bait cover

Known for his frequent and numerous electronic endeavors, Bait is the second foray into film soundtracks for worriedaboutsatan’s Thomas Ragsdale. Working again with UK director Dominic Brunt, the thriller is a brutal tale of human monstrosity and of two girls’ dreams being shattered by a sociopathic loan shark. You know. Fun. Suitably, the score is a cinematic soundscape of darkly atmospheric electronics – textures honed and clearly mastered across some of his other projects.

The tracks here have been re-opened and re-imagined, a meticulous process of widening and culling intended to make the album tell its own story; a reflection of the movie rather than simply a repoduction of its soundtrack. It’s hard not to draw parallels between this project and one of the many collaborations between David Fincher & Trent Reznor; the same brooding and beguiling atmospheres encircle the same claustrophobic narratives, and importantly it’s possessed by the same desire to shape a film soundtrack into a work in its own right. Bait expands upon the ambient drones of the original score and turns fragments into songs, aiming to take the listener on a journey parallel to the original film.

This is as difficult task as it would be to make a film without a soundtrack, and as with all instrumental work you’re very much left to fill in your own blanks.

There’s absolutely no doubt about Thomas’ compositional and editing skills here; the album unfolds slowly in a haze of shimmering guitars and muted keys. ‘Take A Look At God’s Face’ is enveloping, a reason to own good headphones, and tracks such ‘Bait’ & ‘The Body’s in the Back’ are born from skeletal, wintry piano refrains. ‘When All Hell Breaks Loose’ is techno at it’s most devastating, 4/4 drum machines like the palpation of a panicked heart. There’s a surprising warmth throughout the album too; it’s as delicate as it is desolate. Bait retains the cinematic quality of its source material, flawlessly attentive to the visual qualities of sound and masterful in its pacing.

As a whole it’s still quite a fragmented listen; songs ebb and flow their way to conclusion only to fade out upon arrival. Each piece is perfectly formed, but as a continuous listen it’s a sequence rather than a story. It’s frustrating to hear something so otherwise accomplished feel so divided. It remains, however, a skillfully constructed sequence. The album’s arc is indebted to narrative tradition, rising to a climax that leaves unsettling anxiety in its wake before closing with a resolution. Your mind’s eye does the rest. For such a short, purposeful album there is much variety. It spans all points within the spectrum of its soundworld, never settling too much into predictability while still making coherent sense as a whole.

Released on limited edition tape with handmade artefacts, the album is a labour of love; a black cassette tape wrapped in PVC tape, an individual mutilated photograph of a ‘victim’, an artwork postcard and a card case wrapped in black lace. Single-handedly demonstrating what you can do with a physical release to add a depth that digital can only dream of. From an artist so versed in making cinematically emotive techno, it’s a great release – a culmination of years spent honing his craft.

‘Bait’ is out now on This Is It Forever.
Words from Wesley Freeman-Smith.