Umberto - Night Of A Thousand Screams

There’s a mausoleum like sense of space and solemnity on display.

Label: Rock Action

Rating: 7

Umberto is a great name. If you’re an Italian viscount. Or if you’re Matt Hill, synth and bass player from Expo 70, and you’re looking for something to call your solo cinematic side project.

‘Night Of A Thousand Screams’, released via Mogwai member Stuart Braithwaite’s label Rock Action, consists of music first performed at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival. There Umberto accompanied a screening of the charming sounding ‘Pieces’, a 1982 video-nasty whose plot involves someone trying to create a jigsaw puzzle made from real human body parts, with only a chainsaw to assist him. Perhaps the only is misplaced there.

Shamefully overlooked for Oscar glory, we imagine it is very much a cerebral think piece, infused with subtle allegories debunking the human condition. Hell, apparently it even features testicles being torn off, which, is exactly the sort of thing that seems to be missing from cinema these days. That brief synopsis should give you an idea of where this music sits. A creepy accompaniment for blood letting and testicle tearing.

It fits pretty snugly alongside things like Goblin’s work soundtracking Dario Argento’s films and George A. Romero’s ‘Dawn Of The Dead’, or even John Carpenter’s scores for ‘Assault On Precinct 13’, or ‘Escape From New York’. Something that is meant as an enormous compliment. Because like those forefathers, Umberto has created something which, despite being by its very nature incidental, is incredibly enveloping. It is a soundtrack you can happily listen to minus any visual stimulation.

But make no mistake, it is extremely creepy. There’s a mausoleum like sense of space and solemnity on display, a foreboding sense of danger as the tempo of tracks ebb and flow (particularly the epic ‘Paralyzed’) and a masterful ratcheting of tension that can occasionally cause you to shout ‘NO! DON’T GO IN THERE!’, to the obvious concern of the people sharing the bus with you.

The thing is, while time and the ever increasing capabilities of modern special effects, have meant that the shock value in seeing latex heads spurt fluorescent blood when cleaved by an axe has decreased, the music hasn’t suffered the same fate. If anything they’ve become more off putting: they now manage to sound futuristic, and strangely old at the same time.