Yesterday, Thom Yorke released a solo track entitled “Suspirium.” The song is a creepy pastoral waltz off of the score Thom Yorke has composed for the upcoming horror film “Suspiria.” The instrumentation is minimal, limited to just piano and flute (what sounds like a harpsichord mirrors the piano). The work straddles the line between angelic and vaguely unsettling; the bittersweet quality is attributable to Yorke’s eldritch voice and what sounds like the heavy use of major/minor modality (a compositional gambit Radiohead is particularly fond of), which has the rhetorical effect of imparting a sense of instability. The cryptic lyrics contribute to this feeling of uncertainty as well, with lines such as “All is well, as long as we keep spinning / Here and now, dancing behind a wall / When the old songs and laughter we do / Are forgiven always and never been true” sounding like some Delphic prophecy.
While most of Yorke’s solo work is distinguishable from the music of Radiohead, “Suspirium” could easily be mistaken for a outtake from A Moon Shaped Pool, or a companion piece to “Like Spinning Plates.” Yorke’s ability to create such a beautiful effect while retaining simplicity of both orchestration and harmony is a testament to his prescient songwriting abilities. The piece is gorgeous, a simple composition tinged with complex implications of sadness and confusion. While I haven’t seen the movie this song was made for, “Suspiria” is already fighting an uphill battle if they want to live up to the score.