Published Sep 01, 2014The eerie synth sounds that often permeate Black Mountain's music — courtesy of keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt — add a kaleidoscopic colouring that balances the band's sludgy riffs and '70s rock attack. Schmidt's keys-heavy solo project, Sinoia Caves, takes this atmospheric approach to extremes, employing analog synths and minor-key melodies for lengthy explorations of mood and texture. So it makes sense that Vancouver director Panos Cosmatos tapped Schmidt to score his retro sci-fi horror film Beyond the Black Rainbow — the full version of which is now being released as a Sinoia Caves album on Jagjaguwar.
The film itself relies less on straightforward narrative than on stylized set design, trippy visual effects and a simmering sense of terror, as viewers follow a mysterious patient's journey through the freaky depths of an experimental laboratory facility. Schmidt's music perfectly heightens the tension, edging up from breathy high notes to full-blown Iron Butterfly–esque organ squalls. But it's also surprisingly listenable, even without the visual cues: Opener "Forever Dilating Eye" is propelled by a dance-y floor tom groove, while the aforementioned organ riffage (on both "Run Program: Sentionauts" and "Sentionauts II") will lodge itself in your head like a weird dream. Only the 16-minute "1966 — Let the New Age of Enlightenment Begin" gets bogged down in its own epic-ness, which is fine for a movie packed with disorienting imagery to distract from the tedium, but less so for keeping listeners interested. (Jagjaguwar)