Goblin - The Arches, Glasgow, Friday 25 February 2011 (5 stars)

Goblin - The Arches, Glasgow, Friday 25 February 2011

Photo: Alex Woodward at Crimson Glow Photography

Horror-prog-synth overlords

The Glasgow Music and Film Festival has scored a real coup with Goblin, arch-horror instrumentalists usually found supplying the music to Dario Argento’s giallo masterpieces through the 70s and 80s. Alongside Ennio Morricone they have provided some of the most startling soundtracks in cinema history, their propulsive electro funk heightening the tension, creating music that taps a nerve, sets you on edge; the perfect accompaniment to Argento’s spiralling visions of violence.

They hadn’t played live for over 30 years, then arranged a few festival dates in 2009, collapsed again and split halfway through their tour, meaning they didn’t make it to last year’s GFF. Now they are back (in a slightly different line-up, currently featuring key original members Claudio Simonetti, Massimo Morante and Maurizio Guarini) for their first ever Scottish show and the wait has been more than worthwhile.

Unlike a lot of film scores, Goblin’s music is powerful and psychologically complex even when removed from context. Live, you soon realise what a fantastic band Goblin are in their own right. Master musicians, their psych-prog-rock is instantly evocative of screens drenched in blood, and their demonic instrumentals are a stark contrast to the huge grins plastered across their faces.

Screens flicker into life showcasing clips from some of horror’s most shocking films as they launch into music from their illustrious history. Highlights include the unnerving theme from Suspiria, the haunting refrain and heartbeat of ‘L’Alba Dei Morti Viventi’ (from Dawn of the Dead) and the creepy nursery rhyme that is ‘School at Night’ (from Profondo Rosso, aka Deep Red). They even find time for some of their later work, touching on their 2000 score for Sleepless, a cacophony of glorious terror. Not everything played tonight is from a film, though, with tracks from Roller and Back to Goblin all getting an airing, their own prog-rock reminiscent of Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Yes.

It’s a faultless performance from Goblin themselves but there is a slightly distracting moment towards the end when the wrong footage is played on the screens, as images from Sleepless accompany music from Phenomena and the ominous title track from Profondo Rosso (both masterpieces that encapsulate a feeling of impending dread and fear). Their music is so wonderfully constructed, their manic vision so pure in its aim at your emotions, to unsettle, confuse and disturb. Goblin are true masters of their art.


Goblin - School At Night