Photo: Courtesy of Duophonic via Bandcamp

Cavern of Anti-Matter’s First Film Score Is a Rare Delight

Stereolab spin-off project, Cavern of Anti-Matter thrive in alchemizing varied and abstruse influences to elicit transfixing moments of frazzled disquiet and dread on In Fabric.

In Fabric
Cavern of Anti-Matter
12 May 2020

Cavern of Anti-Matter are the perfect band to recruit for a surreal and perverse nightmare about a haunted red dress. Their creepily beautiful sound comes suitably retrofitted with a kosmische sprawl, an impish psychedelia, and a machine-tooled melodic nous, drawing deep on reserves of ambient shimmer and silvery exotica. Now available on vinyl and across all streaming formats, their gargantuan 2018 score for Peter Strickland’s kinky horror-comedy, In Fabric, encapsulates both the eccentric kitsch and claustrophobic dread lacing that film’s oddball Gothic.

Following the demise of 1990s indie gods Stereolab, Tim Gane, Joe Dilworth, and Holger Zapf formed Cavern of Anti-Matter in 2013 and have excelled as purveyors of warped atmospherics, eerie electronica, and doleful drones. Their soundtrack debut here plays like a series of library music cues, with fewer of the gear changes associated with their parent band but with enough flashes of trademark Groop to keep long-time fans more than content.

Employing undulating washes of mournful Moog synths, plucked acoustic guitar, scratchy drum machine pulses, baroque organ, and haunted-house harpsichord, Gane et al refrain from smothering their soundscape with trepidation and unease. Instead, Cavern of Anti-Matter conjure a mix of light and shade, whimsy and drama that nods towards the richly woven homesickness of Pete Wiggs’ How We Used to Live soundtrack.

The luxury-length album consists of 35 segments, many of which hover around the two-minute mark and function as snappy vignettes of radiophonic sound, much like Broadcast’s iconic Berberian Sound Studio score. The tracks are a multifarious bunch, some standing alone as cinematic excerpts, others bonding by recurrent ingredients and common folk-horror motifs.

Tethered to a somber, reverb-drenched elegance and dovetailing between ornate music-box chimes, otherworldly bachelor-pad pop and pulsing vistas, In Fabric operates in a deeply meditative, trance-like state, with myriad sounds, layers, and textures flowing in and out of focus. Many of these miniatures roll out one idea over the course of a song rather than employ the rapid-fire zig-zagging of the group’s previous opus, Hormone Lemonade, others elicit shivering moments of savant-electronica and weepy madrigal that take the listener’s breath away.

“High Street Spasm” kicks off proceedings with its spine-creeping Moog reverie and “Taktron Delay” chills and charms with its lysergic throbs. The group pursue a wonky acid-funk groove on “Speaks Machine” and a pearly disco stomp on “Zinzan’s Avec Moi” that’s crying out for the ba-ba-ba murmurings of Laetitia Sadier. Elsewhere, the intoxicating “Winter Rhombic”, “Mannequin Mass”, and “Inside Luckmoore” fit the movie’s David Lynchian aesthetic like a Victorian lace glove, all woozy, rainy-day melancholy, nursery-rhyme cadences and shadowy, Alice in Wonderland psychedelia.

Like with their previous output, Cavern of Anti-Matter transcend the trite tropes and habits of many of their peers, delivering an exquisitely layered electronic music that’s both organic and human. With In Fabric, they have concocted a fluid, fuzzy tapestry of sound, a fantastical daydream that’s every bit as evocative and unnerving as the film itself.

RATING 8 / 10