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CD: Conjuring, The (2013)
Review Rating:   Very Good  
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July 16, 2013

Tracks / Album Length:

25 tracks / (46:22)



Joseph Bishara


Special Notes:

12-page colour booklet

Comments :    

With a full orchestra at his disposal, Joseph Bishara (Insidious) was able to create a more robust orchestral-electronic hybrid of his nightmarish, almost oceanic sounds, and The Conjuringis really a work you really don’t want to play late at night (especially with a subwoofer) in the dark unless you’re an emotional masochist.

Bishara sustains an atmosphere of terror using fast-shifting currents of grungy chords that are part insect / part industrial drones, and a few really nasty stabs where the lowest frequencies assault the listener with special brutality. The use of sampled voices and arching shrieks in “Maurice” recall the creepily arching voices in Wendy Carlon and Rachel Elkind’s The Shining, although in “Hanging drop,” the lone human voice is first treated like a prolonged tire screech, and later reappears as undulating tone similar to a dirty Theremin.

Bishara recently released his score to Dark Skies, and that album’s underdeveloped (if not far too brief) cues made for an unsatisfying listen, but Conjuring benefits from a much larger music budget, giving Bishara an orchestra to perform his abstract portrait of ghostly mayhem. Cues with any overtly thematic material are rare – “”Souls pulled in” has a traditional build-up – but the human voice is the score’s key marker, appearing in brief, ethereal form before it’s morphed, flattened, processed, and re-emerges with an unholy ire.

Those not into weird sonic soundscapes will likely find Bishara’s score as a meandering meshing of noise, audio samples, and ambient racket, but connoisseurs of the strange and surreal will enjoy the whole instability which Bishara’s coordinated into eerie and ultimately assaultive cues. The lone flaw in the score isn’t the composer’s design; perhaps to allow audiences to leave with some sense of closure, if not give the score  and /or CD a selling point, Mark Isham was contracted to write “Family Theme,” a cue that’s melodic, deliberately soothing (if not owing a little to Beethoven), and stylistically different from Bishara’s raging style. Pity Bishara wasn’t allowed to write his own closing music, thereby allowing his own take on family wholesomeness to emerge from the score’s mangled acoustics.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan

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