Umberto – Night Has a Thousand Screams

Album Review by Sam Wiseman | 30 Oct 2012
Album title: Night Has a Thousand Screams
Artist: Umberto
Label: Rock Action
Release date: 26 Nov

Having honed his craft playing bass and synths in US prog/psych outfit Expo ‘70, Matt Hill focuses in his solo work as Umberto on horror and thriller soundtracks. Night Has a Thousand Screams is the result of a commission to score the 1982 Spanish slasher film Pieces at this year’s Glasgow Music and Film Festival. The title a loose translation of the film’s Spanish name gives an idea of what to expect; the tone throughout is taut, menacing and nightmarish, all pulsing synths and ever-rising arpeggios.

 Rather than update the conventions of slasher soundtracks, Hill’s approach feels like an authentic period piece, right down to the funk-inflected basslines that underpin the ubiquitous analogue synths. Although Screams never looks beyond its generic confines, that approach gives it a powerful concision and focus; its garish intensity places it alongside classic horror soundtracks like Goblin’s Suspiria, making Hill a contemporary master of the form.