he eerie sound of the theremin has become synonymous with clas- sic ’50s and ’60s horror and sci-fi, and to this day remains closely associated with ghostly happenings and visits from otherworldly creatures. What’s even cooler, the instrument has a near supernatural quality to it, given that there are no keys to push, no strings to pluck, no mouthpiece to blow in to create its eerie vibrations. Instead, performers generate sound by waving their hands between two upright antennae, manipulating an invisible electromagnetic field. No wonder it sounds so spooky.

Invented by Soviet physicist Lev Sergeyevich Termen (known in the Western world as Léon Theremin) while researching proximity sensors in 1920, the theremin quickly became associated with the horror and sci-fi movies that began incorporating it into their soundtracks. Even so, oth- er notable uses of the instrument include Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) and Bernard Herrmann’s massively influential score for The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). More recently, the theremin was used to add vintage charm to the scores for Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994) and Mars At- tacks! (1996) as well as the family-friendly horror romp Monster House (2006). Even today, horror rock and surf bands occasionally bust one out for kitsch value. Ever wanted to try your hand at this madcap instru- ment? You might have heard of Thea Munster, founder of the (now defunct) Toronto Zombie Walk, but in addi- tion to starting one of horror’s funnest fads, she’s re- cently mastered the theremin, performing renditions of classic tracks by Misfits and Demented Are Go! on her social media. She’s also being recruited for live Halloween gigs as a rare practitioner of this unique and arcane sound. Inspired by themes from The Day the Earth Stood Still and Dark Shad-

ows, Munster’s first step in the direction was via a Moog Theremini, a reworking of the classic instrument into a monophonic analog synthesizer. “It has some really great features for a beginner,” she explains. “For ex- ample, it tells you what note you are playing. I eventually upgraded to the Moog Etherwave Plus.”

The theremin itself might sound scary, but don’t be scared to try it. Munster says she went into it with little formal musical training – but being coordinated helps.

“In a way, I actually think it may be easier to learn the theremin than learning a traditional instrument,” she says. “When you first get on a ther- emin, you calibrate it by setting your Low C and High C to anywhere you want. Not many other instruments are that customizable. It was definitely a challenge moving to such an ethereal instrument, but I think the training I’ve had in dance, or even while zombie cosplaying, has been more helpful to me than any musical training. Body isolation and spatial awareness is a huge part of it!”

Munster’s passion has recently translated to playing gigs, including a private party at the Lizzie Borden house in Massachusetts, and a corporate gala (where she played The Shining’s outro song “Midnight, the Stars and You”). She's also active in her local stomping grounds of Hamilton, Ontar- io, where she performed a dance piece set to The Omen. Recently, she has been lining up more local gigs with her new band Night Chill. “Playing a theremin is like wrestling a very noisy ghost,” says Munster. “You triumph by eliciting coherent responses by using hand gestures. It’s a type of incantation.”


lute-like instrument featured in one of Hearn’s stories – that ties sound to lit- erature. Asian influences abound on this gorgeous blue LP, though the musical styles shift gradually through everything from ’80s new wave to Jamaican dub. The fact that Alone in the Woods does it so effortlessly is a testament to the thought put into Kwaidan, an ominous, beautiful, if only occasionally haunting musical journey that will fill the listen- er’s mind with supernatural images from a world far away. 0000½ AVL

to go truffle-hunting for inspiration. After all, fungi have a special place in the hearts of witches, folklorists, and poisoners the world over, while spores, lichen, and moss can be found clinging to works such as Creepshow, Annihilation and The Girl with All the Gifts. Philly’s Blood Spore goes even further, cultivating a dank mythos that concerns a “conscious fungal mass” and uses a hybridised mix of death, doom, and black metal as its means of contamination. Tracks like the evocatively titled “Hostile Fruiting Bodies” crunch, lunge, and gargle in grotesque fashion, lumbering forth with a genuine sense of sickness that makes this revolting EP less a quiet puff of spores being cast into the air, and more the sickly yellow toadstools clinging to a slowly liquefying corpse. 0000½ AD



There’s a lot to like about the way Slave to the Blade, the new EP by horror punk mainstays The Panic Beats, kicks off. Chilling keyboards and a big production sound ushers in six new songs, tied to- gether by stories about a ski-masked murderer. Chalk that up to Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust) handling the mixing and mastering, though his technical competency isn’t quite enough to the get past the uniformity of the song- writing from this Michigan-based one man band (Dale VanThomme basically playing all instruments.) There’s a bit of a Ramones vibe here, with basic three- chord progressions and higher pitched guitar melodies, but the lack of hooks and monotony of the vocals makes Slave to the Blade hard to remember. Even the artwork, normally a high point for The Panic Beats, seems a little less inspired this time out. 00 AVL



Back From the Grave... Straight in Your Face!! TRANSCENDING OBSCURITY


Fungal Warfare Upon All Life BLOOD HARVEST

While the humble mushroom might not be a deep source of dread for most, the more you poke around, the more it makes sense for a heavy metal band

One look at the looping intestines that form this lot’s logo should be enough to tell you where they’re coming from and, true to type, Portugal’s Innards grunts forth a stomach-churning spew of grotesque death metal. The band’s sound is resolutely old-school, wal- lowing in its own craven primitivism, as sticky-edged riffs slop up against relentlessly mucky vocals. Innards is marinated in horror lore, with the zombie-strewn artwork backed by songs that tip their singed fedoras to films such as Anthropophagous and The Fog. For those of you out there wanting more than just vomit-induc- ing death metal alone, there’s a spe- cial, limited-to-fifty edition of the CD that includes a patch, badge, guitar pick and, of all things, a fridge mag- net – perfect, in a way, if you want something gross to make you think twice about snacking on that plate of leftover chicken wings. 000 AD


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