26.10.16

Playlist: Semtek’s alternative Halloween soundtrack

What does Halloween make you think of? Pound shop masks, Haribo multipacks, kids knocking on your door demanding money, and John Carpenter content? Or Ghost Town DJs, early drum and bass, rave stabs and slick parties in basements?

As much as we love answering "trick" every time the doorbell goes (which is about 259 times throughout the weekend of Halloween…and sometimes beyond), basement parties and dusty R&B is definitely the preferable way to spend Halloween – that weird middle ground between end-of-summer-despair and the equally blood-pressure-peaking ritual that is Christmas.

DJ, producer and Don't Be Afraid head Semtek seems to, however, found the sweet spot between bad juju and cavity rotting fun – using the season of spooking to his advantage and getting the DBA crew together for not one, but two showcases this weekend. Starting off in Manchester at The Whiskey Jar on October 28th, the party then continues down at Bristol venue The Love Inn, inviting guests rRoxymore, Bake, Swing Ting's Samrai, Dummy mix series star Maurice and Jayson Wynters.

Gearing up for the DBA double-bill, Semtek has dug deep in his crates for an alternative Halloween sound, ranging from Biosphere's creepy ambient to blood-curdling early drum and bass courtesy of Droppin Science.

Read through Semtek's alternative Halloween selections below, and listen seamlessly on our YouTube playlist.

Biosphere Phantasm

Semtek: "Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere brings the arctic hauntology from his Norwegian base in Tromsø on this track which invokes the cult 1979 horror movie of the same name. The refrain of "we had a dream last night, we had the same dream" in fact comes from the film The Krays which came out in 1990 but amongst the ice cold sound design and texture of the track it brings to mind the ghostly urban telekinesis of classic horrors like Poltergeist and A Nightmare On Elm Street."

Ghosties There's A Ghost In My House

DJ Semtek: "No information exists online about who Ghosties were but this 12" often appears on lists of collectable early UK house rarities. The track samples the 1967 R. Dean Taylor R&B record There's A Ghost In My House which features, amongst others, Lamont Dozier as a writer. The original R. Dean Taylor track was issued on V.I.P. which was a Motown subsidiary and became a hit on the northern soul scene at Wigan Casino and Blackpool Mecca. Sadly the house record in question is no more haunting than the prices it fetches on Discogs but you will find that there is a bootleg version floating around from a few years back if you look hard."

Ghost Town DJs My Boo

DJ Semtek: "Halloween isn't all about ritualistic drums and serrated leads, for most, it's an excuse to have a party and what better soundtrack to a party than some mid-'90s latin freestyle influenced hip hop. Ghost Town DJs was the first record Lil Jon was involved in, coincidentally. He put the group, consisting of Carl Mo and Kool Kollie, together and it was his first project for So So Def. The record was a huge success and arguably kickstarted Lil Jon's career."

Dylan Witchcraft

DJ Semtek: "Witchcraft is a dark number, even relative to other material from the notoriously moody tech step era. Dropping Science, the label that released it, backed underground artists like Dylan when they were largely ignored by the larger drum n bass labels. Eventually, Renegade Hardware picked Dylan up but his most atmospheric material came out during the Dropping Science era. Witchcraft isn't angry in the way a lot of tech step was, it is menacing and gothic."

The Reel Master Child's Play

Check the track here

DJ Semtek: "Peter Presta aka The Reel Master is best known for his Gemini 27 releases which appeared on Nu Groove, and in this instance, he appears on the short-lived Nu Groove sublabel Rhythmatic Rage. The "hi I'm Chuckie wanna play" refrain comes from the 1988 supernatural slasher Child's Play and you are treated to a medley of E-Mu Emax Loon hits a la 808 State and Alpha Juno rave stabs which bring to mind some of the literal stabbing in the film."

Toru Takemitsu Woman In The Dunes 

DJ Semtek: "Woman In The Dunes is the Hiroshi Teshigahara film released in 1964 which is widely regarded as the foremost masterpiece of the Japanese New Wave. The film tells the story of Niki Junpei, a local teacher who is captured by a group of villagers and forced into slavery alongside a widow they have imprisoned in the same sand dune. The film borders on psychological horror at times, in part thanks to the Toru Takemitsu soundtrack. Deploying the minimalism of Lutosławski and Cage alongside an interest in traditional Japanese instruments and early forms of synthesis he sets the movie to a score full brimming with the despair of isolation and torture. The film is one of the ten best chosen by Tarkovsky."

The Devils The X-Sorcist

DJ Semtek: "A year after the film The Exorcist dropped, James Brown produced the psych-funk excursion The X-Sorcist in response alongside Bob Both and Dave Matthews. The intro is arguably the signature element of the track with its "I am satan" vocal and cymbal hits before the custom deep funk break drops replete with frog sounds (quite how these were achieved in 1974 is difficult to tell… the mind boggles) and an organ solo to die for. Fans of early hardcore will note that DJ Hype sampled it on The Scientist track The Exorcist which was produced alongside Pure Science of London tech house notoriety."

Hardcore Uproar High On Hope

DJ Semtek: "I want to see more, more than any man has seen" goes the sample from High On Hope, which samples the 1986 horror film From Beyond. From Beyond centres on a pair of scientists attempting to stimulate the pineal gland with a device called The Resonator. An unforeseen result of their experiments is the ability to perceive creatures from another dimension that proceed to drag the head scientist into their world, returning him as a grotesque shape-changing monster that preys upon the others at the laboratory. Essentially, it's Stranger Things without the military PR operation and unnecessarily long-winded boxset format."

Delphium Snow Hill X

DJ Semtek: "Delphium is Jonathan Forde, who is known for his work on labels like the ever-present Drone Records. He released Snow Hill X on Drone under his Delphium guise in 1997 and it reflects the atmospheres and textures present at the time in both drum and bass and techno. Fans of sci-fi horror scenarios will recognise the feeling of suspense and impending doom that the music conjures from the accompanying soundtracks, complete with the impact sounds that have become so popular in ambient music again of late. The record comes packaged with a piece of kitchen lino sporting a red rose."

Tuxedomoon The Ghost Sonata

DJ Semtek: "In 1991, Tuxedomoon released a recording of music based on a project they had begun 10 years previously in '81, called The Ghost Sonata. The project took very basic cues from August Strindberg's play The Ghost Sonata and from a concept designed by the band members based on "letting each member write his own suicide." The band have talked about the track as an opera of sorts but without any text and performed using instruments, tape loops and video projections. In 1991 it was set to record for the first time. The results are haunting and mesmerising, especially the eponymous track."

Don't Be Afraid host two Halloween showcases this weekend, touching down at The Whiskey Jar Basement, Manchester on October 28th (info) and The Love Inn, Bristol on October 29th (info).