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.