Say what you will about the nausea-inducing style of director Eduardo Sánchez’s debut horror effort, The Blair Witch Project—it set a definite tone. The film also inaugurated the collaboration of Sánchez and longtime friend Antonio Cora, a mysterious Miami-based composer who shuns publicity and contributed an original work to Josh’s Blair Witch Mix, a goth and industrial-laden soundtrack inspired by the film.
For the Cuban-born director’s 2009 foray into Chinese lunar mythology, Seventh Moon, Sánchez commissioned Kent Sparling, sound designer for Skywalker Sound, to collaborate with Cora. The two were instructed to eschew any traditional Chinese melodies or stereotypes and instead work with an ambient and non-orchestral palette.
Sparling’s audio tweaks render many of the instruments—dulcimer, samba whistle, cello, harmonium and sheng (a multi-piped wind instrument)—unrecognizable. In “Don’t Cough/Go-Away House,” what sound like whale calls come howling through thick, rusted iron pipes. One can picture metal bristles dragging across a vibraphone in “Man on the Window” as distorted string pizzicati scurry, insect-like, underneath.
The work is every bit as unsettling as the ravenous hordes of pale figures who hunt the film’s obnoxious, honeymooning American couple—and offers proof that classical heads shouldn’t fear slumming it in supposedly schlock scores to find avant-garde goodies.