Bernard Herrmann: Twisted Nerve Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – album review

twistednerveBernard Herrmann: Twisted Nerve OST



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Created in association with the Bernard Herrmann estate, Stylotone release one of Herrmann’s most accomplished scores now with a whole heap of bonus material and paraphernalia. Simon Tucker reviews:

You know this score. Well to be more accurate you know the main theme. Even if you have never heard of the obscure ’68 psychological horror film you will be aware of the music. How come? Well the main theme to Twisted Nerve is that catchy yet insidious whistle theme that Quentin Tarantino used in Kill Bill Vol. 1. A cue which is eerie, melodic, upbeat yet also full of dread, pefectly suited to Tarantino’s homage to Japanese cinema.

On this gorgeous release (180g vinyl, cd, signed certificate of authenticity by Mrs Norma Herrmann, poster etc) we are gifted with a beautiful pressing of a remarkable score that sees Herrmann utilize jazz to pop via ambience. The main motif appears throughout in many different guises all unique but sharing a melody that haunts. Some times the whistling doesn’t appear but instead we just get a morphed version of the musical accompaniment that is slowed down, sped up and with different time signatures making this album incredibly cohesive and one that warrants many a listen.

Make no mistake, this is one of Herrmann’s darker scores that is akin to his work with Hitchcock and later Scorsese. Even on the more jaunty cues like Playing Cards or Henry Complains (which twinkles and shines before slowing degrading into chaos) there is a sense of unease that flows throughout. Even on the pop version of the main theme where we are brought back to those groovy ’60’s and beat combos you get a sense that thinks are askew and not to be trusted.

Wind instruments are dominant throughout breezing and whispering sometimes floating often guttural with the highlight of this being on Georgie’s Madness which sees the orchestra sped up twitching towards mental collapse.

This is a wonderful work by one of the finest composers that ever lived. It is one that will haunt your mind long after the needle has run off the grooves add to that the incredible work that Stylotone have done with the packaging and audio restoration and you have one of the year’s most essential releases.


Stylotone can be found via their website

All words by Simon Tucker. For more of Simon’s writings for Louder Than War visit his author’s archive or follow him on Twitter @simontucker1979.

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