Daniel Isn’t Real (Expanded Edition)
Chris Clark is no stranger to sensations of unease in his music; the UK producer’s vision of IDM is as dark and turbulent as the genre gets. His unsettling instincts make him the perfect person to score Daniel Isn’t Real, a psychological thriller turned blood-curdling horror film about a boy’s imaginary friend who returns to wreak havoc in adulthood. After decades of electronic experimentation, Clark’s work began skewing acoustic with 2019’s Kiri Variations, incorporating prepared piano and strings, and he continues in a similar vein in his evocative soundtrack. In tracks like “Spiral Crackerjack” and “You’re Pulling My Face Off,” stabbing strings stoke almost unbearable tension while formless synthesizer tones growl below; things get even heavier on “Tickling a Nutter,” a menacing cut that starts off in John Carpenter’s ominous territory and soon explodes into a full-bore Nine Inch Nails-style rager. Amid the darkness, there are also some lovely moments, like “Snowflake Banger,” in which tentative synth tendrils gradually swell into mammoth waves of sound. Toward the end, Thom Yorke—no stranger to eerie film soundtracks—delivers a stunningly creepy remix to “Isolation Theme,” conjuring the early days of computer music in all its otherworldly glory.