The Subtle Horrors of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s “Candyman” Score


The Subtle Horrors of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s “Candyman” Score

By Jonathan Williger Photos by Josie Keefe September 17, 2021

To summon the Candyman, the summoner must first face himself. Manifesting the restless, awkward soul that haunts the area around the Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago requires looking at yourself in the mirror, saying your name five times, and waiting for your image to appear in the reflection. The sound of this recitation, the slowly repeated “Candyman, Candyman …” is woven throughout Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowethe score for the new film adaptation from a modern folk tale, stretched and distorted to resemble the disturbing sound of insects buzzing around the ear. “I wanted to play with this idea of ​​illusion and reflection, presenting different signifiers and using them in a way that I didn’t see them for what they really are,” Lowe explains. “This invocation lives throughout the score in different places. The energy of that word is there, but you don’t really know what you mean.

The veteran synthesizer and songwriter, who also recorded under the name Lichens, hopes his score “embodies the narrative through sound”, incorporating sound elements from the environment and characters from the film while encapsulating the complex mix of terror. , disbelief and rage that permeates the story. A hallucinatory mist permeates Lowe’s Candy Goal, full of rippling waves of disembodied voices, the groaning swells of bass and the light scuff of horsehair on the cello strings. Lowe returned to Chicago, his home for 13 years before moving to New York City over a decade ago, to collect field recordings around Cabrini-Green and other areas the film was shot in, overlaying and distorting those sounds until they become unrecognizable. like the invocation.

Candy started his life like a short story by horror master Clive Barker titled “The Forbidden”, which was adapted by director Bernard Rose in the notoriously shocking and bloody original movie in 1992. It was the first horror film to directly address the injustices of American racism, as the main character, a white woman named Helen Lyle investigates the folklore underpinnings of a series of very real Cabrini-Green murders attributed to the mysterious Candyman. Her sanity falters as she discovers the origins of Candyman – the tortured soul of a black man named Daniel Robitaille, brutally murdered in the late 1800s when he falls in love with a white woman – and finds herself finally face to face with the mind itself. Directed by Nia DaCosta, the 2021 film, presented by producer Jordan Peele as a ‘spiritual sequel’ as opposed to a hard and fast remake, further underscores these connections, linking folklore to police violence, systemic racism, trauma. intergenerational experience suffered by black communities and the inability of the white world to understand these experiences.

“When you deal with the trauma of black bodies, it’s horrible,” Lowe says. “It’s a horror story. Being able to reclaim that energy, to reclaim that space, is really important. It is very therapeutic to be able to approach these problems in terms that do not come from a white point of view. Describing this trauma through sound, Lowe says he was keen not to give in to fear, but rather to exploit it, exposing the nuances and complexities embodied by the characters’ experiences in the film. He often achieves this by juxtaposing seemingly contradictory atmospheres and tones. Dissonant passages can sound delicate and almost beautiful, like “Brianna’s Mirror Dream,” which sounds like a sinister foreshadowing scene for lead characters Brianna Carter and Anthony McCoy. “The Sweet,” which is repeated throughout the film, features a frantic synthesizer arpeggio disturbed by wordless vocals and slow-motion double bass pulses.

Philip Glass scored the 1992 Candy movie, and her characteristic frenetic and hypnotic music acted as a manifestation of the frenzied terror experienced by Helen Lyle, punctuating her dramatic moments. In contrast, Lowe’s score often recedes into the background, all the slow motion silt and fractured allusions to the melody that suddenly become powerful during moments of extreme torment and violence. “For this particular work, the music had to be completely interwoven with the fabric of the story and the visual aspects of the film,” says Lowe. “That means most of the time you don’t get those big gestures. I wanted to have an electroacoustic score that had a psychoacoustic result; sounds capable of exciting the ear while watching the movie, but ultimately something that works in a more subliminal way. Even Lowe’s interpretation of Glass’s “Music Box”, played during CandyThe end credits of, transform the insistent melody into a ghostly echo of the original, volutes of delay spiraling behind the keyboard like smoke rising into the night sky.

Lowe says that one of the main lines of his music is the experience of “letting go and being enveloped in sound”. He’s spent much of the past year uploading music from his personal archives to Bandcamp, and across those albums are many long-running, slowly twisting pieces. It’s easy to see how these trends translate into his work on Candy, a singular multi-movement suite that subtly sketches the film’s narrative, its icy bass swells and its hazy atmospheric synthesizer engulfing the entire listener. Just as the Candyman comes to life telling its story, these sounds become a living thing as they are absorbed by the listener. “I wanted to score to become an organization,” Lowe explains. “You could think of it as organic, something that itself moves, lives and breathes. “

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