As the day of creepy costumes, haunted houses, and enough candy to cause overnight diabetes approaches, the search for the right music for the holiday is already here. Fortunately, there is an extremely talented composer by the name of Cucurbitophobia. And before you ask, this is not just a made-up word that sounds creepy. The literal definition of this word is “a fear of pumpkins,” which becomes clear how fittingly appropriate it is for this artist and his music as you listen on.
Cucurbitophobia’s sound is defined by a general sense of discomfort and unease, something that is ever-present throughout his most recent album, Dies Ferialis: Awakening the Lemures. Throughout the album, I noticed all manner of uncomfortable and off-putting chord progressions that I could not begin to explain in terms of musical theory. Accompanying these odd and discomforting chord progressions are a variety of sometimes sparse but repetitive arpeggiated melodies that shift up and down in scale, ratcheting up the tension and creating an atmosphere in which the listener is left in constant anticipation that never finds relief or release.
A track that exemplifies this quality is Subortus: Excludant Ab Infernis. It does this by way of a steady piano arpeggio that pans steadily from left to right, shifting up and down and the track progresses. With that progression, an array of tense strings and pads appear and slowly overtake the track, eventually pushing the piano to the background as the swell of strings and pads grows louder. Then, right at the end, the swell of these instruments breaks away and quickly fades, leaving only an unnerving organ playing as the track ends.
The entire album is an embodiment of a gothic style of horror, reminiscent of the era of Dracula and Frankenstein being horror icons long before Freddy and Jason made their appearance. The tension is constant as well as a sense of foreboding and unease. Cucurbitophobia is able to accomplish this sense of dread without a great deal of producer trickery. Instead, he accomplishes this through pure compositional technique, utilizing chord progressions that never fully resolve and melodies that simply hang in the air and leaving the listener to sit in the stew of discomfort he has created. A mysterious and morbid experience, Die Ferialis is an excellent choice to set the proper mood for the holiday.