and they dissolve into the soothing ambient ether so that the world may return briefly to its former, just slightly deranged state.

"Haunted Corridors" is compelling, exciting, and haunting in the best sense of the word, yet another example of the breathtaking genre-hopping that Cinema Braille seems to do better than anyone else in the field. It is nothing less than a masterpiece of electronic composition. And like the others in the "Seamless CD" series, the composition can play over and over, endlessly, with no beginning or end, just like the circle of life itself.

Ghostly Evocations of Ambient Horror


By Julian Gorman


Review Summary:  Fierce horrific ambience in Seamless CD format; perfect for bringing that occult touch to your home or any sort of visual media.  The industrial value is high, grating on nerves and testing one’s peace of mind, but in a terrific way.
Are you the kind of person who likes to spend time alone in the dark?  Do you enjoy horror flicks and have a desire to evoke them into your own life?  Or perhaps, you are just the type who enjoys chills up the spine and the blood curdling sounds of the occult?  If you answered yes to any of the above questions, Cinema Braille’s Haunted Corridors is a creepy soundtrack suitable for all your arcane needs, summoned from the eccentric intelligence of Stanislav Kozadayev.  
As an avid reader, gamer and practitioner of meditation, ambience has always been the perfect music for the background.  This doesn’t mean that it is any less important, in fact, it is quite underrated as a genre and doesn’t get the respect it deserves per capita for usage in multi-media.  Imagine how annoying movies would be if they were scored entirely out of non-stop pop songs.  The horror!  This sort of ambience is not what most would expect, however.  More like a quest for temperance or an endurance test for serenity, the soundscape of Haunted Corridors is indeed, full of creatures lurking about, striking down victims in the dead of night, while the creatures themselves sound as though they are slowly dying.  Random attacks leap from grinding bass shadows, assaulting the wandering listener, then fleeing to the shadows to wait for yet another opportune time to strike.  About 13 minutes into the seamless, roughly 44 minute song, the bass becomes like a frog stuck in a dot-matrix printer.  It takes the frog a good five minutes or so to get out of that thing, too, but it manages to snatch many the insect on it’s way down… well that’s what I imagine in the dark, anyway, hearing crunches and snaps, grinding and croaks.  There is much potential for creative visuals to accompany this sort of epic-industrial ambience.
The sounds akin to beating hearts inside large caves are my favorites.  Deep stretches of bass that draw you in.  Digital wolves howl in the distance, or is that the wind?  One moment while I check the locks in my apartment… Unbelievably creepy on a surround sound setup, with echoes of fear bouncing from unexpected angles, one sometimes swears they are real, and must look about, searching the shadows.  With some good timing and subtle placement, Cinema Braille could be well on their way to scoring some very wicked films indeed.  The light string brushes sound like small insects being crushed.  The odd animal effects, such as fluttering wings or scuttling things, lend creative flight to the imagination to conjure up all manner of spirits.  The marching, droning bass is always the reoccurring stability, allowing a virtual canvas for all the intricate artistic eccentricities that define Stan Kozadayev’s otherworldly style.  The musical painting is somewhat gothic, yet with powerful abstractions that disturb the mind.  
Now for some of the bits that bother me.  Personally, I hate the sounds of clocks and alarms in all music, even Pink Floyd, so I’m sorry.  Take it with a grain of salt, because I can’t stand the part on Dark Side of the Moon building up to Money, just because of the anxiety such sounds induce.  Parts of Haunted Corridors much resemble a perpetual build to this sort of intensity.  However, there is no catchy song following the clamoring, leaving one abandoned to the droning heart beats, erratic clock ticks, and swaying synths.  Even with a proper visual subject, it’s still rather stressful and annoying, even if it were appropriate.  The relief to this section is a bit like cicada swarming around a bug zapper (somewhere around the 20 minute mark).  I can visualize them flying up and getting electrocuted over and over again.
I cannot stand the sounds similar to feedback, as though scrapping a microphone against the speaker it’s hooked into.  These are not scary, but shrill reminders of why one shouldn’t scratch chalkboards with power-sanders. Telephone rings shouldn’t scream.   Some parts of this record are more like torture then music, even if short, few and far between.  Some balance to the production so that high-pitched treble sounds don’t get so out of control would greatly improve the quality, especially the listen-ability.  As is, some parts are simply painful on my ears with headphones on.  There should never be pain, no matter how scary, horrific, gory, et cetera because it might just make the listener turn down the volume, or turn-off completely.
Most of the abrasive, higher-pitched noises are sudden, with little build or progression.  This is a Hollywood bad habit as well, with many terrible horror movies making use of sudden violent effects to make their scenes seem more frightening.  As someone who laughs at most horror movies, this seems gimmicky to me.  Subtle progression to less abrasive, yet ultimately still frightening sounds can let a movie speak for itself by balancing all components.  There is something wrong with tricking the audiences’ ears.  In that dark, with just a little more progression and less aggressive treble, Haunted Corridors is better then most recent horror movie scores.  Clever editing could solve many of my issues, as they are more production quality control problems, then actual musical critique of technical ability, or anything of the sort.  This sort of music begs for multimedia application.  The overall creepiness is there, but often the violent changes go from ambience to noise.  The industrial value is high, grating on nerves and testing one’s peace of mind, but in a terrific way.  The sounds are fitting for gaming as well, giving a great tension to first person shooters, or realistic role playing games; personally, I found it great for fighting hordes of undead.  Given the right setting, Cinema Braille can really increase horror of a good thriller.  A Necromancer’s holiday!
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