Hectic and prismatic variants of some diseased, underlying primary tone without a place among the known tints of earth
It came from the cosmos. H.P. Lovecraft invented cosmic horror. The horror of the unknown, of other beings that render humanity insignificant and helpless, a fear of the outsider and / or unstoppable forces: this is Lovecraft’s writing, and his influence has coloured horror literature ever since, so much so that ‘Lovecraftian Horror’ is a sub-genre all of its own.
Color Out of Space is a new Hollywood film adaptation of his 1927 short story, The Color Out of Space, starring Nicolas Cage. Scored by Colin Stetson (Hereditary), the music is at once ominous, eerie, and somehow tinted in an otherworldly vibrancy. Using a mixture of woodwind and natural instrumentation, as well as futuristic synth and electronic work, it creates a deeply unsettling and downright threatening vibe (see ‘Contact’ for an example of its ultra-keen and invasive malevolence).
Stetson’s score is immediately impressive in that it radiates a malevolent force not of this Earth, as well as a sense of dread and imminent hostility. Lovecraft’s strange fiction is notoriously difficult to adapt to the screen, but this soundtrack puts listeners on high alert. A stabbing, strobing synth is the point of contact, a rushing and stuttering electronic section adds an intensity which is painted in a light like that of an off-coloured bruise.
The sickening detonation of the meteorite as it impacts with farmland in a remote corner of New England, chewing up the ground, invading it, resonates throughout the entire score, its aftereffects and subsequent changes having a lasting impact on the environment and the psyche. On the page, Lovecraft’s protagonists often go mad at the sight of something indescribable and ancient, but in the music, it’s possible to picture a horror of one’s own making. Its off-kilter and angled sounds are a shock to the system. On Color Out of Space, something is changing. Altering. Blooming.