Haunted Summer was originally released by Silva Screen on CD, and was part of the first soundtrack discs to feature additional music not present on the related LP, immediately rendering the Cerberus Records LP obsolete to collectors. Like the Silva disc, La-La Land’s placed the album cuts first, and the bonus film versions afterwards (albeit indexed instead of the edited suite format on the Silva CD), although the running time is considerably augmented by almost 20 mins.
Haunted Summer was an important leap wherein Christopher Young continued to refine his balance of deeply melancholy themes and almost ethereal harmonies. Young’s main theme – “Menage” – is based around a repeated phrase around which the composer deepens bass tones, fusing a soothing combination of strings and synths. There’s a deep yearning quality that penetrates the listener, and it’s one of the reasons Young remains the King of Melancholy: he’s able to craft simple themes of devastating tragedy, and capture the nature of a person wounded by a complex barrage of emotional baggage.
The use of solo violin and piano are also hallmarks of Young’s early horror work, as are female voices designed to evoke the drifting between physical and spiritual plains. There’s also Young’s affection for gentle waltzes, as in the music box rendition “Villa Diodati”; and the perfect balance between organic and electronic elements – a skill that allowed Young to drift between genres and musical styles, and slowly detach himself from the exploitation realm.
The best description of Haunted Summer is a dream: it’s a musical fusion of organic and orchestral, formal time signatures and drifting tempi, and impressions of styles seen through a gauzy lens, all meant to underscore a fuzzy period drama of characters harboring their own little dreams and horrors.
When things get musically dark, Young delves into his wonderful experimentalism, warping tones, echoplexing wooden knocks into rippling rappings across the stereo image, and pulling apart theme vestiges into eerie sonic fragments.
La-La Land’s new mastering brings out further details in Young’s orchestrations, as well as the quieter segments where the composer reduced dynamics to distant sounds reminiscent of the last waves from a rippling sound pattern, be it violin solo or washed-out tones.
To Young’s credit, his early music has aged extremely well; the synths may be vintage, but scores including Haunted Summer and Flowers in the Attic (1987) are still potent impressions of slow-moving horrors.
With much of Young’s early work already available on CD, what’s left are the rarities, such as Tormented (1988), The Power (1984), and an expanded edition of Hider in the House (1989).
© 2011 Mark R. Hasan